Within minutes of arriving on site Monday, after driving 7 hours up from NC, I was already at work. Just lending a hand moving around a few partially built obstacles for finishing and painting. There still seemed quite a lot to do but I figured, hey...we have four more days and that should be plenty of time for a build crew to finish...right? Shortly after this I got some good news, there would be room to put me up on site. This fact would make a huge difference for the rest of the week as we'd be putting in very long days!! I was also a bit surprised when the race founder, Adrian Bijanada, and Mud Run Guide founder Brett Stewart invited me to tag along with many of the staff for dinner that night. We'd never met before and this was just another indication that "I wasn't in Kansas" anymore.
And I was learning more every day about who was who at the OCRWC. A bit of a humbling experience when you follow the sport as closely I do and find out how much there is still to know. A feeling that started at my very first race this summer in Barre. This sport is exploding...the big-bang of OCR...expanding so fast that there are few people that really know what's going on in every aspect. But that's a whole 'nother topic.
So the build continued...inching forward every hour towards completion. Each hour, expanding my knowledge of this new world of OCR. Learning not only about the design and building techniques the European course builders were using, but also about how they handled some of the race day operations. Some very interesting aspects that we could learn from as an industry here about race coverage and fan promotion (this also made me wonder if they had peaked at my posts from a couple of years back on these very same suggestions!)
I also had the unique opportunity to help design asome adjustments for a few of these iconic obstacles, as the construction methods here were so much different. Looking back, I'm glad I didn't know who some of these people were until later. I mean, how do you suggest changes to the da Vinci's of OCR?! In time, the course was coming together through an intricate dance of build crew, fabricators, racers, volunteers and staff...orchestrated somehow by Garfield Griffiths, race director extraordinaire. An effort I was fortunate to witness up close from the fact that we were 'cabin-mates' for that week.
The OCR Warrior event lead to one of the more amusing moments of the week for me though. The event director came over to ask if I could get the obstacle I was working on...Tip of the Spear...ready for the event. At least the front portion. "Sure, when do you need it?" I said. He said, straight faced, "In a few minutes." ......momentary silence...... As I got out my "I'll do my best", I suppose my face had answered more quickly. They rerouted the initial heats. Nothing like the (pleasant) distraction of live OCR races going on right next to you, as you try desperately to finish obstacles on the eve of the Championship.
Another first for me at this event was that I wasn't racing! Although I had qualified, I never registered. And, while at the beginning of the week I'd hoped I might be allowed to race, the anticipated freezing temperatures and nagging injuries said otherwise. After seeing much of the course all week, I realized that in my condition, there just wasn't anyway to make a legitimate attempt. It was a difficult thing to admit that...this course was spectacular and a sort of pilgrimage venue to me. So many iconic Mud, Guts and Glory obstacles that I never expected to see in real life. And so it goes...
Race day I did the next best thing though...after a godsend, Pete Durment of DryWear, allowed me to crash at his room...I went to the race as a spectator. Armed with warm clothes and my trusty camera pack. The OCR World Championship did not disappoint! I witnessed an incredible Olympics worthy event...truly. Inspiring athletes everywhere! Team coaches running along the course for the final distance shouting encouragement. Racers doing the same for each other. Brett Stewart yelling advice to racers on Skull Valley. Everyone in an OCR frenzy cheering on any racer within range. Awesome is a vastly overused word these days. Awesome though, is the only word that can do justice to this day in OCR...this World Championship day.
OCR World Championships website
#OCRUNITED Series Brings Together the Sport of Obstacle Racing
OCR World Championships 2015 - Race Review - ORM/Chris Cow
OCR World Championships - Thank You's Due...in Abundance