Why Average, Out of Shape People Should Stop Obstacle Racing

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why average out of shape people should stop obstacle racing

In a society suffocating from the Saran wrap of political correctness, I’m sure the title of this post hurt some feelings. Well folks, the truth often hurts, and I’d rather be whipped by the truth than tickled with a lie. 


Stop that, dammit! This is serious.

Obstacle course racing is the fastest growing sport on the planet, and I used to believe that such a phenomenon was a testament to its glory, but now I’ve realized a darker truth.

Average and Out of Shape People Dilute the Sport

One of the so-called “endearing” facets of OCR is that the participants ARE the fans. In a football game thousands of mindless, savage drones spectate in a coliseum, salivating over the regulated violence below while stuffing their faces.

Not so with OCR.

In OCR, those same thousands flood venues all over the world, bringing their democratized vision of struggle, adventure, and fun to the battlefield while REAL athletes of the elite heats fight for victory. Sure, this is a direct artery to the lifeline of the sport as the most dynamic and exciting event on earth, but if there’s one thing traditional sports have right its keeping the professionals fit, rich, and on the fields while the fans remain fat and happy in the stands.

If you are fat, average, and out of shape, do everyone a favor and cheer for your favorite elite athlete.

Average and Out of Shape People Have Too Much Fun

Know the difference between an elite OCR athlete and a weekend warrior? Elites grit their teeth because racing is hard, while you people smile because it’s fun or you think you’ve accomplished something.

So while we real athletes be like:

he man sponsorship


You weekend warriors are all…


happy OCR racers

You people are a liability on the field and a hazard to the reputations of legitimate athletes everywhere. You’re all smiles and doe-eyed while running in packs of support from friends and family, all overcoming or running for this, that, or the other. True athletes run for one thing: glory, and we never smile, because the pursuit of glory may lead to side effects including constipation, nausea, flesh-eating bacteria, and occasional suspicions of domestic abuse from oblivious co-workers the Monday after a race.

Average and Out of Shape People Make Sponsorship Difficult

Speaking of smiling, have you every considered the repercussions of your race decorum on the potential careers of elite racers? We run the course, crawling and grimacing our way to the finish line, while you people frolic through the woods like it’s a freaking musical.

Potential sponsors might conclude that the races aren’t really that hard, because while you folks smile through the course, real athletes look like they’re about to die.

Andrew Bowen Ft. Bragg Spartan Sprint Wall

Dis race is so hard! Give me all zeh money, and all zeh swaaaag!

Are the elite people exaggerating the difficulty of the course? A sponsor might question the integrity of a potential athlete, thus stunt their career dreams. But oh yeah, that’s right; this isn’t about doing what’s best for the sport (producing an elite class supported by a sycophantic fan base), it’s about YOU and your goals and self esteem and accomplishments and social media race day photos. Selfish…

And one last thing:

Weekend Warrior Testimonies are Too Good:

I’ve seen a crowd of people help a 250 lbs woman as she struggled over a wall. I’ve seen men crawl up slip walls with NO FREAKING LEGS. I’ve read stories about people being so inspired by OCR that they pursued an exercise and diet lifestyle which provided amazing health and fitness results. People build breath-taking obstacle training courses in their yards, attend boot camps, form teams that run for charities…you people do all these incredible things while remaining average, which dilutes the glory and victory of the elite.

How do we compete with that?

Sure, maybe I took 1st place on the podium, but holy shit, you beat cancer and just ran a race after doctors said you were supposed to be dead six months ago. Maybe I just beat a course record, and then here you come having lost 100 lbs. because you just couldn’t stand abusing your body with junk food any longer as a coping mechanism for a deeper hurt, and this race was the proof of a new found love of your worth and self image. Yeah, I just won three consecutive world championship races, but you just assisted a disabled veteran through an obstacle course and pulled him in his wheelchair like some freaking chariot through 13 miles of hell.

You’ve got to stop.

OCR cannot have its cake and eat it too. We cannot be a sport of oxymoron and dichotomy. We cannot have the fiercest competitors and the greatest camaraderie. We cannot have competitions which forge the greatest athletes on the planet, while simultaneously providing a place where challenges are met and bonds are strengthened by the average Joe and Jane weekend warrior. We cannot have a sport where average folks can bust their asses, rise from obscurity, and usurp long-established champions.

We cannot have the best of both worlds. There’s no room for all of us to create individual pocket universes during each race–private Big Bangs of experience–which when we zoom out form some grand interconnected multiverse.

We can’t. No other respectable sport tolerates this nonsense.

Because if we COULD have all these things, we’d have the perfect sport, and that’s not possible.

Is it?


  1. If you are such an elite athlete why do you care. If you are truly elite why do you run in the open waves. How can you claim victory of the open wave? Why not run elite? If you are truly elite you would finish before all open heat racers. If there were not any average Joe’s and Jane’s out there running the sport would have died. Who pays the prize money? How would an event happen with all the cost involved if it was not for the thousands of average people out there?

    Any company out there looking to sponsor someone is looking for someone that runs multiple races a month. The average person that runs a handful of races a year that has overcame something in their life is not looking for sponsorship.

  2. brent dames says:

    lol i was getting upset, until the hook. got me! fun article

  3. I love your article!
    I’m a weekend warrior and I love this sport where everyone can compete and feel great about themselves.

  4. Will Smith says:

    You had me at Amy in Yoga Pants.

  5. Bret Gallo says:

    This article is wonderful! This truly captures what the sport is really about. I have always lived a pretty healthy lifestyle. I have always been competitive. However, after participating in my first race 3 years ago, I found something that truly inspired me…..all of the other OCR participants! The elite inspire the elite, the elite inspire the average, the average inspire the elite, and the average inspire the average. Every participant is trying to do one thing…..be a little (or a lot) better version of themselves. No that is inspirational! Helping folks we’ve never met, from all walks of life go through the struggles of the race…..no judging, just reaching out a hand and CARING.


    • Andrew Bowen says:

      So OCR is the perfect sport after all!

    • Marshall Breite says:

      Brett, I couldn’t have said it better!! The only thing I would add is that in spite of the groaning & grimacing, we all are also “filled” with smiles!! Yes, Andrew, perhaps the perfect sport!!

    • Yes! Well written and pretty darned accurate! I am 55 and am happy and thankful for what I can do! OCR provides me the opportunity to spend time with like minded people and to stay motivated! 3 years ago, I was sitting on my sofa, chugging beer, smoking and watching ballgames on the TV. Unless I fall off a castle wall and break my neck, I suspect I will live a little longer now 🙂

  6. Wayne Gregory says:

    Well played. Love it! especially because you were able to lure someone into getting all fired up.
    Wayne The Beard Gregory

  7. I love this article. 🙂 Spartan trainee with a kickbutt Spartan husband who has shown me that it’s about the *completing* and not the time.

  8. Well said. Same can be said for half-marathons. Had a great weekend at Lake Powell with my family. A bunch of us did a half last year as a family thing (we have master runners and woggers like me). This year, an injury at the last minute kept me from participating in the run, so instead I became the cheering section. I brought cowbells, and annoyed the heck out of the people next to me as I cheered everyone who came down that finisher’s shoot. As my family members completed their race, and received their awards (some getting additional medals etc for finishing top in their age groups, master levels etc) they joined me on the side, picked up a cowbell and cheered people in. As a family we stayed and cheered until the last person and the sweeper crossed the finish line, which was 4 hrs and something, well after the official close time was supposed to be. Our elite runners hadn’t done this before, and loved it. Everyone said later they are so glad they stayed to cheer that last person home, even though they finished 3 hours behind our first family member to finish. Great times and I love how supportive runners are towards each other.

  9. I love the write up Sir! True to every bit and you did get me all fired up a bit too ’til reading more about the article. Well said and keep writing. 🙂 Gotta share!

  10. This is a great! Thank you!

  11. I love when people only read the title and then get all tripped out….satire at it’s finest here, nicely done!
    I’m not elite nor do I claim to be…..I may attempt to do an elite heat at some point but that’s for ME and my personal goals. Doesn’t matter where you come in though, just that you’re out there and doing it. Rock on OCR junkies!

  12. Good points… but I completely disagree with the end assessment.

    I ran my first Spartan Sprint this summer and I was absolutely frustrated at the packs of group runners on the course. I could not pass them much of the time. But when I could, I did. I knew it was hurting my time, but in the end it didn’t make THAT much of a difference as I began to get smoked by the obstacles.

    I saw people helping each other on the obstacles, and they were not likely to have great times. Fine. Good for them. I was flabbergasted when someone came over to help me on a pull just as I sat down to do it. Get away from me. This is mine!

    BUT! Sponsors that think that the pack of non-athletes make you look bad is just plain crazy. Seriously. Only a white bread maker company could be so dense. The rest of the companies, with any connection to fitness, should know better.

    I’ve got 10 marathons under my belt in the past 5 years. The same arguments might apply there as well. Packs of runners, people just goofing off, yada yada yada. But the sponsors and the people know who the athletes are. Their the ones in the first corral that are wicked fast. Nobody in their right minds confuse the people in corrals C, D, E, F, or G with those in A or B. Think that because most people in a marathon are not competing to win somehow takes the glory from those who are? Really? That’s a pretty lame argument.

    The same holds for OCR… they have the first start for elite runners. Go get ’em. But don’t blame your lack of sponsorship, lack of time, lack of whatever, on the hordes of people who get a taste of accomplishment, even it isn’t an elite time. Better that we have large groups of people doing this than sitting on their ass watching a small group of elite athletes. If one’s attainment of glory is so fragile as to be knocked off by the participation of others, it is pretty weak indeed. It is like the elite athlete dad who can’t stand to lose at sack races at the family picnic.

    • Andrew Bowen says:

      Come on Eddie, unwind a little and have a drink on me. I never present an argument here because the entire piece is satire (as most folks have picked up on and gleaned the message). The last line helps with that. Why so serious?

    • It was pointed out to me that this was sarcasm.


      Okay… burpees it is

  13. funny but very true story. OCR is a bug that will suck you into a health lifestyle. All shapes & sizes are welcome.

  14. Tony Ferrante says:

    Truly a Fantastic Article. I love your message and have to laugh at the people who can’t understand Satire and Sarcasm at its finest.

  15. Leona Brooks says:

    Absolutely love this article. It is so amazing how many people do not get sarcasm. My run group started doing OCRs as a team this year and we had a great time. Yep, we were “those guys”, the ones smiling and laughing and helping each other, heck helping people we didn’t even know, imagine that! I loved seeing some of our older ladies (think early 50s), out there doing things they never imagined that they would be able to do. So sorry our enthusiasm distracted the elites though, we’ll try to tone down the fun a little next time, well probably not, but we’ll smile and wave as they run by with their stern faces and bleeding shins :). Thank you again, great read.

  16. Philip Orellana says:

    I personally have been involved in many of these races now over the past year and a half. I did my first race not feeling like I was going to finish, but when I finished I was very happy and said he’ll when’s the next one. Since November 2014 I have ran a few more and push myself to better my fitness. When I started I weighed 292 pounds and now a year later I weigh 213 pounds and feel much healthier. If it wasn’t for these races, and the others that you meet pushing you. I feel I still be that fat couch potato. I think all of those that I have met, and all of those that I will meet in the help they have provided and the help that I will help provide and the loving support of making each individual feel like they belong. I don’t care if you’re 100 pounds or 400 pounds, we all should feel good about doing these races. I know I have personally gotten involved and recruited probably 10 to 15 people, and help them better their health and personal feeling about them self. Thank you to the spartan crew and keep up the good work. AROOOOOO

  17. The guy who wrote this is a dickkkk lol

  18. Sarah Gower says:

    Sarcasm at its best ..Great read , made my bus journey much more tolerable.

  19. Excellent article made even funnier by the few who didn’t get it! The name Dusty obviously refers to the state of his humour neural pathways!

  20. Ken Burneau says:

    Thanks Andrew, you instigated me into a streak of cursing and I wasn’t even on the rig. Like most I took this well written article to heart until the last few paragraphs. Well done.
    Like others I to am one of those who without the encouragement of my wife and Spartan, I would still be 260 lbs on a couch. I beat terminal cancer twice and was medically released from the army after a successful 27 year career.
    OCR has given me my life back after doctors told me I would never be healthy again.

    Thank you for this awesome article and I apologies for calling you a a-hole half way through the article.

  21. Haha, I thought fat average people had a sense of humour ?
    If it wasn’t for the average people I’d be left behind while the elite run off.
    It’s nice running with thousands of strangers seeing how everyone helps each other also knowing they are just as crazy as you are for paying for the abuse and the free beer at the end

  22. Ha ha ha ha ha !!!!

    Great article!

    Nope, not an elite, but trying to do my best. And I smile all the time, with a load of mud in my mouth!

  23. 2 yr ago I ran my first five color 5ks. Had a lot of fun, lost 44lbs & was doing great! Hurt my back, stopped 5ks. Have just signed up for a 4 mile 12 obstacle swamp dash at the end of April (this was the last race I did before with a sacrealiac lumbar sprain) so the New Year is brining in my determination to get back into the runs. As a 45 yr old out of shape mother if 6, Nana to 8…I am so excited to get back into the daily grind n struggle of running that I gave done in the past! Enjoyed this article very much!

  24. Well done! You got me fired up and then bright me back to realization that OCR is indeed the PERFECT sport. Tough Mudders are my drug of choice and I complete them for the challenge and the comradery. I have also volunteered for the Worlds Toughest Mudder for 2 years. I am always inspired by the total badassery of the competitors. What constantly amazes me about these elite athletes is how they give the volunteers love for being out there to offer support. It’s the only sport I’ve ever seen where the athletes go out of their way to interact with and appreciate the volunteers as well as the other competitors on the course. Thank you for taking the time to so eloquently state the perfection of OCR challenges.

  25. Bruce Bradley says:

    Everybody has to start somewhere, some of have a longer road to Elite than others.
    In open class it is about over coming the obstacles and beating the courses. It’s not a companion against the people around you. its a group effort and So many Elite level Athletes Choose to run open waves to coach and encourage others to push themselves help to get to through an obstacle and live at the finish feeling it in such a different way entirely than they feel it as a victory over the other elite.

  26. Bruce Bradley says:

    I pity the person who wrote this, he is missing the best part of the world…

  27. What is Andrews definition of elite?

    Someone in the Armed forces? Special Forces or those who have been able to get a place in Olympics or London Marathon First Wave?
    I think Andrew is mixing up OCR with P-Company.

  28. Fantastic article Andrew. It actually made me verklempt!

  29. Thanks. I felt like quitting but then I read this! #respect

  30. Tony Bendickson says:

    Last year a group of us, (26) I think trained and ran a Spartan sprint. We all survived and were amazed at the outcome. A few went on to trifecta. Now a few are contemplating elite, many are chasing other series. All have the pride of training for a goal, a reason to keep working out. Whether it’s to run with the fast group, or to master an obstacle unassisted. This is one of the few venues where everyone can shine. Some run, some motivate, many drag friends into getting out of their comfort zones. Make yourself proud, make your kids proud, live life and give it a try. The more people that do it the cheaper it is for everyone. If you think you’re in shape, attend one of these events. It’s a lot easier to train for a race than it is to work out for the sake of a smaller waist or a bigger bicep. Even if you train for a year and the scale doesn’t move, you will know you’ve accomplished something.

    • Andrew Bowen says:

      Agreed! Training for a race is much more fun and fulfilling than just for the sake of vanity.

  31. I’m cracking up over this! I’m an obstacle racer and over weight yet on a weight loss journey. We will keep racing because that shit is hard and just Iike you, we thrive off of completion of the tough obstacles. Just stay in your lane! That’s why most races have an elite race and the regular one. Choose as you please.

    Good luck!

    • Andrew Bowen says:

      Haha thanks! I love all the participants and how everyone brings something to OCR which makes it the best sport in the world. Keep up the journey!

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