Ashley “Haze” was brought to my attention by Bonnie Wilson at Mud Run Guide. I did some looking into her background and learned that Ashley has accomplished several things within her OCR career. From starring on American Grit to being one of the first females to run with the Relentless team, this girl has the determination, spark, and sass needed to be a Badass both in OCR and athletic endeavors, and off course in her personal life. Haze is not the traditional OCR badass in some eyes, but to me, she has quite the interesting story to tell.
Please tell us a bit about yourself.
HiHi! I’m Ashley “Haze” Hazlett. 32 year old Cincinnati resident. I’m Single (sup?) with no kids and have two cats. (One of them is the bane of my existence). I bartend/manage at a restaurant in Florence, KY.
Please share with us the story of your biggest OCR / athletic achievement so far.
Oh man. This might sound silly because it’s not a “physical” accomplishment, more of a personal triumph. I have been following the Relentless Team ever since I had learned of their existence back in 2014. I had the opportunity of meeting many of the members of this Elite Team, and even the privilege to train with Jamie McCart on a regular basis. In 2016, while at Mud Guts and Glory, the Relentless Team had a tent and all of their best athletes were competing. I told a friend “I’m going to be the first female to run for Relentless”. He laughed at me. On February 16th, 2017 Relentless announced ME as the first of 4 females that would be running alongside some of the best, most humble athletes.
What made you decide to embrace fitness / OCR as part of your lifestyle?
Growing up my family was very active. My Dad, a United States Marine, founded his own Boot Camp style fitness training. My brother and I were always involved in school and summer sports, so I thought I was “fit”. As I got older I would do a 5k here and there, or try to go swimming. Sign up for the gym but never go. It wasn’t until the Boston Marathon Bombing that I decided to really invest myself in fitness. Like the rest of the world, I witnessed the heart-wrenching tragedy unfold on the news and I thought “What if something happened, and I wasn’t strong enough to help?” I decided that becoming stronger and more functional would be my focus.
How do you find balance in your busy life to train/race?
Being Happy and Healthy rank highest on my list of priorities. I had been working at a 9-5 the first few years I had gotten involved in OCR. I would do morning, lunch, or evening workouts. Hell, sometimes I would do all three if there were people who wanted to get weird with me. But I HATED being inside and sitting at a computer, so I quit my job. SCARY! Yes, it was scary. I ended up getting a bartending gig in the evenings so that I could spend my days' training. That’s a bit extreme, I know. But for the weekend warriors or those who think they don’t have time, the best quote I have ever heard, that put it into prospective for me when I first got into fitness, was “Someone with less time than you is running right now”. We all have the same 24 hours in the day. It’s what we do with it. Career and Kids/Family take precedent but say you have a show that you’re watching, try doing squats, lunges, jumping jacks or planks during commercial breaks. Get the kids involved so that it’s a family affair. Train with your spouse on date night. There’s always a way.
Is there a weakness that you are currently training to overcome? If so what is that?
Grip Strength! Grip Strength! Grip Strength! UGH!
After being the first of the finalists to fall on American Grit, I knew that I needed to spend some time on these hands. Upper body strength is something that I think most women struggle with. In spending time with Mike Meyers (ANW season 7,8,9) I learned a few tricks. Buckets of rice, one arm hangs, hangs in general, getting different holds for pull ups and rock climbing are some helpful hints he shared. My spare bedroom has rings, ropes, nunchucks, and fat grips hanging from the ceiling. Also doing some fingertip grip plate holds have been helpful.
What was one of the more scarier moments on course you would like to share with us?
My chest still tightens up when I think about this… The very last Battle Frog race. Last one ever was held at Kings Domain July 2016. I had bowed out ungracefully (surrendered my band at those damn monkey bars after many failed attempts). My Dad was running the race and I was waiting for him to come through. When he made his first attempt at the descending/ascending bars he fell, crawled to the side, and said he was calling it.
I called him a P*ssy and told him to get back up and try again. He laughed, climbed the tires and made his second attempt. He was so close to the last rung when he lost his grip and fell, tumbling down the catch net and landing in a lifeless heap at the bottom of the pit. My.Heart.Stopped! I jumped in to the middle of the obstacle, volunteer yelling, people trying to climb over me. I was prepared to throw my Dad over my shoulder and carry him to the Medical Tent. He was alive (thank gravy) but his ankle was not happy. He ended up breaking his ankle on that obstacle. He’s fine now, back running and being active, but he’ll never let me live it down for calling him a P*ssy..
Is there advice that you would like to share that you have learned on course that applies to normal life?
Run YOUR race. On thecourse and off. Personally, I was getting caught up with keeping up with Jonses or the Lindsey Websters. Social Media or Social Outings…I had started comparing what I have to what others might seem to have. That’s not your race, that’s not your life. Every day is a new opportunity to be a better person than you were yesterday. Don’t worry about someone passing you on the course; don’t worry about someone passing you in life. Work hard, earn it, and focus on #1.
Do you currently work with a coach or trainer? If you do how does that help you stay motivated?
I do not have a coach or a trainer; I have a Tribe. The Iron Tribe. We are group of about 18-20 athletes ranging from weekend warrior to Relentless Team Members. We communicate daily. Sharing workouts and accomplishments. Always supporting and encouraging each other. Coordinating carpooling for upcoming races. My Mentor, Dennis” RevRun” Dalton, as well as Stan Wagers, Chris Mellor and my cousin Eric Hazlett keep me accountable, and I do the same for them. The Tribe was founded back in 2015 and we live by Proverbs 27:17 “As Iron sharpens Iron, so does one man sharpen another”.
In your own eyes and I know this is hard, but what makes you a badass in the OCR community?
First, let me just say that I am absolutely honored to be considered one of the bad ass women of OCR. And honestly, I wouldn’t be who I am if it wasn’t for the other OCR bad asses. The community is what drives me. The Tribe, Relentless, Bonnie Willson and the MudRunGuide team, BROCR, The Stanger Brothers and their MIT NEST, Train Yard Danny, The incredible experience and Individuals I met while competing on American Grit…The family that I have found through the mud and suffering that would never ever let me give up. They are what makes me a badass.
What is your next biggest personal / OCR related goal?
Recently I’ve become obsessed with the Barkley Marathons. I have a count down on my calendar (948 days as of August 29) until the 2020 Barkley Marathons. UNTIL THEN however, I plan to do some orienteering, a full trail Marathon as well as an Ultra. I know it’s not necessarily OCR, but that’s what I’m aiming for in the next 2 ½ years.
Do you find that as the sport matures, women are being taken more seriously then we have been in previous years?
The women in this sport are INCREDIBLE! Absolutely incredible. Men are expected to be stronger, but getting “chicked” is something that some men have experienced on the course at one point or another. The greatest part about the ladies of OCR is that they are REAL PEOPLE. They aren’t paid athletes or bored housewives. Amelia Boone is a lawyer, Maggie Thorne is a mother. They have the same 24hrs that we all have. Juggling being a wife, a mother and a career woman and STILL chickin’ the dudes!? There’s no way the women on the course can’t be taken seriously. The whole community, male and female, is so supportive of each other. It’s great to see a sport where there isn’t really a gender barrier. We’re all required to do the same obstacles, and run the same miles.
What was one of your worst race / OCR experiences?
Hmmm…. I would say my first OCRWC in 2015.To say I was not prepared is an understatement. It was the first frost of the season. I had fallen in the water early in the race and couldn’t warm up. I got caught up at the Sternum Checker (raise your hand if you were there too!). I didn’t want to give up my Elite Band so I spent the better half of 2 hours slamming myself against that monster. I saw quite a few injuries there, lots of disappointed athletes giving up their bands, myself included. By the time I got to Skull City, second to last obstacle of the race, I couldn’t feel my legs, my ribs were cracked and my fingers were feeling the onset of hypothermia. My family had been there for HOURS waiting for me to come out of the woods. I remember feeling so defeated seeing them standing there. My Dad saw my disappointment and pain. He jumped the fence, threw his jacket over my shivering body, and walked me across the finish line. I didn’t even attempt the last obstacle.
How do you train for the mental aspect of the longer races (ie silence the demons):
For long run training, a good soundtrack is always a distraction. My playlist includes The Wonder Years, Alkaline Trio, A Day to Remember, Lil Wayne, Childish Gambino, and Die Antwoord to name a few. I enjoy a good drum beat to keep my feet on tempo. But honestly, a long run through the woods to face your demons is refreshing. I call my long trail runs “Church” (Because GOD is just an acronym for the Great Out Doors).Tears mix really well with sweat and it’s refreshing to find the answers through a hard push. Training distance and Racing distance is different. If it’s not OCR I’ll have the jams going. If I am doing an OCR event, I just focus on my feet, my breathing and go dark. Sometimes, if I’m struggling I’ll think of my Dad or, more recently, Rorke Denver (cadre form AG season 1). I can always hear Rorke’s voice saying “Put the wheels on, HAZE!”
Is there an aspect of training that you struggle with? If so what is it and how do you overcome it?
Mostly just grip strength. I should work on my ups some more. Short girl problems.
Is there a single person in our sport that you admire/look up to? If so who is that and why?
I gotta pick just one?! Aww man! Well, I would have to say outside of my Tribe, a lot of my motivation comes from Chris Schapman. He’s a beast! I have so much respect for him as a human. He’s an incredible athlete, humble and dedicated to his faith. I’ve looked up to him for so long, and he’s just such a normal down to Earth dude. He’s always willing to help and give advice. Last year I had the opportunity to train with him at Worlds Gym. He brought me my very own spear that he had made…*insert fan girl scream*. He’s just an all- around amazing Athlete and awesome person.
We are all here to learn about each other!! Just want to thank MRG for all that you do! Your tireless efforts and dedication to bringing us the latest and greatest in the OCR/Ninja world is appreciated. Your social media is what brought me to the application for American Grit. I am grateful every day for you articles from around the globe and knowing that you are a pillar in the growth of this sport.
If someone wants to reach out to you on social media what's the best way?
I have been taking a social media hiatus, however my InstaGram is: BigHaze22.