A little over a year ago, a former trainer of mine told me I need to forge my own fitness path and goals. I had been following in my girlfriend’s footstep working on combat sports mainly because I didn’t know what else to do. My trainer had passingly mentioned to me obstacle course racing since my greatest asset in the gym was my running ability. Despite being skeptical at first due to my torn labrum I looked up the schedule for different race series and went with Spartan due to the Citizen’s Bank Park one being so close to home and far enough out that I had ample training time. So I went to work, training for something I had no idea how to train for and, honestly, neither did my trainer. When it came time to race my lack of any experience was obvious and my reserved attitude at the stadium went to show I didn’t understand a big part of these races. I may have nearly froze to death during the race but despite that I gave it my all and ended up placing way better than I expected. From then on my goal was simple… Get better.
Fast forward to the Jersey Beast with new knowledge and proper training on my side I gave everything I had once again despite coming close enough to hypothermia and bears for a lifetime. That race saw such an improvement where I went from the top 35% in my age group and top 27% overall at Citizen’s Bank Park to the top 15% in my age group and top 13% overall. In only my second ever race my entire career goal had changed…
To qualify for the OCR World Championship.
I had two races on the calendar that I believed I had the best chance at conquering my objective. In Colorado, I turned a solid effort and even greater knowledge and experience into a top 7% age group and 4% overall finish. Even with the incredible jump in percentage I managed to take a nosedive in the standings compared to Jersey with a 29th age group finish versus 24th in Vernon. Knowing competition would be stiff at Blue Mountain, I set my sights on the DC Sprint. Having signed up for the race well before I even created my new goal, I grew semi-concerned about enlisting in my first Competitive heat.
Everything I had heard up to this point was that this course would play to my strength as a runner and my greatest obstacle would be the vast amount of mud like in years past slowing me down. If the DC Sprint was supposed to be a mud pit, Blue Mountain should have been flat. Maybe it was due to an arid summer but the course at Maryland International Raceway featured little in the way of mud. Even the dry terrain featured more hills than expected and the dry, sandy dirt made for a new challenge as I struggled to gain traction on short but steep cliffs of the loose earth.
What made for an increasingly difficult race was the order the obstacles were in. The shockingly heavy Herc Hoist was a precursor to slick monkey bars… The spear throw was shortly after the rolling mud, dunk wall, and cliff climb which was insanely slippery… The rope climb was led by the atlas carry and all of that rolled into my forever-nemesis, the multi-rig. When at most races the obstacles feel like something of a break, but the layout at the raceway made the obstacles feel much worse than they usual.
There’s something to be said about a race that not only defies your own personal expectations but also for the venue itself. I expected a fast and fun race but ended up with a fast and fun challenge. If there was ever a race that I would plan on benchmarking myself each year with it would be this one.