Strength & Speed


"If you want something you never had, you have to be willing to do something you have never done."

S&S Articles

The Athlete's Mind: If am not an athlete, then what?

Posted by Strength & Speed on May 15, 2021 at 4:45 PM

I think we can all agree that 2020 was a weird year. With limited racing going on, it left many athletes in limbo. This was a small taste of what others have felt over the last couple of years when things like injury or decreasing performance has led them to question their desire to be an athlete. If you’ve been racing and competing your whole life and you can’t anymore? Now what?


 

Create Other Pillars of Strength

Just like investing money you should be diversifying your life. While it is okay to have one of your main pillars be athletics, if you don’t have other pillars you are setting yourself up for failure. Using myself as an example, I have family (my wife, children, extended family), my church (Orthodox) and my job (Army) as the other three big pillars.


 

Theses pillars of strength create resiliency because when one falls apart for whatever reason, you always have something else to fall back on. You’ll also find that building strength especially in topics like family and church can often further strengthen the other pillars like athletics.

 

Since you are reading this, I’ll assume athletics is a large part of your life, as it is mine. Bottom line though it is just part of your life and not your whole life. If you want to achieve peak performance in fitness you’ll have to prioritize it near the top but it shouldn’t be the only thing you have going for you. As you can see from the last year, sometimes your decision to leave a sport (hopefully temporarily in 2020) is not 100% in your control.


 

The Athlete's Mind: You Are Only as Good as Your Last Race

Posted by Strength & Speed on May 1, 2021 at 4:45 PM

Your last race didn’t quite go as planned and you fell short of your goal. Whether it was a DNF (Did Not Finish) or just falling short of your desired placement, you’re just not happy with how things went. With a rise in social media and races occurring almost every weekend, it sometimes feels like “you’re only as good as your last race.” Is there truth to this statement or is it complete garbage perpetuated by the athlete that’s on the top of the finisher’s list from this past weekend’s race? Let’s explore the concept a little further.


 

All wins, one bad: To analyze the statement let’s examine the extreme ends of the spectrum first and figure out if they are helpful or not. If you’ve been crushing your goals (whether that’s podium, AG podium, keeping your band or simply making it across the finish line) and you have one bad race, obviously the “good as your last race” statement isn’t true. You can probably chalk the last race up to one bad day. It happens to everyone and you can’t control who shows up on race day but you can control how you perform.


 

Long streak of bad: What if you were crushing your goals two years ago and seem to fall short of your goals at every race for the last two years. Well then, maybe you’re doing something wrong. Perhaps you need to train more consistently, adjust your training to avoid injury or taper more for your event. In this example, there is some truth to the statement. Perhaps you were never that good and are overestimating your ability.

 

Overall, the statement “you’re only as good as you’re last race” holds little water. However, there is a happy medium. If you’ve bombed the last 10 races, maybe it is time to re-evaluate your training, goals and preparation. You’re not only as good as your last race but your last race is a “brick” in the “house” of your athletic performance.


At the end of the day, consistency and time matter in performance as an athlete. The goal of this article is to take an honest look at yourself. If we don’t look at ourselves honestly, we can’t identify weaknesses or problems and then adjust or training to fix them. So you aren’t “only as good as your last race” but your last race is part of who you are as an athlete. Be honest with yourself, evaluate, adjust and overcome.

 

The Athlete's Mind

Posted by Strength & Speed on April 15, 2021 at 4:40 PM

As I run out of things to say about the physical side of preparing, competing and performing, I have started actually using my undergraduate psychology degree from Johns Hopkins combined with some critical thinking to deep dive into the mind of athletes.


 

This deep dive will eventually culminate with my book, coming out in 2021 called “On Endurance: A Practical Guide to Unlocking the Secrets of Super Human Performance”. The book focuses on the mental side of endurance training and performance. Thus instead of being an Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) specific book it can be used by anyone competing in any endurance sports like running, cycling, triathlon or even sports we wouldn’t necessarily consider endurance. Endurance is largely self-identified based off pervious life experiences and future goals. For example, a two minute max effort strongman event might be what you consider endurance as a strength athlete, and this book will help you mentally prepare for that.


 

An unintended side effect of this contemplationon the mental side of endurance training is I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be an athlete. Some of that material doesn’t necessarily make the final cut of the book due to it not fitting well with the overall logical line of thought, so you get some articles on what is going on inside the athlete’s mind.


 

Check back here over the next couple of weeks to explore the mind of athletes with the first two articles “You’re Only as Good as Your Last Race” and “If I’m not an athlete, then what?”

 

Planning your training calendar

Posted by Strength & Speed on April 11, 2021 at 9:25 AM

 

 

Going out for a run, maybe do a pull-up or two, possibly flip a tire, then go run again. Sounds like a general approach to training for an OCR, right? But what if I told you there is a better way, a way to specifically target your training for your race? Well this article is the ticket to give you those tools, so read on and thank me later.


Factors to consider

There are a number of factors to consider when training for your next race, distance is a big one and the major requirements/physical demands of the event should be accounted for. For instance, if you are going to run a Spartan Stadion working on speed while being able to recover from a near max heart rate quickly will be beneficial. If your next event is Conquer the Gauntlet, grip strength should be a more of a priority due to the mandatory obstacle completion; running speed is still important but if you can’t finish the rig your speed doesn’t matter.

What about a more general approach? What if you just want to be ready to compete at any race but not specialize in one brand? Then a more balanced approach to training is needed, working on a broad range of OCR skills will be required, but at the cost of specializing in a specific set of skills.


Training Phases

Off-season

How to train and when is a big factor in getting ready for your next race. I advocate for a periodized training program that has you focus on different outcomes at different parts of the year. In the off-season, roughly 12-16 weeks out from your first race, you may want to focus on strength. No, I don’t mean getting up to a 3 times bodyweight squat (although that would be impressive). We do want to get stronger though. First and foremost, strong things don’t break; while yes, it is a cliché there is an element of truth to it. When we lift weights not just our muscle gets stronger, our bones and connective tissue get stronger as well. This in turn acts as an internal insurance policy that lets your body protect itself when you accidentally put it in bad positions. If you are generally stronger everything gets easier, and you can put more force into the ground with each step which means you run faster. The off season is also a great time to work on your base level of cardio. Using this time to lift heavy and run slow will give you a great platform to build the rest of your training from.



Pre-Season

As you get closer to the race, what we will call pre-season, approximately 8-12 weeks out, your running volume should increase. But we also want to start working on running faster. That doesn’t mean you just try to get your long run done sooner. Instead this is where you may want to put interval work into your program. 200m, 400m, 800m or any other distance you want to try if you are going all out and giving yourself time to nearly fully recover before you run again. If you have heard of “repeats” they are similar, but different from true intervals. For a true repeat we are still running fast and resting for a set time however, on a repeat your run may not be 100% effort. Instead set a goal time or pace and maintain that pace for the prescribe sets, your rest period may be a bit shorter because your focus isn’t on all out speed. Instead your focus should be on being able to keep a pace while not fully recovered.


 

In Season

During the racing season maintenance is the key, your race schedule should also dictate your training schedule. If you have a couple months between races, then you can probably train a little harder between races. If you race every week or two then it will be hard to gain any ground because you will need to recover from your first race, train for a day or two, then rest for the next race, and boom it’s race day. This makes performing at your peak very difficult for each event. Keep in mind depending on where you live the race season can last anywhere from six to nine months, or even longer in some areas. That is a long season where a lot can happen, mitigating the risk of overtraining is important. You can help yourself out by setting certain races as more important than others. That way you can set your training schedule to peak for those events, and train through other less important races.



Post Season

After that championship race there is still a whole section of training to not forget about, even if there isn’t much true “training” to be done. I like for this block of training to last 4-6 weeks after my last event. I treat post season as an opportunity to recover, we have been training and racing for over half of the year. Physically, neurologically, and hormonally our bodies need a break. We can’t perform at 100% everyday of the year, we need to recover and let our bodies get back to something that resembles normal so that we can start building again. My recommendation is a solid week of rest maybe even two weeks after your last race, I know you will be bored, but your body will thank you. After the week of rest a simple program with low volume weight training and lower running distances for another 4-6 weeks will be beneficial until you get back to off-season and can start to really get serious again for next season.



What it all means

While this article doesn’t give you specific set and rep schemes, it does give you a direction to go in when you do decide to plan out your training calendar. Do some research on the best ways to reach your individual goals, find a trainer who specializes in OCR, find and join OCR groups on social media in your area, etc.

Good luck as you move into what we are all hoping is a more open OCR season, and I wish you all the best in reaching your goals for the season.

 

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Jared is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with a master�??s degree in exercise science. Jared ran his first OCR in 2014 and was able to compete at OCRWC in 2016 finishing top 50 in the world in the short course event for his age group. Jared is the owner of JRenFitness which offers personalized online training for Elite OCR athletes and general population clientele.

Three Reasons to Care About Placement With No Prize Money

Posted by Strength & Speed on March 23, 2021 at 4:35 PM

 

“Who care’s there’s no prize money” I’ve heard this statement by people crossing the finish line after inappropriately keeping their bands as they failed an obstacle or cutting parts of the course. Similarly, I’ve also heard people say things like “just worry about your own race” and not what others are doing. Let’s take a look at why you might want to rethink that logic and why athletes are


 

1. Personal Accomplishment: Let’s be real. Most of us don’t races as a primary source of income. For even most of the athletes that win any prize money in a year, when you add in all other expenses (travel, hotel, training costs, etc.) the prize money is merely cost offset or reduction rather than pure profit. So why do we race? The answer is simple, personal accomplishment. The feeling of crossing the finish line in a given place or given time makes us feel good. If someone cheats, they are stealing a placement away from someone’s personal accomplishment or satisfaction.


 

2. 2nd / 3rd Order Sponsorship Perks: Brands like seeing their product and athlete on a podium. Last year I started adding up the amount of perks I’ve received from sponsors since getting involved in Obstacle Course Racing (OCR). The amount was staggering and would require me to have another full time job for a year to pay for all those items. So when people say there “who cares there is no money” I would argue that as an athlete, the material goods I’ve received are often as good as or better than money.


 

3. Qualification or Point Series: Sometimes it is not about that race but a bigger goal. Athletes race year round trying to qualify for OCR World Championships and that is a big goal to shoot for. While it may be easy for some for others earlier in their fitness journey’s it is at the far edge of their capability. Bottom line is someone who has an attitude of “who cares there is no money” may be stealing a spot from someone who has their sights set on something bigger. The same goes with point series where athletes race at a series of events like Spartan’s Honor Series, Stadion Series, Mountain Series or National Series trying to accumulate points. Again if the series they are competing for has no prize money or they are placing out of the prize money I refer you to points one and two of this article.


 

The bottom line is just because there is no prize money races can still have a high value to the participant. My top four favorite OCR prizes are not my top four biggest prizes cash/product. One of them, my 2nd place Pro Coed medal at 2018’s North American OCR Championships medal I received nothing for besides the medal, but that medal is invaluable to me.

Next time you think, “who cares, there is no prize money”, think again because racing is a lot deeper than that and can have 2nd/3rd order significant consequences for those participating.

 

What makes a race?

Posted by Strength & Speed on December 22, 2020 at 9:15 AM

2020 has been a weird year for racing. While there was some live events put on by brands like Savage Race, Conquer The Gauntlet, KC Timber Challenge and even a couple of Spartan Races, much of the sport was put on hold. Many options for racing came in the form of local events for me personally. As a competitive athlete who uses race results to gain perks from sponsors and uses my results to help promote my books, it got me thinking, “What defines a race and which of these non-standard events should I count in my results tally when talking to sponsors?”


As I compiled my stats for the year, do I count “virtual races” in my results? What about races with no entry fee? Do I only count it as a race if certain level of competition shows up? What about FKT (Fastest Known Times) or Strava segments? What about the charity event I did OCR America 2: When Hell Freezes Over where my pit crew and I were the only ones that participated at some level all 8 days?


 

Here’s my attempt to define what makes an “official race”:

1. INTENT: The race organizers declare it as a race and athletes show up to the same starting location at around the same date/time with the intent to do their best/win.

 

AND

 

2. RECOGNITION: Athletes either pay for entry, receive prize money, receive prizes OR have some sort of recognition (i.e. results online, announcement at race, podium ceremony)

 

AND

 

3. COMPETITION: It is open to the general public, requires qualification OR invite only where competitive athletes are invited.


 

Clearly there is a lot of subjectivity here, but here are my thoughts on each and where some of these non-standard events fall:

INTENT: The race organizers declare it as a race and athletes show up to the same starting location at around the same date/time with the intent to do their best/win: First off the race organizers need to declare it as a race, so I don’t count events like KC Timber Challenge’s Yeti and Family Timber Challenge which the race organizers specifically say aren’t races but personal challenges even if people show up with the intent to be the first one across the line.


The same starting location is a specifically a reference to virtual races. While a Virtual Race can be very competitive (or more competitive than live events) if the right people sign up, I list them separately from my live races. I think Virtual Races are their own category of events. The same goes with Strava segments or FKTs, which I would list as two separate accomplishments in my bio/resume. Both may be more difficult than a live race but they are run at different times/dates from other athletes in different conditions.


 

RECOGNITION: Athletes either pay for entry, receive prize money, receive prizes OR have some sort of recognition (i.e. results online, announcement at race, podium ceremony): I ran a KCOCR event earlier this year that was completely free but with a small field. Somewhat interesting the small field proved competitive and my 3rd place finish was my only non-win race (out of five races) result of 2020. Furthermore, the prize for reaching the podium was a pass to a local climbing gym (ROKC Olathe), valued at $155. That’s a better prize than many races with entry fees like Tough Mudder or Rugged Maniac.


Is it only a race if there is prize money? I don’t think so, if that was the case World’s Toughest Mudder 2019 wasn’t a race since it had $0 in prize money. However, there does need to be some sort of recognition for the winners whether that be physical prizes, cash prizes, public announcement, podium ceremony or results posted online via website/social media. If you are competitive athlete looking for sponsorship you may want to break down your results even further by stating things like X podium finishes with cash prizes or Y wins where the prize money was in the four digits. More refinement can help express your value to sponsors in a more clear way that makes you stand out from other athletes.


 

COMPETITION: It is open to the general public, requires qualification OR invite only where competitive athletes are invited: If we say they are only “official races” if it is open to the general public then things like the “Spartan Games” recently held by Joe DeSena aren’t “official” races or events. That also means events like “Barkely’s Marathons” wouldn’t be official events since the entry process is convoluted and requires being “in the know”. However, I would consider both the Spartan Games and Barkely’s as official races/events that if I were a competitor in those I would list as part of my race results.


You can get around this open to all by “requiring qualification” like events like the Boston Marathon or OCR World Championships, both are definitely official races. Finally, if neither is an option the invite needs to go out to a large enough or highly qualified enough field (which is open to a large amount of interpretation). Not all the competition needs to show up, but the invite should be put out allowing them to come if they desired and if their schedule is open. For example, not every athlete shows up to every major race each year. Some of them pick and choose where they are going to peak/perform.


 

Who cares if it’s an “official” race?

This also begs the question, why should I…or really anyone care? I can’t answer for everyone but for me personally it’s about being transparent and honest with current or future sponsors and other opportunities. I don’t want to say I’ve won five races last year if they were “races” of me challenging random people on the street to Obstacle Course Races (OCRs) that no one else was invited to. For me personally, I’ve received more benefits in stuff and prizes than in actual cumulative dollars in cash (look for my next article “Should I Care About Placement If There is No Prize?”


If I’m applying for a competitive TV show like Eco-Challenge or American Ninja Warrior I don’t want to claim something that isn’t genuine. Perhaps my time in the military influenced me where I feel there needs to be standards for things, like this example of “combat deployment”.


Deployments are labeled combat or not regardless of what my personal experience would state. For example, while deployed to Kuwait tasked with training the Kuwaiti military I was receiving combat entitlements, drove a civilian car through the city and lived in apartment in downtown. Yet, technically according to me records this is a “combat” deployment despite it looking nothing like what I would actually consider combat or experienced in Iraq. It doesn’t meet Evan’s standard of combat but officially according to my records those two months are listed as “combat”.

 

My OCR America events aren’t races but challenges based off the above definition. Mostly because I didn’t declare them as a race and while I invited others to pace me the invitation wasn’t really out for people to run every single mile of the event with me (assuming someone would want to do that).


That’s a quick summary of the conclusion I came to. It helped me identify what I would list as official results in my bio for 2020, a very weird year for racing. If this isn’t a good enough solution, I think it is a pretty good starting point to help identify races and keep things transparent. Feel free to drop some comments below or in the Facebook post.

No Substitutions

Posted by Strength & Speed on September 15, 2020 at 10:20 PM

There is no substitution for hard work. This phrase has been repeated so many times in history, I’m not sure anyone knows who said it first. Despite the overuse, it still is a phrase that I don’t always grasp. I like to find the fastest and easiest way to get something done. There’s no sense in wasting energy. This will sometimes get me into trouble, like it did the other week when I decided to run my first alternative marathon, with absolutely no training

 

If you aren’t familiar with the idea of an alternative marathon, it’s simply 26.2 miles completed in a unique fashion. In this case, the idea was to run a single mile every hour, for 24 hours (doubling up in two hours and adding a little for the 0.2 miles). For extra spice and an upper body workout, I added in ten pushups for every mile. Ideally, the mile and ten pushups would take roughly fifteen minutes, leaving me around forty five minutes to do chores and little tasks. That way, at the end of 24 hours, I would not only have done a marathon, but a dozen little tasks as well.

 

Marathons have always been a daunting idea, because I don’t like running. Before this event, I had never run more than three miles at once, and the most I had done in a day was thirteen miles. So the idea of just running 26.2 miles has never been appealing. But I like doing hard things and when I saw this crazy Australian, Beau Miles, doing a 24 hour alternative marathon, it caught my interest.


My big mistake came from not training or preparing at all. There was no running plan, no fueling strategy, nothing. But I was so confident I was going to breeze through this event. It was only a mile an hour, after all. I thought I could just trade practice for more time. Looking back, my confidence was more arrogant than anything, and I was about to be put in my place.

 

Sure enough, once the event started, it didn’t take long for things to start going down hill. It started with heat exhaustion and dehydration around mile five. This forced me to abandon the idea of doing chores in between each round and focus solely on recovery. After recovering a little, a blister started on my foot after mile six. Nothing duct tape couldn’t fix, but the wheels were falling off and I wasn’t even a third of the way done.

 

I managed to run a total of 10.2 miles on schedule. Then the night hit, and my ability to move was limited to a walk. At mile thirteen, the chafing set it. No amount of youtube videos could prepare me for that agony. After that, my walk turned into a waddle. I managed to get a total of 20.2 miles before I had to throw in the towel and admit to myself that I was not going to win.

 

Despite the failure, I’m still happy and proud with the attempt. I think I learned more in those eighteen hours than I have in years. I finally have an understanding for what no substitutions really means, and how to apply in the future. I also have a better understanding of my current limits. Now I can make a game plan to push past them. At the end of the day, I encourage everyone to do something crazy like an alternative marathon. You learn a lot about yourself and really do gain an appreciation for the work and effort that goes into becoming a better version of yourself.

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Michael Giles is an engineer by day and an OCR weekend warrior. He has completed nine obstacle course races, including Conquer the Gauntlet, and the Spartan Trifecta. In the evenings, he trains at his local Crossfit gym, and enjoys rock climbing. In addition, he occasionally creates his own unique challenges to test himself.

 

OOFOS Ultra-Endurance's New Best Friend

Posted by Strength & Speed on November 12, 2018 at 5:45 PM


The world of ultra-endurance is growing with people wanted more than a marathon (26.2 miles) or more than a century (100 mile) bike ride. My sport is Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) and is no exception. Since 2011, athletes have been tackling events like the 24 hour long World’s Toughest Mudder and as of 2017 the CBS Televised 8 hour Toughest Mudder Series. The events require going over (usually) a 5 mile strength of land with around 20 obstacles. Some involve crawling, some hanging from your hands, others strength to carry or climb over a wall and sometimes they test your fears with things like a 40 ft. cliff jump.

I’ve been competing in endurance sports since 2003 with my first marathon followed in 2004 by my first (unofficial) ultra-marathon (a 40 mile unsupported run from Baltimore to Washington D.C.) and my first iron distance triathlon (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run). However, I didn’t find my true sport until 2014 when I raced my first Ultra-OCR, the 24 hour long World’s Toughest Mudder.


The distances covered in Ultra-OCR are a little lower than of a regular running course of the same length. The uneven terrain, the obstacles, the water crossings and often the extreme conditions requiring athletes to put on a wetsuit to prevent hypothermia slow your pace. However, I would argue the stress on the body can be greater. You are not just taxing your legs but your arms, your back muscles, your grip strength and putting your body through some terrible conditions including ice baths, swim crossings and adrenaline inducing cliff jumps. In 2014, after World’s Toughest Mudder, an especially windy and cold year, I had trouble controlling my body temperature for three days afterwards.

I go to the race every year and every year the hardest part is not the terrible conditions, sleep deprivation or exhaustion, it is the walk back to the car when my feet hurt more than anything. The course designers can do whatever they want to me, but when they make me walk a half mile back to the parking lot they break my spirit every year. This year is different though because I got my first pair of OOFOS.


OOFOS recovery sandals (and now shoes) are the best post-event purchase you can make. OOFOS feel good any day of the week and they feel better after a long training day/week. However, nothing can compare to putting on OOFOS after an ultra-endurance event. The shoes literally make me change my stride from “I can barely walk” to “I’m walking almost normal”. I’ve tested a lot of products from the fitness industry and there are few where you can feel the effect immediately, OOFOS is one of these products.

I’m skeptical of all new products and I was skeptical of OOFOS too. The first time I tried them on I’ll admit I did the stereotypical “ooo” that gives OOFOS its name. They are comfortable, there is absolutely no doubt there. However, the first time I put them on after one of my endurance events, it was life changing. They are now part of my race essential kit as much as my running shoes that I use on race day.


If you don’t own a pair of OOFOS, you need to order some today. Not even my post-cheat meal feels as good as OOFOS after a long event. The best part is you don’t have to run insane distances to get this feeling. It is available to anyone that pushes their body and wants to recover faster, whether that be 10k, 10 miles, 100 miles or just someone that spends a lot of time on their feet. Do yourself a favor and stop living in the past. OOFOS are the future of post-endurance recovery and that future is now.



 

How To Do Running Challenges

Posted by Strength & Speed on May 12, 2018 at 11:05 AM

      Chances are if you are reading this you are part of some fitness focused Facebook group that likes to do monthly challenges. Events like see who can run the most miles in a month or do a certain type of daily exercises every day for a month provide a goal for fitness enthusiasts. Although I think a larger periodized training plan will bring you better results (reference previous article 30 Day Challenges Bring 30 Day Results), I also understand that many people are simply looking to stay active and enjoy these monthly challenges as goals. If you fall into the latter, then I do think 30 day challenges might be a good option for you.

      However, I think there is a better way to do these 30 day challenges than simply who logs the most miles in a month. If you are part of these groups or helping run these challenges I advise switching it to a 21 day challenge instead. This allows athletes to push hard and build fitness for three weeks and then allows for a down/deload/recovery week before starting the next month’s challenge.

      Three weeks of building and one week of recovery will lead to better fitness in the long run and will help avoid overuse injuries as overzealous athletes try to reach the top of the leaderboard every month. Back to back 30 day challenges means the people in the group are never taking recovery weeks. These recovery weeks help consolidate fitness improvement, allow for minor injuries to heal and provide a much needed mental break. If you see no other reason to shorten the challenge, consider how closely your body’s ability to perform is tied to your mental strength. A down week will allow you to attack the beginning of the next challenge with renewed vigor and enthusiasm.

      Be sure you challenge yourself to create growth, but let’s do it in a manner that incorporates required recovery to maximize our fitness improvement. Train hard, stay consistent, take a recovery week each month and enjoy the journey!

 

How to Judge a Race

Posted by Strength & Speed on March 28, 2018 at 7:35 AM

As someone who has never setup, produced or run a large-scale race, it is easy to show up to an event and harshly judge the way things are done. Complaining about long lines or less than knowledgeable volunteers is easy when you are not the one that has to organize everything. Therefore, when I judge a race I try to use some common sense mixed with my opinion on how they handle problems.


In 2014, I had a history of bad luck with timing chips. At Warrior Dash World Championship my chip broke so I was listed as “Unnamed Participant” on the official site. At Obstacle Course Racing World Championship I lost my chip and bib number somewhere on the course. At World’s Toughest Mudder my timing chip started registering my laps as over 3 hours despite their actual time being about half that. Luckily, it still correctly counted my laps. At The Battlegrounds I had another chip error and my finishing time was an hour slower than it should have been. This resulted in my placing going from 3rd to around 260th.


With that being my first year of OCR, I could have easily lost hope in the quality of OCR events. It would have been easy to whine and complain about all these events, instead I look at how each of them handled the problem. In all cases, after a quick email or talk to the race director they corrected the error without any drama. At The Battlegrounds they even went above and beyond sending me a gift certificate to the winery located on site. It is actions like that, which help me judge an event.


I expect everything to run relatively smoothly and as long as there are no major problems, I realize the race organizers are doing their job the best they can. When you are trying to get volunteers to stand in the sun all day, you do not get to choose who shows up. It is really anyone that is kind enough to donate his or her time. Frankly, I am just thankful volunteers come to races that enable me to race hard and then go home to spend time with my family.


Next time you think about writing a scathing review of a race, take a moment to really think through what they did wrong. If it was something that happened to you personally (broken timing chip, misunderstanding on the course, volunteer providing poor instructions, etc.), did you tell the race director or someone of authority? If you did and he told you “sucks for you”, then by all means give an honest assessment online. However, if he did what he could within reason to fix your problem, than to me that shows better treatment of athletes than a smoothly run event.