World-champion triathalete, Erin Beresini, was down for the count. Her body and mind were broken from the incredible endurance training she’d done to become an Ironman. Uninspired, injured and nowhere near running a race again, a friend recommended obstacle course racing (OCR). There was less of a focus on endurance, and more on agility and strength. No longer surrounded by lean and muscular athletes, she was hurled into a world of the heavy-set and piercings -- regular people out to challenge themselves and have a good time.
The races are muddy and filled with natural and man made obstacles like fire, barbed wire, and dangling, purportedly live, electrical wires. Some races emphasize team above winning like the Tough Mudder -- the race that started it all. Another, like the Spartan race, is all about the physical challenge and a messing with the minds of participants -- like the need to solve a Rubik’s Cube when the finish line is in sight.
In Beresini’s book, “Off Course: Inside the Mad, Muddy World of Obstacle Racing,” she shares her recovery from endurance running and full throttle love of the OCR sort, ultimately competing in the Spartan Ultra Beast -- a marathon length Spartan race. She chronicles the wild ride from the OCR’s humble origins in 2010 to what it is today, just four years later -- a multimillion-dollar business, drawing anyone seeking adventure, challenge and a hearty tussle with lots of thick, wet dirt.
Erin Beresini, Author, “Off Course: Inside the Mad, Muddy World of Obstacle Racing;” Endurance athlete and “Outside” magazine journalist