This article is organised as follows:
- Part 01: Introduction to Obstacle Course Races (OCR).
- Part 02: OCR Industry.
- Part 03: Advantages & Disadvantages of OCR.
- Part 04: OCR Event Management.
- Part 05: Preparing for an OCR.
- Part 06: Governing Bodies, Associations & Championships.
- Part 07: Obstacle Courses in other Areas.
- Part 08: Useful Publications/Links and References.
PART SEVEN: OBSTACLE COURSES IN OTHER SETTINGS AND WHAT OTHERS CAN LEARN
This part of the article outlines obstacle courses in other areas of leisure and business.
7.1 Obstacle Courses in Public Spaces
“Obstacle courses take us back to our roots with natural movement for increased health and happiness.” (Kompan, 2017).
Kompan – a manufacturer of outdoor play equipment for parks, schools, and green spaces – has developed a range of obstacle course products designed for “Children, Teenagers, Adults and Seniors.” (Kompan, 2017). Like OCR, Kompan places emphasise on the total body exercise their products can provide (Section 5.2). Kompan (2017) also discusses risk-taking:
“There is risk taking when climbing high, balancing and doing the flying monkey bars. It is about mental and developing judgment skills such as evaluating risks in order to learn how to navigate this artificial world securely; an important life skill for the real world that you only learn by doing.”
7.2 Obstacle Courses for Kids
Obstacle courses are not just for adults! Kids can benefit from obstacle courses, as noted above, and the materials used to construct the obstacle course are only limited by the builder (notwithstanding health and safety considerations, of course).
You can find two obstacle course activity guides for kids in the Useful Publications & Links section.
7.3 Military Obstacle Courses
The military, especially armies, have utilised obstacle courses within their physical training programmes for many decades. Both recruits and trained soldiers will traverse an obstacle course, with and without personal equipment (e.g. weapon, webbing, and daysack).
In the British Army, obstacle courses were termed ‘assault courses’, but this term has now fallen out of favour.
In the military, obstacle courses are utilised to simulate moving as a squad over a variety of obstacles that might be encountered during operations. They are also used for physical development, building teamwork, developing leadership, and evaluating problem-solving skills.
Although the layout and obstacles on an obstacle course will vary from base to base, Service, and countries, there some commonalities. Obstacles will include the requirement to climb up or over, crawl under or through, balance (usually at height), hang, and jump. Water/mud, ropes/nets, ‘no touch’ or ‘no drop’ requirements, such as carrying a log over the course without it touching the floor, are utilised to make traversing an obstacle more difficult.
Within the British Army, a traditional assault course would include a 6 foot wall, water jump, A-frame (vertical cargo net), rope swing, monkey bars, Burma Rope Bridge, and a 12 foot wall, as well as other obstacles. Obstacle courses can be sited at ground level or above, or even as a combination. For example, the Royal Marines bottom field obstacle course is sited at ground level whilst the Tarzan Assault Course is sited above ground – completing both in one continuous lap is one of several requirements for passing the commando course.
7.4 Inflatable Obstacle Courses
Inflatable obstacles courses can be found in a variety of settings, for example, in the water at a beach resort, swimming pools, fairgrounds, etc.
7.5 Commercial Obstacle Courses
Inspired by American Ninja Warrior, a number of US commercial indoor recreation and trampoline park companies have installed obstacle courses as part of their offering – catering to both adults and kids (Bachman, 2016).
7.6 The Krypton Factor
The Krypton Factor was a British game show produced by Granada Television for broadcast on ITV. The show originally ran from 07 September 1977 to 20 November 1995, and was briefly revived between 2009 and 2010.
Contestants from across the UK and Ireland competed in a series of rounds that tested their physical stamina and mental attributes, which included: personality; mental agility; response; observation; physical ability; intelligence; general knowledge; and the super round.
The physical ability round was a pre-recorded segment with contestants completing an army assault course located at Holcombe Moor Training Area in Bury, Greater Manchester. The physical ability round typically included 20 obstacles including vertical and flat cargo nets, rope swings, water jumps, Burma rope bridges, and a rope slide into water. Gordon Burns, the presenter, stated in some of the episodes that contestants had trained for the assault course for up to five weeks in advance.
7.7 What can Sales Professionals Learn from OCR?
According to Richard Libin, in the December 2015 issue of ‘The American Salesman’, there are two major things that salespeople can learn. The first is that “attitude and preparation” are important in reaching a goal, and second that there is formula to follow which includes: know the goal, know the obstacles, train; and go back to basics (Libin, 2015, p.3). You can read Richard’s article in the Useful Publications & Links section.
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