OCR World Championships

Mud, obstacles, and elevation. It was my first time at the Obstacle Course Racing World Championships, and it did not disappoint!

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This race recap is powered by Human Octane. They are a huge reason I'm able to travel to races like this, and then in turn be able to share my experiences with you. PLUS they make some of the best OCR gear I've ever worn (seriously - it was clutch at OCRWC).

 

I've been looking forward to this race the whole year. It was my first time at OCR World Championships, and here's a quick breakdown of why:

2014: Don't think I had heard of it.

2015: Heard of it, but didn't seem so established. Didn't know too many people going.

2016: I had heard that the 2015 race was well done, but also ridiculously cold. Then I found out they were moving it to Canada and I thought (so it's going to be even colder?! Pass!).

Then, it turned out to be a beautiful weekend in Canada, all of my friends went, and everyone was raving about how great the course, atmosphere, and obstacles were. (The FOMO was real)

2017: I was all in. And although my training has been a rollercoaster this season due to injury, I knew I was going to go out there regardless and at the very least have fun on the obstacles.

Getting There

*This really isn't a part of my new "race recap structure" that I hashed out when writing my recap on USOCR Championships, but just thought this was pretty funny.

I've driven to Canadian races three times in the past three years, in Quebec, Ottawa, and Montreal. Most of those said between 6-7 hours on GPS, and usually take an hour or two more with coffee and Chipotle stops.

As much as I was "all in" for this race, I wasn't very prepared, and I think it was 2-3 months before the race that I decided to pop the address into Google Maps. My jaw dropped... 10 hours?? So I looked at flights. Toronto was the closest airport, but was expensive, and still a 2 hour drive. I could cash in on Southwest points and fly to Buffalo, and then drive 3 hours. But then as I did the math in my head, flying didn't save me that much time, plus I had to spend the points and buy a rental car. So the 10+ hour drive was on! (And I ended up having some pretty good company anyways; shoutout to Michael Robinson & Linh Nguyen).

The Race

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The race was held at Blue Mountain, in Ontario Canada. As I mentioned above, it's about 2 hours outside of Toronto, and 3 hours outside of Buffalo, NY.

The venue, atmosphere, and course layout were top notch. Having a few key obstacles in the festival area is not something that I've never seen before, but I have to say the atmosphere was. There were crowds that surrounded the entire festival, watching athletes conquer obstacles in the village, cheering for them, talking about their picks for the podium, and where this race would be held next year. I think the fact that there were athletes racing competitively throughout the day had something to do with this. Often times, you have the elite heat in the morning, and then afterwards there isn't a whole lot to stick around for if you've already ran. Now there was a battle at every time of the day. Racers pushing for first in their age groups well past noon, and some giving everything they had to keep their bands, without the cop out of burpees to just send them back on their way.

The obstacles in the village were not only key, they were BIG. And at the end they led right into a finish line in the middle of the village. There was one moment where I was looking around and as I turned I saw athletes struggling to get over the Legendborne Wall right before the finish, others 20 feet up on the Floating Walls, to the right athletes were sprinting up a quarterpipe, and others on the Wreckbag Carry on their way up and down the mountainside in the distance. It was the perfect panorama to show someone that's never heard of obstacle course racing what it truly is.

Blue Mountain was just as it sounds, a mountain! I haven't ran a race on a mountain since last season, and it definitely showed. It had rained the night going into the race, and the mud that covered the mountain was an absolute game changer. I've never had to claw my hands into the ground just to continue moving up a hill the way I did on several climbs that day.

Favorite Obstacles

There were quite a few obstacles that I would consider to be my favorites that I already mentioned in my recap of US OCR Championships, so I'll skip those, although Skull Valley, and Platinum Rig were definitely more challenging in this race.

La Gaffe

 

Photo by 3-Seconds.ca

Photo by 3-Seconds.ca

I think this was the most unique obstacle at OCRWC. Why?

#1 because no one had really seen it before, and it's coming from the brand new Northman Race, which I'm sure most people were learning about for the first time.

#2 because it bent the mold of the usual categories of obstacles.

MOST obstacles fall into these three categories:

- Hanging grip strength (think rigs, monkey bars, Skull Valley)
- Carries (sandbag, Yoke, bucket, atlas stone)
- "Get Over This" (wall, quarter pipe ramp, slip wall)

This was an outlier. It didn't require serious grip strength. Nor were you carrying anything, or going over the top of anything. It was actually a mental challenge more than anything to figure out the best way to move the poles, and body control to maneuver yourself around. (I would say a Z Wall, or floating walls fits into this category as well). 

For those that haven't already seen it in action, here is a video on NorthmanRaces' FB page.

Dragon's Back

Photo of & by: Korey Smerk (sorry bro - too good of a photo not for me to use!)

Photo of & by: Korey Smerk (sorry bro - too good of a photo not for me to use!)

I've been waiting (and wanting) to do Dragon's Back for a while. This obstacle also falls into that outlier category I was just talking about.

I realized, right when I did it, that a Dragon's Back type obstacle is my strength. I don't come from a running background. I don't come from a football background where I learned early on how to squat, press, and deadlift. I come from a skateboarding, snowboarding, downhill mountain biking background. And when I got into OCR, I liked the fact that it resembled an extreme sport (I personally believe it should go the route of X Games vs the Olympics).

I liked that it's sketchy. I like that you can hurt yourself if you fall. Hell, I want them to double up on how long the gap is, that's how I'm going to really start getting a lead on people! :)

Most Challenging Obstacle

Mud

There's really no way I could not have this be THE hardest obstacle in the race. The mud struggle was real. I can remember making my way up the first hill, trying to keep my hands closed in a fist to not get my palms muddy in case there was an obstacle right at the top. Halfway up the hill I gave up, and started digging my fingers in just to not slip backwards down the hill. Two thirds of the way up I realized, what if it's like this on every climb 😱 ... It wasn't, but it was pretty ridiculous on at least two of them.

Photo by 3-Seconds.ca

Photo by 3-Seconds.ca

There were other challenging obstacles, but none that truly stood out or tripped me up more than the mud. I did have to attempt the low rig twice, which was one of the 15 lead changes between myself and my friend and fellow OCR Beast Teammate @kirk_klane. 

No, seriously. We were racing each other almost the entire race.

There were other challenging obstacles, but none that truly stood out or tripped me up more than the mud. I did have to attempt the low rig twice, which was one of the 15 lead changes between myself and my friend and fellow OCR Beast Teammate @kirk_klane. 

No, seriously. We were racing each other almost the entire race.

Here's Kirk and I going over a wall at the same time.

Here's Kirk and I going over a wall at the same time.

Here's Kirk and I carrying a sandbag at the same time, over an hour into the race (and laughing about it).

Here's Kirk and I carrying a sandbag at the same time, over an hour into the race (and laughing about it).

Lessons Learned

1. Kirk and I are the Canadian and American version of each other, and stack up incredibly well against one another. It's been an ongoing rivalry since 2014!

2. I am solid on obstacles. Not meaning to brag here. I just need to start telling myself that more often.

I used to fail the Spartan Multi Rig for no reason. I could do longer, more complex rigs in practice with ease, but in a race, with one chance to do it, I'd lose confidence and psych myself out. Until one day, I woke up and told myself no more. I built up the confidence, and I never looked back (as far as any obstacle in Spartan is concerned, minus Spear Throw).

This was really that last unknown race, with unknown obstacles. I conquered Toughest Mudder, I made it through Twirly Bird at Savage Race. I made it through all obstacles at USOCR with ease, and still thought maybe "they went easy compared to OCRWC". Which, they did. But still OCRWC obstacles didn't trip me up. I am realizing that no matter what race or obstacles we're talking about, I'm capable of racing the obstacles, not just completing them, and I'm going to keep that mentality from here on out.

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Venue / Location - 8

* The venue was awesome. Blue Mountain was the perfect spot for this race. The hills, terrain, and village were super accommodating. The location is kind of in the middle of nowhere. Maybe I wouldn't feel like that if I had flown into Toronto vs driving.

Number of Obstacles - 10

*What were there like 43??

Quality of Obstacles - 10

* Some of the funnest obstacles I've ever had the pleasure of monkeying around on.

Likeliness I'll Go Next Season - 9

* Is it going to be in Europe?? Good excuse to make a trip over there 🤔

Overall Rating of the Race - 10

* I saved the 10 from USOCR for OCRWC, and it was deserving. If you have a chance to go next year, or anytime in the future, I highly recommend it!

The squad. #TeamOCRBeast

The squad. #TeamOCRBeast

Have questions about OCR World Championships? Struggled on an obstacle and have a question on how I made it through, or how to train for it in the future? Just want to say hi? I want to hear from you— shoot me a message through Instagram or Facebook.