It has been 2 weeks since I took part in the 5th Obstacle Course Race World Championships (O.C.R.W.C.) and what another unforgettable O.C.R.W.C. it has been. For the first time it was held in the UK at the grounds of Nuclear Races in Brentwood, Essex. There are four events: The 3K, 15K, team relay and charity event. The first two events one can only take part in by qualifying for it, and participants come to compete from 60 different countries.
The friendship, atmosphere and encouragement were phenomenal yet again, just like last year in Canada - what a beautiful sport!! Everyone just comes together when the going gets tough and it is easy to make friends with like-minded people. The participants are inspiring humans who give 100% every day out on the course, with some doing all 4 events. With runners cheering on and motivating each other, alongside a large crowd of supporters, the atmosphere was incredible and we had superb weather for the time of year too.
Friday 19th October saw the 3K event which was packed with about 25 obstacles including some technical obstacles such as low rigs with rings and so on. It was as usual upper body heavy, some "flying" and swinging was required, there was some mud to negotiate and speed was needed to do well to finish well within the ranks. The main aim though, for most participants including myself, was to keep hold of the (wrist)band which gets cut if one is unable to successfully complete an obstacle. In this case a participant becomes a DNC (Did Not Complete) which is shown as a DNC within the results in a separate ranking. There are re-try options to complete an obstacle available. The 2nd aim is to complete all obstacles successfully in one go in order to save energy for the main event the following day - the 15K event. Despite my knee injury, which was nicely taped up, I managed all obstacles in one go, conserved some energy and kept the (wrist)band. So far so good!
Saturday 20th October, main event day, 15K with 100 obstacles within a 4 hour cut off, plenty of mud and water and extra support from friends and family. I was so thankful that my children were there to witness the Championships and to capture and cherish some memorable moments.
On the morning of the event I woke up with a somewhat numb left shoulder which was due to muscle (bicep femores) tightness and an old injury. This was being taken care of by taping the area prior to the event which was part of the reason I missed the start for my age group by about 30 seconds. No real problem but I was starting last which caused a bit of a delay early on whilst doing a 25kg weighing wreck bag carry up and down for about 1km through the woods. All being well I thought my biggest test for my shoulder injury would be on the first upper body heavy obstacle. I managed that ok with no pain in my shoulder at all. I felt I now had a 50% chance in successfully completing the course. I carried on and at the 9K point I knew I should be able to make the 4 hour cut off time so I decided to run the remainder as a calculated energy saving event. En-route I slipped up on completing the rings obstacle in one go but completed it second time around. All ok until obstacle 97, skull valley. This was the last main test for the upper body heavy obstacle left which I slipped up at but again managed to complete properly second time around. I was about 3 hours and 25 minutes into the event and was feeling it physically but I thought job done as I knew the last bits would be fine, or so I thought...
This course wears you down, slowly zapping energy away from your body, like a boxer being nearly knocked out just before the last round of the fight. You get knocked down but you must get up again! Well, the last obstacle is a wall about a house high with a rope hanging from it about 2m heigh. On the Friday I managed to complete this obstacle in 5 seconds but this last obstacle was troubling me. Troubling as after 2 days of events everything was now very slippery wet and muddy - the run up, the wall, the rope...
All participants are tired and completely soaked in wet mud and my shoes had no grip either due to all the mud being stuck under them. I tried getting up the wall about 3 times but knew that it wasn't going to work this way. Fellow participants experienced the same, tried everything and threw even dry sand on the wall, the rope to try to improve grip strength somewhere. Some participants gave up and walked around the wall to the finishing line but that was the last thing I wanted to do with about 200 people watching at the other side of the wall at the finishing line. I took some rest, analysed it all, looked at my shoes and as I had time on my hands I decided to completely clear my shoes from mud. I found a little stone, it took 10 minutes to clear my shoes as I cramped up a little during this process. Then I gave it my best run up the wall and managed to conquer also this last, the 100th, obstacle. All obstacles completed, kept my (wrist) band, mission accomplished!
Less than 50% within my age group completed the 15K course successfully, no female managed to complete it successfully within my age group, 60% of men managed to complete this successfully in all age groups. Less than 30% of males in the 50+ age group managed to complete it successfully so it would be a real challenge next year when I am in that age group.
So my goal for next year is to complete the 15K course successfully and if my body has no real issues my aim would be a top 25 place. The O.C.R. W.C. will be held again at the same venue in Essex next year, so will be great to have the UK support once more!