With the 6th annual Obstacle Course Racing World Championships rapidly becoming a fond memory, there’s one thing we can all agree on. From spectator to volunteer, from athlete to course builder, the whole event is incredibly emotive. Tears, frustrations, jubilation. For many of us, it’s the culmination of a lot of hard work, with unpredictable outcomes.
Often when we look back at these events, there’s one stand out moment that encapsulates the weekend. A short slice of time that is your defining memory.
I spoke to the team behind this year’s event to find out what theirs was.
Karin Karlsson taking 1st Place on the 15km
It’s undeniable that Karin Karlsson has not only had an incredible year- in OCRWC’s ranking system she placed 3rd overall for the whole year behind Lindsay Webster, and Nicole Mericle- she also had an amazingly successful weekend at OCRWC 2019.
After taking on her first world championships in 2015, where she placed 4th she has steadily and determinedly worked her way up, with her eyes always set on the top spot. I spoke to her on Thursday and she said: “I am here to win”. And she meant it. She had belief in herself and her goal. The women’s race is always a very competitive event which is hard to predict, and this year was no different. Karin snatched victory in the final stretch of the race, and for those watching, it was one of the most powerful OCR moments in history.
As she conquered the final wall, realizing she had won, the look on her face was intense. For those of us who will never be in that position, it gave us a taste of what that victory must feel like, and the beauty of seeing someone who has worked so hard achieve their goal is a rare privilege.
As she crossed the finish line, draped in her countries flag, tears were streaming down her face. A mixture of pride, relief, and joy. These moments are what makes everything worthwhile, and what we live for.
– Adrian Bijanada, CEO of Adventurey
The epic Wreckbag Carry
It’s something of an unwritten rule that each OCRWC takes on some of the local flavors, and in the UK, that’s mud. There’s a reason why at the start line of every Nuclear event they shout ‘WE LOVE MUD!”. Whilst some people were not expecting quite the quantity after 2018’s dry and warm year, there’s no denying it made the event just that little bit more epic.
And there’s one obstacle, in particular, I’m thinking of…
For every athlete, these were a challenge, and I’m not sure there’s any one racer who hasn’t cursed them, repeatedly. Whether it was Jon Albon tearing the nets from the ground, or the journeymen battling through churned up mud, these were an energy sapper and a challenging obstacle for all. Love them or hate them, they’ll be remembered as a huge part of OCRWC 2019 for a long time.
-Brett Stewart, Race Director OCRWC
Female Denmark team taking first place
The team event is a firm favorite of many of the athletes, after a tiring weekend of racing it is the final competitive event. Although often exhausted, the thrill of racing alongside their countrymen, and wanting to do their best spurs athletes on to perform perhaps even better than they had in the individual races.
This year saw the first place women team made up of three amazing female athletes, who are also very close friends. Ulrikke Evensen who was unable to race last year due to injury, Katja K. Christensen who took a surprise (to some) 2nd place in the 15km, and Annika H. Runegaard Thomsen who has made regular appearances on OCRWC’s ranking system. Three names that have gone from strength to strength throughout the year. Together proving they are an unbeatable team.
Their first-place victory by almost 4.5 minutes was thoroughly deserved, all three of them performing faster than their direct competitors. Together, creating something incredible. Their most impressive performance was on the finish line wall, which they scaled with almost superhuman powers. They were quick, strong, and executed this team challenge beautifully. Each member has to give their all on this obstacle which is often the difference between winning and losing. One example is when Christensen prised her fingertips between the tiny gaps on the wall to gain traction. For those watching this showed true grit and dedication, and if their performance hadn’t already proved their worth, this final obstacle showed us they meant business.
-Jojo Brown, Social Media & Live team
The 100m Course
In 2019 OCRWC introduced a 5th event, the 100m sprint course. Partnering with Urban Sky, due to their outstanding worldwide reputation. The obstacles were carefully chosen, with the design intending to create flow, forward momentum, and with no obstacle needing resetting, giving a fair opportunity to all competitors. The 100m design saw an incredible 64.5M of obstacles.
This race was the quickest sell-out event in OCRWC history and proved to be incredibly popular with both athletes and spectators alike. Being placed next to the finish line in the event village meant that there was always an opportunity to support and cheer on athletes, creating a new level of interaction and excitement.
The course saw some incredible performances, in a totally different discipline to the existing races. In the men’s result Thomas van Tonder set a blistering pace of 1.37.64. A full 1.6 seconds ahead of second place, Wojciech Sobierajski. Karin Karlsson, who shone this year, set her fastest time in the dry at 2.15.81, with her second attempt in the wet taking only one second longer, which technically put her in first and third place. With only the top ten receiving medals they are the rarest of the OCRWC participation medals.
– Robin French, 100m Course Director
Team Dan crossing the finish line
Dan Wade, who was a very talented Rugby player started to notice his reactions and energy were declining; this turned out to be the result of a very rare neurological disorder. Team Dan was born 3 1/2 years ago as he wanted to continue to be active, and wanted to be able to do things with his dad, but he needed more help.
As a team they’ve trained at Tough Guy, practicing pulling and lifting Dan in his chair, so they all knew what they were doing, and the extent of Dan’s limitations. Since then they’ve taken part in Zeus No Fear on Wheels, Tough Guy, Judgement Day Team Event, Uventure, and now OCRWC.
“As some know, my day job is in surgical oncology, and there is a real and present sense of Memento Mori. Friends and family, as well as patients, have to acknowledge their perception of life and how they will choose to live it. Almost always, we are thrust into the collective brainstorming part of that as we develop surgical planning but rarely are we given the opportunity to be a part of the actualization of that. Watching Team Dan finish together, with Ma and Pa Dan at the Finish Line, got to me on that very personal professional level.
It was love and support to the Nth degree. It’s the heart of the sport of OCR as I see it. It’s the heart of who we are as people.”
– Rin Quistadio, Social Media Team
The Volunteers & Marshals
We will never stop shouting from the rooftops how much we love and appreciate our marshals and volunteers. Our events wouldn’t happen without them, and they work tirelessly throughout the long weekend. They are our eyes and ears on course. They enforce our rules and take responsibility for their decisions, which is a huge amount of pressure. Sometimes they deal with difficult situations and handle them with dignity and compassion.
Our volunteers work insane hours, dealing with everything that is thrown at them, immersing themselves in a hectic and pressured world with very little introduction. They show great intelligence and work ethos, and every year we cannot believe how lucky we are that they want to be here with us.
We appreciate everyone who works at the event, and this year every single volunteer gave that little bit more, above and beyond, and sometimes there are recognizable faces amongst them. It always lifts the spirits of the racers when they see an elite athlete out on course giving something back. So many compete and then head home, but some get themselves involved and immerse themselves in the environment. One of these is fan-favorite Jesse Bruce. Always one with a kind word and hug for everyone, he also gets stuck in with races throughout the weekend. On the Saturday marshaling out on course, after running the 15km, the day before taking 3rd place on the team event with Team Platinum Rig.
Jesse commented: “I love being out there with my people. My fellow Warriors. I also see how hard your team works, and I want to be a part of it”.
– Rachelanne Gladden, Athlete Services & Care
What were your favorite moments of OCRWC 2019?