Sometimes I go to races because I want to challenge myself and race really hard, other times I simply want to visit that country, meet the people, try the food and enjoy a race too. Heading to the Polish OCR championships was definitely more about the experience for me, as after all, I couldn’t be crowned the Polish OCR champion. Not only this but the weekend was set to be great training too. The format would be identical to the OCR World Championships (3km, 15km and team) in October and it would give me a chance to practice my obstacle technique, which I feel has either gotten rusty or needs to catch up to the more ninja type style of present.
The setup was one I haven’t seen before. The 3km ‘sprint’ course was primarily two parts, first a run through some woods with some simple obstacles, then a lap of a field with about 7 ninja style obstacles back to back. Having so many hanging obstacles together looked to be pretty hardcore…I then found out that the 15km course would simply be 5 laps of the 3km course, that sounded incredibly hardcore.
First up was the 3km course on the Friday. I was intent on keeping the running bit easy but still found myself pushing hard as we made our way into the arena for the technical obstacles. We had already completed a few grip strength obstacles in the woods but now the fun would really begin. First up was the low rig…I felt sloppy going through and must have wasted some power. Next up was a hamster wheel monkey bar thing straight into a double flying monkey with the middle jump going up in addition to nearly 2m out. Taking too much time on the hamster wheel my hands were sweaty and completely pumped. There wasn’t a part of me that I would make the first jump and my hand slid straight off as I went to grab the next bar…hitting the ground with a thud I now knew I was in big trouble.
I would have to wait some minutes for my forearms to recover and during this time I had to watch 4 Polish racers make it through first time…most with the help of klister or climbing chalk…that’s new I thought. I had already impatiently tried a few more times but really needed a proper rest. One final try with the help of some chalk another competitor gave me and I was through.
Walking between obstacles I now tried to not get too pumped again. Rig with rings and bars – done. Low rig with spinning wheel – done. Rig with rings ropes and spinning wheels – done. Now onto the final rig which had two sections. Rings, monkey bars, ropes then a resting platform. Hanging wrenches, hammers then broom handles. With a big effort I made it through first time. A few athletes were stuck here so I got up the final wall and through the rope swing finishing in a lucky third trying not to think about doing that five times.
I had ripped my hands up pretty bad on the hamster wheel…these moving obstacles are really tough on your skin because the bar twists within your grip, as is a flying monkey so I was really glad to hear this obstacle wouldn’t feature the next day. Due to rain a wooden crimping obstacle in the woods would also be removed as well as the hammer section of the final rig. Much better but I knew I would have to improve my technique a lot of I was going to get through what remained 5 times.
It would seem the weather Gods were on my side as rain also meant those with chalk wouldn’t get any advantage either. I used half an hour before the start to practice both low rigs working out sequences that were best for me. I think this was my saving grace and come the first lap I managed to steadily make my way through all the obstacles first time without too many issues. First lap done I took the lead and tried not to look back…just concentrate on getting the obstacles done and slowly improve my running speed as I got more confident.
Once finished I was proud of my improvement and knew the training was invaluable.
My hands were now ripped even worse, but I had one more go through the obstacles the next day completing the technical section of the team relay.
It had been a pleasure to visit Poland where I found the friendliness of the people and the food were my top highlights. It was also cool to see how strong the Polish OCR community is and how many good racers they have from young to old.