Warrior Dash is a great experience for a team of new OCR participants.

So, you want to bring a friend to their first Obstacle Course Race? Well, you are in luck! There have never been more options out there for a racer to pick from. All you have to do is tell your friend, pay your registration, show up, and get your medal and shirt. Right? But almost all of us have had the response of “That looks way too hard. I could never do that” or some other variation of the same. Why wouldn't they want to join in an amazing weekend of mud, cuts, and bruises? Through the pain of it all, it brings us incredible amounts of happiness and excitement. How could they not understand that?

Although this sport is something that many of us have come to plan our lives around, we tend to forget that most of us didn't dive in headfirst into the unknown. In fact, we maybe even said the same thing as our friend who is apprehensive about signing up for their first race.  So how do you convince your friend to join you in a race? The best place to start might just be a reflection of what convinced us to make the leap. Many of our friends resemble us in some way so it isn't a stretch to begin where we started.

For myself, it was a friend who threw the idea out to try a race with him and his friends. These races had been on my radar for some time but I was hesitant because I was intimidated. At first, the idea of jumping over walls taller than myself and climbing a slick, mud-covered rope was something that I didn't believe I was capable of. That was for the jocks in gym class who spent more time lifting weights than studying for exams (which is something I found to be completely untrue and unfounded once I joined the community).

Then, I was intimidated by my friend. Not because he was wasn't nice or supportive, but because he was someone I looked up to. At the time, I was on a weight loss journey so the prospect of potentially disappointing both myself and my friend was terrifying. But what finally convinced me was the simple reassurance of my friend. He told me repeatedly that he and his friends weren't treating the event as a race; it was an opportunity to try something new and have some fun. He also reinforced that we planned on sticking together, no matter how slow anyone was.

4 years later and way more races than I can count, it is safe to say he finally got me into the sport. For me, it took a reassuring friend to convince me to try out OCR and it is how I've helped get friends and family into this crazy sport. But what if the concern isn't about physical ability? What if your friend doesn't like getting dirty? Telling them that they will have the physical and emotional support likely won't be enough to be the tipping point. For them, it might require you to find an event that doesn't get overly muddy. With the variety of races out there today, this is becoming much and much easier.

Maybe, their problem is that they are intimidated by what they have seen on TV and that is their only exposure to the sport. While shows like Spartan Ultimate Challenge or World's Toughest Mudder do occasionally show the average racer, they focus on the best of the best athletes in our sport. If that is the case, it is important to remind your friend that isn't the expectation of first-time racers, or even veterans. Remind them that the sport is about fun. That is why all of us got involved and why we continue to spend our hard earned income on events that push us to our limits.

Having said all of that, it is also important to remember that not everyone will find interest in the sport. And that is perfectly fine! While we love this sport and the people involved, it would be irresponsible to push it onto someone that genuinely has no interest. But if your friend wants to try out any race, a gentle push will go a lot further than an all-in sales pitch.

Series Navigation<< OCR 101: What to Wear to an Obstacle Course Race or Mud Run?

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