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Welcome to a weekly feature on my blog – Ben’s Zone. Written by husband… Ben. A foodie, coffee obsessed, ex-smoking, ex-drinking and Ridgeback loving Dad. Who is also seriously into his fitness. You can find him on the blog (most) Sundays. Enjoy 🙂
5 Christmas Gifts for Obstacle Course Racers
My hernia op at the end of the summer has meant I’ve had to cancel all my races this year but I’ll be back full force for Tough Guy early next year. It doesn’t stop me thinking about racing though and as Christmas is starting to become a topic of conversation I thought I’d share my 5 favourite OCR gifts.
1. Dry robe
I prefer winter racing but there’s no getting round the fact that it is cold. I don’t mind this so much when I am out there, doing my thing, I do mind it, a lot before the race and even more so when I finish. Dry robes are great, they are waterproof, so you can wear them in the rain and snow and they have a lovely fluffy inside. Even better, they are massive and so it’s perfectly possible to pull your arms in through the sleeves and get your wet kit off under their cosy warmth. There are other post race coat things you can wear but I will always love my dry robe most of all. If you pay a little extra dry robe will customise your robe for you so I emerge from races resplendent in a dry robe trimmed in bright pink with the emblem of my beloved RAW team on the breast. Even in the summer a dry robe is just a nice thing to have if there’s any amount of water on the course. Best of all they wash easy so rather than putting clothes on, I get the dry robe on, arms in, wet clothes off and just drove home with the robe on. Essential.
2. Microfibre Towel
Not a lot to say here, works hand in hand with my dry robe, mine is also pink and is a microfibre type towel. Basically it’s good for a rub down if you’re really caked. Downside to mine is that it bleeds colour so is a pain to wash but it’s a nice thing to have in the kit bag. You can get these things that are like massive baby wipes but I’m not keen as I don’t think they’re either cost effective or very good for the environment. Mine is a Bodhi brand one, it’s great other than washing issues.
3. XRacewear Shorts
These can be a pain to get hold of, but they are worth looking out. A lot of races involve crawling over or through things and also require you to wear a race number. Two problems here, first, I always lose my number, second the pins then pull holes into my race tops, which annoys me no end. These XRacewear shorts have a zip pocket on the leg exactly the right size for a race number and with a mesh front so the number can be seen. It’s a simple but effective idea and I’ve been super pleased with mine. Pricey though.
4. Kitbrix Bags
These are straight up lovely. Bags designed for triathlons / OCR. This means a number of nice features. The bottom is tough and water proof, when you put it down in a muddy field, the damp does not soak through the bottom into your dry kit. They are lined with a waterproof lining so when you dump wet kit in them, it doesn’t get your car boot soaking wet. Zips are tough and massive so don’t break and are easy to use with frozen fingers. You can zip them together so that two can be connected. I use one for race kit and one for post race kit, so wet kit goes in one and dry kit stays in the other. If I am running a long lap race I keep one in the changing tent with dry kit and my towel and the other at the changeover for fuel and water and stuff. On the face of it they’re ‘just’ bags but bags where everything has been optimised for OCR. Lovely.
5. Garmin Watch
A big ticket item here for sure, you’re always talking over £100 for a good Garmin but I do love mine. I have a Fenix 3 that I train with and a second hand Forerunner for races. I’ve done a full review and a 1000 mile recap of the Fenix. I use a heart rate monitor for training but not for races as I don’t think it would stay on long. It’s good for a multitude of reasons when training but the race use is also great. A lot of races are chip timed but you don’t get the result for a few hours, so the Garmin gives you instant feedback. Another thing I like is you get a Google Earth trace so you can flick back through your history and see satellite pics of your race courses. It’s a bit like having a selfie, it serves to trigger happy memories. Again, this is not a cheap item but I’ve been using my Fenix for near enough 5 years now and it’s still going strong, like clockwork almost.