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Obstacle Course Racing: Hazards of the Challenge

5 Aug 2011

When I was tracking the news on obstacle course racing this week, the most frequently occurring story had to do with tragedy and dangers of the challenge.

It was one thing to hear about the score of Tough Mudders that were rushed to the hospital for heat related illness and fractures from the Wisconsin event  two weeks ago. Complications from heat and broken bones can be expected of outdoor, extreme sports, so it’s no surprise that challengers would have to contend with these elements.

But the tragic news of a death due to heat stroke and a paralysis from a mis-dive into the mud pit is another story. And of course, in spite of the dozens of events with no such incidences, the inspiring human-interest stories, and the tens (maybe hundreds) of thousands that have endured, it just takes one fatal incident for media and critics to latch on to. One single tragedy often magnifies risks that are inherent in many sports.

For example, studies have shown that repeated head injuries increase the risk of Parkinson’s disease, putting boxers, football, and even hockey players at risk. But we aren’t going to collectively boycott an anticipated matchup.

The fatality rate for Everest climbers is an estimated 2%, but we aren’t going to stop dreaming about scaling this popular mountain. In fact, you may be more likely to die from one too many drinks than participating in an athletic event. But you aren’t going to withhold a toast from ringing in the New Year.

It’s a tragedy when sports-related deaths happen, when a casualty results from pushing your fitness & athletic threshold.

But the thrill of meeting a new physical challenge breathes life into a standard routine. If you are one of the many that have caught the fever of obstacle course racing, you’re excited for the event and you’ll want to prepare for the daunting task.

Train hard and race smart. Be diligent with your workouts and pace yourself on game day. Always recognize and respect those that met a tragic end and appreciate your own opportunity to seize a new athletic challenge.

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