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Air Force confidence and obstacle course leaders should complete all actions listed below prior to and during use of the course. Only then will Airmen be good to go!

1. Complete course maintenance checklist.

 2. Mark all safety issues and/or obstacles deemed unsafe as off-limits and brief participants.

 

 

3. Check current local weather conditions, including wind speed.

 

4. Conduct safety briefing with all participants prior to start.

 

 

5. Provide in-person and/or video demonstration of all obstacles.

6. Ensure that medical support is readily available within acceptable response time to the course.

 

 

7. Brief all personnel on emergency procedures.

 

 

8. Ensure that emergency vehicle capable of transporting an individual in the prone position is onsite.

9. Ensure there is a first-aid kit on hand.

 

 

10. Ensure that sufficient water is available and participants are briefed on location.

11. Brief all personnel on inclement weather actions.

 

   

Top Hazards and How to Mitigate Them

1. Poor course maintenance

Mitigate: All obstacle and confidence courses must be thoroughly inspected before each use. Your course operator should check for hazards like obstructions in paths between obstacles; rotten logs or poles; protruding nails; sharp edges; poor condition of fall protection and pads; and overgrown weeds and vegetation.

2. Inappropriate clothing

Mitigate: Never wear jewelry, loose-fitting clothing, backpacks or other items that could get caught in or on netting, barbed wire or other obstacle features. Avoid moisture-retaining cotton garments and shorts with pockets that can fill with mud and debris. Choose footwear with good tread and support to reduce slips and falls.

 

3. Inadequate strength and endurance training

 

Mitigate: Challenge events such as Tough Mudder and Spartan courses are no walk in the park; you will need to put in some serious time in the gym. Fitness experts recommend four to eight weeks of bodyweight training, including exercises to build grip strength for monkey bars and wall climbs, shoulder stability for sandbag carries, and inner thigh muscles for rope climbing.

 

4. Unaddressed fear of heights, water or confined spaces

 

Mitigate: Whether facing a climb to the top of a 25-foot tower, crawling through a long, tight tube, or a plunging into an icy pool, you must be ready to conquer your fears or accept failure. If you suffer from acrophobia (fear of heights), aquaphobia (fear of water) or claustrophobia (fear of confined spaces), seek treatment before putting yourself in a panic-inducing situation. Working with a cognitive behavioral therapist, who can help you reprogram your negative thoughts and guide you through repeated exposure to the fear-inducing stimulus, is your best path to overcoming your fear.  
  

 

5. Hot, humid conditions

Mitigate: High temperatures and humidity during any type of challenge course can lead to heat exhaustion or heatstroke, symptoms of which include headache, excessive sweating, weakness, nausea, muscle cramps, sudden collapse and loss of consciousness. Drink plenty of fluids the night before and day of the event. Also, training in hot, humid conditions will help get you ready to race in any kind of weather.

ACROPHOBIA— FACING YOUR FEAR OF HEIGHTS

If you have an extreme, irrational and disabling fear of heights, called acrophobia, you are far from alone. As many as one in 20 people suffer from this anxiety disorder. The third-most-common phobia, behind arachnophobia (fear of spiders) and ophidiophobia (fear of snakes), acrophobia can lead to panic attacks and avoidance behaviors that disrupt daily living. If left untreated, it will present a serious problem for anyone trying to complete an outdoor challenge course booby-trapped with towering obstacles like Tough Mudder’s 25-foot cargo net, the Mudderhorn, or Savage Race’s 24-foot quarter pipe, Colossus. 

If you experience the following symptoms when in high places…

  • Feeling the need to drop down on all fours 

  • Shaking

  • Heart palpitations

  • Sweating

  • Hyperventilating

  • Crying or yelling

  • Panicking

  • Headache and/or dizziness

  • Feeling terrified and/or paralyzed

Then it’s time to get help. Check out the following options:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy—replaces negative and irrational thought patterns with more helpful ones

  • Real-life Exposure Therapy—desensitizes individuals to fear-inducing stimuli through repeated exposure in increasing increments

  • Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy—desensitizes individuals via a less expensive and more readily available alternative to real-life exposure therapy 

  • Anti-anxiety, anti-depression and beta-blocking medication—alleviates symptoms and may improve outcomes for people concurrently undergoing cognitive therapy  

Associations

Uniting, supporting and growing the sport of obstacle course racing in the United States

World governing body for obstacle sports, composed of national member federations

United States governing body for obstacle sports, unifying obstacle course racing to ensure an inclusive,
safe, fair and affordable sport for all