This Winter, obstacle course racing, often referred to as OCR, is always a fun way to test your fitness and determination; and even if old man winter sets in, it doesn’t mean you have to take the fun indoors or give up the racing scene for the season.
In fact, the cold and snow can add to the sense of adventure and satisfaction you'll get from conquering all those obstacles. For the competitive athlete or the “just want to have fun” OCR racer, there are a few opportunities between the months of Nov and March to challenge yourself and brave the elements.
Here are the top five races to consider If you’re looking for an obstacle course race to do this winter on the east coast:
1. Spartan Sprint | Boston, MA | Nov 10-11, 2018
This race is part of the Spartan Sprint series of races that take place all over the U.S. throughout the year. In this particular one, you’re treated to unprecedented access to previously closed off areas of America's Most Beloved Ballpark: Fenway. The course covers 3 miles, with 20-23 obstacles.
You’ll have a chance to do burpees in the clubhouse, run on the warning track, and sprint through the finish line at home plate. It’s ideal for both new and experienced racers, and it boasts the fastest average finishing time in the sprint series (40 minutes). If you have kids you want to bring along, there is a kids race available along with a chance for them to run with Wally the Green Monster, the official mascot of the Red Sox.
2. Bonefrog | Charlotte, NC | Nov 10, 2018
This race is a part of the Bonefrog series of obstacle course races developed by Navy SEALs to challenge and inspire participants to become better athletes and recognize they can do anything they set their minds to, while enjoying camaraderie and teamwork.
The race offers a choice of three different courses (a 3 mile sprint with 20+ obstacles, a 6 mile “challenge” with 30+ obstacles, a 9 mile “Tier-1” with 50+ obstacles) and an “endurance” category, in which you cover as many of the 3 mile sprint laps as possible before a time cutoff. Obstacles are placed at least every 1/4 mile over the various courses, so running fitness alone won’t get you through the day. If you’re bringing your family, the event also offers a kids race in addition to kid-friendly activities, such as practicing on scaled-down obstacles.
3. Soldier Rush | Parkland, FL | Nov 10, 2018
Don your American-themed workout clothes and come ready to test your mental and physical strength in this patriotic 5K obstacle course. The 50+ obstacles over grass and trails include climbing over walls, carrying heavy objects, crossing bodies of water and more. Designed to challenge participants of all skill levels, you can either race in the competitive division and win some cash or just do it for fun with your whole family. A separate “kids course” for ages 4-8 takes place after the main race. In keeping with the patriotic theme, a portion of the proceeds goes toward supporting both veterans and first responders. You’ll be treated to a real Military Boot Camp experience that tests your endurance, strength, speed, and dexterity in a fun and friendly atmosphere - and for a good cause.
4. Blizzard Blast | Lowell, MA | Jan 26, 2019
This race is appropriately named because you know January in Massachusetts is going to be cold and snowy. Touted as New England’s ‘Premier Winter Obstacle Race’, this tough but fun 4-6 mile winter obstacle run tests its participants, both regular and elite, with a challenging course through the terrain and woods of Shedd Park. Obstacles include swinging from the famous Keg Kingdom, getting tortured in the Donkey Kong Roll and enjoying the fresh smell of the season with an arduous 1/4 mile Christmas Tree Carry. If just doing one lap isn’t enough for you, you can sign up to do the course an unlimited number of times.
5. Benson Polar Bear Obstacle Challenge | Benson, VT | Feb 2, 2019
This race challenges its participants - mentally and physically - to see how many laps they can complete in 8 hours. Each 10K lap has over 70 obstacles and challenges dispersed throughout the trails, hills, mud, ice and snow.
If you don’t want to go for the win (and just want to have fun) you can sign up for the journeyman division, which lets you participate without worrying about being penalized for not completing obstacles. While you won't be eligible for prizes and podiums, you will get the same race experience, medals, shirts and course. In between each lap, you can take a break and refuel at the endless “hot buffet” included in your entry fee. This race is an OCR World Championship qualifying event, so there will be plenty of competition for those that want it. https://www.shalehilladventure.com
6. BoldrDash Winter Dash | Exeter, RI | Mar 2019 (exact date TBD)
If you're ready for some fun in the cold in a scenic environment, this 5K obstacle race won’t disappoint you. The course covers open fields and wooded trails surrounding a 22 acre pond - with15-20 challenging obstacles along the way to add to the fun. Obstacles include the signature Boldr run (running with a boulder), rope climbs, herculean hoist and many more, as well as natural obstacles along the trails.
To encourage everyone to try the obstacles and race at their level, the obstacles are built on different levels of difficulty. The organizers are also kind enough to light some outdoor campfires to keep participants warm along the way if they need it. This is the first event in the B3 Series (if you want to earn the BoldrDash Trifecta 2019). It is also a fundraiser for Find Your Bold, an organization committed to empowering individuals to conquer their fears and perceived limitations - very consistent with the premise of the race itself.
Don’t let the winter weather deter you from getting out and having fun. The beauty of all these events is that they cater to both experienced and inexperienced racers, elite competitive and non-elite athletes. Many of the races also have training programs listed on their website if you’re new to the sport. So grab some friends, start training and experience some great winter obstacle course racing this winter!