More than Mud - Nico Bidin

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 started racing in 2013 with the Ottawa Spartan Sprint. My mom found an ad online and thought it would be a fun family thing to do. We all registered and ran in possibly the worst weather thinkable for an OCR. Everybody else seemed traumatized by the experience but I was hooked. I earned my first Spartan Trifecta in 2014  after dominating the open heats and made the jump to elite racing for the 2015 season and continued to grow in the 2016 season.


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

It would have to be sequence of events to end the 2015 season. It started with completing the Ottawa UltraBeast last Summer. It was a very emotionally draining race, it took me 10:36:25. The distance, the hills and everything between were amped up from any other race I've done. Somewhere along the 2nd lap from repeated impact I ruptured the bursa sac in my left knee. At the time I had no idea because I couldn't tell the difference between general wear and tear and a real injury.

I finished the race, but ended up with a nasty infection from the rupture and unable to run for almost 2 months. Not only did that end my season prematurely, but also hurt my winter job as a hockey referee since there was no way I could skate for the first 2 months of the season. After intravenous antibiotics for 3 weeks and oral antibiotics for another week I was eventually able to walk and start to run again after nothing for most of August and the month of September.

I then made a risky move to compete at OCRWC 2015. Fortunately my knee would hold up and I was able to complete the race. After battling the cold and the intense obstacles I kept my band and finished 25th in the 18-24 division. That race was the greatest experience I have had in OCR and I’m very excited for the 2016 event.


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

The best advice I've received is the "Frame of Reference" mindset. Basically, everyone has an idea of what their physical limits are, but usually these are only “perceived” limits. When we put ourselves into situations that are seemingly impossible, we often find that we are capable of much more than we ever thought.

By making it through these challenges, you set new limits for yourself and therefore change your frame of reference. Each time you reset the bar, everything you previously found to be a hardship will seem more manageable. This idea got me through Ultrabeast training and helped me complete my first ultra-marathon distance training run in preparation for the race.

Also being part of a team this year (shoutout to Capital OCR) helped me push myself. It's amazing what surrounding yourself with great racers and people can do for motivation.


What inspires you?

This season my mother was a huge inspiration. She got me into OCR years ago and after our first race she was the only one who not only supported me in my goals to race at an elite level but also continue to run them. The past two years we would run a Sprint lap together in the afternoon after I had completed my elite race. Its always a good mix of walking and burpees but it was something we did together. Growing up my dad always coached my hockey and lacrosse so we had that, but now in my twenties, my mom and I have OCR.

This year she decided she wanted to have her trifecta before her 50th birthday. She also said she would pay for my Spartan season pass if I did it with her (so the poor university student in me jumped on that offer) without knowing what an experience it would be for the both of us. We started off early spring spending more time together training at OCR Academy getting her more comfortable with obstacles and got her cardio in shape for a Beast.

Then the race season started. We fought through the heat at the Ottawa sprint, overcame the mud at the Toronto Super and survived the Owls head Beast. 9.5 hours and 21+km after starting the race we approached the festival area and last few obstacles.

While my mom was doing her 30 burpees at the rig I told her I wanted to finish the last 2 obstacles hard and I quickly sprinted the last 200m over the fire and flipping over the A-frame to get my medal, but more importantly take one for her. I took a medal from the volunteer at the finish line I was able to place the finishers medal on my mom’s neck welcoming her to the trifecta tribe just short of a month before her 50th birthday.


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

  • 2016 Ottawa Badass Dash- 3rd place
  • 2016 Ottawa Polar Hero- 4th Place
  • 2016 Spartan Season Elite- 4x top 25, 2x top 20, 1 top 15 finish

And an open heat trifecta completed with my 50 year old mother. I hope to improve on last year’s 25th place run at OCRWC, and of course keep my band in the process, I’d like to at least crack the top 20 this year


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

When I'm not doing OCR things I have a part time job as a hockey referee. I've been refereeing for 7 years, and I have moved up the ranks to officiate Junior A in the Eastern Ontario area and have worked 2 AAA provincial championship tournaments. This past season I started working for the referee association in a teaching role focusing on the development of new and youth referees, and I was in charge of all the hiring of first year officials (often 14-16 years old)

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

I really like fact that there are a variety of difficulties and race series’ choose from, it allows newer athletes to test the waters without being thrown into the deep end almost immediately. With that I would like to see more standardization with races.

Advertising a 5km race and making it 7.5km isn't going to deter me from registering, but when I try to sell a race to a friend and they do a quick google search and all the comments say “it was way more than 5km” it really doesn't do anybody any good. Some race series are calling their race 7km or whatever and I think that is the way to do it.

Since I was doing a few open heats this year it also opened my eyes to rampant cheating in ocr. Sure one school of thought it that they paid so they can do whatever but when I see people skipping obstacles, not doing their burpees or helping someone in a dangerous way it just makes me cringe. If you register for a marathon everyone runs 42.2km… there's no open heat option of 42.0km OCR should be the same.

In terms of the future, I think a lot of standardization of obstacles and rules need to happen before this sport becomes an olympic sport. There's a lot of interesting characters in the OCR industry and I think they need to put aside their individual “my race is better/harder/more fun than your race ideology and really develop a sport. I fear that if something like a governing body doesn’t become a reality OCR will become just another fitness fad.

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