As has been written numerous times before, obstacle course racing for many has transcended a simple activity they do on the weekends. The industry has a way of sticking around, like that mud behind your ear still there a week after you raced. The sport permeates your life, and you find your entire lifestyle changing, bedtimes are earlier, training is scheduled into your calendar, weekends become an excuse for an extended excursion in the woods or crazy long session in the gym. Not sure if you are a real OCR Racing Fanatic, read on and see if you have these five symptoms?
I should probably start by saying I didn’t “accidentally” qualify for OCR World Championships (OCRWC), it was a goal of mine to reach by the end of the season. However, with this being only my 3rd year in OCR and my first race of the season being only my 4th ever, I felt as if worlds was this lofty goal I had set just to look good on paper. This past season, I became a member of Team Strength & Speed (S&S), within our small Facebook group I could quickly tell I was behind the group on speed and obstacle skills.
Getting a significant other or friend who’s new the Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) excited about a run is sometimes a hard process. Before you’ve done it, understanding just why you would pay someone to be subjected to the elements, mud, pain, bruises, cuts, exhaustion, and possible serious injury can be challenging, to say the least - as I am sure someone must have said, “You can lead a person to mud, but you can’t make ‘em race”.
Recently, a training run provided some thought-provoking questions as my run took me past a local golf course. I’ve run this exact route hundreds of times over the years, but during this particular jaunt, it occurred to me how empty the parking lot seemed. At first, I wondered why a beautiful Saturday morning during the summer wouldn’t be their busiest time. Then suddenly I thought, “Yikes. Maybe this is their busiest time?” I was only about two miles into a ten-mile run, so for the next eight miles my mind twisted and turned over this question.
I saw a post recently from a writer I've been following since I first began Obstacle Course Racing (OCR)...back when all obstacles were wood and rigs were just a futuristic nightmare of someone's imagination. At first, I made the mistake (which I just warned everyone NOT to make in my own post the day before) and assumed I knew where the writer was going here. Wrong! It was a relatively short post and I read it several times before finally putting it aside to let the concept rattle around for a while.
Amelia Boone, Claude Godbout, Corinna Coffin, Sarah Watson, Brenna Calvert and Nikki Call. No, I did not just name the top six elite females from a recent race. Besides being members of Pro Teams representing race companies (Spartan Race, BattleFrog Series, and Conquer The Gauntlet), these athletes have something else in common, they have had serious injuries requiring medical appointments (surgery and/or casts in some cases) and weeks of recovery. With so many injuries from so many high-level athletes, the question of safety comes to mind and if we are asking too much of our top level athletes.
There are massive amounts of young individuals out there, full of energy and ambition that have yet to participate in obstacle racing. For someone who wants to create exposure for the sport; and get college students out of bars and parties and on to the obstacle course, the low participation numbers are frustrating.
It’s been said that you never forget your first time. I certainly remember mine. It’s as if every part, down to the tiniest detail, is permanently engrained in my memory, like an indelible mark that cannot be washed away. All I have to do is close my eyes, and I’m back there, back in that instance when what seemed like an eternity of waiting finally ended. It almost seemed like a dream. “Is this really happening? Am I actually, finally going to do this?” A light bead of sweat began to form at the small of my back, the way it always does when the adrenaline begins to course through my veins.
I will admit I have never once worn my Tough Mudder t-shirts. Some found their way into my mother’s closet. Some were gifted to students. Others donated to Value Village. Spartan gear on the other hand continues to prosper. Shorts, t-shirts, shoes, sweaters. I never thought twice of throwing on a piece of Spartan gear to go to the gym. Some Spartan shirts were carefully chosen (an old Ultra Beast t-shirt worn to a Spartan Sprint or Super creates just the right amount of psychological warfare).
Race volunteers are an integral part of any race. I have heard stories from racers, when a volunteer made their day with an encouraging word when it was most needed. What about volunteers themselves? What is their experience like?