#DearSolo – any racing tips for deaf obstacle racers?


Previously, I have talked about what to do when your female friends do not support your racing, how to balance it all, and whether OCR is a good way to meet women.

This week, Chicked Nation asks:

#DearSolo, I am in need of some advice. I have done a few OCRs this past year, including two Spartans and want to Trifecta next year. I am also deaf on the course – I wear hearing aids but can’t wear them due to water obstacles when racing. I do mean deaf – I cannot hear a thing when racing. Is there any way that deaf or other types of “handicapped” racers identify themselves to race staff, volunteers and other racers? I try to run with a group but this is not always possible. Do you have any suggestions or do you know how other deaf/impaired racers handle this?


Hearing impaired runners may not have too many issues running road races, as there is no water involved (ok, it may rain, but you are definitely not swimming in a lake), and other racers are usually more aware of other runners who do not hear due to the widespread of headphones and running with music. Obstacle races present a unique challenge – large crowds, full submersion in water, and the need to understand instructions from volunteers at various obstacles.

I reached out to my friend, Pam, who is a hearing impaired runner, obstacle racer and a badass chick all around. Pam has completed two Tough Mudders this year as part of Operation Light Within.

Here are some of our suggestions:

1. Try to run with a guide.

Notice this is different from running with a team. The guide is there for you, and only you. Ideally, a guide is someone who ran with you before, however, someone with obstacle racing experience and willingness to help will do just fine! It helps if your guide is somewhat faster than you, in case, there is ever a need to run ahead and scope out the course.

2. Race early.

To avoid the largest crowds and line-ups at obstacles, race early in the day, and late in the weekend. For races with multiple waves, race early in the day. If the race takes place on Saturday and Sunday – Sunday event tends to be more chilled out.

3. Use touch for communication.

As you won’t be wearing your hearing aids during the race, chat with your guide prior, and ask them to use touch to get your attention instead. A gentle tap on the shoulder can act as a signal. Or, your guide can squeeze your hand to let you know to speed up or to slow down. Instruct your guide to look directly at you, when they are talking to you during the race, so you can read their lips.

4. Identify yourself as a hearing impaired runner.

Wearing a racing bib that identifies you as a “hearing impaired runner” is helpful for other racers and volunteers. An awesome bonus is all the support and high fives you will get on the course! You can get “blind runner”, “visually impaired runner”, “hearing impaired runner” and other bibs through Achilles International or a similar organization. Your guide can also identify himself/herself by wearing a bib “guide runner”, informing other racers that they are guiding someone.

YOUR TURN: Do you have a friend or loved one who is hearing impaired? Are they physically active? Any tips or tricks that you would suggest?

Happy obstacle course racing!


#DearSolo is a weekly advice column I launched after becoming of the admins for Chicked Nation, one of the largest online obstacle racing communities with over 15,000 members.

Think Dear Abby, but SO MUCH COOLER. So, if you have a question about obstacle racing – hit me up. Leave a comment, use Contact Me form on this website, tag me on Facebook or Twitter, just remember to use hashtag #DearSolo.

Posted November 25, 2014

2 responses to “#DearSolo – any racing tips for deaf obstacle racers?”

  1. Dear Solo
    I am hearing impaired as well and have found (if your hearing loss supports this type of aid) that a BTE (behind the ear) waterproof hearing aid works well for extreme rain, etc
    Here are a list of brands that currently offer a waterproof/resistant option, maybe she can ask her clinic to allow her to try out the aids to see if they are a good fit for her loss and lifestyle (even look into becoming a beta tester to keep cost down and input of real world use up!)
    Aquaris™ is the only completely waterproof hearing aid from Siemens. It is also dust-proof and shockproof. Mountain biking, walking in the rain, swimming, showering

    Phonak Naída Q is the most complete, water resistant power portfolio covering moderate to profound hearing losses.

    Starkey :3 Series hearing aid These reliable, high-performance and virtually waterproof hearing aids

    You need to ask what the IP rating of the aid is (The degrees of protection are most commonly expressed as “IP” followed by two numbers, e.g. IP65, where the numbers define the degree of protection. The first digit (Foreign Bodies Protection)shows the extent to which the equipment is protected against particles, or to which persons are protected from enclosed hazards. The second digit (Water Protection) indicates the extent of protection against water. )

    Hope that helps!
    I also write on the back of my bib with the medical info that I am hearing impaired for the “just in case” moment and I finally succeed in knocking myself senseless.

    Happy Racing!

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