Once again I found myself shivering at an early morning start line, watching athletes stretch and jump around as the heat evaporated from the frost-bitten ground and large inflatable arch displaying flags from multiple countries. I could feel the excitement and energy coursing through the brisk air. Spectators, including myself, lined up along the fence and eagerly awaited the loud pop of the starting cannon to release the first elite waves of the Obstacle Course Racing World Championships 2015.
Last year’s inaugural race was magical, but somehow, Andrian Bijanada and crew have managed to top last year’s event, which was once again held at Kings Domain in Oregonia, Ohio. Being held at the same location meant that runners could expect to see the steep hills, slanted paths, fallen trees and rocky riverbeds that they encountered last year. What some participants did not expect was temperatures in the mid 50’s, with lows in the 30’s, along with new obstacles and more water throughout the course.
A large group of us from Arizona arrived on Friday afternoon (October 16, 2015) and headed straight to the venue. This was a chance for us to check out the festival area, pick up our registration and reunite with old friends. The festival area was similar to last year except that there were more tents for teams and some obvious new obstacles. A few that stood out where the Destroyer, the Dragon’s Back and Skull Valley. I felt like a kid at the playground. Had we arrived earlier, we could have watched the various qualifying rounds of OCR Warrior Best of the Best, a shorter, obstacle-heavy course.
Saturday – Race Day
Saturday, October 17, 2015, was the individual competition where the world of OCR crowned reigning champion Jon Albon and the beautiful yet badass Lindsay Webster as their new king and queen. Broken up into gender-specific groups of elite, age group and journeymen divisions, waves went off from, 8:00 am to 2:00 pm. I was able to watch some of the beginning waves take off in the early morning.
There were spectators and athletes scattered throughout the festival area, bundled up in cold gear or huddled around the small fire pits. Sounds of Coach Pain, music and different accents/languages filled the air. Spectators cheered and ran over as the first athletes returned from the first leg of the race that took them off into the woods. As the day went on, more athletes trickled in and gave their best on the course.
I got my shot at 10:30 am in the women’s 30-34 group. I loved the first leg which had a little more running and included multiple river crossings. We then came into the spectator area to find some new obstacles. I personally was excited to see and try the Dragon’s Back, from the Swedish Race Toughest, which consisted of raised platforms that you had to jump across with only a horizontal bar to grab onto. This was a new obstacle for me, and although it was intimidating looking across at the next platform, I had the spectators do a countdown, and I successfully went for it.
Some of my other favorites that I love to hate are the Platinum Rig, Giant Slide, Skull Valley and the monkey bars. Overall, this year’s course was beefed up with more obstacles and more water, which I enjoyed. The only thing I would have changed was Mother Nature’s decision to make it so cold! Thank God for those space blankets.
Sunday Funday (October 18, 2015) was the team competition. I had the pleasure of competing with two of my Tucsonan friends on Team Cirque de Sore Legs. This year’s team format was completely different than last year and was a much-appreciated improvement. Instead of running the entire course again with a teammate and handing it off to the other half of the team, this year allowed for athletes to shine in their specializations (speed, strength and technical), and for a final leg that required actual teamwork. The final leg was my favorite because it forced us to work together and think creatively (Plus, I got my butt grabbed by Nina).
OCR World Championships is a one-of-a-kind event, where all OCR brands and people from around the world come together to celebrate their passion for the sport of OCR. For me, it is about the experience, the memories, the new friends, the fun and the sense of personal accomplishment during and after the course. There is no amount of words or pictures that could truly describe the experience of last weekend. This is an event that one simply must experience.
My rating: 10 out of 5 Stars.
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