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Non-traditional endurance events can provide a new challenge

Many endurance athletes hit a point when they just want something different. After years of competing in triathlons and road races, I decided to go back to my roots and compete once again in Obstacle Course Racing and non-traditional endurance events.


Since Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) became popular in the 1980s, the sport has grown to more than 2,500 events held annually across the world and produced by many different companies. Well-known race brands include Spartan, Tough Mudder, Go Ruck, and Rugged Maniac, as well as a slew of independent race producers. Races vary widely in distance from 5K to 100 miles, whereas others are based on time ranging anywhere from 3 hours to 24 hours.


OCR involves running, jumping and overcoming obstacles while on the course. Obstacles such as monkey bars, crawling under barbed wire, jumping through fire, rope climbs, scaling walls, and crawling in the mud are common in many of the OCR events throughout the U.S. OCR events are usually held in outdoor areas that have plenty of room to set up the obstacles, as well as allow for travel distance between them for recovery. OCR events take place in locations ranging from ski resorts to horse fields and even on golf courses. (Whoever allowed that contract to be signed undoubtedly got fired!) Spartan even has a series of events held in well-known stadiums like Fenway Park, Notre Dame Stadium and Yankee Stadium.


OCR training involves a unique blend of endurance and strength training, which can provide a welcome challenge to athletes who have participated in more traditional endurance events. Many people run from obstacle to obstacle, but others walk or jog, especially if you’re competing with a team that wants to stay together. Competing on a team allows participants to work together to conquer the obstacles versus doing it solo. It’s also a great opportunity to race together with family and friends. But do not fear entering an event by yourself, as other competitors are always willing to work together to help fellow racers.


If you’re looking for something different but not sure about the mud and obstacles, there are other options. Spartan’s DEKA series involves an indoor gym-based series of challenges like lunges, rowing, and burpees. Other non-traditional endurance events include stair climbs or rucking. These events (which often benefit a charity and/or honor fallen soldiers and first responders) involve things like climbing stadium stairs and rucking with a group of individuals that are given tests and challenges by military special operations members.


Join us in Charleston!

Axes Endurance Coaching is proud to sponsor the Charleston Memorial Stair Climb being held at the North Charleston Coliseum on June 22, 2024. This event pays tribute to the 412 first responders lost on 9/11. They will honor the 343 firefighters, 1 NYFP, 60 law enforcement officers, and 8 emergency medical technicians who made the ultimate sacrifice with their lives on 9/​11/01. In addition, they will also honor and recognize local first responders who have perished in the line of duty. To join Coach John at this event, use this link to sign up or volunteer:


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