Last week, I did my best to introduce you to my new favorite hobby, Obstacle Course Racing. As mentioned near the end of that piece, one of the best parts of the OCR world is that a variety of race series have emerged to develop races suitable for all levels of skill and experience.
OCR is a nationwide (and worldwide!) phenomenon, but is particularly big in Florida. Each of the most popular race series will hit our state this year, and some more than once. Though 2016 is now more than halfway over, Florida’s usually brutal summer weather means that most local events show up near the beginning or the end of the calendar.
In the summer months, most race series head toward northern, more mountainous locations. Let’s just say that the prospect of running a 10+ mile OCR in the snow (what is that again?) is… less than ideal. As a result, the fall and winter months are packed full of great events right here in the Sunshine State.
Whether you have had a friend talk about obstacle racing and want to give it a shot, you have run a marathon or completed a triathlon and are looking for something different, or you have no earthly idea what a Tough Mudder is but are up for anything, there is a race for you. Read on to learn more about some of the options within easy weekend driving distance.
Event: Jaguars 5K Stadium Challenge
Date: Saturday, August 13
Race Length: 5 km
Drive Time from EverBank Field: 0 seconds (I mean, look at the name)
Okay, this one isn’t technically an OCR. But it’s definitely not your average road race, as the course will take runners up and down the stadium ramps, through the practice fields and onto the field for a finish at the 50-yard line under the lights.
With a shorter distance (and an earlier spot on the calendar) than any of the other races I’m going to list here, the Jaguars 5K Stadium Challenge is the perfect way to get the juices flowing for the OCR events later in the year.
Hey Look, Obstacles!
Date: Saturday, September 24
Race Length: 4 miles
Location: Winter Garden
Drive Time From EverBank Field: 2 hours, 35 minutes
Many OCR series offer multiple course lengths to provide a challenge to all racers, but the coolest thing about Bone Frog is that they include all of their courses within the same event on the same day. The Sprint course is a great entry point for the OCR newbie. The four-mile distance is just about a mile longer than a 5K, and with approximately 16 obstacles, this race is a little lighter than a Spartan Sprint while still providing a physical challenge.
Bone Frog also offers a Challenge course (nine miles, 30+ obstacles) and a Tier-1 course that combines the two (13 miles, 50+ obstacles). If you have some friends who are more experienced in OCR, get the crew together for an action-packed day that challenges everyone.
Raise the Bar
Event: Spartan Super
Date: Saturday, December 10
Race Length: 8-10 miles
Drive Time from EverBank Field: 1 hour, 19 minutes
You dashed around EverBank field in August and powered your way through the Bone Frog Sprint in September. More than likely, you have officially caught the OCR itch and are looking to step your game up. Enter the Spartan Super down in Flagler County in December.
Spartan Race is one of the biggest outfits in the OCR world, with a professional points series and multiple shows on national television. Even the open waves are on the competitive side; if you fail an obstacle, you will have to complete 30 burpees as a penalty before moving on.
Spartan is also known for putting the “trail” in trail running. With Florida’s, uh, lack of elevation change, the race directors will no doubt try to use the terrain to make life as difficult as possible for runners like us. But hey, that’s what it’s all about! Going through hell on the course makes earning the medal and finisher t-shirt that much more satisfying. I’ll be there, and you can bet that the experience will make me want to sign up for a Beast next year.
Event: Tough Mudder
Date: Saturday, November 5 / Sunday, November 6
Race Length: 10-12 miles
Location: Palm Bay
Drive Time From EverBank Field: 2 hours, 53 minutes
This year’s Central Florida Tough Mudder comes before the Spartan Super I covered above, but I listed it last because the nature of this event makes it stand out. Perhaps more than any other OCR series, Tough Mudder emphasizes teamwork, as there are no competitive waves and the event is untimed. In fact, some obstacles absolutely require runners to work together to progress (if you want to be spoiled, look up Pyramid Scheme and Block Ness Monster).
Another signature feature of Tough Mudder is, of course, mud. As the name suggests, you are going to get particularly dirty at this event. Case in point, there is an obstacle called Mud Mile, and it is named that for a reason, getting sweaty and muddy is kind of the point.
There is your OCR menu for the rest of 2016. I’ll be at all four of these events, so if you are planning on putting in some #machomiles of your own, shoot me a message @zanderkeanpxp to get in touch!