The OCR Series is something I have never taken part in. I have never even done a Strong Viking event, which the OCR Series operates from. Their series is run over some months with a few different events, the season then finishes with a final. The final decides the overall placing for the series, as well as being a competitive race in itself that other athletes can try their hand at. Having concentrated on sky and trail running in the spring I was of course not going to place in the overall series but was looking forward to competing against all the best athletes and see how well I could do.
Unlike most other races the competitive wave would be the last of the day. So I had until 18:30 to think how the race may go. I knew I was in good running form, even though having raced the weekend before posed some questions there. My main concern was having done next to no obstacle training and having never done many of the obstacle at this event.
In the end I figured the obstacle I would most likely fail was the salmon ladder. This obstacle was last and had a 1 minute battle rope penalty attached…so as long as I had a minute lead I figured I would be good.
The start was fast and to say I felt a little uncomfortable with the obstacles would be an understatement, even the rope climb cost be a few extra seconds through fumbling to get my feet locked.
Once the race opened up I started to get into my stride and realised that Thomas Buyle and myself had the best running speed. I was just a little unsure as to if he could keep the same pace throughout.
Many small mistakes from not knowing how the obstacles worked or what I was meant to do when I got to them saw me loose some seconds but managed to break away before we had run 5 of the 19km course.
I slowly started to enjoy myself and was relishing the mix of both challenging and fun obstacles. In the past years I have grown accustomed to the serious side of obstacle racing with mostly challenging obstacles, I had forgotten the feeling of simply enjoying a massive slide or jumping out and swinging on a trapeze.
As the kilometers ticked by I counted off the obstacles that I figured I could fail. With the long sand bag carry done I ran, jumped, climbed, swam, swung and weaved my way through to the rest of the course.
I was a little awkward through some low rings that you have to plank your way along but finally rang the bell. Just the salmon ladder left. Jumping up and hanging from a bar the idea is to hop your way up shifting the bar up 5 notches. After the first hop a sense of elation rose in me as I figured I could do it…all the way to the 5th and final hop when one end of the bar latched up and the other slotted back into where it was. After a split second of panic, I manage to just hop this one side up and had done it.
Heaving myself up the finishing pyramid I was still some minutes ahead and happy to have won my first obstacle race of 2019. Overall the OCR World Series was a great experience and one of the best examples of fusing the newer style of obstacle racing with the old. In fact, it was the most fun I have had on an obstacle course in a few years. It is difficult to find a balance between all the different skills required for this sport without overly rewarding one type of fitness, I felt like this race found that balance well and it resulted in a fast, challenging race, that was still fun and flowed well.
Great photos as always by Harm Domimisse.