Obstacle Course Racing – Mud, Sweat and Smears!


You’ve probably heard about Obstacle Course Racing or OCR. New OCR events are popping up every weekend. It may surprise you to learn that OCR has been around since 1987 when the first commercial race was held in the UK. Its only in recent years however, that it’s really gained momentum and has been singled out as the fastest growing sport in the world.


OCR involves a sea of people completing a trail run interspersed with a number of challenges in the form of obstacles. Generally, there’s MUD!  The courses vary in length, and the obstacles vary in number and difficulty in order to cater for EVERYONE. Obstacles include, but are not limited to, climbing over walls, carrying heavy objects, traversing bodies of water, crawling under wire and so forth. Think GI Jane!

The various events all have 3 general race categories with profiles along the following lines:

Beginner: About 5-7km with 15 relatively easy obstacles.

Intermediate: 10-12km with 20-30 (some more advanced) obstacles.

Advanced: The advanced races are a true test of strength and endurance. Generally, a 15-20km trail run with anything from 32 to 50 obstacles that vary from easy to simply brutal.

The key to having a successful race is to get as dirty as possible and to enjoy it! It’s about helping each other out when you’re stuck, and testing your own limits while having a healthy dose of active fun!


It’s social. You can tackle a race on your own or in a team. Regardless, there’s a great atmosphere of comradery with people helping each other over obstacles.

It’s challenging. Like an elite athlete, you discover your physical and mental boundaries and then find a way to push beyond these.

It takes you outside!


Carina Marx OCR athlete

The Equilibrio team has had the privilege of training with Carina Marx, one of South Africa’s top OCR athletes, and a very talented personal trainer. She very kindly agreed to be grilled by us and provide some insights into her own pursuit of balance and OCR.

Have you always been this fit & healthy?

I used to do competitive bodybuilding but never felt healthy. I was eating nothing and smoking to keep my weight down. When I stopped, the weight piled on within a month. It took me nearly 3 years to find a healthy balance again. OCR played a huge part in bringing that balance into my life.

How did you get into OCR?

A friend, who is also a personal fitness professional, put together a team to enter a beginner obstacle course race about 3½ years ago. I absolutely loved it and was instantly hooked. I looked at the elite Advanced athletes with awe thinking, that’s where I want to be. Inspired, I started to train with an eye on eventually competing at that level.

Did you do anything special to prepare for your first OCR race?

No. I was doing my usual strength/weight training in the gym and had done very little running before the race.

What does your training involve now?

My training is varied and includes a combination of running and obstacle course training with some CrossFit work thrown in. I change my cardio up by cycling and swimming from time to time to give my legs a break from running. You can’t get bored training for OCR. There is so much variety!

What part of your training do you enjoy the most?

I love doing the grip stuff. Just playing on all the obstacles is so much fun.

And the least?


Do you take rest days?

Yes, I have at least 1 active rest day a week. I do a foam rolling session and some yoga. It’s an essential part of injury prevention.


Carina has the following advice for OCR Newbies:

What training do I need to do for my first Rookie race?

Although a base level of strength and fitness will help you, you don’t need to do specific training for your first event. Just go, play and have some fun.

What if I want to get stronger and faster?

Run and build pull-up (upper body) and grip strength. Consider joining an OCR club.

Where can I find OCR specific training?

I go to Battlerush in Bryanston, Johannesburg. Joining Battlerush changed my life and drastically improved my performance! There are a growing number of OCR training venues across South Africa. It’s probably easiest to use Google to find one near you.

Any kit suggestions?

Stay away from cotton. It weighs you down. You need to wear dry fit clothing. Locally, Liquidsalt Activewear makes a great range of OCR specific apparel.


Trail running shoes are preferable. Something with good grip that doesn’t hold water. I wear the Inov-8 Mudclaw300. Inov-8 is a leading all terrain footwear brand and even has an OCR specific range.

A final note from Carina for OCR newbies:  Don’t be intimidated. Just give it a try. Go find your inner child, get fit and be prepared to have lots of fun!

Carina is an outstanding ambassador for OCR and South Africa. She loves her sport and trains hard to be among the best. Thank-you again Carina for your time and good luck for the Reebok Spartan Race World Championships in Lake Tahoe in September! 

Support Carina at the World Champs and in her other races

Follow her on Facebook (http://facebook.com/carinamarxOCR/)

Follow her on Instagram (http://instagram.com/carina.marx)

email:  [email protected]




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