by PT Emz of Bootcamp Revolution
And Why we do what we do in the honour of OCR!
We've all seen the social media posts; the OCR kisses, the broken smiles on the finish lines, from the ones that say "I'm a champion!" to those that say "Thank God I'm still alive, how the hell did that happen!"
Many of you will know the feeling of pre race fear, 99.9% of you will have felt that post race muscle pain, many of you will have hit a wall mid race, and we have all nursed an OCR bruise of varying intensity some time along the way!
Why do thousands and thousands of people put themselves through a world of pain....only to do it all again the following weekend?
I have, of course, answered this from a personal perspective, but this is only my opinion, so to fully explain why us lunatics take our bodies to hell and back, and enjoy it, I also decided to interview some of the OCR community for their answers to the most cryptic of muddy questions!
Since my first race, over 9 years ago, I realise I have a set thought process, and it goes a little something like this;
T-minus 30 seconds: Wow, I'm excited, check out the masses, the vibe and the smiles!
3...2...1...and we're off!
0-5 mins: Damn, I hate running (note to self, must run more!!)
5-10 mins: Ok, nice pace settled, feeling strong, let's do this!
First Obstacle: Easy! (Note to self, must run more!)
10-20 mins and a few more obstacles: Feeling good, strong and happy. Have helped a few people along the way, made new friends and bashed my weak knee on a high wall, but sod it, adrenalin is sooooo good at helping the old pain threshold!
30-60 mins: Open swim completed, few litres of H20 taken on board (not through choice!) legs starting to feel like jelly (note to self, MUST RUN MORE!!)
60 mins plus: finish line in sight, blood pouring down knee, lungs burning, legs aching, but a whole heart full of happiness
Finish line: Euphoric. Hugs. Smiles. Beer. Bling
Ok, so this is the edited version, there's a whole load more thoughts that run through my insane brain while racing, from 'why am I doing this', to 'I love this', to 'NEVER AGAIN!' ... But I always go back for more!
OCR's teach us a lot about ourselves and the one thing I heard most from those I interviewed was: I achieved what I thought was not possible!
Obstacle Course Races do something incredible, for every participant. They provide a sense of achievement like no other activity, and offer an opportunity to everyone to do something amazing and be someone, they never thought they could be!
To those preparing for their first OCR, the seasoned racer is something of a super hero, and most new comers, are filled with a doubt and fear, and the finish line seems like the muddy holy grail!
But for those that take the plunge, no matter how long it takes them or how hard they find the distance, when they finish the race and that bling is placed over their heads, they know, life will never be the same again!
OCR is an addiction. It's like a drug!
From a scientific aspect, adrenalin is a natural high, which our bodies go crazy for, and this is supplied in huge amounts while we race! But OCR also gives us so much more!
It provides a community where people, who are poles apart, become best friends, and a support network is offered to one and all. Events create a gathering of like minded people, where muddy friends reunite and new friendships are forged. Fears are faced, PB's are achieved and personal, mental obstacles are overcome!
One lady I spoke to explained how a terrible personal experience had caused her to suffer a range of mental issues from anxiety and depression, to the fear of strangers. To hear her explain how Obstacle Course racing has changed her life for the better, truly humbled me and made me realise, every one of you in the OCR world have given this lovely lady and her family a new lease of life, providing her with a positive, safe environment in which she now can flourish and recover.
That is something beyond amazing!
For the elite racer, only a small percent of the above applies!
They have no fear of the obstacles, no concern for the course that lays ahead. For them, they see podiums, they see PB's and they see World Champ Qualifications. But beginners and elites alike, they also feel the sense of unity. On many occasions, I have seen a first place winner, celebrating the last person across the finish line, because they know what that person has accomplished and what it means to finish a race!
Many of the people I spoke to described the sense of liberation they felt when racing. Most of us live our daily lives, suited and office based, as parents, professionals, and acting in the manner that adult life expects of us.
But at weekends, we become nothing short of a super hero, shedding the exteriors of conformity and reverting to child like characteristics, rolling around in muddy puddles, laughing until our bellies hurt and hugging strangers in a way that is not allowed in normal, everyday society!
OCR's allow us to be children again! And what else gives us that freedom? Nothing I've ever encountered, that's for sure!!
During my interviews, there were many that mentioned the same, fun positives; the opportunity to get a new muddy faced profile picture, and explaining to workmates that their husbands hadn't beaten them, that they had in fact completed a gruelling race at the weekend, but above all of these reasons, there was one that shone through more than anything.
A sense of personal achievement! Each and every one of them did something spectacular!
OCR's provide everyone with something different. Every participant finds their own reason to go back and suffer all that pain and effort again.
I love Obstacle Course racing for my own reasons, as you do for yours, but one thing is for sure, OCR is something unique, the feeling it creates is undeniably amazing and you are part of something truly incredible.
And if this hasn't convinced you as to why we keep coming back to OCR's, I will leave you with the favourite reason I heard a few years back......and it is this;
"I do OCR's because I'm preparing for the zombie apocalypse. It will come, and I will be ready!"
So what ever your reason is for doing it, and what ever you gain from each OCR....please don't stop, your life may depend on it!!