Everyone that has ever stepped foot onto an obstacle course race has an origin story. I know this line sounds like something from a superhero movie, but anyone that goes out of their comfort zone to get down and dirty is a hero to me. OCR races are not easy things to accomplish, and often the hardest part is to sign up, commit and finish the race. Fontaine Rittelmann is someone who is new to our sport but that doesn't mean she hasn't accomplished a lot of things. I am happy to share with you her story, in hopes that she inspires others to take a chance on themselves and try something new.
Please tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Fontaine Kaufmann. I am 23 years young and I recently moved from Pittsburgh Pennsylvania to Portland Oregon to pursue a career in advertising photography.
Did you always consider yourself athletic?
I have always been a well-rounded athlete – I played multiple different sports while growing up, but never excelled at one in particular. OCR has become my most successful sport! I used to hate running unless it was running during a soccer game or lacrosse game. I did not like to just straight up run laps around the track.
How did you get into the sport of OCR?
I started OCR after watching my boyfriend (now husband) do his first Spartan Race at Tuxedo. After watching him do that race, I said I would probably never do a Spartan but would try Warrior Dash because the mud and atmosphere seemed pretty fun. After completing my first Warrior Dash, I knew that I could do more and that’s when I became addicted. It helped that Jeremy (husband) was into the sport as well. We both got really involved at the same time, and I quickly moved from an open heater to an elite and competitive racer.
What was your first race like? Which one was it?
My first ever OCR was the Ohio Warrior Dash in 2015, and then the College Series Spartan Race at Cornell University in New York State. The Warrior Dash was a family event and I ran with my Dad. Jeremy ran before us, and my sister and Aunt finished after us. I loved the mud and I really loved the Alcatraz obstacle because it involved a little bit of swimming.
What to date is your proudest racing /OCR achievement?
My proudest moment in OCR would be completing the Killington Beast. I ran that venue pretty early on in my OCR career and I wasn’t expecting to get an amazing finishing time, I just wanted to finish the original Spartan racecourse. After completing that race, I knew that OCR would be my new sport. I remember cruising down one of the last hills and just feeling so free and fast. I would love to go back to that venue sometime.
What is your on-course race mantra when the going gets tough?
I have never experienced an extremely low moment during a race. There have been times when I get tired or hungry, but I know that the race doesn’t last forever so I just keep going until I’m done. I would much rather be out in the woods on the side of a mountain somewhere experiencing a little bit of discomfort than be sitting around at home full and warm.
What has been your favorite obstacle and why?
My favorite obstacle of all time is Tree Hugger by Savage Race. The obstacle is a line of wooden poles and metal poles stuck vertically in the ground. I had seen Atkins and Hunter McIntyre FLY through Tree Hugger at OCRWC in 2016 and I was so impressed with their technique… I remember thinking that if I would ever have to encounter that obstacle that I would surely fail it, but then I did encounter it during a Savage Race and I actually did it quite easily! I really like that obstacle because it takes a lot of leg strength to grip the poles, and core strength to transfer your body from pole to pole. I hope Savage Race comes to the West Coast in the future.
What has been your least favorite obstacle and why?
My least favorite obstacle is Spartan Race’s Bender. Bender just freaks me out a little bit. It is tall and usually wet, and for some reason, I have a hard time getting my body over it. It’s not necessarily the height of the obstacle that freaks me out, but more the awkwardness of getting over the top bar. It is a work in progress.
Is there is an OCR or endurance race that you will never do?
I think I will never do a 12-hour hurricane heat. I enjoy Ultras and I like endurance races, but group events just aren’t really my thing. I would probably try the shorter hurricane heat though.
Do you find it is important to have a team and or a coach to train with in order to be successful on course?
I think it is extremely important to have someone to train with, or at least hold you accountable for your training. It is super difficult for me to self – motivate, therefore, I am happy to be living with someone who also does OCR competitively.
What type of training do you complete for OCR training?
A lot of my training this year has been running. I was training for an Ultra so I focused a lot on getting miles in more than weightlifting. I also go to a Ninja Gym once a week to get obstacle work in, and when I’m hurting from running too much, I go to my tiny apartment gym and lift free weights. In a regular season, I like to run trails, and I never run the same route twice. If I have a day off from work and have the time, I drive to a new trail to run with my dog.
What is an on-course nickname people have for you?
On-course nick-name? Hmmmmm people usually just stick to my Instagram name, Spar_taine, or my real name, Fontaine!
Tell us about a time where you mentally got into that “dark headspace” on a race course and how you managed to continue to push forward.
I honestly never really get in to a dark space while racing! I get in to mind spaces that are more goal-oriented, like “okay just pass the person in front of you, and then catch the next person…” But I’ve never had scary thoughts while racing. During the Kimberly Ultra Beast this past summer I got in to a sort of “beast mode” mind set because I was trying to avoid cut-off times on the second lap, but that mind set was never dark. It was sort of like playing a video game in my mind – how fast can I go, and then can I go faster?
Is there anything else you want to share with us?
I would just love to say thank you for interviewing me and thank you to Beasts OCR for being an amazing and welcoming group of people to my first year of OCR out here on the west coast!
Whats the best way to reach you on social media if someone wants to reach out?
The absolute best way to reach me is thru Instagram, @spar_taine !!