This entry is part 21 of 30 in the series Faces at the Races

Richard Rachal -- 1Name
Richard Rachal

Age
34

Lives
Prairieville, Louisiana (Baton Rouge area)

Occupation
Commercial Real Estate Appraiser and Mobile Home Park Investor

Favorite OCR series
Tough one. I love the challenge of BattleFrog, but usually have the most fun at Savage Race.

Favorite obstacle
Tough Mudder’s King of Swingers. Holy smokes! I can do that one all day long.

Least favorite obstacle
There’s a few I don’t look forward to. The Spear Throw is probably #1. The BattleFrog Jerry Can Carry, Rig and Tip of the Spear gave me the most trouble of all my races, so I built a Rig and TOS and bought some Jerry Cans to practice on. I have a good feeling I won’t struggle as much.

Ideal race distance
9-12 miles

2016 OCR goals
— Beat the BattleFrog Rig (I’ve only raced 1 BF and this rig haunts me)
— Place top 10 overall in a BF or Spartan (closest I’ve gotten is 19, 10th place was 5 minutes away, which I know I could have made up over the distance)
— Kick the Bell (I did it before Spartan axed doing it)
— Beat Benjamin Bogard in the Alabama Super

Richard Rachal -- 5Brief bio
I’m a professional dad of 4 who loves Jesus, my wife, and trying new things

Social media
https://www.facebook.com/rich.rachal
https://www.facebook.com/groups/LouisianaOCR/

Why do you compete in OCR?
Running on the road bores the mess out of me and is fairly predictable. OCR is the direct opposite. Its ever-changing courses and obstacles make it fun and enticing.

Have you overcome any significant setbacks, such as injury, personal trauma, etc.?
I got into a car wreck in 1999. Nothing major, but my left knee was pretty bummed up. The doctor told me to stop running to let it heal; however, we were closing in towards the end of the track year with all the big meets. I continued running and my right leg overcompensated for my left. I ended up with two hurt knees (lateral meniscus trauma on both legs). I ran through the pain, and that summer, became an All-American in the 2000m Steeplechase. I wish I would have taken off and listened to the doctor.

What is your athletic background? What were some of your track PRs and accolades?
I did HS Track and Cross-country. The 800m and 4×400 were my main two events. I was never a super-fast guy, just slightly faster than most. My PR was 2:00 in the 800m, but nearly all races I was around 2:05. Other PRs were 6:35 in the 2000m steeplechase and 16:24 for a 5k. I was on the State Cross-country Championship Runner-up team. I also represented the USA (along with 12 other people) for the City to Surf race in Australia. It was my first unconventional race distance (14k).

Richard Rachal -- 4Tell me a little more about your weight struggles after college.
I never really ballooned until after college. I managed a bank for two years, where all I did was sit. I went from 155 to 185 in a year, then eventually hit 212. I had the “dad bod” look, with a little extra around the waist. I just wasn’t motivated. All of my peers looked the same, so I didn’t really care and just accepted that this was a part of life. There was little time for fitness between work and kids. What I’ve learned is that fitness just wasn’t important to me. If something is important to you, you’ll find time for it.

Did you ever have a “That’s it, I need to change” moment regarding your fitness?
After our third kid, Emily (my killer awesome wife) starting working out hard in the most inconvenient times (early morning and late night) to lose the baby weight. She proved to me that it can be done and that health is important. The “I need to change” moment occurred in my parents’ kitchen. My dad squeezed my shoulder and said, “That extra weight looks good on you Rick. Makes you look like a man.” I wear my weight well, and he was sincere. I looked stronger, but it was just a layer of fat. It was the first time that someone, excluding Emily, acknowledged the “extra weight.” I saw Emily busting her butt and having great success. I was ready to jump on board after that shoulder squeeze.

Richard Rachal -- 7How did you get into OCR in the first place?
I ran the Warrior Dash in 2011. That was my first OCR; however, I don’t really count it because I was by myself, and the course was heavily modified (and soon closed) due to severe weather. I finished just before they closed the race. I liked it, but it was more of a, “Meh, that was fun.”

The experience that is clear and got me hooked is when our friends invited Emily and me to run the Spartan Super in Austin (2014). I really wanted to beat my buddy, who had already done several OCRs. He told me that I needed to start running and be able to do 10 pullups. I could only 2 pullups and running was non-existent. I went home, built a pull-up station, 8’ wall, and started running again.

What went through your head after crossing the finish line during your first race?
“I’ve got to do this again!” I’ve lost count of all the races we’ve done since then, but if it’s within a reasonable driving distance, we’re there.

Richard Rachal -- 8You really built all of the obstacles that you failed at your first race so you could practice more?
I did. My first race, I missed the spear, traverse wall, and rope climb. The week we got home from the race, I ordered a rope, and added a spear throw station and a traverse wall. I’m pretty handy, so I visualized the obstacle in my mind and what it would take to recreate it and went for it. I’m not sure how long it took to put the station and T-wall up, maybe six hours from start to finish.

We currently have a telephone-pole teeter-totter, rig, monkey bars (Saw Tooth variant), 4’ wall, 6’ wall, 8’ wall, pull-up bar, Z-Wall, balance beams, Tip of the Spear, 20’ rope, sled pull, atlas balls, chopped up telephone poles for log carries, a battle rope (that is also my Tyrolean traverse), and a caving ladder. I’m sure I’m missing something in there. We use the obstacles now as a part of our training. The perimeter of our yard is 1/3 mile, so we’ll often run the perimeter and hit an obstacle and run back to the starting point, followed by a 45-60 second rest. We’re practicing running to an obstacle and attack it and immediately get to running again. We use to get to an obstacle, stop and study it, do the obstacle and walk after the completion.

How involved are you with the group Louisiana Obstacle Course Racers?
After our first race, I was my OCR guy. I was the stereotypical guy that spoke to everyone about it. I looked up and studied the elite athletes, and spent much of my free time thinking, talking, or working out with OCR in my mind. Other than our friends that invited us to our first race, we didn’t know anyone else in the area that enjoyed OCR as much as we did. So, we started a Facebook group, Louisiana Obstacle Course Racers, in hopes to connect people and training. We had even built a website (http://www.louisianaocr.com/), with the thoughts of somehow monetizing our group (training clinics, merchandise, etc.). I soon discovered that running a group and frequently updating a website with race reviews, how-to’s, etc. was a lot of effort. The Facebook group is now mainly an event calendar for OCR, trail and adventure races within 8 hours of Baton Rouge. We do host a free quarterly OCR training day through the group. We’ll do obstacle-specific training and then a group workout. Those are always a lot of fun and a great workout. Here’s a view from the end of one our workouts:
https://www.facebook.com/rich.rachal/videos/10105605962722795/

What was your experience been like after attending Richard Diaz’s running clinic?
After hearing the testimonies form Richard Diaz’s Clinic (www.naturalrunningcoach.net), I invited him to Baton Rouge.  He peeled 43 seconds per mile from my 5k time.  Most of my current focus has been running correctly.  Richard helped dial in my heart rate zones so I know where I’m supposed to be training.  I use this as a basis for Yancy Camp runs.  The running mechanics was by far the greatest take away from the weekend.  I think about it every time I run and have the metronome ingrained my head…”boop, boop, boop, …”  I’m running my first ultra this weekend. I know having the proper mechanics will aid me.

How have you and your wife been able to successfully instill an active lifestyle for you and your kids?
It’s really difficult. They see us running and working out and we try to teach them the importance of being healthy. We recently had a breakthrough when our 6-year old girl climbed our 20’ high rope and rang the bell. She swung for the bell and missed (my heart was beating through my chest in fear of her falling). She said she was coming down and was scared. I encouraged her to hit that bell and not to give up on herself and that she could do it. She scooted up a little and rang the bell. When she got down from the rope, she was on fire with excitement (we all know the feeling). The next day, she asked Emily if she could workout with her. It was a great feeling for Emily and me. Once the other kids saw her working out with us, they had to join in (to not be outdone).

Richard Rachal -- 2Your wife, Emily, is quite the accomplished athlete. How cool was it seeing her on TV for “Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Challenge”?
Yeah, she has no formal training prior to running OCR. She’s just strong (mentally and physically) and muscles through things. It was very surreal. We watched her episode again a few weeks ago, still doesn’t seem real. It does make for a very proud husband, though!

Did she get to give Stone Cold the Stunner or drink a couple beers with him after the show? (Sorry, I was a wrestling addict while growing up as a ’90s kid, so I couldn’t help but ask this question.)
HAHAHA! She says that her time with Steve was very limited. He was on the set and then off. After she won, she was sitting in a van cooling off, and he came by and congratulated her. That was the extent of their off-screen interaction. I’m with you though! I was hoping she would invite our family to his ranch.

Speaking of TV shows, have you been watching “Spartan: Ultimate Team Challenge” on NBC? What’s your opinion of the show?
We enjoy it! We would like to see more race and less personal videos. How could you not like it!? It’s great seeing a bunch people that we follow and have raced with on TV. Looking forward to your episode.

Richard Rachal -- 3Will obstacle racing be in the Olympics by 2024, as Spartan Race is currently pushing?
I don’t think it’ll be in 2024. I do think that the OCR will make it. I picture it to something more akin to the viral videos you see the Central and South Americans run on a closed track.

Would you like to see more race series continue this trend of offering multiple distances at their championship race?
I would. It only makes sense. I think 5k, 15k and 25k distances would be ideal.

Do you think OCR companies do a good job advertising their events?
I only see Spartan and Savage race adverts. I’m sure it’s because of my internet search results. For local races, I really have to dig to find event details.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?
My personal goal is to continuing investing in real estate and acquire a few more mobile home parks. Fitness goal, I want to compete in the OCRWC and run a trail race in an exotic location (Grand Canyon, Great Wall, etc.).

Give me a fact about yourself that would impress most people?
I really like swing dancing. It makes me feel so debonair 😉

Richard Rachal -- 6How many medals do you own and what do you do with them after the race?
I would like to know that too. I have medals spread throughout the place. Most are on a hook in my closet. I have several hanging on my closet door trim, some on the side of my bathroom sink, there are probably 2 or 3 in my travel bag. My most memorable medal(s) is my first Trifecta and the BattleFrog open medal. Even though I ran the BF course twice like the elites, I had my band cut and received the open heat medal. I told myself then that would not happen again. Best medal I’ve received is a machete for a 3-race, 1-day, 7-mile trail run (1 miler, 4 miler, 2 miler; Cane Field Classic).

What’s the furthest you’ve traveled to attend a race (or are planning to travel this year)?
I intend to travel to Boston in August 2016 for the Spartan Super. Emily earned a chip to the Spartan championships earlier this year. If we can work it out, we’ll be going to Tahoe.

Pretend you’re a race director for a day. Describe the course you would design (including pre- and post-race festivals, if you’d like).
Oh boy, I would love this job! I’ll try to keep it short. Pre-race, I think there should be a photographer for before shots (Spartan already has them for before shots). It’ll be cool to see some side-by-side comparisons (idea credit goes to Walker Higgins). Venue should be one of varying terrain, with the festival area in a relatively high place for spectator observation (tall hill, stadium, etc.). Ideally, the race would loop or zig zag through or very near the festival area. Good for spectators and athletes. I know that I always perform better when I know someone is watching. Race distance between 5-7 miles. Mandatory obstacle completion or risk a DNF. I think it would be fun to have an obstacle that the entrants get to vote on while signing up. You won’t find out what it is until race day. Something big (e.g. King of Swingers, Colossus, extra-long ice bath, zip line, SUP, canoeing, etc.). Starting gate should be wide with the ability to pass people within the first mile. Maybe even start the race with a hill climb or heavy carry. I find that people go race-horse crazy out the gate and stop and walk when they hit the first trail obstacle (like a small log or creek to jump). Post-race would have great cover bands or a DJ that believes in more than heavy metal and techno. Obstacles in testing would be out in the festival area.

Is there anything else you’d like to add (OCR-specific or about life in general)?
Make it a point in life to learn at least one new thing a day. Also, everyone enjoys someone who smiles a lot, so get to smiling.

Series Navigation<< Faces at the Races — Tara SkinnerFaces at the Races — Mike Weaver >>