The Road to the OCRWC

The Road to the OCRWC

Over the next few weeks I plan to document my training and preparation for the Obstacle Racing World Championships in Ohio, October 17thand 18th. Mainly for my own gain, something to look back on and for a bit of fun, but maybe the millions (billions?) of readers who follow this blog may learn something too. In that case we’re all winners.
I have been taking part in obstacle course races (OCRs) since 2009, initially running one or two here and there for a bit of fun. As I gradually noticed improvement in my performance I wanted to be more involved with the sport and have a way to talk to more like-minded people about this crazy thing I had gotten in to.

This led me to linking up with muddyrace.co.uk – writing race reviews, training articles and more. Since around the end of 2013 I have written more and more articles, seeing a huge increase in my performance at races including a respectable amount of first, second and third places, rarely finishing outside of the top 10 when I put the effort in, taking part in an event multiple times every month, and making an uncountable number of friends not just around the country but around the world from a great community of people who somehow have the common interest of getting muddy and acting like children (but obviously taking it super seriously) on the weekends.
 
 
 
At the start of July 2015, I found myself with a free Sunday (a rare occurrence) so decided to make a late entry to Ram Run, a 20k obstacle race only an hour or so away. Showing up on the day I wasn’t expecting any kind of special performance or podium position after recognising some names on the entry sheet, and finding myself comfortably in 5th position at the halfway point made me happy enough. Soon though I found myself somehow neck and neck with the runner in 2nd place (a beast of a man named Russell Parrington) and came across an obstacle named the ‘Bridge of Despair’ – never have I been drained by an obstacle so much in my life. After swimming down a river and climbing a rope out I found myself dangling from a bridge with 0% energy and the worst hamstring cramp I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing. I somehow made it up onto the bridge – I barely remember how – albeit slower than Russell and finished in third place to earn one of Ram Run’s great trophies.
 
Thanks to Jack Mason for this pic of me in a moment of pure struggle
 
Less than a week later on Saturday 11th July I took part in Dirty Dozen South Wales, a 12k obstacle race set in a very (VERY) hilly area in Usk including an obscene amount of hurdles, crawls, and large walls. My legs barely felt recovered from the week before but I loved this race the previous year so wanted to see where I would stack up against some strong racers. I pushed myself as much as I could on the challenging terrain and ended up in 9th place. Despite being incredibly worn out I was hit with a case of the “might as well”s and ran around the course again with my friend and OCR padawan Laura Winter. All in all a good fun day leading to tired glutes and bruised arms.
 
The next day I was back in Cheltenham to take part in Cotswold Warrior, the second race in the excellent Forest Warrior series which despite being a tough challenge was pure fun, great trail running in the back hills of Cheltenham, more big walls to climb over, a long monkey bar section, water plunges and muddy crawls, and one beast of a final obstacle – I came back in 1st place here (mainly thanks to a whippet named Rob Bowden not taking part on the Sunday). All in all a great couple of race weekends leaving me in much need of a rest.
 
 
 
ANYWAY, the reason behind this back story is that it turn out Dirty Dozen’s South Wales race was a World Championship qualifying race – the top 10 finishers earned a sport at the OCRWC, Ohio in October. Finding out that not only had I qualified but my fiancé, Chloe had as well (she actually finished as 4th woman – yes that is awesome), was pretty incredible. We knew, however that going out to the USA would not be realistic as we are of course paying for a wedding in April 2016 (it turns out these cost a fair bit!).
 
When my OCR padawan Laura found out I had qualified, she used her connections at the Gloucestershire Echo do run a story about me qualifying and what obstacle racing is about (read the article here) – I didn’t mention that we wouldn’t be going as I didn’t want to put a downer on the excitement of it all! Word got around as it tends to do when somebody you know is in the paper and before long the General Manager, Stephen Cotton, of the Cheltenham Park Hotel (where I work as Assistant Manager of the Health Club) came and had a chat with me about it too, especially as I had been named as Hotel Manager in the article itself…
 
Shortly after THAT, I was beckoned into our office with my Club Manager, George, and the GM, Stephen. After speedily running through everything in my mind that they might be about to fire me for I went and had another brief chat about the World Championships which ended with an offer of sponsorship to cover most of the cost of the weekend…
 
….
 
…Now this isn’t the kind of offer that comes around very often, or ever in fact so when it actually happens it is hard to know what to say! After barely listening to the rest of the conversation and nodding my head like a goofy idiot while agreeing to anything and everything that was said after that point, it was back to work – trying to figure out if that was a mean joke or if it is actually happening!
 
 
 
Well it turn out it is actually happening! So here it is, the journey to the World Championships – I am entered in the Solo age group category (25-29 yes I know I look younger) on Saturday 17th October, and the team challenge with two other mountains of men from Team Muddyrace on Sunday 18th October! 
 
There are still challenges and races to take on throughout September, so the training is going to be full on, but myself and my fiancé Chloe will be in Ohio mid October representing what the UK has to offer with some other great athletes (that’s not me calling myself a great athlete (or is it?), I mean that there are some incredible athletes from the UK heading out there) thanks to the Cheltenham Park Hotel! Again, sponsorship like this is such an incredible, generous offer that I will be working to do the hotel proud as I get the chance to see by just how much the world’s top obstacle racers can crush me!
 

 

Stay tuned for updates and further stories!

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