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Obstacle Course Race Review: The Beach Raid

29 Sep 2014

2014-09-13 09.04.52

Last month, I posted some training and footwear tips for beach runs and obstacle races. Since then, I ran my first OCR on the beach, the Beach Raid, organized by the RAID series.

In prep for the race, my training focused on some of the things I pointed out in the post: lower leg strength and flexibility, balance and OCR circuit training along with some running. I also devoted some time to hamstring strength and flexibility exercises since I’ve been having some issues in my left hamstring over the past few months.

The Beach Raid: Obstacle Race Logistics & Course

2014-09-13 09.06.14

From what I’ve learned about the RAID series after following them and having participated in a couple of their races, they run a good, solid event. Packet pickup was conveniently held near the starting point of the Beach Raid an hour before the race started. (Pickup was also available onsite the night before if you stayed at the beach over the weekend or lived close by.)

The day of the race was a cooler, partly sunny day. This was actually a welcome relief! I was not looking forward to running on a hot and humid New England summer day.

The course itself is similar to other RAID races with the exception of the sand, adding another level of challenge throughout the course. Actual obstacles were consistent with those included on the Beach Raid’s obstacle page. The only other exception was that there were no barricades or cones. Instead, we had to walk on logs over a shallow trench.

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Days before the event, organizers emailed registered participants a course map so we could check it out ahead of time. The Beach Raid included all the trademarks we expect from an obstacle race: a wall, monkey bars, netting to crawl under, unstable surfaces to run over and sandbag carry, to name a few.

It was thoughtful of developers to alternate the route’s course so that participants were running over a surface of packed sand along with fluffy, sinking sand farther from the shore. The compacted sand was a welcome break for lower leg stabilizers!

A lot of runners, including me, could feel early on the difference between running on flat or even slightly unstable surfaces in comparison with running on sand. It’s much more challenging! You really need to be sure to strengthen and stretch out the muscles surrounding your ankles.

But overall, this was a fun, well-constructed race: ideal for beginners and good for more serious athletes looking to work on time and OCR-specific skills.

2014-09-13 09.05.04

Beach Run Footwear: My Shoes

If you read my post on training tips for beach runs and OCRs, you may remember my pick to race in was the New Balance Minimus Trail 1010. How did it do on this race?

New Balance Shoe Minimus August 2014

New Balance Minimus Trail 1010

New Balance Shoe Minimus August 2014 Treads

New Balance Minimus Trail 1010

It did okay: but I may have been to blame, not the actual shoe.

First, the sizing may have been off. I may have selected a larger pair than I should have. I could have probably gone down a half-size. I’m used to a size 8 across running shoes, but I’ve found that for some of the minimalist footwear or zero-drop shoes, I sometimes need to drop down a half-size for a closer fit. You may already know this, but if not, learn from my experience :).

Interestingly, leading up to the race, my foot felt fine training in the Minimus 1010 Trail — I felt no slippage and didn’t get any blisters. But I knew as soon as I stepped onto the sandy race course, I knew I would have to put up with dirt seeping in. I stopped once during the race to shake out the sand — right after the sandbag carry across water, which was about halfway through the race. Then at the end, I shook out the sand once more.

After the race, the shoes cleaned up nicely. I hosed them down, ran them through the wash, and let them air dry. The pair is still intact, and now a closer fit, so they may have shrunk in the wash!

I’m on the fence as to whether or not to use the New Balance Minimus Trail 1010 for the Fenway spartan or get a new pair altogether. I’m leaning towards trying them, especially since it won’t be a sandy or particularly muddy event. But if you have any other suggestions, let me know!

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