Every OCR athlete's story has a beginning. When getting into the sport of OCR, some embrace the suck while others run with friends for fun. Petra is someone who has embraced the sport of OCR, constantly pushes her limits, and was once an Olympic hopeful. She has taken her commitment to her sport and her health to a new level. Please enjoy reading all about the epic force that is the one and only Petra Blevins.
Please tell us a bit about yourself.
I'm 34 years old. I was born and raised in the Czech Republic and I currently live in Panama City, Florida. I love to travel, see new places, learn about different cultures and languages. I enjoy anything outdoors; hiking, skiing, running, rollerblading, going to the beach, and everything in between. I like to step out of my comfort zone, push my limits, and work on becoming the best version of myself. I compete in OCR in the elite heats. I’m a Spartan Brand ambassador, LegendBorne ambassador, and proud member of M.I.T. Tough Team. I strive to motivate and inspire others.
Did you always consider yourself athletic?
Yes! I spent most of my childhood climbing the trees, riding a bike, running in the forest, and competing in many sports such as cross-country skiing, swimming, gymnastics, and track and field. I attended sports oriented middle school that specialized in cross country skiing, track and field, and soccer. As a successful cross-country skier, I was approached by a biathlon coach who offered me a spot on a high school biathlon team. I quickly learned how to shoot, won several National championships, and became an Olympic Hopeful, training with the athletes who had already made it to the Olympics. Once I realized I couldn’t reach my Olympic dream I redirected my goals and decided to apply for a Master's degree in Physical Education and Sport at Charles University in Prague and represent the University in cross country skiing. Couple years after graduation I was offered a job as a fitness instructor on a cruise ship and took off on a new adventure traveling the world while helping people achieve their health and fitness goals.
How did you get into the sport of OCR?
I first found out about OCR from a friend who signed up for a Warrior Dash in Central Florida and was trying to get a group of people together to run the race. I only ran 2 Warrior Dash races. First one in 2013 and the second one in 2015, when I qualified for the Warrior Dash World Championship. But it wasn't until 2016, when I qualified for the OCR World Championships, that I started taking OCR and training more seriously. In 2017 I competed in Spartan Race World Championship in Lake Tahoe, made it on the team USA OCR in my age group, and qualified for the PRO division for the OCR World Championships.
What was your first race like?
My first race was Warrior Dash and I loved it. I had no obstacle experience so the fact that the obstacles were really easy, and it was only 5k course worked great for me. I was running a really good race and caught up with several waves that started before me. But it was the one and only race I ran in the open heat. Because of my competitive nature I didn't like that I had to wait 20 minutes at the last obstacle if I wanted to complete it.
Tell us about the races you have done so far.
I have competed in Spartan Races, Savage races, Vanguard races, Bonefrog, Mud Endeavor, Warrior Dash, US OCR, and OCR World Championships. 2018 has been my busiest and most successful season so far. I always aim for top 10 and I have earned several podium finishes this year. My main focus is on Spartan Races this season. I competed in the elite qualifier heat in the North American Championship and completed the weekend Trifecta. Toeing the start line with all the amazing and strong women of this sport was a reminder of how far I have come and what I want to achieve.
What initially drew you into the world of OCR?
I think what initially drew me into the world of OCR is the fact that it's more than running. Fast runners have an advantage but at the same time if they can't complete an obstacle, it's anybody's game. I have never considered myself a great runner. That's why I have always been better at sports that combine running and something else. I was really good at biathlon and orienteering where it's not only about your body and how strong or fast you are but also about the mind and how you can deal with the pressure. OCR is constantly evolving, and it makes me push my body and mind beyond its limits. I feel like thanks to OCR I am in the best shape of my life, I have learned to celebrate victories and not give up when I fail. OCR pushed me out of my comfort zone and I have become stronger physically and mentally.
Do you feel that due to strong women like yourself, that others are more willing to push their own limits?
I really do. Many people reached out to me and told me that I inspired them to get out of their comfort zone, start their fitness journey, sign up for a race. When someone has doubts I always tell them that if they don’t try they will never know what they are capable of. There is nothing like the feeling when you cross the finish line and you know you pushed your limits. And even failures aren’t a reason to give up. Learn from them and become stronger.
What has been your proudest racing achievement? Please tell us about it.
My proudest racing achievement so far has been competing in the Spartan World Championship in Lake Tahoe. Standing at the start line with the best athletes in the world, listening to the different languages, knowing I have earned my spot there was something I will never forget. It's one of the most beautiful but also the most difficult venues. First part of the race is running up the mountain, already starting in the high altitude and running even higher. But when you get to the top of the mountain and see the valley underneath it makes you forget about all the pain. It was the longest Beast I have ever done with some of the hardest obstacles, I don't remember the pain that I felt on the course, but I will never forget the feeling when I crossed the finish line of my first Spartan World Championship.
What has been your favorite obstacle?
I have been working on my grip strength this year, so my least favorite obstacles have become my favorite obstacles. I love anything that tests my grip, especially rigs and monkey bars.
What has been your least favorite obstacle?
My least favorite obstacle is probably Olympus when it’s wet. I get right through it when it’s dry but I have yet to ring the bell when it’s all muddy and slippery.
Is there an OCR or endurance race that you will never do?
I’m always up for a challenge. Of course, there are endurance races that I would have to specifically train for if I wanted to do them, but I don’t think there is a race that I would never do.
With so many amazing women on course this year, do you find yourself becoming more competitive, inspired or both?
Both. The field is getting more and more competitive. There are so many amazing and inspiring ladies out there whom I admire and look up to. Seeing what they are capable of motivates me to work on my weaknesses and always give my 100% and then some.
What type of training do you complete for OCR training?
I joined Yancy Camp in January. I felt like I needed more structure and OCR specific training. I used to struggle with grip obstacles and I knew if I wanted to compete with the best I couldn’t afford any mistakes. Few months of training and I feel I can complete any obstacle, I’m faster, stronger, and my endurance has improved as well.
Do you feel that in the past 5 years, OCR has become more of a mainstream sport? Do you feel it is more open for anyone to try?
Absolutely. OCR has grown and become more popular in the past several years. There are more and more locations worldwide. People don’t have to travel far if they want to try an obstacle race. It’s open to elite racers, age groupers, people who just want to have fun and run with their friends in the open heats, and kids as well. OCR has evolved and there is already a new generation of athletes growing. I don’t know about any other sport that has grown and become popular so fast.
Is there a specific emotion or force that keeps you going on course when things get rough?
Ha! Good question. I try not to let my emotions affect my performance. Of course, it's easier to run when I am happy, legs are light, running seems effortless, and I am just flying through the course. But sometimes I have to deal with negative emotions and then I just focus on the technique, push through the pain, and think about the course and obstacles ahead, and how hard I have worked for it. When I feel like I can't push harder I always play one song in my head – We are the Champions by Queen. It might seem silly but it's a song that I thought of when I competed in biathlon almost two decades ago and it's a song that still helps me on the course because “We are the Champions, my friends. And we'll keep on fighting till the end.”
Is there anything else you want to share with us?
I want to encourage everybody to step out of their comfort zone and make that first step towards achieving their goals. With every step you take you are one step closer to where you want to be. With hard work and determination anything is possible. Don't wait for the perfect moment when you are ready, because you may never feel ready, but if you try you might surprise yourself. Don't give up when you fail, because success comes when you refuse to give up.
Besides OCR, what other challenges/goal races do you have planned that you are working on?
I was asked in the past when would I try for the American Ninja Warrior. And thanks to the training I have been following I finally feel strong enough to give it a shot. That’s one of my big goals for next year.
I am also excited about my upcoming trip to Sparta, Greece. I will be competing in the Trifecta World Championships and a couple weeks after that I will run my first Ultra.
What’s the best way to reach you on social media if someone wants to reach out?
Facebook: Petra Blevins OCR