5 Reasons to Avoid Mud Runs and OCR

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Each year millions of otherwise normal, well-adjusted humans lapse into temporary insanity and participate in a phenomenon called “mud runs” (as well as “obstacle races”). What is a mud run you ask? According to Mud Run HQ:

A mud run is usually a course or trail of between 5 to 10 kilometer’s in distance with military style obstacles along the route. Many of these courses have been put together by military specialists and are specifically designed to test your strength, stamina, how you make decisions and teamwork.

5 to 10 kilometers? Military-style obstacles? A test of strength, stamina, and decision-making skills? Why would anyone leave the comforts of tame suburbia, the soothing monotony of work commutes, and predictable, tried-and-true family vacation and couples get-aways to attend one of these filthy, masochistic slugfests of potential self-deprecation and mayhem?

In an effort to educate the public on this destructive force which threatens to dismantle the dignified norms of American pastimes, I’ve compiled a list of reasons one should never attend a so-called “mud run” or “obstacle race.”

1) Safety

Mud runs overflow with mud, grim, and sludge; a recipe for infection and injury. Just because life is an inexplicable miracle which manifested from the primordial soup of early Earth doesn’t mean we should repeat the experiment as if we might emerge from each mud pit as a creature reborn in some twisted baptism. Sure, we’ve evolved over millions of years to survive our environment and the assault of microbes and predators, but with the advent of modernity and comforts such as hand sanitation stations, artificial light (no UV rays!), buffet lines, and clothing, we no longer have to suffer the wear and tear of the natural world. Why go looking for trouble?

"Dad, it's called OCR. It could change your life."

“Dad, it’s called OCR. It could change your life.”

2) Investment Not Equal to Return

Mud runs and obstacle races run on average between $40 and $100 depending on venue, course distance, and entry class (elite, open, etc.). That doesn’t include the travel costs, insurance fees, the cost of vendor swag, meals, not to mention any and all likely medical expenses resulting from the dangers of racing.

And all this for a race medal, t-shirt, and some photos?

Do you really want to pay the price, then have to crawl, climb, jump, and run your way through some demented course designer’s house of horrors just for a piece of metal, a beer, photos that could cripple any future bid for public office, and some weekend warrior bragging rights? Sounds like too much work to me.

3) You Are Joining a Cult

Roger, my neighbor, was once a well-dressed, mild-mannered man. He started attending these “events” last summer and now I barely recognize him. Now 35, he was athletic in high school and some-what in college, but married life, a daughter, and a secure job had added a few pounds, but these are simply the bumpers against the cruel demands of a world obsessed with fitness; the signs of sustenance security.

Now, he’s always training for the next event and constantly trying to entice me with race promo codes. We’re the top of the evolutionary ladder. We’re safe. We don’t require such physical prowess and stamina. Relax!

Roger is constantly lifting and running and throwing cinder blocks around in his backyard. He speaks in strange acronyms like WODs, AMRAPs, and OCR, while I’m wondering if I should call the F.B.I, C.I.A, or SEAL Team 6. All he talks about is this race or that, HIIT, CrossFit, the love/hate dynamic of burpees, optimal macro ratios, the grip quality of trail shoes, and whether or not Hobie Call has really retired. He’s also now only 9% body fat and looks like a comic book hero. My friend is shriveling away. My wife, who is a nurse, is very concerned. She keeps staring at him out the window.

"Honey, Roger's doing push-ups in the yard again, shirtless. It's hot out. I should see if he's...thirsty.

“Honey, Roger’s doing push-ups in the yard again, shirtless. It’s hot out. I should see if he’s…thirsty.

4) Invasion of Wardrobe

Remember Roger? All he wears now are exercise clothes and OCR-themed t-shirts. He reeks of sweat and dirt, and checks the mail while carrying a spear or a sandbag. Every time he receives a package in the mail he roars “AROO” from his porch. It’s another pair of shoes, or compression gear (he keeps getting rips). Is he even saving for retirement?

5) Backyard Nightmare

Roger’s daughter, Amy, howled at me from a rope he’d tied to a tree limb yesterday. Spears, cinder blocks, logs, and all manner of projectiles crest over the privacy fence of Roger’s backyard almost daily. I peeked over there once. His lawn is scared with the wounds of training. There are spears, rocks, logs, ropes strewn everywhere, and an ever-evolving training apparatus of monkey bars and a climbing wall Roger calls “Satan’s Armpit.”


Sure, your children might actually want to participate in the kid races, and yeah you’ll likely be the coolest parent in their social circle. Okay, you might have the most impressive weekend story at the office Monday morning. Yeah, yeah, the lacerations and bruises are the stuff of Fight Club and become the chevrons of a secret society which only the initiated understand. But is all of that worth your reputation as a respectable, well-adjusted adult?

Sure, Roger and his tribe of muddy millions might be cool now, but just give it a few years. Mud runs and OCR will fade away like the cavemen and women of the past. Roger says OCR connects him with our “primal self,” and returns us to a feeling of being truly human, “the real meaning of dust to dust” he says.

Well Roger, dust vanishes in the wind, my friend. And all those metals and race gear won’t put your kid through college or fund your retirement. I also don’t appreciate my son running out of the house screaming “Going over to Amy’s to play in Satan’s Armpit.” Jacob never wants to come home, and Roger just grins and waves at me like that madman played by Tim Robbins in Arlington Road.


So if you’re fortunate enough to find this article, please take caution and avoid the world of OCR. It will destroy you and turn you into something savage, otherworldly, and a neighbor’s nightmare.

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