Next month's selection for Oprah's Book Club

Introduction

Take a little journey with me: think back to your first event. I’m gambling that a friend, family member, or co-worker pitched to you the outlandish idea of joining him or her for a run promising a little dirty fun and obstacles. I’m guessing further that he or she sold you on either the challenge or the promise of a free beer with your buddies. And, if you’re anything like me, that one friend, that single pitch, planted a seed that flourished into a full-fledged fixation with racing. That, my friends, is precisely the driving force behind the newest book on the OCR scene, Mud Run Guide’s Ultimate Obstacle Course Racing Bucket List, herein referred to simply as Bucket List.

What is it?

From a team of Mud Run Guide contributors, led by the Ultra-OCR man himself, Evan Perperis, Bucket List is a comprehensive guidebook to OCR events. The book is nearly entirely comprised of first-hand experiences from the contributing authors, quite the feat considering the 125 entries in the 146-page book! Entries are quick and dirty, leading with basic information including the name of the event; location (specific locations in some cases or regional/national scope); time of the year it typically occurs; and website for further discovery. Details that follow often highlight signature obstacles to expect, considerable challenges to be aware of, and a small tidbit about what makes that event special, thus, worthy of inclusion on your bucket list. Many entries even feature a photo that captures something special about each event for readers to connect with.

Why do I like it?

  • That title: I’m a sucker for a good double entendre. What could be more perfect than a title that incorporates a sports staple while alluding to lifelong goals? It also makes for a killer cover photo.
  • Chapter breakdown: Evan’s idea to organize chapters by experience rather than brand is stellar. For example, four of the book’s seventeen chapters are titled: “Destination Races,” “For the Party,” “All-Nighters,” and “If You Can Win it All.” Outlining the book this way offers readers a method to target races based season goals. Say an athlete is recovering from injury but still wants to enjoy a challenge with camaraderie—“For the Party” is a great place for you to start. On the other hand, a racer ready to compete elite will appreciate “If You Can Win it All.”
  • Portability: I’m old school in that I still prefer the tangibility of a physical book over the digital counterpart. That said, Bucket List clocks in at a reasonably portable 8” x 6” frame and ½” thickness—about the size of a Goosebumps book (read: old school). It’s the perfect size to tuck into a carry-on or purse. Though if you prefer the ultra-portability of the digital age, such an offering is currently on pre-order to be made available in roughly a month.
  • Digestibility: Somehow our kind is okay running 8+ hours at a time, but enduring more than a few paragraphs is the real feat. For the short-attention spans of our time, entries are brief enough yet packed with information so readers may take bite-sized chunks out of the book at her leisure. Plus, if an athlete is interested in a particular race, there is an index for quick reference.
  • Opportunity: Bucket List is not about selling athletes on a particular event–it’s about enabling readers to say YES to an experience.

    Evan Perperis, head writer, is serious about OCR.

Is it really all sunshine and rainbows?

Contributors deliver the goods with each entry, keeping the tone overwhelmingly positive for all brands and race types throughout. Seasoned OCR athletes understand that while most races are magical, events do experience hiccups, growing pains, and other less-than-stellar issues. That’s what I think makes the book so special—the contributors gush about each race because the very heart of this sport is grounded in its inclusive, supportive nature. The sport has had a significant impact on each of the contributing author’s lives, and it’s quite clear that this book serves as that love letter.

Bucket List contributing authors

Is it worth the cash?

Full disclosure—yes, I am one of the contributing authors of this book. That said, my effort was, and also is the case of this review, offered pro bono; I do not reap any monetary gain from the sales. Even so, the book is a wonderful read for OCR athletes participating at any level for any purpose. Weekend warriors can find value in stashing this guide in the training bucket to refer when brainstorming the next race season; the historian may treasure this as a time capsule snapshotting the current state of a wildly evolving sport. Whatever the reason, Bucket List is a must for the OCR enthusiast.

To order your own copy of Mud Run Guide’s Ultimate Obstacle Course Racing Bucket List, the of hard copy version is available direct from the head writer’s site—you can even elect for an autographed version from the Ultra-OCR Man himself! If digital is more your jam, pre-order your copy on Amazon for ultra-portability, available July 19.