I first heard about Heather Bode through the Overcome and Run Podcast I was listening to on the way to work one morning. As an OCR racer, I found it quite interesting to hear the take on everything OCR from a husband and wife team. However, this is not the main reason that I wanted to feature Heather for this article series. I had been following everyone running the Worlds Toughest Mudder in Las Vegas this year and knew through listening to the podcast that Heather's goal was 50 miles. When she hit her goal after conquering what has been coined as “The Hardest Last Dance in the Desert“, I knew I wanted her for this article series.
To me, Heather is a prime example of being Badass – she is strong mentally and physically, sets her goals and achieves them and strives to better herself constantly. I hope you enjoy learning more about Heather as much as I did.
Please tell us a bit about yourself.
When I’m not running OCRs or hosting a podcast about them, I’m a full-time wedding, engagement and portrait photographer. Those three things alone keep me busy almost all of the time, but I’m also a big reader, a sci-fi nerd at heart, and I love to be outside. Born and raised in the Seattle area, I’ve always loved being in the mountains, and now that I’ve been in southern California for the past year and a half, I’ve come to love trail running and rock climbing.
Did you always consider yourself athletic growing up?
I was always active, but I was never particularly athletic. I played soccer when I was a kid, and basketball all throughout junior high and high school, but they were recreational teams and I was always average at best. I never ran — I hated line drills!
How did you first get into the sport of OCR?
So back in the fall of 2015, I was living in Pensacola, Florida and the Gulf Coast Tough Mudder was coming up. I had heard about it through various friends on social media, and I just thought it would be a fun new challenge (though I felt woefully unprepared). I pulled a group together, we ran it, and I was instantly hooked.
What initially drew you to the world of OCR?
Two things — the community, and the challenge. I absolutely adored my first OCR experience. Everyone on the course was so helpful and so friendly, and these were people I had never met. I could tell right away that this community was fun, welcoming, and incredibly encouraging.
The second thing was the challenge. I surprised myself which how much I was able to do that first race. I didn’t even think I could finish, and I thought I wouldn’t be able to do any of the obstacles, but I did finish all 12 miles and found that I was capable of so much more than I thought. It lit a fire in me. I wanted to keep going, see how much more I could accomplish and how much more I could conquer.
What obstacle is your favorite?
The Floating Walls! I encountered them at OCRWC this past year, and I absolutely loved them. I was exhausted and it took me multiple attempts, but once I got the flow I absolutely LOVED it. I love that it’s challenging, forces you to think about your moves, and it’s unique and interesting. Once I get better at them, I’ll be able to say that they’re fun too!
What obstacle has been your least favorite?
I would say Twister (at Spartan), WITH the new added-on foam grips. Anyone who has listened to my podcast knows how I feel about those stupid, terrible foam grips. Before they added them, I had gotten 95% of the way through, and almost completed Twister for the first time, so I was very excited for my next encounter with that obstacle. Then they added those foam grips, which do nothing but make it way more difficult. I know it’s up to me to increase my upper body strength and figure out the right technique, but right now I can’t get past the third rung and it drives me crazy.
Is there an OCR / endurance race you would never do? if so which one and why?
I want to try literally every OCR that I can, but I will admit, I have zero interest in doing Spartan’s Hurricane Heats. I like courses, obstacles, and everything that a race is, and though I truly applaud those who have done Hurricane Heats, going through random grueling challenges for a certain length of time holds no appeal to me.
What type of specific training do you do in order to prepare for an OCR?
I just recently signed up for Yancy Camp, so I’m extremely excited to see where that will take me. Other than that, I run quite a bit (both street running and trail running), and I rock climb, which has really helped with my upper body strength.
With the inception of the Overcome and Run podcast, do you find yourself more inclined to go out to events to run them, or to just be out there in the crowds with the community?
Honestly, it’s both. I remember the first event I did only media coverage for as opposed to running as well (last summer’s Monterey Spartan Super), and I was worried that I was going to experience some heavy FOMO. But honestly, it was so cool to sit back and watch the elites race, spend time in the festival area and watch all the other races and teams get ready, and just be a spectator to the whole experience. As much as I love competing and OCRs themselves, I love the OCR community just as much.
If you have one, what is a race nickname people have given to you?
I’ve never really had a nickname before sadly, but I did acquire the nickname H. Bod at World’s Toughest Mudder in 2017 when I was writing my name on my bib. I heard it quite a few times in passing during the 24 hours, it was great.
In terms of obstacle racing, do you prefer to run your course as a lone wolf, or with Jay?
Though running the race with others and with Jay is fun, when I’m in a competitive race, I prefer to run as a lone wolf.
What is your proudest athletic achievement?
I would have to say completing my goal of 50 miles at my first World’s Toughest Mudder last November. I wasn’t even certain that I could finish the 24 hours, let alone reach my goal of 50 miles. I fought through pain, exhaustion, cold, fear, and doubt, and came through with that brown bib. It was the longest, most grueling challenge of my life and something that I worked so hard for all year. Totally not ashamed to say that I cried when they handed it to me.
Is there any single person in OCR that inspires you?
It’s really hard to pinpoint a single person because there are so many that inspire me in different ways. I do have to say though, Rea Kolbl is absolutely an inspiration. Hosting the podcast keeps me in touch with the elite competition, and early on in 2017, I had seen what a badass she was on the course and I knew she was someone to look out for.
Sure enough, she took 2017 by storm and dominated so many races, including WTM where she showed up just planning on running as far as she could, and ended up winning with 90 (90!!) miles. Not only is she a ridiculously gifted and hard-working athlete, she’s one of the sweetest, humble, most down-to-earth people you’ll meet, and that combination is something I hold in high regard.
To you what does being a Badass Woman in OCR mean?
It means being strong. Physically, mentally, and emotionally. It means not making excuses. Being confident, but also acknowledging your weaknesses and using them as fuel to get better, be better. It means putting in the work, the sweat, and the effort to push yourself to kick ass on the course. It means fighting through the elements of the course, the obstacles, of life, and coming out stronger, more determined, and with a smile on your face.
With so many strong women participating more and more in OCR and endurance events, do you find yourself becoming more competitive, inspired or both?
Though I would say both, it’s definitely more inspired than competitive. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told others that if you want to find some truly strong, incredible women, look at the women in OCR. These women are students, entrepreneurs, mothers, full-time employees, and on top of all that, they absolutely kick ass at these races and challenges. They prove that with hard work and heart, you have no limit to what you can do, and it’s impossible not to be inspired by that. I guess I would say I find myself being more competitive only because I hope to be counted among them one day.
What is one piece of advice you can give someone new to OCR?
Just. Go. Do it. So many people have reached out to me saying that they’re interested, but that they’re not ready, or they want to get in shape first, or they want to train for a few months. Regardless of where you’re at, just sign up. Go run it. Use it as a benchmark, and get better from there. Actually going out and running my first OCR changed my life, because it gave me specific goals to work towards (I wanted to complete obstacles and get faster times). Once I had specific goals, I was able to really stick to a healthy diet and workout regimen.
If you want, is there a random fact about you that you wish to share?
I took 3 years of German in high school, and though it’s been quite some time since then, I can understand and speak a small amount, so, any time I meet a German person at a race I get super excited and find some excuse to practice the language (Like with Anke Frederich, my favorite German).
With the evolution of OCR, what is one thing you would like to see more at races?
I would LOVE to see more mandatory obstacle completion. I got my first taste at OCRWC in Canada in 2017, and I loved it. It’s super challenging, and really becomes a mental game as much as a physical one. I would love to experience that more.
Please provided a random nutrition tip
I’m one of those people that LOVE gummies. I use the Cliff brand gummies, and I now only use them for races more than 8+ miles. I’ll have one after the first 45 minutes, then another one of two every 20-30 minutes after that depending on how I’m feeling. I only eat them if I a.) have a hydration pack or b.) am near a water station, because I need water to wash them down.
If someone wants to reach out through social media, how can they find you?
They can find me on my personal Facebook page or Instagram (@heathercatherineb),
or at the Overcome and Run Facebook page or Instagram (@overcomeandrun).