All women have an obstacle in life that they need to overcome. For some, it is the pressure of society to act and be a certain way, for others, it’s the obstacle of being perfect. The main thing I love about the OCR community is that no one is perfect, and we are all strong in our own ways. For Kelli although she is strong, has done 105 races in over 5 years and wants to push for more, has to deal with Panic and anxiety on a daily basis. I am not mentioning this to point out what she needs to overcome, but what she has overcome to become a strong and Badass Woman in the OCR community. McRobert is a regular contributor to Mud Run Guide. Nothing is easy, and I was honored to get to know more about Kelli and how truly strong she is.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I have tried many variations from 1/2 marathons, adventure racing, snowshoe, road races, trail running, relay marathons, winter races including OCR and triathlons. In the road and tri's, I have a few bronze, silver and golds and my best race was XMan where I managed a 7th place finish to qualify for the OCRWCs. To date I have done 105 races in just over 5 years and doubled my original goal of 50 races in 4 years….now I am shooting for 200.
With your racing and OCR experience, what has been the toughest challenge you have faced and how did you overcome it?
Panic Disorder. I suffer severe anxiety disorder with panic attacks that are random and debilitating. I push through and rely on my teammates to support me and I make sure to celebrate each event as a success knowing how difficult it is to sometimes just get to the venue itself, not to mention challenge my ongoing fears throughout the day (crowds, heights, confined spaces, unknown trails etc…)
Is there a race or challenge you would never do?
Any endurance or ultra where you are competing for extended periods of time or distances as I am exhausted mentally from 5-8K just trying to stay in the moment. I admire the racers who get out there and tackle the longer solo races like Helene Dumas. Even some of the longer Tough's and Spartan's would not be my cup, but I have signed up for the TM 1/2 this year, just to push my comfort levels a bit further.
The sport of OCR has become more popular in the past 5 years. Why do you think that is?
I think social media has a lot to do with it and we are a strong inclusive community, we share our passion and for those of us that are non-competitive, we really do welcome everyone into the group and support them throughout the events. We enjoy sharing the addiction and I try to enlist almost everyone I meet from hair dressers to waitresses to store clerks. I throw it out casually and see what reaction I get and then send them a list of upcoming events…not everyone jumps at the chance but many have!
Is there a piece of equipment that you have to take on every race/course that you can't do without? if so what is that and why?
My Garmin watch, Road ID (since my hospitalization after same day races -Rugged Maniac/Warrior Dash), and my IceBug shoes. The watch so I can keep track of my pace to not overdo it, my ID so the medics have all my details which have come in handy before during a back to back race day where I suffered heat stroke and spent the night in a cardiac care unit, and my shoes to help me with excellent traction, a key piece of kit!
In the OCR community is there anyone that inspires you the most? Who is that person?
Heidi Williams…..strong, beautiful, feminine, older than me (just a bit) and fearless. She also has a good heart and humble when she accepts her due praise. I cringe when I know she will be competing with me but she inspires me to stay fit and work hard the older I get.
The OCR world championships in Canada in 2016 must have been an amazing experience. What was one thing you personally took away from that experience?
It was excellent. I enjoyed the small victories of conquering the Dragons Back, completing the monkey bars twice and just qualifying for the Master's Category was one of my proudest achievements. The group photo filled me with pride to be a Canadian and to share our beautiful country with everyone for this event! I look forward to this October to beat my rank from 2016!
I know there are many large/small OCR events available now. Which of the smaller ones that you have done is your absolute favorite and why?
Zombie Run for Humanity was a blast with great costumes, fun obstacles, and the medal is a severed body part! Each year you get a different part.
You are part of the Canadian Mudd Queens team. Have you found personally being part of such a large group of encouraging and motivating women has kept you going when workouts or challenges get tough?
The online community is great and I love that we meet up at events and can plan social activities with like-minded women. We also have smaller groups in each area that get together and you become quite close participating in so many events. Overnighters are a hoot, like old school slumber parties, and road trips take on a life themselves.
What is your favorite type of event?
OCR, with mud and creative challenges, untimed, with a medal (of course)!
For someone new starting out in the sport, is there a single piece of advice you can offer them?
Do it. Too many people tell me they are too out of shape, or too busy, or maybe one day….that day will never come if you don't try. Get out there, be afraid, feel alive, cry, do whatever it takes to try it at least once, you never know, it may be just the thing you have been looking for!
If someone wants to reach out to you on social media, where can they find you?
On Facebook and Twitter @GrittyKitties
When you hear the word OCR (Obstacle Course Race), what does that mean to you personally?
My sanity (a bit of an oxymoron). It has gotten me active, strong, motivated, passionate and taken me to some great places with many new acquaintances. I now have a sense of belonging, a fit, a part of something I love. I admit I am more particular now when I choose races, but I still get butterflies at the start and love the sense of accomplishment at the finish line, and a smile as I add my medal to my collection with pride.
You always seem to be smiling and happy in all of your race pictures. Do you find that having a positive attitude on course helps you get over even the most difficult challenges?
Well, those are edited FB posts! As you know, throughout the race you are facing your inner demons. Mine spring up often. I have an ongoing dialogue and set small goals to manage the longer courses….”just one more hill” or “you are halfway there already”, I also cheer on the faster racers and motivate those struggling as I know some races, I too need a friendly nod or quick “way to go” to carry me through. My toughest race was Spartan Super where I DNF'd after hours out there with no water, no sleep and was solo on the mountain….it is humbling as you sob with overwhelming disappointment that mentally and quite honestly physically you just can't go on.
But as I said before, just for me to finish is a success and the smile is genuine that I got out there one more time!
If you had to go back and look at your first OCR race, what is one thing that you would do differently?
Warrior Dash was my first race in 2012, I was overweight, unfit and unprepared for that mountain. My friends were no shows, so I did it solo, and suffered for over two hours….but, something happened that day and I knew it would change my life….I set my goal of 50 races, established a timeline and dropped 25lbs while planning out the next 4 years of racing with up to 27 races in some years…….I was hooked. No duplicate races, min 5k and within a 7-hour drive, those were the rules….each year the rules were fine tuned…it was a plan, and it worked!
What is a challenge or goal race you working towards this year?
OCRWC 2017….qualify for Masters again and see if I can place a few higher!
What is one random fact about you?
Love cats and food!