We spoke to Sam Cherry, a fitness fanatic and avid obstacle course racer. In fact, he’s probably the one whose dust (or mud) you’re eating and can usually be found at the front of the pack, leading the race.
With nearly 125k of obstacle courses under his belt, we felt Sam would be a good person to interrogate about obstacle courses, what they were like and how to get into them.
How did you get into Obstacle Course Races?
I first heard about Obstacle Course Racing late last year in 2013. One of our guys from RP Combat Conditioning* was telling Richard and I about the Reebok Spartan Races and before we knew it, we and thirty others signed up for the Sprint version. I decided to sign up for the Elite Heat, with the aim of a top 25 finish.
If you’ve got the time and money go and do it – I guarantee you’ll love it.
How was that very first race?
It was full of surprises! I set off quite fast, knowing it was only 7k and when I looked back, I could see there was quite a large gap between myself and the other competitors. However, at around the 2k mark, I went the wrong way and ended back in around 10th place. Determined not to be beaten, I fought my way back to the front but was pipped to first place on the very last obstacles, finishing second.
What’s the attraction to obstacle course racing all about? Surely it’s a lot of hard work and grime?
I love it because it’s so different – I love running but I couldn’t just do running. By combining all types of fitness you become fitter all round and you’re not just focusing on cardio – you need elements of Crossfit and Fighter Training circuits in your workouts too.
To be the best, you need diversity in your training. Just look at some of the pro athletes in Amercia who do the Reebok Spartan Races – they’re absolute machines! They can still run a 34 minutes 10k AND complete 15 ring muscle-ups.
I love having to climb ropes, crawl under barbed wire, swim across lakes, carry sand bags, throw spears, jump fire… all whilst running and pushing my body to the limit.
Sounds hardcore! Ok, so for anyone looking to get into Obstacle Course Racing, what are your three top tips?
Firstly, I would recommend a good pair of shoes – trail running shoes like inov8 or Salomon. However if you don’t have a pair, don’t worry too much – I ran my first few races with normal running shoes and I was fine.
Clothing-wise, you don’t want anything that will hold water. So for men, some thin running shorts and a running is fine – perhaps wear some compression tops, they work really well. Don’t wear cotton, nor anything too thick.
And the next is eat properly the day before (my favourite meal is spaghetti bolognaise) and take some energy gels round the course with you – I normally have one gel after I’m have way round. Before a race I just try and eat really well, get a good night’s sleep and get to the race nice and early so I make sure 100% ready.
Where’s the best place to get advice on Obstacle Course Races?
The Mudstacle website, or Obstacle Race Magazine. They both have everything in them to do with kit, races, tips, training, you name it. That’s where my team and I find all our races.
What about fitness? Can anyone do a race?
Fitness isn’t a problem – you can do a race and if you wanted to, walk the whole way round. Signing up is the first step. It’s something that people need to try, just once.
So when’s your next race coming up?
I’ve not booked many yet due to work, but I’m definitely doing the Mudstacle Summer League. As soon as I know my schedule, I’ll be getting to as many as I can.
Maybe we’ll see you there, Sam!
Sam Cherry, 20, is from Hastings and currently serving with the Royal Marines. He also works as a Senior Instructor for RP Combat Conditioning.
*RP Combat Conditioning is the brainchild of leading Personal Trainer, Class Instructor and Nutritionial Consultant Richard Pringle, BA Hons. RP Combat Conditioning has one passion and that is to change as many local lifestyles for the better as possible by showing you that exercise can be fun, effective and something that can be used to positively enhance your life. You can find them here:
Facebook: RPCC Elite – Obstacle Course Race Team
Website: RP Combat Conditioning
If anyone is interested in getting into OCR and needs some help or training advice RPCC Elite contact them on the above.
Sam would also like to thank his team’s sponsors who have helped them get great results: