tv & movies

A challenge with a view

Obstacle course racing is the new, exhilarating buzzword in fitness, and India is fast catching on

You don’t have to be a Tour de France cyclist to combine sports with stunning landscapes. You can do it just by running — and climbing, crawling, swinging and jumping — on your own two feet, on beaches, up mountains, even in iconic stadiums and zoos, as an obstacle-course racer.

Rope climb

Rope climb
 
| Photo Credit:
By arrangement

Obstacle course racing has been growing in popularity by leaps and bounds, quite literally, around the world in the past few years. There’s the Spartan Death Race and Tough Mudder, both obstacle-course racing events, organised by different authorities around the globe. You could be running on a pristine white beach one day, lugging heavy tyres, swinging across monkey bars and crawling under barbed wire with 50 other participants; and the next, you could be racing uphill with a view of deep valleys to keep you company, wondering at what point the race will require you to change tactics and tap into your reserved energy.

Fire jump

Fire jump
 
| Photo Credit:
By arrangement

But no matter what the brand, obstacle, location or distance (races can range from 3 kilometres to 40 kilometres), all races follow the guidelines, safety precautions and points system set up by Federation Internationale de Sports d’Obstacles, or World OCR. India is fairly new to the scene. Though a few Spartan and other races have been held in parts of the country every once in a while, there is only one Indian organisation affiliated to World OCR to conduct regular events: the 18-month-old, Chennai-based Wild Warrior. When and where

  • Here are some races you can follow, held across the globe, around the year
  • Spartan: www.spartan.com/en
  • Tough Mudder: toughmudder.com
  • Strong Viking: strongviking.com/en
  • Taurus 200: www.taurus.com.au, which organises the official 50km, 100km and 200km OCR World Championships

Barbwire crawl

Barbwire crawl
 
| Photo Credit:
By arrangement

Founded by OCR athlete Vikram Menon, former tennis star Somdev Devvarman, mountaineer Varun Gunaseelan and event executor Arun Karthik, Wild Warrior has held 16 events in the past 18 months, picking out scenic locations from the foothills of the Himalayas to the beaches of Chennai. Though they have a strong sports background, the four don’t see obstacle-course racing as just a sport. “It is a lifestyle. Not only do people compete with each other, but they also see it as a way to travel the world and see beautiful places,” says Vikram, who has been participating and winning OCRs around the globe for about three years now.

During the trial run

During the trial run
 
| Photo Credit:
By arrangement

The basics, he says, are simple enough. “You need to be able to run. Not as well as a decent professional runner, but keep in mind that most races are 3K to 4K, 80% of which you will be running. So make sure you can run 5 kilometres at your own pace, and can manage your energy accordingly. Secondly, hanging and grip strength are very important: a rope climb, monkey bar or ring transfer will be one of the mandatory obstacles in most races.” How to train

  • According to athletes, there are three different points of focus
  • Speed running is key
  • Grip calisthenics can help increase grip strength, as can rock-climbing twice a week, for half an hour
  • Strength try cross fit, calisthenics, or conventional methods like tyre flips

Tyre wall

Tyre wall
 
| Photo Credit:
By arrangement

You also need to know how to jump a wall, he laughs, “I always say that if you are capable of escaping over a wall if chased by a dog, then you are fit enough for obstacle course racing.” The Wild Warrior team took this quite literally at one of their recent events — they locked the gate of their mountain-view venue, and participants had to climb over it to get in. Those who couldn’t enter, couldn’t race.

Wall jump

Wall jump
 
| Photo Credit:
By arrangement

The fourth basic ability Vikram talks about, is the ability to crawl for a short distance. “If you can do all these, then you can enjoy the race. Beyond that, it’s not as complicated as people make it out to be. Once you become elite and want to compete with the best in the continent, you can make your training more personalised,” says the athlete, who came sixth in the Asian Obstacle Course Racing Championship, 2018, and won a Spartan race in China in January 2019. He explains how, though he needs to up his running speed by another minute, his grip strength currently makes up for it, enabling him to compete with a better runner with lower strength.

Scenic surroundings

Scenic surroundings
 

It is this same play on different arenas of strength that attracted Sanjana George, a Bengaluru-based functional trainer, to the sport. “I think OCR is the only race that will completely challenge your physical fitness,” she says, “And it really requires a lot of grit.” Sanjana’s first obstacle course race was a Devil’s Circuit in 2016. “I have done 16 races so far: out of which two were Spartans, and four were by Wild Warrior,” she says. It helps that she has a regular job to fall back on, she admits. “You cannot be a pro-level athlete and expect to earn from it: you do need to have a certain amount of disposable income, and time, to go travelling and participating.” But if you can, she says, it sure is worth it.

Source: Read Full Article