The Year of OCR… My Next Tough Challenge

Paid partnership with Black Tower Wine

This year has seen the return of OCR for me… I did my first Obstacle Course Race, Men’s Health Survival, back in 2011 and again the following year and I loved both, even though I’d done them solo. I also took on a local OCR called WAR with some friends and had the BEST time. But then I didn’t do another one until this year where so far I’ve completed 6 Spartan races! I also plan to hit up Nuclear Races sometime, but OCR season just couldn’t be complete without taking on a Tough Mudder, right?

To be honest, I don’t know how I’ve gone so long without having done a Tough Mudder – it’s the first race people think of when you mention OCR, with its infamous electric shock therapy obstacle. But so far Tough Mudder has escaped me… until now!

Joining the Tribe… Cheers To Me!

Black Tower wine, the official wine sponsor of Tough Mudder, invited me to be a part of their Black Tower Tough Mudder Tribe, conquering the Tough Mudder race and, of course, celebrating with some wine afterwards… #cheerstome! I’m a big believer in “no food (or drink) barred” and wine is absolutely in my diet and something I enjoy to wind down after a long day, or celebrate with when I achieve something, so I was absolutely on board.


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Ian and I have both signed up for the London South Half course on Saturday 29th September. With Ian still recovering from his ankle injury in March, and me currently suffering a double whammy of plantar fasciitis and peroneal tendonitis, we will definitely be treading carefully while charging headfirst through the obstacles. I can’t wait!

The official Black Tower obstacle this year is the Kiss of Mud – this involves crawling under barbed wire, but actually we’ve found from previous OCRs that the quickest way to get through is to roll… a great excuse to roll around in mud with my boyfriend!

Tough Mudder Prep

OCRs may seem a little intimidating, but with our history of running and CrossFit, I’d like to think we’re pretty well prepared for whatever Tough Mudder can throw at us! CrossFit is such great training for OCR, with exercises like pull-ups and toes to bar transferring well to monkey bars (although will someone please tell my body that as I KEEP failing them!) and deadlifts/cleans transferring well to pulling tasks. I’ve definitely found I need less help at obstacles than I used to before starting CrossFit. Although OCR, and especially Tough Mudder, is also about teamwork so I’m looking forward to taking this on with Ian by my side and meeting other runners to tackle the obstacles together.

Not really knowing what to expect with Tough Mudder specifically, my main focus for getting prepared is to get my mud smile on and my teamwork helping hand ready. I’ve also heard I need to get ready for an ice bath dip… I wonder if I can bring a couple of bottles of Black Tower in there with me?! Tough Mudder – here we come!

Spartan Women – Are You One of the 40%?

I’m doing something exciting this year. I’m doing every single UK and Ireland Spartan Race! As in, every location, every distance. I’m going to do them all. Well, assuming I don’t get absolutely annihilated and have to skip some! Now I’ve done OCR races before – I’ve crawled through mud pits, waded through skips of ice-cold water, leaped off of 2 storey high scaffolding onto huge inflatable rafts… but somehow in all my years of running, OCR and CrossFit I’ve never done a Spartan Race. But now, with 50% more races in the 2018 Spartan calendar, there are so many more opportunities to take part. Not only this, but with Spartan Women now making up 40% of runners I just HAD to join in and earn my patch! Read until the end of this post and you could join in too with a cheeky 20% discount!

Spartan Women, ASSEMBLE!

If you search the #spartanwomen hashtag on Instagram, you’ll find thousands of posts from inspirational female Spartan runners from across the world sharing posts from their training outside of the races, to the infamous fire leaps! I have to wonder if part of this increase in involvement is because of things like CrossFit, where women regularly lift weights, flip tyres and climb ropes. Over the last 5 years or so, functional training has really bedded down in the female fitness world, and what could be a better test of functional fitness than an OCR race? The CrossFit Games even featured its very own obstacle course for the first time ever in 2017!


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So what can I expect from Spartan racing?

Lucky for me, I happen to know an absolute Spartan regular in Ian. His Spartan medal collection is ridiculous and he’s sure to be able to help offer me some tips for getting round the Sprint, Super and Beast distances with my Spartan Woman pride still in tact! Here are Ian’s top tips:

Pace Yourself

It may be called a Spartan “race” but the obstacles will take it out of you.

Take Gloves

Gripping on to the carry obstacles (sandbags, tyres, logs, etc.) is tough with muddy hands!

Be Confident

Attack the obstacles with confidence – hesitation can mean the difference between not making an obstacle or nailing it.


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Accept Help

When you’re faced with a huge wall or a slippery slope and a stranger offers you a foot-up take it! This is what Spartan is all about. And on that note…

Embrace the Community

There are some familiar faces who go to almost every single Spartan Race and people are likely to stop to talk to you – join in the vibe, grab a selfie and say “AROO!”

Check Your Technique

The rope climb always catches a lot of people out but Spartan have loads of videos on their YouTube channel of how to tackle some of the obstacles so check them out.

Barrel Roll

When you reach a barbed wire obstacle it’s MUCH easier and faster to roll than crawl… thank me later. Just make sure you check the height first!

NAIL the Fire Jump

You have one chance to get an awesome fire jump photo so you’ve got to commit!


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Fancy Joining In?

If all this talk of Spartan racing has whet your appetite, why not sign up? Ian has set up a team, meaning we can all start in the same wave, and I even have a nice little discount code for you… simply enter FITCETERASPARTAN to get a fantastic 20% off Sprint, Super and Beast Open Heats! The code is valid for the whole of the Spartan season, until 7th October so get signing up for those races and get in touch via email, Instagram, Facebook or Twitter if you want to join our team to start in the same waves as us – we’ll share the team name with you! Below are the races I’m signed up to:

Choose from a Sprint (5km+), a Super (12km+) and a Beast (22km+), each with an increasing amount of obstacles. For beginners, the Sprint on Sunday, 8th April is best, and to give you an idea of what the distance means compared to a normal running race, an average OCR runner takes around 1 hour 30 minutes to complete a Spartan Sprint. And you can even get your kids involved with Spartan Race events open to children aged 4 and up tackling a 1.5km course.

For full details of all UK Spartan Race events in 2018, visit 

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