Longhorns, climbing obstacles, and Texas heat. The inaugural US OCR Championships took place this weekend (and they were a blast!).
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This is a weekend I’ve been looking forward to for some time. Last October, I made the mistake of not attending OCR World Championships, and after seeing the photos and hearing the stories, I told myself I was going to OCRWC in 2017. Then all of a sudden this race was announced— and I knew I wasn’t going to miss it (especially when it was close to Austin!).
I opted to only do the 15k. When I say it was close to Austin, I really mean it was close enough to drive out there one day. I would have loved to do both races, but I also wanted to make a weekend out of it with Jess, and hang out with my Heart Of Texas family (my team from Spartan: Ultimate Team Challenge).
Since this is my first newly written race recap in quite some time, I’ve been putting a bit of thought into how to structure them. In the past I’ve kind of gone different directions with them, sometimes taking it obstacle by obstacle. But with a race like this, where there were 39 obstacles, and most of them I don’t know the names of, I think it’s best to try a different approach (plus, I want to try and provide you with some useful information!).
Here’s what I’m thinking for a table of contents:
General Overview of Race
Favorite Obstacle / Least Favorite (or most challenging) Obstacle
Then a quick rating of:
Venue / Location
Number of Obstacles
Quality of Obstacles
Likeliness I’ll Go Next Season
Overall Rating of the Race
* And as always, everything I say here is my own opinion
US OCR Championships - 15K
Y.O. Ranch Headquarters in Mountain Home, Texas. It was about 2 hours 15 minutes from Austin, and an hour and a half from San Antonio. It was reasonably easy to navigate to (and as expected, was kind of in the middle of nowhere).
The actual venue was pretty well set up. Parking was easy, and there was a very quick shuttle to the festival area. There were plenty of vendors, a well set up packet pick-up station, and a building (something like a horse stable / barn that was open for sitting, shade, and even had the race come through with some good spectating obstacles right inside.
The terrain was mostly rocky, open access road kind of trails. Not much single track, but I would say more elevation than I anticipated (not sure the actual numbers, obviously wasn’t a mountain but had some good hills for what seemed like the desert).
The weather was HOT. And we were lucky that there was some cloud cover, and wind. My age group race didn’t start until 10:45, and by that point it was in the 90s. There was barely any mud on the course, but there were 2 water crossings, and 1 water obstacle that were definitely appreciated when we reached them.
I’m already breaking format here a bit, but I am going to mention more than just two obstacles, because 39 is a lot, and there’s no way I can narrow them down.
There were so many new obstacles here that I’ve never seen before, most of which were climbing and rig type obstacles. Here were my favorites (in order of when they came in the race):
Rig #1 & Rig #2 - so refreshing doing a BattleFrog style rig again!
Skull Valley - basically it starts out as skull shaped rock climbing holds that you traverse going sideways (hanging, no feet), then transfer to a ring, then rope, then ring, then rope, then back to another crossing of skull shaped climbing holds, onto a cargo net climb. You climb to the top where there’s a platform, and you jump to another platform, but your hands grab the top while your feet land on a slanted wall. Pull yourself up then go down a cargo net.
I don’t even think I have to say anything about why this was a favorite. It was just so fun!
Skyline - it was a zipline that you first crank the rope to get the handle to come up to you. Grab the handle and go down the zipline, but in the middle there was a bolt that stopped you. Then you hand to pull up and “jump” your handle over the bolt to continue ziplining down to the bottom.
Urban Sky - Just some fun climbing obstacles, three different, unique transfers in a row, one with a spinning wheels, one that had sort of rotating pipe with handles, and the other had large holds that swung in different directions.
Floating Walls - this one was probably my all time favorite. They were like a traverse wall, but hanging from two ropes on either corner so you are swinging a bit as you climb. Then we climbed up a story and did it again but 15ish feet above the ground! (But with a net to save you if you fell). This obstacle was right before the finish line.
While I know a lot of people tore their hands up and maybe had to give up their bands due to the climbing obstacles, I didn’t find any of them challenging to the point where I thought "I may fall off this right now". What I did find challenging, were the carries. There were two:
Yoke Carry - this one was tough. Especially since I had no idea it was coming. It was basically a log that was about 5 feet long, and on each end there was a rope hanging down holding a sandbag. They swung, and in the beginning, each step you took kind of put you off balance, or turned you in that direction. It was interesting getting the hang of it. My goal for any carry is to never put it down (and I didn’t), but I had to readjust my hand placement a few times because of how taxing it was becoming on my shoulders. It was a long carry too!
Wreck Bag Carry - the Wreck Bag Carry was STEEP. First you went over a wall with the bag, then up a super steep climb, turned around, went down a super steep hill, had to go through a crawling tunnel with the Wreck Bag, then over another wall before finishing.
I have three here.
1. I should’ve carried water with me. This was actually the most challenging part of the whole race for me, was the dry mouth I had in between water stations. Trying to maintain your pace and bring your heart rate down is tough when your mouth feels like the Sahara desert. Normally, I judge when I bring water with me based on time that I’ll be out on the course. But this was the first race I’ve ever done in this type of heat, and any time you encounter unexpected firsts, it’s bound to leave you with some learning experiences.
2. I should’ve done the 3K. I don’t know right now if I were to book this weekend again I’d do both, or maybe just the 3K, but I really want to know how much more aggressive I would’ve been on the obstacles if I hadn't had as much distance to cover in between them. While I think my running has come a long way, I think obstacles were my strength in this race, and it would have been interesting to see the difference. Right now I’m not signed up for 3K at OCRWC, but this has me thinking.
3. Grip Builder 101 works. I already knew it did, but I seriously have never felt so strong on obstacles than I did this weekend. I had a thought - I am going to have an offer where I give away the program to anyone that wants it next Monday and Tuesday. I think the timing is right, leading up to OCRWC and Tahoe.
All I’ll ask of them to receive the offer is to:
a. DM me on Instagram (@spartan_spencer) with your email so I can send you the program.
b. Commit to working through one full cycle (8 workouts) within 2 weeks of receiving it.
c. Post a few pictures of you working through the program, using #GripBuilder101.
And if you’re still reading this, I’ll let you get in on this early. Direct message me now, and I’ll send you the program ASAP!
While I did qualify for the Pro wave, I signed up for age group instead, running in the 25-29 wave. I placed 4th out of 33 in my age group, and 25th overall.
I was pretty happy with my overall performance. I’ve really only been back to my real training a couple of weeks leading into this race, and I thought overall my obstacle game was really strong, and my running was strong enough to help keep me in the race.
Venue / Location - 7
* Venue was average, location was kind of in the middle of nowhere, and it was really
hot. That being said, I liked that it was in Texas, and it was accommodating.
Number of Obstacles - 10
* Not sure how I can give a race that has 39 obstacles anything less than a 10!
Quality of Obstacles - 10
* I think if I had to give a score of how challenging the obstacles were as a whole, I would go with something like a 7 or 8, but all of them were unique, well built, and fun!
Likeliness I’ll Go Next Season - 10
* Sign me up! (Especially the 3k!)
Overall Rating of the Race - 9
* I hope to save the 10 for OCRWC. But overall, this was such a great race!