More than Mud is an article and interview series dedicated to documenting the incredible characters and stories that we come across in the world of OCR and outdoor adventure and endurance racing events. They range from everyday heroes to extreme athletes but all have unique and engaging stories to tell.
How Did You Get Into OCR Racing?
I got in to racing when I joined my friend's gym, Mad Dawg Fitness. There I met a group of people who encouraged me to try my first Spartan with them as a way to test myself and push myself outside of my comfort zone. I was pretty much addicted after that.
How do you describe what you do to people outside of the OCR community? (and why you do it)
Well, the short answer I usually give people is that I get to play in mud and move really heavy stuff. Long story though, I get to get outside with a huge group of amazing people and test myself, both physically and mentally. I get to literally face challenges head on and push myself to conquer them. I get to take control and overcome obstacles. Sure, I have had people tell me I am crazy (and they are probably 100% right), but I think people who NEVER test themselves and see what they are really capable of are the crazy ones!
What's been your most interesting or memorable moment in your OCR career so far?
Most interesting is definitely the people I have met along the way. I went in to my first Battlefrog solo, which was a little overwhelming, but I encountered so many helpful and encouraging people along the way. The people of OCR are definitely different than any sport I have ever participated in. My most memorable would have to be the finish line of the 2015 Spartan Beast. It was a cold and rainy weekend, and I had a sinus infection that I later found out had made its way into my lungs. Needless to say, I was miserable. Thankfully, I had an amazing team that stayed with me the entire time, encouraging me the whole way, no matter how slow I went, or how many times I wanted to stop. I knew that I could conquer the Beast, and nothing was going to stop me. Seeing that finish line, and crossing it with the people that had stuck with me the entire way was definitely the most amazing feeling I have experienced in racing.
What's the best training or racing advice you've ever received?
As simple as it seems, what sticks with me the most is my old boot camp instructor telling me I am strong. I have a bad habit of selling myself short and doing less than I am capable of. One day, we were doing an exercise and I grabbed the weight that everyone else seemed to be using and my instructor totally called me on it. She said "Katelyn, I never want to see you with that weight again. You are strong. You need to act like it." That sticks with me a lot during races and training, and reminds me not to sell myself short or take the easy way out.
What personal challenges has OCR has helped you overcome?
A few years ago, I was in a bad car accident. I had severe whiplash that left me with permanent damage and deteriorating discs in my neck. I had months of physical therapy and doctor visits, with neurologists, radiologists, every kind of -ist imaginable, each time hearing that I might not ever return to my previous physical state or level of activity. Basically, my athletic career was over. For a while, I believed it. I got pretty depressed. I tried to take up painting. I tried to teach myself guitar. I tried to find something to fill that spot in my life. One day, I finally came to my senses. I have been stubborn and hard-headed my whole life. I have never done things any way but my own. Why was I letting these people tell me what I "couldn't" do? Racing has not only helped me to overcome that depression, it has shown me that I am not only stronger than I "should" be, I am STRONG.
What inspires you?
I inspire me. Not in a selfish, I'm awesome kind of way. The feeling that I get from racing inspires me. The feeling of accomplishment when that long-awaited finish line finally comes into view. The rush of completing an obstacle. The feeling of racing inspires me.
Any race stats you'd like to share? Any goals for this year?
Last April, I finished 7th in my age group in my first Battlefrog, which qualified me for the OCRWC. Sadly/stupidly, I did not go compete in Ohio, so my goal for this season is to qualify again and compete at the OCRWC.
What's something about you that others might find surprising?
One thing that I think surprises people most about me is that I do not at all consider myself a runner. I am an athlete, and a racer, but I have never actually enjoyed just running. Honestly, I don't think I ever learned HOW to run. My pacing is awful. My breathing is all off. I am NOT a runner, but I have never let that stop me.
What are your thoughts on the current state and future of OCR?
It is definitely a growing sport. I am so honored and happy that I got involved pretty early on in racing, and it has definitely taken off in the past few years. I think that it started as sort of a novelty event, but now more and more people are becoming aware of it. My boyfriend is even planning an OCR-themed field day at the elementary school where he works. I am very excited to see where OCR can go as it continues to grow and become more of a mainstream sporting event.
Photos courtesy of Spartan Race
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