Every so often I read something that strikes a chord with me. Not surprisingly, it was a story written by someone I’ve followed since…well, since virtually the beginning of Obstacle Course Racing (OCR), Ekaterina “SOLO” Solovieva (and the fact that I can spell her name without checking speaks volumes!) She often writes about OCR from a different perspective than most. This particular story, however, [Dear Obstacle Racers… Stop With The Race Recaps] caught my attention because it spoke to a simple issue that has plagued me for several years…race recaps.
For anyone that’s done more than a handful of races, recaps can admittedly become a bit repetitive. After 30-odd races, I understand that completely. Imagine then, having to write one of those recaps that interest the veteran racer while providing the five-Ws for anyone relatively new to OCR.
Personally, I’ve always tried to find some perspective about an event that tells more than just the basic statistics. My last race, the Spartan Sprint in Miami, was supposed to be my first attempt at racing back to back days (in fact, I ended up racing three times that weekend…what can I say, dress my in shorts, put a starting line in front of me and I’ll do a great Pavlov’s dog imitation). But not all race recaps do that. Sometimes they really do cover just the basic facts and statistics.
So why do we write them?
For some of us, we have to…that’s what we get paid to do. Wel ‘paid’ is such a strong word. We do get swag…and bruises…and dirt…and early wake-ups…and barbwire cuts… and the privilege of falling off/climbing over various apparatus. But there are certainly other reasons someone might write.
How about the joy of sharing their experience? I do remember the exhilaration of finishing my first two races (the first and second NY Spartans at Tuxedo and it was more the amazement at not being dead that inspired that first story). In many cases that enthusiasm can be passed on to the reader who may be thinking about their first OCR race or maybe just getting out of their comfort zone.
Certainly today, people do a lot of research on anything before jumping in. Race reviews can serve as a valuable tool to educate newbies. Reviews can also serve to educate people on training and planning for races. Something we didn’t have back in the ‘old days’. OCR was a black box and you found out what was in at on the course!!
This doesn’t apply just to newbies either. People have tended to typically stay with the race promoter they had their initial experience with. Whether that was Spartan Race, Tough Mudder, Warrior Dash, Savage Race, etc. Over the last few years though, people have started to look at expanding their horizons. What better way to research that than through the race reviews. Even a basic race review will provide invaluable information about the difficulty level and types of obstacles a different race promoter offers.
For the same reason, there are 1st-grade readers, driver instruction manuals and brain surgery for the beginner, not everything is written for everybody. This doesn't make them pointless or unnecessary. It just makes them for someone else. One could say the same thing about every restaurant review. There’s a menu, certain atmosphere, good-food/just-short-of-hairy-leather…blah-blah-blah. The idea being, it is basically the same story almost every time. Just fill in the blanks. But these serve a purpose too (to somebody…not being a foodie myself).
There’s also one other important aspect. As I said earlier, sometimes we’re writing from a certain perspective. Maybe someone else's experience was quite different. Sometimes it coincides with a person’s own thoughts about a race. Or if you're offering an opinion, it is possible that someone else’s opinion is quite different. But that very exchange of ideas can make change happen in our sport of OCR, as it continues to evolve. Evolution involves change!
In the end, race reviews are important to OCR, as are many of the other stories we write about the sport. But here I am, writing a story…inspired by another story…about race recaps. No doubt someone will have something to say about that! Until my next race…and recap…
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