Thursday, October 19, 2017

OCR World Championships 2017: Team Relay & Charity Open

Sunday, the last day of OCRWC, had two races scheduled, the team relay, and the Make-A-Wish charity run. I had planned to run the former and thought I might sign-up for the latter after assessing how I felt on Saturday after the 15K. It turned out, that I was lucky enough to be able to get a bib for the Make-A-Wish run from a housemate and fellow Spahten who thought that one more race might be one too many considering how he was feeling. 

I don't blame him. Sunday was another wet day, the course was trashed, the rain continued, and I had slept badly for days and was sore. This was going to be a rough one. Perhaps fortunately, there was really nothing to be done about the sheets of rain that came down. Obstacles were un-grip-able, at least for me, and this made it a day that was kind of hilarious. 


The first race of the day was the team relay, which consisted of three sections: endurance, strength, and obstacles (in former years the sections were speed, strength, and agility). The map says it all -- this 7K course was a mixed experience with the endurance athlete having to take an extremely challenging trip up the mountain in highly inclement conditions, the strength person having to do just two carries (worth the price of the registration?), and the obstacles person having little distance but basically the same course as the 3K the previous day.


My team was Tiny^2 + 1 and consisted of me and Niki (both of us tiny), plus Niki's boyfriend and my fellow friend, Steve (+ 1). Niki was going to start off the race with the endurance 5K, Steve would do strength, and I would do the obstacles. This was a pretty natural fit considering where we normally excel; however, with all the trouble I had been having on the rigs, and with my hands cut-up a bit at this point, I knew my chances of keeping a band were slim. That being said, the team race was for fun. At this point in the weekend, we were all exhausted. We'd do our best.

At 10:30 a.m., Niki started our group off while Steve and I cheered. She had a rough 5K that would go up a mountain that had been saturated with rain. She had a rough part of the team course -- probably the hardest -- so I settled in knowing that covering that 5K would take some grit and some time.

Steve and I got me a quick snack, since I was really hungry, before making our way to the transition to wait for Niki. Soon, Niki was in sight and it was time for Steve to head off for the sandbag carry. I knew I was going to have to do the Northman Poles, so I headed over to the transition. Unfortunately, at this point the weather turned even worse than I could imagine. It began to pour. I knew that with the soaking obstacles, there would be no way to keep my band. All expectations went out the window.

Soon, Steve was back after slipping his was down the hill. I headed to the Northman Poles where it was impossible to get any grip. Metal. Soaking. Wet. There was nothing to be done. I slipped all over the place, tried a few times, and handed in my band. I didn't even feel bad. I knew I could do this obstacle in normal weather. I handed back over to Steve for the Wreckbag carry as the rain began to come down even harder.


I moved over to the next transition. I would be hitting up the obstacles from the 3K, minus the rope climb. When Steve can back, I was off. I noticed that the rigs had been modified from the day before. Honestly, in normal conditions, I might have had a shot, even at the rig that bested me in the short course. With the rain pelting down, there was no chance. I tried to make my way across monkey bars only to have my tired fingers fall off again and again. Fatigue combined with bad weather for a race where I failed obstacle after obstacle. 

The floating walls came into view. These were a favorite new obstacle of the weekend. I nailed them and made it to the knot wall where my team joined me. The bottom ropes had been removed for an added challenge, though with the weather, this was hardly necessary. My team boosted me up first and then sent Niki. Steve was left at the bottom, but fortunately, fellow Spahten, Geoffrey stepped in, having just finished his race to help us out. With his help, we got Steve up and over the wall, finishing at a little before 1:00 p.m. 

At the finish line we experienced some bad news. They were out of medals, having overfilled the team race. Bummer! This is the kind of oversight that I would have hoped a world-class event could avoid. The volunteer promised that OCRWC would mail us our medals. (Note: I followed up via email on Sunday and have yet to get a reply but am still hopeful that Niki, Steve, and I will get our medals in the mail. Stay tuned, I guess.)

The Make-a-Wish fun run started at 1:00 p.m., but had regular waves going out until 2:45 p.m. or so. This allowed team Tiny^2 + 1 time to regroup and head to the start line again for the 1:30 p.m. wave. We were joined by fellow Spahtens Geoffrey and Jamie Miller and the group from Shale Hill. The mass of us ended up racing together, which was great fun!

The wait at the start line was a bit lengthy. The MC, Coach Pain, spoke at length, as a result. Unfortunately, the results were less than stellar. In the space of a few minutes, he managed to marginalize and, in my mind, minimize mental health issues. I was glad when we were off and running.

Minus the intros at the start line, the Make-a-Wish lap was hilarious fun. (I know I've used the word "hilarious" a lot -- it was the word of the day.) The course followed the 7K loop from the team relay; however, the rain was really coming down now, and a trip up the mountain was out of the question and really not advised for a fun-do-what-you-like run. 

Never have I seen a group of such fit people try so little! The name of the game was enjoyment. We played. We took selfies using the Millers ultra cool mini cube-shaped camera. We climbed on the obstacles and fell off in the mud. We got more and more soaked and didn't care. Our 7K was more like a 3K, and we had a blast touring some of the technical obstacles on the lower half of the course. Heavy carries? No way. However, having someone lift me up so I could finally try Skull Valley? Absolutely! Hint: Once I got up there, it was a blast!


Near the last obstacles, the knot wall, we ran into the other group of Spahtens that had taken part in the charity run. Together, we all braved the wet and scaled the wall, helping each other. The weather was getting wetter and wetter, and it was getting cold. We coordinated at the bottom of the wall and, from there, made a run to the finish line, crossing as a group to the sound of the announcer saying, "And here are the New England Spahtens!"


We posed for a team picture, before, all cold and wet from the torrential downpour, we headed into change. What a great time, and how lucky to be part of such a cool group of people! The charity race was not what I had thought it would be. There was no real effort, none of the concentration, taxing work, effort to success that I often associate with OCR and especially with the World Championship; however, in a way, the charity run was the highlight of the weekend -- it was fun and camaraderie; it was the nice wrap-up to all those days of hard work on Friday and Saturday that didn't quite work out as I had hoped.


I've been back home from OCR World Championships for a few days now, and I can safely say that I had a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I assure you I am not a person given to hyperbole; I absolutely mean that statement in the most literal sense. Did I achieve all the goal I had set out? No. I didn't keep my bands on any race. I am working on coming to piece with the disappointment of that fact. However, I did get a chance to qualify and attend a world championship event -- that's something that I can say is a great accomplishment and, even more importantly, a neat and cool and fun thing. I got to try new obstacles, learn where I had room to grow as an athlete, challenge myself, spend time with friends, and participate in an event with world-class athletes. Not bad. 

It seems likely that the OCRWC will move out of North America next year. This year's trip to Canada may be my one chance to participate in this event. I am glad I didn't miss out.

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