A few weeks back we covered five things you need to know about the traveling to the North American OCR Championships, but this week we get to some of the details everyone wants to know: what you need to know about the race itself. Put on your MudGear socks and let’s get ready to party because it is time to prep for the NorAm at Stratton.

You’ll Know Where You Stand

At most races, you have no idea where you are in the field mid-race compared to others in your age group. One of the things that make this race awesome is you will run with your gender in your age group. That means you’ll know about where you fall in the field in the middle of the race. A side note to this is CHECK THE SCHEDULE. The waves don’t go in order from youngest to oldest or vice versa. They are setup in a way to get everyone on and off the course without causing backups. They are also not the same start times for the 3K and 15K, for example the Pros for the 3K usually go last and the Pros for the 15K usually go first. Therefore, be sure to check the schedule so you know what time your wave is starting. This will allow you to show up with plenty of time to warm up and get ready (another reason to stay onsite).

Mandatory Obstacle Completion

The NorAm is a mandatory obstacle completion course. While this is old news for most people, if you are new to OCR or race a series that has penalty options this may be news to you. This means you can’t do burpees and bypass an obstacle and place higher than those who completed all the obstacles.

You will receive a wristband for each race. If you fail to complete an obstacle you will have to go to an attendant who will cut your band. This doesn’t mean you are disqualified or DNF (Did Not Finish) the race, it simply puts you below all athletes who completed all the obstacles and means you are ineligible for prize money. The only people who DNF are those that walk off the course mid-race and the only people that are disqualified are those that failed to adhere to the rules.

If you qualified at a race with obstacles that are not as challenging as some others, I would head to some challenging mandatory obstacle completion races to test your skills. Races like Conquer The Gauntlet, Savage Race or Indian Mud Run just to name a few. For those that qualified at a race that was pancake flat (everyone from Florida, I’m looking at you), pay attention to the next bullet comment.

Keeping that wristband is the name of the game.

Stratton is a Mountain Course

The 3K only goes up a small section of the mountain and is obstacle dense. However, the 15K goes all the way to the top…multiple times. This means you are going to want to work on your power hiking and hill running. Find a long steep hill or max out that treadmill to get some quality time working on your uphill climbing. I would also show up with a pair of shoes with an aggressive sole. inov-8 just released a shoe with a graphene sole (a lightweight substance stronger than steel). If you want to have the best traction using the cutting edge of technology, go check out their G series.

FYI: Stratton is a beast of a mountain.

All the Medals

If this is your first Adventurey event, you should know that they take pride in their bling. Ever since 2016, their lineup of medals has been spectacular with high quality, large medals that are heavy. In fact, when I put them in my carry-on baggage, Transportation Security Administration (TSA), stops me to look at them. Is it because they are very dense on the X-ray machine? Or because they want to feel the glory of holding a NorAm finisher’s medal? I think the latter.

The one regret I often hear people say is “I should have ran the 3K/Team/Charity (whichever race they missed) event”. Maximize your fun and run all the races: 3K on Friday, 15K on Saturday and Team as well as the Charity event on Sunday.

The best medals in OCR. Period.

Have Fun

Yes, this is a championship event and yes, it is mandatory completion. However, let’s remember that 99% of us are in this sport because we enjoy it, so have fun. Whether you win your age group, come in 4th, come in last or lose your band on what your friends said was an easy obstacle, enjoy the experience. The person who cares most about your results and how well you did is yourself. Take a moment and reflect on the journey that led you to this point and how great it has been. Use the NorAm as a celebration of how much you’ve improved and how great the sport of OCR and its surrounding community. If you lose your band, don’t worry, it happens. Take a year to regroup and come back stronger than ever. If you lose your band every year, then keep trying, this is a championship event after all, it is not supposed to be a walk in the park.

I hope to see you all at Stratton, Vermont this summer. After 2017’s US OCR Championship and 2018’s North American OCR Championship, this is one of my favorite events of the year. For those coming from another country make sure you bring your friends and be sure to show up in style representing your country, brand or team with an AKUMA OCR jersey.

If you are looking for more specific training advice like workout plans, fueling strategies, general nutrition information, obstacle techniques and interview with some of the legends of the sport, check out my book “Strength & Speed’s Guide to Elite OCR” available off my website.

Evan Perperis, NSCA-CPT,  is an athlete on the Conquer The Gauntlet Pro Team and author of three books on Obstacle Course Racing. Included in his 39 podium finishes is a 2nd place Pro Coed Team at the 2018 North American OCR Championships and 1st Place Team at 2018 World’s Toughest Mudder. Find more of his content at www.teamstrengthspeed.com.