More than Mud - Jerry Zalesak

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, it was suggested to me that I should participate in the Warrior Dash and raise money for St. Jude's Children's Hospital. In high school, I raised money for this charity playing tennis, being able to continue helping them in my adulthood sounded great.

Days before the race I had raised $250 for the charity. I went to Facebook and posted to my friends, "If my donations double to $500 I will shave my head!" Four hours later my donations were up to $540+. The night before the race my friend who ran with me assisted in shaving my head.. and filming it. It was like a transformation, a metamorphosis from ordinary human to... something more! An Obstacle Course Racer was born!!


How do you describe what you do to people outside of the OCR community? (and why you do it)

This is a topic that comes up quite often as people question my multiple shirts or patches, "Do you actually do these races? What are they like?". Of course once they are answered most ask, "I could never do that, it sounds difficult. Why do you do it?". To which I respond, "To defeat the very statement you just made. And yes, you can do it."

What's been your most interesting or memorable moment in your OCR career so far?

Singing the National Anthem at the Spartan Hawaii Trifecta weekend!  Link to video here:


What's the best training or racing advice you've ever received?

Don't stop.  


What personal challenges has OCR has helped you overcome?

Before I began participating in OCR I hated running. I don't use the word hate often but I can truly say I HATED running. I was also completed uneducated about how to take care of my body. I struggled thru my first race, and once I finished I vowed two things: 1.) I will be competing in many OCRs. and 2.) I will do what is necessary to perform substantially better in each race. I have since become a Certified Personal Trainer and before the end of they year would like to become a Spartan SGX Coach.  

What inspires you?

I enjoy being the person others are comfortable asking health questions. Let's be honest, one of the most difficult things to talk about with someone else is our own health. This is my forte. I'm told I am quite charismatic; this helps people to talk to me about things they wouldn't tell their significant other. In return I am able to enlighten them with advice, answers, knowledge, tips & tricks, and if I'm lucky the tools they will need to conquer their next health/workout/OCR goal.

Any race stats you'd like to share? Any goals for this year?

I qualified for the OCR World Championship this year during the Spartan Sprint in Hawaii (placed 7th of 225 in my age group 30-34), I have completed my Triple Trifecta with Spartan and will Quad Trifecta by the end of the year (I have the South Carolina Beast and Jacksonville, FL Super left this year),  I just completed my Triple Savage Syndicate, and I also ran a Tough Mudder, BoneFrog, and one of the last BattleFrog Xtreme Races in Philadelphia, PA.


What's something about you that others might find surprising?

I have a titanium rod and four bolts in my left leg. I've had my skull fractured, muscles relocated, and a collapsed lung.


What are your thoughts on the current state and future of OCR?

I love that we have developed an outlet where we can let our animal instincts take over; where we can leave everything at the Starting Line and just enjoy life. As for the future of OCR, I would love to see an Olympic category created so a true world competition can be had!

For free OCR training tips, get this powerful free OCR Guide: Warrior Strong - How Elite Athletes Become Resilient to Injury in Obstacle Course Racing

1 comment

  • Jerry Zalesak

    UPDATE!! I successfully completed my 4x Trifecta last year. This year I have my eyes set on a 7x Trifecta, 4 Hurricane Heats, one 12HR Hurricane Heat, running 2 laps of the PA Savage Race the same day, and the Washington DC Bonefrog Tier 1! AROO! AROO!! AROO!!!

    Follow me on most social media sites (Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter) @JerryTheZ

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