Tips to Dominate Obstacle Races

obst1My legs churned below my body as I bolt­ed down Strat­ton Moun­tain in Ver­mont. About five miles into the Extreme Wolver­ine Chal­lenge obsta­cle race, my team­mate and I had opened up a con­sid­er­able lead and decid­ed to let it all hang out.

We hit the bot­tom of the moun­tain at speed and bolt­ed to the sec­ond-to-last obsta­cle, a two-way pond cross­ing assist­ed in one direc­tion by a rope strung from bank to bank. The sec­ond cross­ing was over unsta­ble float­ing plas­tic pods.

I thrashed through the pond, which turned out to be by far the most time con­sum­ing and tir­ing obsta­cle of the 20 or so that lined the six mile course, and fin­ished strong with my team­mate, first and sec­ond place a full three min­utes ahead of the next competitor.

In hind­sight, our train­ing had been spot-on and our prepa­ra­tion worked to a tee. These ideas could help you dom­i­nate in an obsta­cle race: 

obst3Train To Run
While obsta­cle races do require full-body ath­let­ics, they are in essence run­ning races bro­ken up by a few fun and usu­al­ly pret­ty easy diver­sions. In the case of the Extreme Wolver­ine Chal­lenge, our strength came from a trail run­ning background.

Train For Ter­rain
The Extreme Wolver­ine Chal­lenge was a moun­tain­ous course, with steep climbs and descents over thou­sands of feet of ski hill. I trained for the course with hill work­outs and trail races on oth­er moun­tains in Col­orado. For a flat race course, speed work and inter­val train­ing over flat ter­rain would be more suitable.

Expect Adver­si­ty
Obsta­cle races are designed to test your phys­i­cal abil­i­ty. They should hurt a lit­tle and even test your prob­lem solv­ing skills at times. If you don’t expect it to be easy, the chal­lenges (that are cer­tain to arise) won’t bring you down.

Gear Up Wise­ly
In the Extreme Wolver­ine Chal­lenge, I chose to wear the rugged Wolver­ine Creek-Bed mul­ti-sport water shoe. It proved to be great for this event, with a pli­able, min­i­mal­ly sup­port­ive sole cou­pled with aggres­sive tread and quick drain­ing upper. Through mud, over obsta­cles and even in the water, the shoe was ver­sa­tile and effec­tive. Plan footwear and cloth­ing to match the ter­rain and chal­lenges of a par­tic­u­lar race.

obst2Start Fast
This advice is a bit con­trary to the typ­i­cal 10‑K race, but if you want to do well in an obsta­cle race, it’s a good idea to get to the front of the pack to avoid bot­tle­necks at obsta­cles. A good warm-up rou­tine before the start will help you get off the start­ing line quick and up with the front of the pack.

Strength­en The Core
Many obsta­cles require climb­ing, lung­ing and crawl­ing. Pre­pare for these obsta­cles with a good core-strength work­out rou­tine. Look for exer­cis­es that take place on unsta­ble sur­faces and work core mus­cles with dynam­ic motions.