What Is This OCR - Obstacle Course Racing You Keep Hearing About?

An explanation of Obstacle Course Racing

Tough Mudder
Tough Mudder race, 2013. Tough Mudder

Obstacle Course Racing better known within the industry as OCR is an umbrella term that can be used to describe mud runs, obstacle races, hybrid races, challenges, themed runs and extreme endurance events. It can often be confusing when first entering the sport to figure out the differences between each type of event. 


An OCR typically consists of physical or mental obstacles a participant must overcome.

Many obstacles draw from military training courses consisting of rope climbed, cargo nets, barbed wire, and walls. OCR's also have participants carry sandbags, jump over fire, swim, and sometimes run though electricity as in the case of Tough Mudder. Each event has it's own signature obstacles and challenges. 


Mud Run is the most common term used in the industry and also the most misused term as well. A mud run refers to any event where competitors are not timed and completion of obstacles is optional. Mud runs often typically are 5k's in distance. A popular mud run is Warrior Dash. The most extreme of all mud runs is the famous Tough Mudder, a ten to twelve mile mud run with extreme obstacles.


Obstacle Races are the next most common term. Obstacle races refer to any event where participants are timed and awards are given for top competitors. Often obstacle races have designated elite or competitive heats in which participants race for cash prizes.

The distances of these races vary from a 5K to over a half marathon. The most popular obstacle race is the Reebok Spartan Race. Regional races such as Savage Race are also popular.


Hybrid Events are competitive events that go beyond the normal obstacle race or mud run. These races often have an obstacle race component as a greater part of their event.

Krell Adventure Games and O2X are two examples of hybrids. 


Challenges are not races but instead participants work in a group to accomplish a goal. Often during challenges participants carry rucks or backpacks filled with bricks or sand. The goal is for the group to accomplish a set objective. Often challenges have military undertones, and participants must complete physical fitness and undergo mental rigors. These events often last six, twelve, twenty-four, and even forty-eight hours or longer. Popular challenges are GORUCK, SEALFIT, THE SUCK, SISU IRON, and The Brutality. 


Themed Fun Runs refer to all running races that incorporate something beyond just a run. These type of races can include, bubble, color, neon lights, glow sticks, or donuts. Although, no traditional obstacles to overcome they all include a theme which separates them from a typical neighborhood 5K. These runs are often not timed and are non-competitive. The most popular run are the Color Run in which colored powder is thrown into participants as they run by each kilometer. Other races are Color Me Rad, and the Ugly Sweater Run.


Finally, Extreme Endurance Events are events that go beyond the typical obstacle race or challenge.

These events often cover ultra marathon distances and require participants to continue to compete without sleep for days. Participants often receive little to no aid and requiring them to be self-sufficient. These events are not for the casual athlete and often competitors spend years training for them. Events such as the former Spartan Death Race has no official start or finish, participants must keep going until race directors say the race ends or they quit. Other events such as Survival Run require participants to scale trees, make their own footwear, and filter their own water. These events tend to bolster a 10-20% finish rate. 


OCR's are for everyone, and give participants a great variety of events to participate in. Each type of event offering it's own unique flavor and challenges. Everyone from the beginner to professional athlete can find an OCR event to meet their needs.

Overall OCR's are about exploring new possibilities and pushing perceived limits.

mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Schlachter, Margaret. "What Is This OCR - Obstacle Course Racing You Keep Hearing About?" ThoughtCo, Feb. 25, 2016, thoughtco.com/what-is-obstacle-course-racing-2509882. Schlachter, Margaret. (2016, February 25). What Is This OCR - Obstacle Course Racing You Keep Hearing About? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-obstacle-course-racing-2509882 Schlachter, Margaret. "What Is This OCR - Obstacle Course Racing You Keep Hearing About?" ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-obstacle-course-racing-2509882 (accessed November 24, 2017).