As OCR fever continues to grip the world, it’s becoming easier and easier to find races just about anywhere on the planet. But for me, it’s hard to beat an OCR in good old Blighty. This isle has a lot to offer when it comes to the sport.
The Birthplace of OCR
Yes, I know we go on about it a lot, but we’re pretty proud of it.
Just in case you weren’t aware (although I’m not sure how) the OCR phenomenon that we all adore was born here in the UK back in 1987 on an unassuming Donkey Sanctuary, cooked up in the mind of a sadistic genius who goes by the name of Mr. Mouse.
The sport has seen many incarnations since then and has changed along the way, but without the godfather of OCR making a crazy decision all those years ago, we wouldn’t have what we have today. Surely that alone is worth a pilgrimage to our green and pleasant land?
I get it, travel is really expensive, and none of us have enough holiday leave, so why should we spend it traveling to get wet, dirty, and exhausted? (Although if you really mean that, please leave now). It’s more difficult when you have a family, do you sacrifice family trips for OCR weekends? What about when you want to travel all the way to another country for a week or even more?
Whilst it can seem like a huge amount of time and money to spend on a race, I myself discovered there’s so much more to it than that. Because of OCR I have discovered so many places I had never been to, had amazing holidays that I wouldn’t have done, and that’s not even mentioning the people you meet and hang out with. On what holiday would you spend a day before your flight playing board games and drinking tea in a cafe in Toronto with a group of 15 of you?
With the OCR World Championship taking place in the UK again this year it’s a great opportunity to get to see our country, and with London on the doorstep you don’t even have to go out of your way to see some of our biggest tourist attractions. Yes, for me the racing is always the biggest lure, but convincing your other half and kids may take a little bit more.
If you have more time on your hands then the UK & Europe has some incredible sights to offer, Scotland is breath taking, and Paris is only a short train ride away from London.
The home of the biggest and best obstacles
Every country has its own particular style of racing. In the UK, we go hard or we go home. Where else in the world would you find the worlds longest Monkey bars? (Well.. nowhere), who came up with the idea of electrocuting the racers? (Nope, not Tough Mudder) And whilst water slides are par for the course, what about a Death Slide? Seriously, Nuclear Races holds the crown for the UK’s “Best Individual Obstacle” with their infamous slide which has reduced even grown men to tears, and provides hours of entertainment for those watching the live stream on big screen back at the event village.
Whilst we offer some incredible technical obstacles that will test even the most nimble of competitors, we also like to mix things up. After all the Brits are known for their eccentricities, speaking of which…
Our weird and wonderful OCR Culture
Every country has its own “OCR Personalities”, but there’s something about the way we do it over here that’s just that little bit different.
Firstly, our Marshals are second to none. Living in such a small country we see the same faces each and every week, always smiling, handing out Jelly Babies, and cheering us on. In all the countries I’ve raced, I’ve never seen anything like the amazing volunteers we have here.
We take it a little further than that… When racing, don’t be surprised if you come across a dancing squirrel in drag, a group of painted and hollering half naked reprobates hurtling across a field or clambering on a obstacle, or a man with a 95lb fridge strapped to his back next to you on the start line.
That’s not to say we don’t take our racing very seriously, we do. The UK was one of the best represented countries at The OCR World Championships in 2015, 2016, & 2017.
Test yourself against Europe’s best
I mean, I didn’t want to bring up our not-so-secret Weapon, but we are very proud of Jon Albon over here. But… he is not the only incredible athlete we have.
The UK and Europe has some of the best OCR athletes in the world, not all of whom have been able to make the journey over to Canada or the US for the Worlds. Now we have the Championships taking place on home soil we’ll be seeing a different race happen.
None of us are expecting anyone to steal the top spot, but that’s not to say you won’t be tested by the field of competitors who will be taking on this years course. For those of you in the US, you’ll see how you fare at the NorAm Champs, but if you want to see how you compare on a worldwide level, you need to be here in October and pit yourself against yet unseen talent.
Francesca is an avid obstacle course racer, TV host, and blogger at Mud Is My Makeup. Follow her Instagram at @MudIsMyMakeUp and @FranChiorando.