What You Must Bring To Your Next Mud Run Or Obstacle Course Race

You’ve got your ticket, and the obstacle course race is vastly approaching. You’ll probably have a mixed bag of emotions, either you’re excited or feeling nervous. That aside, making sure you’ve got everything ready is important. After completing a dozen events and forgetting something silly like a towel isn’t much fun. So, this information should act as a useful reference point and ultimately help you to make the most of your next event.

Make sure your car seats are protected  

Whether you are going to a local OCR event or going cross country, obstacle course racing is always going to be a muddy affair. If you take a lot of pride in your car and don’t want the interior to get muddy, get some cover seats or use old blankets. Large bin bags can also do the trick!

How to find your car 

When you go to an OCR event, there will be thousands of cars in this massive field. Often, you have no option of where to park, and it’ll be a mission to find your vehicle. If possible, you’d need to find a way to make your car easier to find. Out of desperation, I’ve tied a plastic carrier bag to my radio antenna in the past.

There may be some car location apps available; however, if they require an internet connection, this may not work. Most OCR events are held deep in the countryside, where there’s zero mobile internet connectivity.

Registration and form of ID 

Although the world encourages us to go paperless and avoid printing; however, most of these OCR event locations don’t have decent mobile network coverage. It’s wise to print off your documents and put these in a clear plastic wallet.  If you don’t have a printer, make sure you get a screenshot of your digital paperwork and save it as a picture on your phone.

Make sure you bring your ID, and what’s requested, this will help the event staff and keep queuing times down to a minimum.

What to wear to a mud run or an obstacle course race

What shoes to wear for a mud run? Answer: Decent trail shoes

I appreciate that some people say you should use only an old pair of trainers for your first mud run or obstacle course race. However, the truth is you want a pair of trail running shoes. You must have a decent grip. Without any suitable grip, you’ll be sliding, slipping and become frustrated. 

 At my first Tough Mudder, I wore a pair of trainers that had no grip. I was sliding around like a car on black ice. The mud was so thick, wet, and sloppy that it was so tricky just to stand. Although it’s cheaper not to buy some trail shoes, you’ll need them for this type of event. 

Mud Run Socks

Your feet are going to get wet and muddy. You want to get a pair of running socks that have a high wicking fabric, that holds moisture and prevent blisters. You don’t want to be wearing cotton socks or anything on you that contains cotton. 


During an obstacle course race, you’re going to be in and out of the water, going through thick sloppy mud and you will be pushed physically and mentally. It’s vital not to wear cotton. 

The problem with cotton is when you start sweating or getting wet, the material gets heavy, it’s uncomfortable, it doesn’t dry quickly, and you could be prone to chafing. 

It’s always best to wear a pair of compression pants as this will help to give a layer of protection on your skin. If you just wear compression shorts and a T-shirt, you’re leaving your thighs, knees, arms, and elbows exposed.


Instead of wearing a hat, consider a headband or even a neck tube. Wearing a hat, a beanie hat or baseball cap will make you feel like you’re in an oven. Around 25% of body heat escapes through the head. Opting for a headband or neck tube, will keep you cool and help to reduce the mud getting in your hair. 


Avoid wearing goggles, glasses, or sunglasses as you will lose these on the course. If you must wear eyewear contact lenses is probably your best bet.

Fancy Dress Costume 

It’s always great to dress up as a superhero or your favourite cartoon character. However, you also need to consider if it’s going to be enjoyable wearing that outfit. For example, if you dress up as Batman, you need to wear a mask which will impair your vision, and you’ll wear a cape, which may get caught on some of the obstacles. 

I’m not trying to take the joy out of dressing up. I’m considering doing a Tough Mudder dressed as the wrestling legend, The Ultimate Warrior. 

His outfit includes face paint, and he wore tassels underneath his arms which is a great colourful design. As the tassels are loose, they’ll get caught on an obstacle!  

I’ve got the costume, and it looks awesome! However, thinking of the logistics, the outfit might not be the most comfortable to wear. If you’re going to wear a costume, it’s always best to do some research and choose wisely. Most importantly, have fun doing so!

Food and drink 

it’s always a good idea to bring some food for the event. If you don’t like paying lots of money for overpriced food, then this is your best bet. Before any obstacle course race, ideally, 2 hours before, I usually have a peanut butter and banana wrap. I’ll drink plenty of water, and a sports drink like Lucozade Sport or Gatorade!

Always bring plenty of water that you can leave in the car. On average you’ll burn around 3,000 calories after doing a 10-mile obstacle course race. I don’t blame you if you want to indulge and have a greasy burger after. I’d always aim to have something to eat within an hour of finishing the event. Most people stop at McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC, or any burger joint on the way home.


I will admit on my first Tough Mudder; I packed everything except a towel. Before I go to any event, I make sure I pack two big towels. You’ll be surprised how many people make forget a towel.


At an obstacle course race, don’t expect fancy showers with lots of warm water. You’ll be in the field, and the rig will be pumping thousands of gallons of cold water! After Arctic Enema, the cold water will feel warmer anyway! 

If you’re camping at the Tough Mudder events, you’ll benefit from warm showers there.

Flip flops 

With the shower cubicles, there’s going to be lots of mud and dirt and grit on the floor. So, don’t forget your flip flops.

Wear warm, comfortable old clothing 

Leave your tight jeans and your fancy best clothes at home. After doing an obstacle course race, you’ll want to be comfy. Loose clothing is a good idea. A pair of tracksuit bottoms, a loose T-Shirt or a hoody, will be perfect.

Dry robe

After doing Europe’s Toughest Mudder, there were about 50 to 60 people in the pit stop area wearing these dry robes. At 6:00 AM on a chilly May Sunday morning, I wanted to buy one! I was freezing! A dry robe is a waterproof jacket, and inside there is a fluffy fleece lining. These are great for people that are hanging around the campfire or wearing after having a shower.

Plasters and first aid kit

At every OCR event, I’ve had my fair share of bruises and cuts, especially on the hands. When your hands are wet, they’re more prone to cuts. So, it’s worth having some plasters to stop any bleeding and to protect yourself against any bacteria that could be in the mud.

GoPro camera or a disposable camera 

If you want to record your race, a GoPro is your best bet. Although the cameras are expensive, they’re very durable and can cope with the environment. If you don’t have a GoPro and want to take pictures, you’re best off using a disposable camera. There are lots of people that go on holiday and take pictures underwater with disposable cameras. Not only is this a cheaper option, but it’s also a lot better than choosing your iPhone.

A sports watch to monitor your time 

if you’re looking to track your time, A GPS watch would be a good option. When I did my 12-hour Tough Mudder, my Fitbit was up to the task. There were some scratches on the device, but apart from that, the watch was very durable.


If you want to take gloves, that’s fine. However, always try them out before going to an event. You want something that’s going to be durable and offer good grip. Bear in mind lots of people that do obstacle course races will throw their gloves away, out of frustration because there isn’t any grip.  

Hydration vest or hydration pack 

if you are going to use a hydration vest or hydration pack, just be aware that on some obstacles, like crawling under a cargo net, you may get caught in the netting.

Protein bars or bananas

Most obstacle races up to 10 miles will have water stations where there will be an assortment of goodies. However, we don’t always know where these water stations will be. So, if you are taking a hydration vest, these would be good places to store these goodies.

Previous race headbands 

if you are an OCR veteran such as a Tough Mudder legionnaire, remember to bring your headbands. It’s not essential; but for newbies doing the course for the first time, it gives people a sense of reassurance that somebody has done this race before, and more likely to feel comfortable when asking for help.

Bin bags

You don’t want wet, smelly muddy clothes messing up your car. So, if you put your clothes in a bin bag or better inside us a waterproof swim kit bag.

When you get home 

  • Make sure you have some Epsom salts for a long soak in the bath.
  • Stretch and continue to move around. Sitting down for too long can make you feel worse. It’s best to get some movement back in your body. Only do gentle walking for the next few days.  
  • Rinse thick muddy clothes with a hose and then put them in the washing machine. Wash with a hose and use a toothbrush world scrubbing brush to remove the dirt and let them dry naturally gently.

You’ll need to replenish your body with some proper nourishment.

After doing an obstacle course race, I’ve built up a considerable appetite. My go-to food is homemade lasagne and chips. Usually, I batch cook before any event and freeze my lasagnes down, as they make excellent cheat meals.

James King has competed in multiple OCR events including Europe's Toughest Mudder from 2019 to 2022, multiple mud events, 10k runs and currently for his first marathon. James includes useful tips and experiences about OCR on his blog mudrunlifestyle.com.

James King has competed in multiple OCR events including Europe's Toughest Mudder from 2019 to 2022, multiple mud events, 10k runs and currently for his first marathon. James includes useful tips and experiences about OCR on his blog mudrunlifestyle.com.