Last year, as I witnessed excitement build and culminate over the inaugural Obstacle Racing World Championship event, I became convinced that, should I qualify to compete in the 2015 event, I would find a way to incorporate the OCRWC into my race schedule. It became a bucket list item of sorts, as I knew that this race would provide a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I would never forget. And so, upon qualifying, I eagerly made plans to head north to King’s Domain, Ohio to take on the 2nd annual World Championship.
To say that this race was unforgettable does not do it justice, as throughout the course I was able to persevere and overcome physical and mental struggles, celebrate triumphs, learn from my mistakes, push myself past my threshold of comfort, and cross the finish line with a sense of pride and accomplishment that can only be gained by completing as difficult a challenge as this particular event.
One of the things that struck me with a sense of honor simply to have attended the OCR World Championship is the fact that I was able to share the course with nearly 1,700 incredibly athletes who represented 26 countries across the globe. We had each earned our right to toe the line that chilly morning, and it was clear that we held our comrades in high regard, privileged to have the pleasure of competing against one another.
On that 10 mile course, I witnessed triumph and suffering, and I saw people face their fears while others succumbed to them. There were victories and failures on the unrelenting hills of King’s Domain, and the crippling cold brought many to their knees as they fought with everything they had to maintain a functional body temperature. Shivering racers huddled under glimmering silver heat blankets as they stared in dread at the obstacles ahead, and tears were shed as precious bands were cut after multiple failed attempts at unforgiving obstacles. True camaraderie was evident as participants shared encouraging words with one another in passing, and not one person left that race without learning a lesson about their own personal strengths and weaknesses. Yet despite our individual quests to conquer that race, we were all unified as one by the bond of OCR brotherhood.
The event itself was well executed, as it was run by a handful of the top Race Directors and OCR professionals in the world. Obstacles – 53 in total – were innovative, unique, and challenging. The terrain was extremely technical, as racers were required to maneuver over and under tree trunks, splash through frigid water, scramble up steep inclines and slide down slick declines, and travel cautiously through ravines strewn with slippery rocks and protruding roots. There was no rest for the weary on this course, as hills, obstacles, and trails brought forth continual challenges.
The final half mile doled out my own personal downfall, as becoming drenched from head to toe at the bottom of a steep slide caused the cold of the day to settle into my bones, and I soon felt the ache of frozen hands and the uncontrollable quiver of exhausted, chilled muscles. The final 3 obstacles were attempted multiple times without success, and I found myself stumbling across the finish line in a less than triumphant stupor as my mind began to focus solely on seeking warmth. A teammate of mine came to my rescue (Heather, you are a saint!), as my frozen fingers and shaking muscles made it nearly impossible to change from my soaked clothes. Yet despite the cold, and despite the final obstacle failure, I gleamed with pride knowing that I had raced with some of the best Obstacle Racers from around the world, and I had completed the race that I had shown up to run; I felt like a true World Champion.
If you happen to qualify for the 2016 OCRWC, I highly recommend that you sign up and commit to the challenge! It won’t be easy, but it’s not supposed to be! This race will test your strength, your endurance, and your mental grit. It will chew you up and spit you out, and you’ll be forever changed by your experience. I guarantee it.