OCRWC Guide - How to keep your band

OCRWC Guide - How to keep your band

The Obstacle Course Racing World Championships (OCRWC) is always a phenomenal weekend and one of the highlights of the OCR calendar.  The best obstacle racers from all round the world come together for a 3 day long celebration of OCR, and to take on a demanding but fun course.

If you're not aware, a key feature of each race is mandatory obstacle completion.  You are given a wristband at the start, and must successfully complete every obstacle if you want to keep it.  You are allowed to continuously retry an obstacle if you fail, so ultimately it's up you if and when you want to hand in your band.

This guide is designed to give you the best chance possible at successfully keeping that band!

Only interested in the obstacles?  Head straight to the OCRWC Obstacle Guide


Good preparation will go a long way to keeping that band on race day.  Here a few things to focus on:

Grip Strength

  • The majority of obstacles that people fail or have trouble with are grip strength related.  So get working on that grip strength well in advance of the actual weekend.
  • Not sure how to improve grip strength?  Here is a good place to start: How to improve your grip strength
  • Don't leave it until a couple weeks before the weekend.
  • When training for grip strength, take a page out of the climbers handbook, and look after your hands (file down calluses, stop a session early if you can feel them about to tear, etc).  Here is a good link to some tips:  How to take care of calluses and prevent flappers

Obstacle Technique

  • Check out the OCRWC Obstacle Guide I've put together.  This provides tips and techniques for most of the major obstacles you might encounter.
  • Familiarise yourself with all the obstacles that will likely feature in the race.  If possible, get some real practice on replica obstacles (see if there are any OCR training facilities near where you live).
  • If you don't have access to any of the actual obstacles, there are plenty of exercises you can still do that replicate the same movements and muscle activation.  I've included these where appropriate in the obstacle guide.


  • Although the obstacles are the obvious focus for keeping your band, don't neglect your running.
  • Simply put: the fitter you are, the easier the obstacles will be.
  • If you're aiming to compete, not just complete, then obviously running ability plays a much bigger part.

Test Your Kit

  • Test all your kit well before the weekend.  The World Champs isn't the time to be trying out new shoes, or testing new gloves for the first time.
  • Test any race nutrition you plan to use as well (gels, salt tabs, caffiene bullets, etc).
  • Test your kit in various conditions, which also leads into:

Prepare for all Weather

  • October weather in the UK is very unpredictable.  Last year it was beautiful sunshine, but it's much more likely to be cold and wet.
  • Have a tried and tested kit plan for all weather and temperatures.   For example, over 10 degrees celcius and dry = vest and shorts, under 10 degrees and/or wet = extra base layer, under 5 degrees = Bleggmits and possibly neoprene rash vest if wet, and so on.  This is just a rough example, come up with your own kit plan tailored to yourself, and test/tweak it as much as you can.
  • Obstacles become a lot more difficult when cold and wet.  Practice back-up techniques to use in various conditions and you'll find you have a lot more options if you have any issues.  A basic example: straight-arm single-hand monkey bar swinging is great in perfect conditions but can be very risky when the bars are wet.  If you can easily change up to using bent arms with more static hands, then you'll have far less chance of slipping off.

Join the Facebook Groups

Don't Over Train

  • The temptation to over train will be huge, even more so than normal.  It's very easy to feel that you're not doing enough, or won't be ready, but this is normal.  Don't over do it!
  • When there are only 1-2 weeks to go until the event, you can't really get any fitter at that point.  You don't want to risk injury or burning yourself out for little to no benefit.
  • Taper correctly, and be fresh and ready to perform at your best on race day.

Learn the Rules

  • One or two weeks before the event, there will likely be an athlete guide and obstacle/event rule book published.  Read this a few times and familiarise yourself with where your need to be, what you need to do, and the rules specific to each obstacle.
  • 2019 athlete guide now available here: Race info and athlete guide
  • Don't be the person who didn't know you weren't allowed to use your feet on a certain obstacle, or didn't know you had to touch the last rung before dropping down, etc.

Watch Last Year's Highlights

  • Not only will it give you a good idea on what to expect, it's also simply an entertaining, well put together and professional coverage of last year's OCRWC:

Race Day

You've prepared well and are mentally and physically ready for the race weekend.  Don't throw it all away on race day:


  • Register for your races as soon as you can.  Expect queues, and if possible do it the day before your first race.
  • Get to the venue in plenty time before your race.  Relaxing and soaking in the atmosphere is a lot better than stressing in traffic trying to get there in time.

The Race

  • If you fail an obstacle at any point, don't panic.  You can quickly compound the issue if you immediately rush to retry before giving yourself a chance to regroup.  Instead, remain calm, take a breather and if it's a grip strength related obstacle then give your forearms a couple minutes to recover.  Use this time to think about technique, and see what is working for other people.
  • Try to conserve your grip and protect your hands through the race.  Last year's 15km race was aptly described by many as "death by 1000 cuts".  Each obstacle in isolation wasn't too bad, but the sheer number of them made it pretty difficult if you burned out your forearms early or cut up your hands.
  • Simple things like using your feet on rope climbs, minimising time spent hanging by one hand on rings or monkey bars, using smart technique instead of brute force etc all help conserve your grip strength.
  • If you are prone to tearing/ripping your hands, then consider wearing some type of glove or hand protection (e.g. OCR gloves, Barehand gloves, grippy thin gardening/construction gloves, tape, etc).  Yes, using bare hands gives more consistent and reliable grip, but that won't be much consolation if they get badly cut up to the point you can't grip anything.  (Obviously practice in advance with any type of glove or hand protection)
  • No matter how it goes, enjoy it!  You've worked hard to get here, you're in good company, taking part in an awesome event.

Post Race

  • Check for injuries.  Your adrenaline will likely be off the charts, so keep in mind that aches/pains/bruises etc could take a while for you to notice.  Last year, I had a pretty large deep cut on the back of my arm which I literally didn't notice until hours later.
  • If you are racing multiple days over the weekend, then try to recover for the next day.  Eat well, tend to any niggles, repair your hands (Tear Care or Rip Fix), etc.
  • Soak in the atmosphere, take photos, be proud of your accomplishments and all the hard work you put in.

The Goal

OCRWC 2018 - Medals and Bands

Go get those medals and bands!

I hope these tips have been useful, and help you smash the OCRWC course this year.  Be sure to check out the Obstacle Guide for tips and techniques for each of the major obstacles you might face.