Welcome again to Popcorn and Burpees, a Solo Mudders view on the various OCR offerings in the world of TV, film, podcasts and books. Today in a slight break from our schedule of reviewing Mission Mudder I will be looking at OCR podcasts.
Podcasts are not new by any means, yet as more and more of us look to consume media in different ways, their popularity is surging. So it is no surprise that over the past year there has been an explosion of OCR related podcasts.
In future posts, Popcorn and Burpees will delve a little deeper into individual podcast series looking at their good and bad points, as well as highlighting some “must listen” episodes. However today I will bring to you an overview of some of the main podcasts and encourage you to give them a try. If there is a podcast that I haven’t mentioned and you think I should try then please leave a message in the comments.
What is a podcast?
In their simplest form, a podcast is simply a pre-recorded audio show, although some video podcasts do exist. You can listen to them via your computer or mobile device either by downloading them (through iTunes or equivalent) or directly streaming them from a music player such as Spotify, Deezer or Stitcher.
There are a wide variety of podcasts ranging from talk radio type news pieces to episodic dramas. One of the best things about podcasts is that there are so many of them out there that you really can pick and choose the ones that are about the topics which interest you. Further lots of them have been around a while so you can do Netflix type “binge listens” when you have time as opposed to having to religiously stick to listening to them at a set time. This makes them great for long runs and also for those tiring car journeys to races that lots of us have to take.
As stated in the introduction, given the explosion of podcasts it is perhaps no surprise that there are lots of OCR related podcasts out there both current and abandoned.
The format of OCR podcasts will vary from show to show. The most popular type tends to be the “interview” style in which the host will talk for a bit and then introduce a recorded interview with one or two guests. This guest could be a Race Director, an OCR athlete, someone who has developed a product useful for OCR or indeed anyone who has an interesting story to tell. Occasionally the “interview” style podcast will also visit a race and get “live” soundbites from runners and those involved.
Another format is the “fireside chat” style in which several hosts will spend the podcast discussing what they have got up to recently and looking forward to future races. Sometimes episodes in these type of podcasts may have particular themes such as a looking forward to a championship race or looking at injury prevention. Often the “fireside chat” podcasts will also have guests who appear either by joining the hosts or occasionally via a pre-recorded interview.
One format that I have not yet seen in OCR podcasts is an episodic drama either fictional or factual. This could be quite an interesting twist on the format as it would be fascinating to listen to an OCR runner prepare for a particular race over several months. It would be important that the athlete is quite engaging with a clear plan of action, otherwise I could imagine many would switch off if the episodes just consisted of them discussing their long runs and meal prep.
Any drawbacks to podcasts?
As great as I think most OCR podcasts are, I do have to provide some words of caution to those unfamiliar with the format.
The first consideration is that most podcasts are not produced by vast media empires. Consequently there are occasional sound issues in which it can be hard to hear what is going on. These are rare on most of the ones I suggest below but you will get the occasional bad recording. If you do, all I would suggest is either persevere because often the issues are cleaned up mid episode or alternatively listen to another episode.
The second consideration is that most podcast episodes are very much “of their time”. So whilst you can binge listen to old podcasts, many will often refer to events as they happened. So if you chose to go back three years you will be listening to events as they were three years ago. Personally I find this fascinating because you can listen to such gems as a podcast in which elite athletes are wondering who the heck Jon Albon is when he came over for the Spartan World Championships. Nevertheless I know some people are just not interested in anything that isn’t current so thought it was important to flag up this nuance.
The third consideration is that most podcasts are USA centred. Given this is where the largest market share of both OCR and podcasts exists this is hardly surprising. Often this does not matter because many episodes will focus on the bigger names such as Spartan or Tough Mudder so will be fairly relevant. Also many of the interviewees will have stories which are relatable to the average Brit. Nonetheless there are occasions in which the discussion will be on something that you really have no idea about, such as a USA based TV show. Like the sound issues, it is often best to persevere because sometimes you will get an interesting story out of the episode.
What OCR podcasts are out there?
This is a quick summary of some of the main podcasts currently out there which are OCR centric or running related with some OCR interest. This is not meant to be a complete list of all of the podcasts which are available, indeed it is simply a list of some of the podcasts that I have listened to which I think others will enjoy.
In future posts of Popcorn and Burpees I will look into some of these in a bit more detail. But for the time being here is a brief overview of each one to help you decide which ones to listen to.
The Obstacle Racing Media podcast (ORM) is the longest running OCR podcast out there with over 200 episodes. Hosted by Matt B. Davies it is also pleasingly one of the more regular podcasts in that a new episode will be released weekly, usually on a Friday. ORM follows the “interview” style for most of the episodes. Matt B. Davies does not discriminate and will interview the biggest names as well as people who are little known but are very interesting. The host also does not shy away from asking the important questions of the big names as opposed to “playing it safe”.
A lot of the episodes will be USA centric but this just adds to the interest because of the sheer variety of stories out there. In a recent episode there was an interview with the Athletic Director of a college that was offering OCR scholarships to student athletes (seriously). Despite the fact that he is based in the USA, Matt B. Davies does not ignore the UK with episodes available in which he interviews British athletes such as Jon Albon and also episodes in which he and his guests discuss Tough Guy.
Ultimately the way in which Matt B. Davies covers OCR and it’s multiple personalities as a sport without being either too serious or too sarcastic makes ORM a must listen to podcast.
World’s Toughest Podcast (WTP) is a recent arrival on the scene hosted by Will Hicks. It is completely centred on Tough Mudder, in particular their competitive series which culminates with the 24 hour World’s Toughest Mudder. As the host himself says, he will talk about any obstacle race you like providing it is World Toughest Mudder. WTP follows the “Interview” style of podcast with a guest a week. The episodes are often released on a Tuesday but can be later.
If you have run Tough Mudder’s then WTP is probably one of the more accessible OCR podcasts available. Even though it is based in the USA many of the stories will be familiar to those of us across the pond. Will Hick’s is also quite familiar with the growth of Tough Mudder in the UK so will not shy away from talking about the UK. It is interesting to hear guests discuss the subtle differences between the UK and USA Tough Mudders, in particular how much wider our obstacles appear to be which makes obstacles like Block Ness that little bit harder to complete.
At the time of writing WTP is also the only podcast that I am aware of which has a long interview with an active member of the OCR Solo Mudder community. No spoilers as I will let you discover which Enertor sponsored, TV starring, photo posing, Solo it is for yourself.
Ultimately if you like Tough Mudders, Will Hick’s show should be one you enjoy and one which you will give a five star rating to. If you don’t like Tough Mudders then you probably have move on to the next part of this article.
Overcome and Run Podcast (O&R) has been going a little over a year. It is hosted by husband and wife, Jay and Heather Bode. Another podcast which follows the “interview style” and also looks across the world of OCR for its guests.
What sets O&R apart from the other podcasts is the unassuming nature of its hosts who come across as cute in a good way. You can tell that they are incredibly captivated by their guests and it is like we have been invited to listen in to their chats. The husband and wife dynamic works well with each host bringing their own personality to the show.
Due to the nature of their jobs there are episodes in which only one host is available. There are also sometimes occasions in which the weekly releases are missed. However these are minor drawbacks.
In terms of content of a British interest, I have not listened to every episode yet, but I have not come across much. This should not be reason to put you off from listening. Jay and Heather are engaging hosts who work hard to offer a different perspective on those associated with OCR.
This is a podcast hosted by Paul, Sandy and Josh of the New England Spahtens (NE Spahtens). The NE Spahtens are a local race group based unsurprisingly on the East Coast of the USA, not too dissimilar to the Solo Mudders (although the Solos are UK wide).
This podcast is a “fireside” chat style podcast in which the hosts discuss their recent races and the race scene in their local area. The hosts are quite in-depth when it comes to reviewing the races with each providing some anecdotes of their time on the course. Occasionally they will also have guests who join them.
Given the nature of the show, it is probably one of the least accessible shows if you are not an out and out OCR enthusiast. Regardless of this there are some episodes, such as the review of the OCR World Championships, which should be interesting to all.
Dirt in your Skirt (DIYS) is hosted by Margaret Schlachter. Margaret Schlacter was one of the early pioneers of obstacle racing in the 2010’s and was the first female professional athlete in OCR. The DIYS podcast is an extension of the DIYS blog which Margaret has run pretty much since she started in OCR.
The DIYS is another “interview” style podcast. Unlike some other podcasts the host does not limit herself to OCR although she does mainly limit herself to female guests. The aim of DIYS is to interview interesting women from a wide range of backgrounds. Often their background will have an “adventure” theme to it. Even if the interviewee is an OCR athlete Margaret will probe deep into their back story, indeed DIYS is very interested in the “why” behind the story.
The nature of DIYS may be a bit of a switch off for those of you who are simply interested in OCR. Indeed I will admit that I tend to “pick and choose” which episodes to listen to. Nevertheless Margaret Schlachter is a great host and many of her guests do have stories worth listening to. I would therefore recommend giving some of them a try.
Obstacle Dominator (OD) is hosted by Hunter McIntyre, Ben Greenfield and Rose Wetzel. Hunter McIntyre and Rose Wetzel are well known OCR elite athletes. I believe Ben Greenfield is an expert in fitness.
Honestly I have not listened to that many OD podcasts, only around 3 or 4. I am including it in this list because it will be one of the first podcasts that appears in any search for OCR podcasts. I understand that the idea behind the podcast is to assist to make you a better runner. However the episodes I have listened to appear to be similar to other “interview” style podcasts. OD also does not appear to be as regular as other podcasts to the extent that I am not really sure if it is still recording.
I plan to do a full review of all of the podcasts featured here in future posts so I hope to bring you a better understanding of OD in the future. In the meantime, feel free to give it a listen and let me know what you think.
Our first featured UK based podcast which is hosted by David Hellard and Jody Raynsford. Somewhat ironically the Bad Boy Running Podcast (BBRP) is not an OCR themed podcast but more aimed at the runner generally. David Hellard is likely to be a name that many in the OCR community are familiar with due to him winning pretty much all of the Rat Race “Man vs” events. On the other hand Jody Raynsford is an Ultra runner.
This is a “fire side chat” style podcast with the occasional guest, although due to listener feedback they are working hard to bring more and more guests on the show.
Whilst not strictly an OCR podcast, there is a lot of OCR content in these podcasts with members of the OCR community often interviewed and referenced. What adds to this content is the fact that Jody is a complete novice to OCR (and indeed has little interest in running OCR’s full time) so can offer a different perspective to the standard one. This was particularly interesting when Jody was “convinced” to undertake his first OCR which cruelly was to be four laps of winter nuts.
If you are listening to the BBRP purely for the OCR content then you may be disappointed because some episodes have little or no OCR content.
However you should listen to BBRP because of the hosts who, regardless of the theme, always sound like they are having a good time. The average two hour (yes it is one of the longer podcasts) episode of the BBRP will be a roller coaster in which David and Jody spend most of the episode talking about a wide range of topics, laughing at each other’s jokes, providing multiple call backs to previous episodes and occasionally discussing running.
It’s probably not for everyone but the BBRP is definitely worth a listen.
The final podcast is also the second UK based podcast and another relatively new podcast being less than a year old. The UK Mudd Queens Podcast (UKMQP) is primarily hosted by JoJo Brown (one of the founders of the UK Mudd Queens) and Ami Sawran (blogger at thisgirldid.com and host of Mudstacle TV). For some episodes Ami has been replaced by other guest hosts. The shows follow a “fireside chat” format.
Anyone involved with OCR in the UK will be aware of the UK Mudd Queens who have female members across the UK and are one of the largest racing groups in the UK. Indeed I can’t recall a single race in which I haven’t seen one of their familiar buffs or t-shirts. Consequently there is a risk that you may feel that UKMQP is merely aimed at members of the group.
This may be true to some extent, the UKMQP is aimed (like the group) at looking at women’s interests within the sport of OCR. Nevertheless the hosts work hard to make the episodes accessible to all runners. Yes topics like running whilst pregnant may seem of little relevance to the average male OCR runner, however the topics are dealt with such care that it is impossible not to learn something.
A major plus of the UKMQP is that a lot of the episodes are themed to a particular topic. This means that they do not age as badly as some of the other podcasts. Yes you may not be that bothered about listening to the “coping with cold” episode in the middle of summer. However the tips provided in the 2016 episode will be valid in 2017, 2018 etc.
A slight drawback is that of all the podcasts featured here, the UKMQP probably has some of the sketchiest sound which can be distracting. This is likely due to the fact that the hosts are still finding their feet and no doubt the sound will improve as the podcast matures. Another slight drawback is that unlike the other podcasts which aim to be weekly, UKMQP is very much a once a month podcast.
Overall despite the preconceptions you may have, UKMQP is worthy of your time. As mentioned above they carry out their research and delve deep into topics which are quite important to most OCR runners.
We’ve covered a lot of ground today but I hope I have given you some insight into the world of OCR podcasts. If you haven’t already then give some of the above a listen and then let us know what you think either in the comments or alternatively on the OCR Solo Mudder group on Facebook.
Anyway time for us all to get off the couch and get back to training, hopefully with some fresh ideas for podcasts to listen to on our long runs. Join me next time for some more popcorn and burpees.