OCR World Championships – October 17 & 18, 2015
By Walter F Hendrick (OCRSandy)
Since participating in last year’s inaugural OCR World Championships, and the early addition of Garfield as the race director, I have been looking forward to this year’s race and counted the days, months, and races until it was finally race weekend.
Just like last year, but on a much larger level, the excitement at the venue both Friday night and on both race days was amazing and way more than what I have typically seen at other big OCR races.
- Registration and Festival:
Packet pick up was available and actually suggested on Friday and a great deal of athletes that were in town took advantage of the opportunity, which allowed for no long lines during race weekend.
Garfield designed the course with a lot of the harder and cooler obstacles, just next to the spectator area, which only helped create an amazing festival area with amazing energy both days. It was pretty cold both days and although most racers wrapped themselves in Mylar Thermal Blankets to stay warm, no one appeared to leave early and good times were had all day both days.
- Pre-race MC:
I could easily be called the president of the Coachpain Dewayne fan club and have never hidden the fact I think he is one of the best MC’s in the business and he yet again didn’t let me or I think it’s safe to say anyone down. He was awesome all day for every wave and it was easy to see the motivational effects he was having on both racers and spectators.
- The Course:
The course started out with a bang (literally as they started each wave by firing off a small cannon) and right away exited the festival area and went into the woods. The first obstacle on the course was “Platform Hills” and then a short distance later was “Jack’s Link Walls”, we then turned and headed down the one the main hill and up next was the venues permanent monkey bars. Just after the bars, was a short black drainage pipe to crawl through and a short distance ahead was a “Wrek Bag Carry” that made its way up a short portion of hills and then back down and included some mid-level bridges to go under. Just past the Wrek Bag carry was Savage Race’s Pipe Dreams obstacle and from what some of the pro/elites told me the pipe was frozen cold for the elite wave and racers felt like their palms/fingers stuck to the metal and by the other side of the shimmy most had numb palms.
At this point, the course continued for one of the longest sprints of the course and even crossed a shallow stream (other racers called it a river). What I found interesting was the different methods used at the stream section, some of us went right into it and cut across saving distance and dealing with very technical terrain, but sacrificing getting colder, while others hugged the shoreline and crossed in what I thought was a much harder terrain (at least for me). After crossing the stream the course continued on and eventually came to a high cargo net climb, and then it came time to cross a very short section of stream again. The volunteer was awesome and made sure to point out the safest part of the water to cross in. Just on the other side was the obstacle was the next obstacle “Log Clamber” and then came another decent distance sprint that eventually made its way back near the festival area and it was time to climb up and then back down the obstacle “Castle”, which is a very high obstacle I could understand why some racers may be intimidated by it. Now back near the festival area, it was time for the “Destroyer”, which was highly modified since the last time I attempted it just two weekends ago and I was happy with the modifications as I was able to complete it without much difficulty. The course turned to the left and quickly came to the obstacle “Dragon’s back”, which is a signature obstacle of Toughest. I have never seen this obstacle and either did the majority of other racers, so this was something new and for racers it really messed with their minds and confidence. It was funny to watch some people struggle for a while to attempt the first leap and then once they completed the first jump they were fine and jumped/completed the second section with no hesitation.
The course now looped around and up next was one of the venue’s obstacles “Tire Jump” and a short distance after was “Irish Table” and “hurdles” the last hurdle was really high and seemed to be difficult for a lot of racers. As this point came one of the cooler permanent obstacles the course, “Monkey bars”, which start by going down and then back up, with these monkey bars racers can use their feet and I did just that and worked my way up. For the second year I was able to do this obstacle, but I am not using the best technique and need to practice if I ever plan to go back and attempt it again. After the bars were “Over Unders” (in cold water) and then immediately after came the obstacle “pipes” and then a crawl under the Shale Hill monster truck. At this point, the course had another brief trail sprint and then made its way to a second “Cargo Climb” and then “High Steps” and then after a very short sprint was the always popular “Inverted Walls” obstacle. The course continued on for another brief sprint and up next was a nice an easy Balance Beams obstacle. The next obstacle was “Over Unders” and then came the dreaded “Sternum Checker”, which was one of the very few obstacles on the course that had delays. The leap from one log to another is not an easy one, so I understand the reasons for delays at this one. The course continued on down a hill and back towards the festival area again and came to “Platinum Rig #1” which was setup really cool for this event.
Just after the rig, it was time to go back in the woods and up the hills and up next racers had to enter a long (waist deep) ditch filled with water and go both over and under several logs while in the water. After another trail sprint it was time for the very challenging “Weaver” obstacle. I have to point out, the Weaver was much cleaner this year and had almost no mud on it, which made it easier to complete. The course had another of its long distance trail runs and eventually made its way over to “Platinum Rig # 2”, which was configured to be less of a challenge than the first Platinum Rig. The next obstacle on the course was the bucket carry and then after another short trail run was “Pinnacle Junior” and followed by “Broken” and then came a series of “Tall Walls” to climb up and over. I was more concerned about coming down the wall, then going up and made sure to take my time. Up next was “Baby Rope Burn” which was going down a short but steep hill with the assistance of a rope. I enjoyed this and went down “Australian style” (face first). The course continued on a short distance and came to the “Hoist” obstacle, I am not going to go into much detail, I have seen hoist obstacles at many OCR’s, but this one was designed very different than any others and I think it could have been better thought out and designed. The course then made its way over to a rope climb (suspended over a pit of water).
At this point, the course continued on and up next was “Sneaker Thief” and then came “Rope Burn” which was a second descent down a much longer steep hill. Up next was “Trenches” and then came “Blackout”, which was a nice and easy crawl through a boxed out obstacle covered with a black tarp. If memory serves me correct, at this point the course came to a double wire traverse (suspended over a large safety net) and then continued on to a large pole obstacle called “Polish Traverse”, the pole was wet and slippery so the technique of choice and most used appeared to be to shimmy across the top of the pole. The course looped around and came to the more conventional “Tyrolean Traverse” which was broken into two sections of rope to cross with a small island placed in the middle to get a few moments of rest. The course continued on and made its way over to “Pinnacle Hill”, which was a climb up a steep and high mountain with the assistance of ropes. I enjoyed this obstacle as it seemed to intimidate some of the other racers, but I was able to climb up pretty fast both on Saturday and Sunday. After at the top of Pinnacle Hill, the course continued on for a short time/distance and came to the one pure fun obstacle on the course which was “Slide”. I had a personal goal to be the fastest on this water slide both Saturday and Sunday, so I got a running start and leaped onto my stomach and slid down at what I think was easily the fastest of any racers either day. Both days the slide ended with a glorious crash/splash in to the water and cheers from the spectators and racers.
The course was back in the festival area and the next portion of the course was very obstacle heavy. After climbing up several logs and out of the water, there was a short black drainage pipe to crawl through. Just after the pipe was a 12 foot wall (with a very slight curve) to climb up that also included ropes at the top of the wall to assist with getting up them and then climb down a rope on the other side. The course then went to the right and came to a much friendlier Sternum Checker obstacle, a short distance after the Sternum Checker was “Tip of the Spear”, which this year used ropes to assist with crossing unlike last year when chains were used. The course went a short way (remaining in the festival area) and came to a nice ramp wall, that I was happy to be wearing my studded ICEBUG Zeal’s as it made it easier to run up the slanted/ramp wall. Only about a hundred feet after came “Skull Valley”, which I think was the one obstacle that had the most chaos of the day. When you combine such a challenging obstacle with many freezing cold racers, it was a sight to see. After Skull Valley, was a warped wall to run/climb up and then a crawl down a rope net on the other side to the finish line and an amazing feeling of accomplishment.
- Sunday’s Team Race:
The team race was a relay style race broken down into three disciplines, speed (running), agility (obstacles), and strength (Wrek bag/bucket carry, rope climb, water slide) all for a relativity short distance and ended in the festival area where all three team members were able to assist each other with completion of the last few obstacles. I personally really enjoyed this relay style of race and after a both physically and mentally hard race Saturday it appeared to be a great way to end an amazing weekend.
- The Bling:
The bling was a very nice black finisher shirt, a wrist band (if you completed all the obstacles), a drawstring backpack, and a very heavy and sexy silver finisher medal. For those that raced the team relay race on Sunday, they received a similar finish medal with a bronze finish.
- Overall Feelings and Event Rating:
I participated both years and I had concerns that with such a large increase in racer participation this year would be much harder to put on an amazing event, but everyone did an amazing job for the most part. The waves all ran pretty smooth and, other then maybe two or three obstacles, I witnessed zero delays.
The course was well designed and the guest obstacles were all awesome and well placed. Garfield designed a course that was both fun and challenging and pushed all levels of OCR athlete. The course included a lot of the more challenging obstacles focused around the festival area, which allowed spectators to have a good time all day while waiting for friends and family to complete the course.
Based on the bling, the course, the obstacles, the awesome staff/volunteers and sheer importance of this event for the growth and development of the sport I am rating it 5 out of 5 stars.