Thursday, July 30, 2015

The People Behind the OCR Events

Having arrived at my next stop after the BattleFrog race in Barre, MA, I know should be writing about that race.  But the more I thought about my experience there and at Andover. NY for the upcoming Tough Mudder, I decided instead to write about some of the people behind the race scenes.

Not that I won't write about the race.  But so many unexpected (and pleasant) things happened since I hit Barre that I felt I wanted to share some of those first.  I believe most people in the OCR community will already be nodding their heads about how tight the relationships can be.  Not just that common bond of racing itself.  Even more, it's about sharing the experience of pushing yourself beyond what you thought were your limits.  Then pushing those limits back again.

Beyond that bond between racers though, there's also an atmosphere surrounding the events that extends to the volunteers, the race staff and even the venue operators.  Having worked for Disney, my recent experience shares that same feeling of everyone just being happy about where they are in that moment (ok....maybe not so happy when you're dying out on the course...but I digress)  What was pleasantly surprising though was how much that seemed to carry off the course as well.

My first big shout-out is to Camp Coldbrook in Barre, MA.  Most of my 'accommodations' on this trip will be camping.  And my expectations for these sites are at the bare minimum...bathrooms and showers hopefully!  But Camp Coldbrook was a gorgeous facility that included internet-wifi...and a pool!  Most importantly though, the staff there was to someone that really just couldn't quite get their s**t together that week.

Having experienced the enthusiasm and cooperation from staff and volunteers at previous races, I expected this race experience to be a good one.  Even these expectations were greatly exceeded in every way though at the BattleFrog event!  Not only were the volunteers and the volunteer staff upbeat and friendly, this extended out to the festival vendors too. 

It's no secret that one of my disappointments (ok....major disappointments) at the Miami BattleFrog race was not getting my post race beer!  Sorry, that's just a given for me.  This race I wasn't really sure what would happen either.  Not only because....well....sometimes s**t just happens, but I was also wearing a "Kid's Race" bib, which surprisingly doesn't have a free beer ticket....go figure!!  To my ever lasting thankfulness...the beer guy did the right thing and I got my much needed celebratory beer.

Shortly afterwards I headed over to the merchandise tent...armed with a copy of a photo which was literally "just something to hand them"...that was supposed to get me my bonus as an Elite Marshall that morning.  Not only was this piece of paper about as official as a note on a napkin, they were busy as hell trying to close up the tent.  I admit, my expectations were NOT high.  Again though...wearing my Kid's Race bib, the merch manager helped find some decent swag in my size...X-dumb I believe.... and took my wet-nap copy in lieu of other financial payment.

The thing about these last two experiences is that however minor they were, either incident would have marred my day, personally.  And the difference was the people.  Both of these individuals were looking to make things work out to the best.  And believe me, with all the little coordination issues that day, to me this made it a memorable experience in the end.

To my amazement, this not only continued on to the next event, the Tough Mudder event in Andover, NY at the Tall Pines ATV Park, it even kicked up a notch.  This venue offered camping on their website, which meant that I would be able to camp on the same property as the race....excellent!!  Only, unbeknownst to me (and apparently unbeknownst to their website) the park itself, as well as the associated camping was closed for the event week.  The word suck came very, very quickly to mind.

Remember though...this is an upbeat and happy post!  So first, I was directed to speak to the Tough Mudder people, as they were in control of any potential camping for the duration.  The guy everyone seemed to point at when I approached a group at the base camp was Colin ( well as correct name...not guaranteed).  He was either with the build or course crews so...believe it or not...he was actually pretty busy....again, go figure!  But Colin took a minute to understand my plight and agreed to check it out and get back to me around lunchtime.  That being fairly important (to me anyway) since I was 'campless' at the moment and was supposed to report in to these same guys the next morning as a build volunteer.  And...surprise-surprise...he did!!  Unfortunately, due to inevitable and understandable insurance requirements, the answer was no...but he did get back to me....

Meanwhile, I had run into Joe, co-owner of the ATV Park (which was not quite as amazing a coincidence as it sounds, since I was physically and mentally parked outside the ATV Park office door).  Now here's a guy with half a million different things on his mind taking the time to tell me "Hey, don't worry, if they can't do it, we'll find you a place right here...we can even put you up at my mom's property just up the road".  To say I was a bit stunned...and amazingly an understatement.  

So in the end, I was just overwhelmed with the people surrounding this OCR 'family' that I have somehow taken up with in this strange life turn.  Different races...different venues...different states...different people...but always the same results.  Never too busy or too big to take time to help out someone...a total stranger in most cases...but a member of the family all the same.  So thank you....campground guy....merch manager....Colin....Joe....and everyone else that's lent a hand so far in my ongoing OCR journey...

Please share your similar experiences within this OCR community of ours!!

No comments:

Post a Comment