OCR World Championships Short Course Reaction

First off, I want to try and clear up a few red flags that some may start waving after watching my video. Different distances in OCR and track/running (two of the examples I used in the video) aren’t clear-cut comparisons. In our sport, we obviously have obstacles scattered all over the course. The obstacles leave us with a little bit of an unknown and probably even have a few in the exercise science world scratching their head a little as they try to slowly figure it all out.

For the sake of this conversation, I’m going to use three common races and their obstacles we’re used to seeing. At all Spartan, BattleFrog, and OCRWC races, there are plenty of obstacles that require athletes to use upper and lower body strength and power over and over again many times throughout the race. We also know that the shorter races are probably going to be a little more obstacle dense when compared to the longer races. When we look at a 3000m/1.8 mile course with appx 17 obstacles, we’re looking at an obstacle every 175m on average. This is where I feel you could start to see world class track athletes in the 400m – 3000m range comes together and is racing side by side on a course of this length. You might say, how could a 400m athlete compete at a distance 3000m in length, it’s because of the obstacles. You might say, Yancy, you gave anaerobic and aerobic comparisons that don’t match up to the distances you’re talking about in the sport of OCR when compared to track. The obstacles make the difference. The 800m is appx 50/50 aerobic/anaerobic, and the 3000m run would fall in the appx 82/18 range of aerobic vs. anaerobic. The obstacles make these two distances match up pretty well.

Personally, if I had 6 months to take the current faster 800m or 3000m runner in the world to make them obstacle proficient while also keeping their running performance where it currently is, I’d take the 800m runner over the 3000m runner in the OCRWC 3000m course and I would definitely take both of them over any of the world leaders in the 10000m + crowd.  In a race, this short, different type of obstacles could provide a big benefit to the 400m/800m crowd vs. the 1500m/3000m crowd. If it was a 3000m distance with zero obstacles, this obviously changes the picture and would most definitely leave the 400m/800m crowd out of the picture going side by side against a world-class 3000m runner, but this is obstacle racing. This holds true for the longer distance courses as well. A 15-mile obstacle course race with a world-class 10,000m, marathon, and endurance trail running field could be a toss-up.

Of course, I need to back up and state the obvious, this entire argument depends on every one of these world class runners spending adequate time to become obstacle proficient and if they don’t, they don’t stand a chance against the current pro teams and top level athletes across the globe who have owned the podiums up to this point. With the current distances offered, there’s nothing more important in the sport than running. If we had a world championship course offering that was something similar to what Alpha Warrior used to be, now all of a sudden being a top level runner isn’t a key factor. For now, though, running is extremely important. This conversation could be much different ten years from now if we end up having obstacle standardization and say five different distances (100-200m range, 800m, 3000m, 10000m, & marathon). At this point, the specialization would be huge, and you’d see almost exactly what you see in track/running and swimming. An athlete might be able to step up or down one distance, but that’s about it. In track coaching world we know that every athlete is a 200m runner of the 400m or 100m type, a 400m runner of the 800m or 200m type, an 800m runner of the 1500m or 400m type, a 1500m runner of the 5000m or 800m type, 10k of the 5000m or marathon type, etc. It would be similar in obstacle course racing as long as obstacles test the athletes in similar ways across the board.

So in closing, I believe what OCRWC is providing is fantastic for our sport, and I applaud them for this groundbreaking step in the right direction. I love all the distances and at the age of 44, I simply love racing because of all the great people and every course no matter what the distance, helps me make sense of it all. Life is pretty amazing, and we’re crazy lucky to be living in a time that offers us so many amazing experiences out on a course and, more importantly, the cool fitness movement that has brought so many of us together in what has been as much or more rewarding socially as it’s been physical. Thanks a ton for listening and reading. #LovinLivin