Sarah Fox enthusiastically recommended I interview Jesi Stracham for my Badass Women of OCR Article Series, and I was ecstatic! I had just recently read all about her Toughest Mudder Chicago adventure, and was eager to learn more about this adaptive athlete – I felt truly inspired. You often hear people use the words “I can’t” and that bothers me. After learning more about Jesi, to me, she embodies the spirit of Badass. She has an additional challenge that most athletes on the course don’t have to deal with but between her training (CrossFit) and kicking ass on the course, there is no stopping this girl. I am looking forward to following her OCR / racing career and seeing what her next big goal that she crushes is.
Please tell us a bit about yourself.
I am an outgoing young adult. I have the save the world complex. I want to help people.
In terms of your background, when did you decide to become an adaptive athlete?
I wanted to make a difference. I've always been a bit athletic, so naturally that's the platform I took.
I understand you are looking to change the face of OCR for all adaptive athletes and change the rules so that you can complete safely in big events. Talk to us about that.
I would love to see more adaptive athletes on course going after it and getting outside their own comfort zones.
It important to have a knowledgeable team to get the athlete through the course safely. This includes finding a fair alternative to obstacles the athlete cannot complete for health reasons.
For others that are dealing with a disability / physical challenge, what advice can you give to them if they want to do a race / OCR or other challenges?
Safety, safety, safety. Think about every aspect of how your disability affects the way your body functions. From regulating temperature to bowel bladder stuff to no control of your lower extremities.
Please share with us the experience of completing a Toughest Mudder in a wheelchair.
The sense of accomplishment I got from finishing the toughest Mudder was unbelievable. Being able to show people there is no obstacle that should hold us back carried me through the course. Also having an incredible team of people support you is a unique experience. I trust them with my safety, which after a traumatic accident speaks Worlds.
To help motivate other adaptive athletes out there, what does your training regime for an OCR or other athletic event look like?
I train at CrossFit Vitality under Project Momentum twice a week. I work on my legs daily. I push my chair on greenways for cardio. I have resistance bands that I do upper body work outs with as well. I travel a lot so a lot of my “training” starts in the kitchen.
What races / OCRS have you completed so far?
Charlotte Spartan Sprint
Asheville Spartan Super
Atlanta Tough Mudder Half (Saturday/Sunday)
Midwest Toughest Mudder
Is there an obstacle to this day that you still struggle with? If so which one?
I struggle with having to take the penalty on the obstacles that are in the air or involve electricity. Because my legs don't work, I would never free fall, giving the opportunity to break them. I was resuscitated twice after my accident; getting zapped with electricity again has the potential to send me into cardiac arrest.
On the days that are rough for you (training wise), what do you do to motivate yourself to keep going?
I think of my quadriplegic friends that would kill to have the movement I do. That pushes me through. I also don't like to quit.
I understand you want to conquer World’s Toughest Mudder. What does training for such a huge event like that look like for you?
A lot of endurance stuff is in my future. I have taken the last week after Toughest off. My body needed a break. I tried to do some stuff yesterday and I'm not quite ready to go back into training 200%.
Who is one person in the OCR community that inspires you and why?
Sarah Fox. My team captain. Her heart is so big. She will stop at nothing to help an adaptive athlete conquer their OCR goals. But all in all the entire OCR community is pretty inspiring.
What training tool has been essential for you in getting ready to handle on course challenges?
Crossfit. Hands down. The aggressive upper body movements my trainer Amy has me doing along with cardio to match. She is getting me in the best shape possible.
What is one quirk (maybe not so well known fact about you)?
I'm super “weird” by society’s standards. And I embrace it.
If you could go back in time to when you started training, what is one piece of advice from what you know now that you could have given to your past self?
Diet,diet,diet. I love ice cream. My diet is a lot better now. It's 80% clean 20% ice cream. =)
If you could be any animal, what would that be and why?
A tiger. They are large. Beautiful. Agile. And who's going to mess with a tiger.
What is your dream OCR event? If money was no object and you could just leave today, what would that goal race be like?
I'm working towards it. Right now it's World Toughest. I'm beyond green to the world of OCR's. Ask me again next year and I'll have some more goals for you =)