Pro Tips from the World's Best Obstacle Course Racers

The pros share their secrets for tackling the sport’s most popular obstacles

From left: Junyong Pak, Cody Moat, and Margaret Schlachter.     Photo: Ben Rasmussen/Facebook/Dirt in Y

Your advisors:
Hobie Call,
36, winningest racer ever; known for his prowess in Spartan obstacles
Junyong Pak,
35, two-time World’s Toughest Mudder winner
Margaret Schlachter,
30, pro female obstacle racer and the founder of DirtInYourSkirt.com

1. Cargo-Net Climb
Rope webbing slung vertically between two posts

Conquer It:
“If you can jump up, do it,” says Call. “It’ll save you the first three steps.” And climb as close to the side supports as possible, because the net is tighter at the edges.

2. Barbed-Wire Crawl
Spiked strands tied extra low over mud and rocks

Conquer It:
“Stay to the sides, where the barbed wire tends to be higher,” says Schlachter. And if there’s room to turn sideways, roll. Says Call: “Rolling is faster and takes a third of the energy of crawling.”

3. Traverse Wall
Two-by-fours or other hand- and footholds drilled into a vertical plane

Conquer It:
“Keep your knees apart and your body as close to the wall as you can,” says Call. “People slip off when they get their center of gravity away from it.”

4. Cold-Water Plunge
A swim across or leap into a frigid pool

Conquer It:
Train before the race by taking a cold shower or submersing yourself in an ice bath to gauge how your body reacts. Some people go into shock, and it could have been a factor in the death of 28-year-old Avishek Sengupta at a Tough Mudder event in West Virginia last April. “Do it over and over,” says Pak. “You’ll shut off the part of the brain that says no.”

5. Tyrolean Traverse
A rope pulled taut over a water-filled ditch

Conquer It:
The pros are split. Some like to scoot on top of the rope, while others like to hang below it, walking their hands and feet across. Staying on top is usually faster, but it requires good balance. Lie on top of the line so it’s centered on your chest and it runs between your legs. Put one leg under the rope and wrap your foot back over. Pull yourself along with just your arms, making sure to keep the weight on your chest.

6. Monkey Bars
The playground mainstay all grown up—and usually slicked down with water or grease

Conquer It:
“Dry your hands on leaves or brush as you run toward the monkey bars,” says Schlachter. “Or grab some dirt and chalk up like you would in a gym.” Even better, wear gloves.

7. Electroshock Therapy (Tough Mudder)
Run through a field of thin, dangling wires pulsating with 10,000 volts

Conquer It:
“It’s so much more mental than it is physical,” says Schlachter, who compares the shock to a snapped rubber band. “Keep your hands in front of your face so you don’t get a tentacle on your forehead, then run for it. The faster you go, the quicker it’s over.”

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