The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: OCRWC 2015

I struggled with how to write this post, as I absolutely loved this race, but there are some points surrounding it that dearly need adjustment, that no one else seems to be mentioning. So I have divided this post into three sections: The good for the race itself, the bad for some customer service failures that need fixed in future years, and the ugly for the actions of some proponents of the race.

The Good: Race day!

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Much time on site with friends new and old, seeing off friends in the age group starts, and finally stepping into the starting corral. Motivational pep talk from Coach Pain, and we were off. Wooded trails, steep hills, up a wooden ramp, over some short walls and log barriers, to the first “real” obstacle at the monkey bars.

Monkey bars have always been tough for me, and I surprised myself here. I didn’t just complete it, I annihilated it. Stopping at all the playgrounds along my runs is paying off.

More hilly trails to the Wreck Bag carry. Carry the bag up hills, over, under and through obstacles, if it touches the ground you have to do it again. Wreck bags carry nicely, completed without problems.

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Drop off the bag and go on to Pipe dream, a hand-over-hand single-pipe monkey bar obstacle. I again surprised myself by powering through it.

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Back on the trails, across the river, cargo net, back across the river, up and over Castle:

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And came to the Destroyer.

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I had my doubts about being able to get over this one, but it was not nearly as hard as I feared to get up and over. Finding a nice way to get down is another story…

Next was the much-anticipated Dragon’s Back.

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It looks much taller from the top. Several guys were stalled, working up their nerve to go, and suggested I go first.

red light, Yellow Light, GREEN LIGHT, GO!

I nailed the landing, caught the bar and was able to shimmy under it to the platform, then do it all again for the next jump.

I lost my band at the Irish table, simply a bar that was a few inches too tall for me to get over unassisted. I then looked at the height of the down-and-up monkeybars and my remaining grip strength and decided to skip the obstacle.

Over-unders through the water:

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Crawling under a monster truck (where else do you get to do that?) and back to the trails. Over a cargo net, nailed the balance beams and failed the first sternum checker. Stopped with a teammate to help look after a hypothermic competitor, penguin-huddled to try to keep her warm, and eventually just sat her down and wrapped as many space blankets around her as we could find.

Trails lead us back to the festival area for the Platinum rig, which I failed. Over-unders in deeper water, which I could do up until the last one which was just a bit too high over water that was just a touch too deep.

Failed the Weaver and second rig, made myself into a human ladder to get some fellow competitors up a steep series of hills, easily knocked out the bucket carry, and crawled under the longest set of nets that I have ever thought about (again situated on steep hills).

The volunteers gave me some advice and assistance getting over the tall (8-12′) walls. Knocked out the hoist without too much difficulty, although the ropes were of a particularly nasty material that tore my hands. More water under-overs, crawl through a tent (?), more steep hills to a long 2-rope traverse. Seemed like it took forever to get across that thing, but I made it. (Slow and steady, I guess.)

Polish Traverse was a long horizontal pole that most of us chose to butt-scoot across. About this time, someone pointed out a view of Pinnacle Hill, which we would have to go up in a few miles.

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That was weighing on my mind as the sun got lower and my grip strength started to wear out. I made an attempt at the rope traverse, but decided to drop and save energy for the hill. When I finally got there, I was happy to see it didn’t look quite as steep up close, and while I was not fast getting up it, I made it without incident.

Next the water slide back into the festival area:

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“Okay, this doesn’t seem too bad…

Crap, its getting fast…

Engaging warp 7, sire, giving it all she’s got!

Oh, hell, brace for impact…”

Hit the water, somehow found where up was, and was greeted by cheers from some friends on the platform overlooking the splash pool.

Next obstacle was a ramp wall with ropes at the top:

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First try, no dice. Second try, just touched the rope. Third try pulled the rope a little lower, and fourth try gave me a good enough grip on it to make it over.

The last stretch of obstacles, with advice and encouragement from friends and teammates at the sidelines, I pushed like hell and made multiple attempts, but I just didn’t have enough left. Gathered what I had left and charged the finish line, to be welcomed with, “This is YOUR World Championship. You have earned it!”

I got my medal and went back on the course to check on a teammate and encourage him through the last few obstacles. Worn out, joints failing, hypothermic, and he just kept pushing.

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We helped him across the finish line, then the entire team came together to get him warmed up. The brotherhood formed on the course is a real thing.

The Bad: Learning Curve

This is a new race, and there are some logistical and customer service problems cropping up. I was not given everything I should have been at check in, when I got that fixed some of what I was given was wrong, some friends arrived to check in 10 minutes before closing to find that it was already closed, and we were required at a 30-minute briefing that should have been an email. A lot of this sounds petty, but it does make things more difficult for racers from distant locations to make it to the start line.

It also strikes me as odd that, on a race with awesome obstacles that most of us have never seen before, they would not station a photographer anywhere near those obstacles? (Most of the photos used here were taken by friends and teammates, a few taken from the OCRWC Facebook page.)

The Ugly: Be Polite, People

While I want to make it clear that everyone on the course was absolutely awesome, the behavior of some people promoting this race needs to be addressed. I have lost count of the number of times I have seen discussions of legitimate gripes (from pricing structures, to qualification cutoffs, to how the Journeyman waves are handled, to on-site procedures) met with “Its the World Championships. If you don’t like (whatever your problem is), then this is not the place for you.” While this is mostly coming from random commenters, I have also seen it from those who should know better. This is how you drive away the common racers who could and should be your biggest promoters.

There have also been way too many comments from the peanut gallery that the Journeyman wave does not deserve to be there. To those saying this, I would politely remind you that the people in the journeyman wave are the reason you have a sport. Now let’s all be nice, get along, and make this sport the pinnacle of awesomeness that we all know it can be.

Post script:

After seeing some responses to this post, I feel the need to reiterate that this was a great event. This is only its second year, and I would expect a few issues to crop up. I included these points in the review for two reasons, to spark a conversation about what can be done to make it better, and to help those who may attend in the future know what issues may be at hand.

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