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?
In 2012, a friend had told me about an annual mud run that went through the woods and over a few obstacles, hosted by the local Navy Seabees. I had been running road races for a few years, but I love the woods, so I tried it. It was awesome! Then in 2012 Spartan brought their first race ( a primal ‘founders’ race!) to Mississippi, near my home. I was asked to join my friend’s team. I did pretty well in the race. Around 60th place in opens! Seeing that this was an organized sport and that I had some aptitude for it, I’ve been addicted ever since!
How do you describe what you do to people outside of the OCR community? (and why you do it)
It’s surprising how some people have no idea of what I’m talking about. Pictures can be quite helpful. Sometimes I have to relate it to a military boot camp mixed with a 5k run. At least then they can visualize climbing up, over, and under things while running. But then they wrinkle their noses and ask “Why in the world would you want to do that?” Sometimes I half-joke that it’s my way of dealing with having both a desk job and ADHD. But seriously, I explain that I am compelled to test and hone my willpower. I love the adrenaline rush of competition, and the excitement of achieving better and better results, and the satisfaction of setting and attaining aggressive goals.
What's been your most interesting or memorable moment in your OCR career so far?
There’s been so many memorable moments. Hurricane Heat 080 in Atlanta was notoriously memorable. The temperature dropped that night into the 40’s. Many people were not dressed for it, plus we all got wet and muddy early on. Everyone was shivering and it was my toughest mental battle to stick with it to the end. We continued for hours doing team challenges and reciting the warrior ethos (which no one will EVER forget). When it finally ended late that night, we were told we are the largest Heat to date, with over 200 people, and only about 5 did not complete it. That is absolutely amazing and inspiring to me considering the conditions and mixture of less-athletic people. We all even stay in touch now on a secret Facebook page.
What's the best training or racing advice you've ever received?
It is from Rocky, of course! I literally recite this to myself when I’m maxed out: “The world ain't all sunshine and rainbows. It's a very mean and nasty place and I don't care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain't about how hard you hit. It's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done! Now if you know what you're worth then go out and get what you're worth. But ya gotta be willing to take the hits, and not pointing fingers saying you ain't where you wanna be because of him, or her, or anybody! Cowards do that and that ain't you! You're better than that!”
What personal challenges has OCR has helped you overcome?
At times, I became too caught up in stressful daily problems and I let things get out of perspective. OCR reset my “obstacle immunity” and taught me to not let problems push me around. I sometimes refer to racing as a lightning rod to ground out the negative energy in my life.
What inspires you?
I am very inspired by the beginner athletes. Both the young ones who don’t know what to expect and just dive in, and the older ones who have let life push them into an unhealthy corner. It makes me happy to see them giving everything they have, meeting a goal they have set to break out of their comfort zones and become something better. I love the stories of success. They see what once looked impossible now seems easy, and it’s time to set the bar higher.
Any race stats you'd like to share? Any goals for this year?
This year’s goals include going to several world championship races, making it on as many podiums as possible, and competing in at least one regional ninja warrior competition.
What's something about you that others might find surprising?
People are usually surprised to learn I did not play sports or run in school. I was quite active on my own, playing in the woods and biking many miles regularly. Although I’ve ran for exercise for 20 years, I didn’t actually get into competitive running until about 2009, and elite OCRs in 2014.
What are your thoughts on the current state and future of OCR?
I love that OCR has become more mainstream in the athletic world, yet each brand still has its own personality and quirks. A couple big brands have failed, which reminds us that it is a business that must make money and be managed properly to continue. I like the vision behind the OCR World Championship, because it brings together the best of all the brands without pledging allegiance to any particular one.
Given the competitive similarities, and growing popularity of Ninja Warrior, I see things like Battlefrog’s league/college short races gaining immense popularity. I already see how much more technical the rigs are at several races. People crave that kind of challenge.
Photos courtesy of Spartan Race
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