Sportswear that’s stylish and practical | Rick Edwards

The right kit can turn a formidable athletic challenge into a chance to rock the latest in lightweight outdoor chic

I have signed up to do one of these insane obstacle races in 10 weeks’ time. You know – 12 swampy miles punctuated by walls that are too high to get over, slopes too slippery to climb, water too icy to swim in, and wires too electrified to touch (although they will definitely touch, and electrocute, you). I have been assured that when (as in, if) I finish the event I will be overcome by the sense of achievement, and warmth towards my fellow competitors. Currently that feels quite a way off. What I am embarking on is two months of hellish exertion and pain and frustration. I’m trying to do some form of exercise every day, which is bad enough, but even worse is that it means I am obliged to wear sports kit every day.

The words “sports kit” make my heart heavy. They immediately conjure memories of white vests and thick blue shorts with elasticated waists and the terror of forgetting to bring it to school. (“You’ll have to wear this skirt from lost property, etc.”) Frankly, the situation hasn’t improved much. The majority of athletic apparel is in colours made popular by Stabilo. I realise that this is partly for safety, but you can take “being visible” too far. And given the pace I’m going at, I don’t want to draw attention to myself.

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