Ah, Britain. The birthplace of OCR. Famous for queens, crumpets… And abysmal weather.
As you may know, we’ve had a glorious summer of nothing but sun. Unfortunately, last week has confirmed that those predictable days of balmy heat are over. Next weekend, you’ll be racing in the South East of England, specifically Essex. It’s actually still pretty warm towards the afternoon, but mornings are currently misty and uninspiring, leading us to think that there may be very different kit choices from morning to afternoon waves. Other countries have their own particular terrain-based obstacles like vast, rocky outcrops, lung-busting mountains or jagged fells. In Essex, we have mud. Lots of it. And with rain starting to creep in, it’s quite literally a slippery slope. It pays to be prepared, especially since the controversial reveal that stinking mud pit of doom, Ebenezer is making an appearance on the OCRWC 15k course.
We know getting your kit right is already difficult, not least when you have international travel to think about, so here’s a handy guide to what you may need to survive the wilds of autumnal Essex.
Body - Whether that is a zip-up rash-shirt or a vest, it’s sensible to keep your core warm, but your arms free. Wetsuits or full-armed neoprene can be awfully restrictive on the shoulders, and similarly, full-shirts can press on the chest and impede breathing, so we’re big fans of zip-ups.
Some examples of what I’m rabbiting on about:
Gloves – though they may not be all that useful when it comes to the more technical obstacles, neoprene gloves are a godsend in cold and wet conditions. The wind can really whip up around the flat grounds of the Nuclear course, so keeping your fingers nimble is very important. Even just a millimetre or two will help keep your hands warm whilst maintaining some dexterity.
Socks – Sure, you’re going to run super fast, but nothing bums you out quite like cold feet. Again, just a few millimetres of neoprene can really make a difference to your comfort on a run where you will undoubtedly be puddle stomping and submerging your feet. The advantage they have over waterproof socks is that they’ll cope much better with submersion and drain just a touch better.
I’ve tried almost every baselayer you can think of, but still, my absolute favourites are Nike Hyperwarm long sleeved tops – not too baggy, not too tight. They dry very quickly, and are breathable enough not to asphyxiate you when you’re on a long running stretch. If you’re in the market for any gear like this, it pays to check out Sports Direct before you hit the actual Nike Factory Store or, *gasp* Niketown in London.
OH MY GOODNESS THERE IS WEATHER AND I FORGOT MY KIT
If you forget any gear, there are places you can pick some up local to the OCRWC.
Decathlon – the Disneyland of cut-price outdoor gear.
It’s a massive wearhouse full of inexpensive things you never knew you needed. It’s the greatest.
Wet N Dry Boardsports – a slice of watersports heaven
A specialist Boardsports store in Basildon, they have the real deal when it comes to neoprene kit such as shorts, tops and even wetsuits (though I don’t think you’ll need a full suit). They also stock O’Neill 1.5mm Psycho Tech gloves, which I have been testing recently, and they are NOT TOO SHABBY.
The store itself is in Basildon.
Sports Direct – where sports clothes go to die
An obscure, jam packed store that can often be a bit tough to navigate, but a cavern of discount running gear. Look out for Nike Hyperwarm and Nike Pro and Underarmour Base layers at a decent price here.
There is a Sports Direct in Brentwood and another in Romford, both within ten miles of the OCRWC venue. Click here to search for stores.
Freeport Outlet Village – Where almost everything lives
We have some outlet stores fairly close in Braintree in an outlet/entertainment village called Freeport. There are Adidas, Asics and Nike outlets there for any emergency sports shopping.