How to prepare for your first Obstacle Course Race

Blog - How to prepare for your first Obstacle Course Race

How to prepare for your first Obstacle Course Race

6 minute read

Planning on taking on your first Obstacle Course Race (OCR) but not sure where to start? Our good friends at the Conquer The Gauntlet Pro Team have shared their expert advice for anyone looking to give the sport a go for the first time...

Conquer the Gauntlet Pro Team

Attending your first Obstacle Course Race (OCR) can be a daunting task. Social media is filled with lean athletes sprinting through the course in tight spandex and doing things you’ve only seen on ninja warrior. Don’t fret though, the Conquer The Gauntlet Pro Team athletes are here to dispel some myths and get you race ready regardless of your fitness level.

Record-setting endurance OCR athlete Evan “Ultra-OCR Man” Perperis says:

“The first thing you should know is that although the athletes in the first wave are often super fit, the majority of the field is there to have fun. In fact, most of them spend the majority of the course walking and waiting for their friends after each obstacle. You can show up with your normal gym clothes, although I wouldn’t wear any cotton, a good attitude and I guarantee you’ll have a great time.”

Evan Perperis

As 40+x podium finisher and Broken Skull Challenge athlete Brenna “Red Beast” Calvert says:

“Be prepared for anything and everything, but most importantly have fun and soak it all in. There's plenty more to run after and get serious about. First and always comes fun”.

Brenna Calvert

7xMaster’s Conquer The Gauntlet winner Doug Snyder echoes Brenna’s advice:

“Approach it open-minded, and don't worry about having a perfect run. Just be "in the moment" and meet people, solve the obstacles, and above all HAVE FUN!”

Record holder for most number of CTG podium finishes in a row (10x) Nathan “NaPalm” Palmer, who also works on course build for Conquer Youth, an OCR for kids aged 5-17, says to remember three simple rules:

1. Do the obstacle as intended (for safety reasons)
2. Help others if they need it
3. Have fun

     Nathan Palmer

    Fort those who are looking to take the event a little more seriously, 6x Ninja Warrior athlete Amy “Magic” Pajcic and 2018 North American OCR Championships 2nd Place Pro Team athlete Matt “The Mudder” Willis have some advice for you. The team’s obstacle specialist Amy Pajcic says:

    “If you fail an obstacle, take a moment to properly recover grip and watch/ study others to figure out where you went wrong and what to do.”


    Amy Pajcic

    For those putting in some quality training in preparation, Matt recommends:

    “Place equal weight on what you need improvement on and what you succeeded in doing. Don't dwell on only where you want or need to improve, because that can hinder what you already excel at.”

    Matt Willis

    Whether your race goes great or poorly, Age Group 30-34 2017 OCR World Champion in the 3k and 15k Ashley Samples recommends using every race as an education experience by watching others on the course:

    “Use others as a learning opportunity to find different techniques. Try them all to see what works for you. If you come across an obstacle you can’t complete yet, feel free to try again or head back to it when you finish the race for extra practice.”

    Ashley Samples

    Undefeated CTG Masters winner (6x) Lisa Nondorf encourages athletes to push themselves outside of their comfort zones to reach new goals:

    “Never underestimate your ability to overcome obstacles and always challenge yourself and your limitations! Take any "can't do" and put the word yet behind that statement (I can't do the rig... yet). Go home and focus on training to overcome those obstacles for the future!”

    Lisa Nondorf

    If all the information on training and technique feels overwhelming to you, just follow the advice of the 2018 North American OCR 3k and 15k Age Group 20-29 Champion Ashton Abraham,


    “Run and practice grip/upper body strength by doing dead hangs along with pullups.” 


    Simple advice that with enough repetitions and practice will lead to success in most races.

    In the end OCR is a method to not only better health but new friends and unparalleled experiences. As 50+x podium finisher Jay “Captain Puerto Rico” Flores states:

    “Your first OCR is a big step towards a healthier and happier lifestyle. Building the strength to conquer an obstacle that you couldn’t before is a much better motivator than a number on a scale! Have fun and engage with the OCR community. You’ll soon be surrounded by people that will help lift you to your goals!”

    Jay “Captain Puerto Rico” Flores

    As always, don’t forget your dryrobe. It is great for cold weather, rain or even just to use as a portable changing room in the middle of a crowded festival. As Evan “Ultra-OCR Man” Perperis says:

    “I swear my dryrobe is a good luck charm, if I leave it at home somehow a storm system always moves into the race area soaking the course.”

    Best wishes on your first race and we hope to see you at a Conquer The Gauntlet race or another OCR. Don’t hesitate to come say hi and if you need more help, don’t hesitate to ask. I think you’ll find our team as well as most of the OCR community is really friendly.

    CTG Pro Team

    If you want more specific advice follow along our journey at our Facebook page Conquer The Gauntlet Pro Team, where we post weekly technique videos and training tips. You can also pick up one of the five books, CTG Pro Evan Perperis wrote on OCR.

    At the end of the day you’ll learn a little bit at each OCR you attend and you’ll get a little better each time. Even the pros make mistakes sometimes, so have fun, #staywarm and as our teammate Amy “Magic” Pajcic says, “Enjoy the journey!”

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