The 15km is known for being more my sort of thing than the 3km but in 2018 I only won by the same margin of the 3km the day before…so I couldn’t help but consider if this year would be the same. Would the fatigue from the 3km put me at a disadvantage? Would the cold conditions affect me more than another athlete? Would I have the power left for all the technical obstacles after a grinding first 12km?
The course was very nearly set to be exactly 12km of muddy tough cold obstacle racing first, with the 3km of very technical rigs from the day before to finish, making the 15km. This meant getting ground down by plenty of mud, slippery obstacles and swimming before having to focus on the truly hard stuff.
I had learnt from the year before that there are a few places where a lead can very quickly be whittled down to nothing again, the main one being the disgusting nets that are almost impossible to go through alone. I had apparently not learnt my lesson from the year before and entered these after 3km with a 30 second lead. To add insult to injury, this year we would be dragging a wreckbag through them. So after struggling for some minutes alone, not getting very far and even peeling the nets up which, with the help of some weeds, had grown to the floor, the cavalry arrived. Moving through the nets was now easier but I had tied myself out a bit.
Out of the nets and I once again tried to make my breakaway. This I managed but I could already start to feel the lack of power in my arms, even when going over simple walls.
Now with minute lead I tried to find a happy medium between cruising and pushing.
Getting the swim section out of the way it was onto an extremely tricky low rig with some big reaches. Once again I lost time.
Now I was really worried. Even pulling myself up a warped wall was lots of effort, with my arms feeling like they were down to 35% power. Not good with all the technical obstacles to go.
Back in the arena with most of the course down it was time for roughly the same as the 3km course the day before. Worryingly it was Ryan Atkins who was hunting me down who has no lack of strength and skill on obstacles…was I going to be able to hold him of?
Slowly I was ticking obstacles off. On everyone Ryan seemed to get nearer and I seemed to get closer to making a big mistake.
Final hard hanging obstacle and it happens, I fall off. Traversing a metal bar with two hooks and my hand slips when going around the hanging chain. Time to focus and I grit my teeth. Sliding along and unhooking twice to go around the chains I make it to the end. Running of I could hear Ryan completing the obstacle first time, probably easily.
Yoke carry next, done. Now balance beam up, along and down. I jump up and fall off immediately…the wood is so slick it`s like glass. I focus and make it through. A few last obstacles and I know I can do it. Getting to the weaver first all I have to do is not make a stupid mistake and I will have managed.
Finally I cross the line mere seconds in front of Ryan and have had the closest finish out of any of my 6 wins of the OCRWC 15km. Arms empty but happy I am not sure how I held it together enough to make it through still in first.
With just one week till the SkyMasters in Limone I will now lick my wounds and try to conjure some mountain speed in time for this prestigious final for the SkyRunnng World Series.
Great Photos by Scott Seefeldt and The OCR Report