Image training for a year, staying healthy, preparing for the biggest event in obstacle racing and two weeks before the event, which is held two thousand miles away, two Category 4 hurricanes, not one, hits your homeland. Your house as well as much of anything surrounding you is either partially damaged or destroyed. No electricity, no water, no cellphone or internet service, nothing. After essentially being pushed back to the nineteenth century, the OCRWC Puerto Rico team emerged from the ruins and worked their way to Canada to prove that there is absolutely no way they would be derailed from their life long goals. Hurricane Irma and Maria might have slowed them down but they came into Canada’s Obstacle Racing World Championship with more than just personal goals and the right to represent their island. They came in with a purpose to represent each person in the island who lost a family member, who lost their house, who have been ignored by the government, who currently live surviving one day at the time.
Wearing their traditional sky blue, red and white colors, they could be spotted a mile away in Blue Mountain. Many runners, from many countries were very supportive of our team. The 3k Starting line was very emotional for all Puerto Rican runners. Coach Pain, the master of ceremony, made sure to make the moment extra special for Puerto Rico. He knew Team Puerto Rico had done more than catching a plane and checking into a hotel the night before. He knew that there was a little more weight on their shoulders than other countries and he knew that it was their moment. It was the Puerto Ricans time to shine.
As the waves left the start line, Puerto Ricans poured into the course. A total of 32 Puerto Ricans ventured into the mountains in low 60 degree, rainy weather (which by the way it is FREEZING to them). They had PRO, and Age Group athletes, male and female, and of all ages. Contrasting to last year when Puerto Rico fielded only 5 runners, this year you could see the Coquis all over the course. They experience the toughest course they have experience in their young OCR career but through unity and perseverance they thrived and conquer the mountain.
After three events, they manage to be the only Latin American country to bring in medals at the OCRWC with Joe Rivera’s bronze medals for his age group on the 3-kilometer race and Jay Flores’ gold medal in the rig competition. Other notable achievements included top 25 finish in Pro division men’s relay team, top 20 AG men’s relay team and top 10 AG women’s team finishes.
Obstacle Racing is a young sport and Puerto Rico is probably the youngest country in the industry with OCR events only starting in the island in 2014. In 3 years, the island has managed to put together a serious team of athletes that can contend with the best of the best. Every member of the Puerto Rico National Obstacle Racing team achieved their goals and brought pride to their island, which is in the ocean, surrounded by water, lots of water.
Team Puerto Rico Representativas
Jay Flores, Joe Rivera, Eduardo Gonzalez, Brent Diaz, Johana Montalvo, Judith Valdes, Wiso Solis, Pedro Morales, Nitzali Vega Garcia, Lorsan Irizarry, Jesus Lopez Hernandez, Leslie Cardona, Dariel Hernandez, Efrain Ayala, Vanessa Torres Soto, Natasha Lopez Matias, Leila Reyes, Sarinel Figueroa, Juan Falcon, Anthuannette Ortiz, Joey Garcia, Shakira Perez, Natalia Figueroa, Angel Pastrana, Ricardo Rodriguez Pollock, Juan Betancourt Montalvo, Jason Pursel, William Gonzalez Hernandez, Luis Antonio Anzueta Diaz, Carlos Samalot, Sandy Hendrick and Gerlin Santos