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Top 8 tips to help you take on your next obstacle course race

Posted Apr 06 2012 7:55am


The 2012 Ruckus Kansas City obstacle course race came and went here in Kansas City.  I know, most of you reading out there are more into the whole swim, bike and run deal, but there are a few of you hooked on endurance events in general.  I know I am, so when fun races like Ruckus come up, I'll expand my horizon.

Racers had the option of running the 4 mile Challenge or 2 mile heater courses.  The top 10% raced the Champions Heat after all waves of the challenge distance was ran.
From 9am until the last Challenge wave at 11:20, racers ran, climbed and crawled their way from start to finish through 20 obstacles.

Through my pain, mud and anguish is born more tips on racing an obstacle course race to add from 2011 .


  1. For the guys mostly, wear compression shorts under your running/gym shorts.  No one wants to see a flash mob on the cargo nets. Boxers are not meant for the obstacle course.
  2. Wear light, somewhat form fitting shorts.  Sure, you may not like short running shorts or NBA shorts from the eighties, but if you wear the wrong shorts, they will be soaked from the mud pit obstacles and you will spend the entire race pulling them up or weighted down from the extra water they absorbed.  And, if they have a drawstring, tie it tight!  This year the mud pits were deeper and your shorts, shirt and pretty much to your chest will be wet.
  3. Gloves are not necessary.  Sure, they may save your fingernails form getting mud under them, but they do not provide any better grip than bare hands.  No obstacle was bad enough to tear up bare hands.
  4. High socks will save your legs from rope burns, but they will not stay up in the mud pits unless you tape them up.  It's a scientific fact that wet knee high socks will sag to the ankles when drenched with muddy water.  It would be more prudent to use your feet to hook the army rope crawls than the back of your ankle and save the knee high socks for catholic school.
  5. Find a place for your keys.  Minimal is good.  The less you have to lug with you for 4 miles and mud, the better.  Don't try and be a hero and carry your car key in your sock.  See point 4 that your socks may not stay up and hold your key.  Good luck finding your key in 3 feet of mud and water if you lose it.
  6. If you are looking to qualify for the champion’s heat, race early.  The course will be less torn up.  You will avoid catching as many competitors from previous heat on the course.  The champion’s heat starts at noon and if you sign up for the 11:20 heat, you might miss the start!  Not to mention, the more time between races, the more time to rest you have.
  7. If you are looking to be competitive, hit the heat early.  Turn on the boosters to get ahead of the crew and avoid bottlenecks at obstacles.  Ruckus has done a good job of addressing the bottleneck issues from 2011, however, there will still be some to avoid.
  8. If you have the means, get some Vibrams five fingers or something similar.  Trail running shoes and regular tennis shoes will get caked in mud and filled with water from the mud pits.  Nothing slows you down like mud weights and squishy sneakers.  From what was observed today, five fingers and similar shoes shed mud better and do not absorb as much water.

Hopefully these tips help you out for your next obstacle course race.  Happy trails!

*Writer’s note, Ruckus Sports distributed a complimentary race entry to Ryan and in no way influenced reviews and recounts of the event.  Read my personal recap HERE .

Runfinish Ryan Falkenrath writes the blog , married father of two young kids, owner of two dogs and trying to balance life, work and multisport. Ryan has participated in multisport events since 2001 from 5k's to Half Ironmans.  Ryan is also the Kansas City Endurance Sports Examiner and you can read more of his triathlon thoughts  HERE  and he collects race reviews at .  Contact Ryan at: or follow him on  @TriJayhawkRyan .

Follow on twitter @ everymantri  or view latest videos on YouTube .


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