More than Mud - Justin Escaravage August 18 2016
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 into OCR racing because of a friend. Back in 2012 my friend showed me a video about Spartan Race. I was instantly hooked just from that one video. It defined exactly who I am and what I love to do. I was an active person growing up, competing in many sports and I was a Collegiate Track and Field Athlete (Decathlon/ Pole Vault/ Javelin). Seeing the nature of what a successful OCR athlete needs to be, I knew this was a perfect fit for me once my collegiate career ended. Just like a decathlon, you need to be a well rounded athlete. With a combination of endurance, speed, strength, grit coordination, etc., I knew that OCR was perfect for me. Everything I love to do all thrown into one race and who does love getting an excuse to crawl around in the mud without being judged.
It wasn't until Fall of 2013 where I ran my first OCR race (Vermont Spartan Beast) due to finishing up my final year of college and Track and Field. Going into the Vermont race, I drastically underestimated this race entirely. Going into I thought it would just be a fun race with obstacle and it would be that challenging for someone with my background. I was completely wrong!!! 3 miles into the race, I realized how wrong I was and how much this race was going to kick my butt.
After the dreading sandbag carry, my body was wiped out and I still had 11 more miles to go. Towards the end of the race I was slowly chugging along and pushing my body past its limit, but I kept fighting and evidently finished. I will admit, I was miserable a majority of that race. With the cold, icy swim, steep hills, cramps, and being completely exhausted, somehow I loved every second of it. Challenges like these really drive me. I love putting up a fight and seeing how far I can push my body. It was that day, when I crossed the finish line, that I knew this was something that I would love doing for a while.
What's been your most interesting or memorable moment in your OCR career so far?
The most memorable moment for me in OCR would be my races in 2015 at the Tri-State NY Sprint. This venue was having the races run on 2 separate weekends back to back. So my plan was to run a race on each weekend. This was my first elite race of the year. On the first weekend I had the best finish I have ever had in a Spartan race ever. I finished 13th place overall.
My goal for this race was to earn my coin and qualify for the Spartan World Championships. To earn the coin you have to finish top 5 in a race or finish top 5 in a race that hasn't earned a coin yet. For this particular race, you needed to finish at least 12th to earn the coin. I missed it by 1 spot!!! I was very discouraged that I just missed getting the coin. Especially when the 12th place finisher was only seconds ahead of me.
So the week following that lead up to the next weekends race, I was determined to earn that coin. At the second weekends race, I fought to race even harder than the week before and ended up finishing 5 minutes faster than the week before! I was the 12th finisher in the race this time. After figuring out how many racers already earned their coin that finished ahead of me, I EARNED MY COIN!!! I qualified for the Spartan Race World Championships! This was the most memorable moment so far for me in OCR because it was a huge emotional roller coaster for me. Going from being disappointed for missing the coin by seconds, to actually earning it the week after! I never gave up after the first week and I was determined to get the next.
What inspires you?
The thing that inspires me the most is proving people who didn't believe in me wrong. Hearing my story as I transition into OCR may seem boring to most people. But what people don't know is what I have done and went through to be where I am today. Growing up I was never the biggest, never the fastest, never the strongest. I was a tiny little kid who looked like he was whittling away to nothing.
People, players, and coaches would take one look at me and assume I was no good and that I couldn't handle it. So I was constantly overlooked. I was never given a fair chance to show what I can really do. I wasn't my physical appearance, it wasn't my overall talent, but it was my drive, my heart, my work ethic, and my will to be successful.
So throughout my entire life, I had to work twice as hard, sacrifice twice as much as everyone else. Still, after all the hard work, all the dedication, all the sacrifices, and proving myself that I am good enough, I was still underestimated. Through all of that, I still fought to be successful and eventually I did.
The main thing that drives me is to never give up, always fight for what you love and what you love to do. Although it was difficult to cope with the people that underestimated me, turned me down, told me I was no good, teased me, and belittled me, I thank them for who I am today.
If it wasn't for them I would not have the fight, the drive, and the passion to never give up. If it wasn't for them I would not be as courageous to fight for my dreams, goals, aspirations, and desires. Some people would crumble under the scrutiny and doubt. For me, it builds me up, make me stronger, and drives me to prove them wrong.
Even with all the doubters, I will admit I did have my share of supporters as well. I did gain some inspiration from my supporters as well. Without the love and support from them, I wouldn't have that extra boost to keep pushing forward. They helped drive me too when I was feeling low. The feeling of not letting them down help me be successful as well
Any race stats you'd like to share? Any goals for this year?
College Track and Field
- 2 Time New England Champion (Decathlon)
- Conference Champion (Pole Vault)
- Division 2 National Qualifier- (Heptathlon)
Spartan Race 2015
- 12th and 13th Place finish- Tri-state NY Sprint (Coin qualifier)
- 4 Top 20 Finishes
- 88th ranked Male Elite in the U.S.
Goals for this year
- Finish top 10
- Get on the Podium (Top 3)
- Win a Race
- Rank in the top 50 for male elites in the U.S.
- Place top 50 at the World Championships
What are your thoughts on the current state and future of OCR?
My thoughts on the current state and future of OCR is very positive. This sport is really booming and making a big splash in the world. It has been a huge growing sport in the past few years and is only getting bigger. OCR is the next big sport and I feel like it will become as big as some of the major sports in the world soon. OCR is doing a great job constantly evolving and trying to make it better and better each year. They are always coming out with new obstacles and challenges. OCR tests you as a complete human by pushing your mind, body, and spirit to its limit. It is set for a big future and I believe it will have a huge success in years to come!
Photos courtesy of Spartan Race
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