Wow, what a mixed bag of emotions, feelings and experiences coming back from this trip to Poland for The O.C.R. European Championships 2019.
I flew out to Gdansk first thing on Thursday 27/6 and arrived at the Polish national rugby stadium in Gdynia about 2 hours prior to the start of the short 5k course. I missed the opening ceremony, and a lie-in I suppose, but I felt fine, full of adrenaline and very much looking forward to it.
The short course is filled with hard to complete obstacles which involves heavy upper body work, long monkey bars and swings, rings and various very technical low and high rigs. Having done my homework there was no need to worry, I had time to prepare things, even had time to get my vulnerable left shoulder taped up an hour prior to the start at the venue.
After spotting familiar faces of participants from other events, the catch ups and banter followed, photo’s were taken, injuries and war wounds were exchanged. Then it was simply time to enjoy and try to complete all obstacles that would come my way. Then the fireworks began, 40 obstacles where to be tackled, in the end I managed 38. It wasn’t to be for me, I gave it my all but there was too much hanging and shoulder work including swinging to be done which causes grinding and havoc when at full arm extension to my weaker shoulder. I completed the course which ended up to be 7k instead of 5k having tried the 2 obstacles I failed about 5 times before I surrendered my wristband and finished with a DNC (did not complete).
The course was tough, somehow the European Championships are tougher than the World Championships, perhaps because there are two separate organising bodies running it. Later on that day I found out there were only 11 out of 34 men in my age group who managed to complete all 40 obstacles, which is less than a third. Also, no females age 44 and older managed to complete all obstacles. This reinforced how difficult the course had been and that it was great obstacle experience . More banter and pictures after the short course, group photo’s were taken. I enjoyed catching up with members from Team Uk, Team NL, Team Belgium, France and the Polish people who are awesome too.
I had put great effort, energy, and my heart and soul into the short course event which took almost 2 hours and on Friday 28/6 it was time for the main standard 15k event. From the Ninja Steps, Pole Dance, Heads, Snake, Maze to the High/Low rigs, bag carries, and challenging terrain, the obstacles were similar to the previous day, quite brutal frankly, and instead of 40 there were 67. The course went through hilly (600m elevation) woodlands on small uneven paths and I could feel some fatigue settling in from the previous day just after the half way point. The wristband was surrendered shortly after as it was simply too much and too hard for my shoulder. I decided to focus on trying to enjoy the event, the atmosphere, camaraderie and to encourage and support other fellow participants. Anyway, I finished as a DNC again as did 43 others out of 62 in my age group. Again less than a third managed to complete it. Only 10 females completed it from age 34 till 40 and no female aged over 40 managed it.
It is true that I was absolutely gutted not to complete it, but I loved the course, happy to have qualified for both events and having had the opportunity to take part. It is an amazing experience yet again, European and World Championships are truly something special. O.C.R. tests each participant in so many aspects, one needs to be such an all-rounder - one needs agility, strength, speed, flexibility, general fitness, tactical awareness and a dose of mental ability too. From the Ninja Steps, Pole Dance, Heads, Snake, Maze rigs, bag carries, and challenging terrain
I was proud to have competed in the OCR European Championships. It’s a wonderful spectacle of obstacle racing and there are so many truly amazing obstacles to overcome. Overall it’s also really well organised and has the feeling of a major championship. While it’s technically intense I don’t mind this and the fact that it rewards racers who are proficient at obstacles is no bad thing. A minor point for the organisation in my opinion is to try to sort out the queuing at obstacles as there were many at obstacles hindering the flow of racing. Also, rumour goes that next year’s European Championships will take place in the Alps in Italy, so let’s try to qualify for that!
Many thanks to Poland and their organisers for yet another great Championships.