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Playing in the Mud – What is an Obstacle Course Racer?

Editors note: Russ Blatt of the award winning OCR scheduling app, OCR Buddy has frequently posted some amazing, motivational content to our community. Many have benefitted from his word and his views. I asked if he would be interested in capturing them for the website, somewhere they would be archived and collected forevermore, and I’m grateful he said yes.

What is an obstacle course racer? Who are those crazy people that run through mud, climb over walls, jump fire, swim through ice water, crawl under barbed wire and trail up and down mountains? Who are you? Who are any of us?

I have been racing through obstacle courses since 2013. Since that day, I have gotten confused looks from my friends and family. They have seen me limping the day after races, holding my back in pain and bruised and cut up. Then when I tell them about my day, they look even more confused as I light up and tell them about my day on the course.

They see me spend money on racing shoes, socks, race jerseys, entry fees, travel, hotels, gloves…over and over. When asked about my hobby, I tell them that there is nothing else I would rather be doing.

In 2014, when I broke my ribs during a race, the questions kept coming. Is it worth getting hurt? Is it worth the money you spend and the time away from home? I even got told by someone, “You are father now, when are you going to stop doing these crazy things?” While I was having trouble breathing in the hospital being checked for a collapsed lung and a potential of other internal injuries, I was proud to say, “I still finished the race” and showed them my medal.

So who are we? Are we crazy? Are we insane? Are we gluttons for punishment? Are we sadists?

Are we happy? Are we having fun? Are we having a great time with amazing friends? Is this something that we want to do again and again?

The answer to everything is yes. We are all of those and so much more.

We are just like you. We really aren’t that different. We just did something that so many haven’t tried yet. We signed up and went to the starting line. Whether we finished or not really does not matter. From that moment you step to a starting line, you are an obstacle course racer.

Obstacle course racing is not only about how fast you finish a race or about the shiny medals and t-shirts. It is about the journey from the starting line to the finish line. It is about the friends you meet and the bonds that join you together. It is facing something that is in front of you head on and doing everything you can to overcome it. It is about the teamwork that is takes to complete obstacles and feeling part of a greater community. It is also about the individual growth that happens while you are on that course and the different person that you are when you complete a race.

So what is an obstacle course racer? There are gym rats and couch potatoes, doctors and nurses, veterans and enlisted military, engineers and schoolteachers, mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, sons and daughters and everything else in between. Some people are on pro and elite teams and others train on their own or do not train at all.

We are you. We are “normal” people who have jobs, go to school, have goals and dreams and families. However, and this is a huge however, something happens to us when we get to a race. We change. We are no longer those doctors and everything else listed above. We are one large community. We are obstacle course racers. We reach out and help each other. We do not leave anyone behind. We teach one another how to overcome fears and how to prove that anything is just an obstacle and it can be overcome. We become one.

So while the world goes on around us with all of the problems and battles that this planet throws at us, we are one large community with one goal…to be a team and to be sure that each and every one of us gets to the finish line.

So when you ask us who we are and you ask us why do we subject ourselves to the things that we do, maybe you should be asking yourself why you are not one of us. We are just like you. We just found something that we believe makes us a better person. It may not be for everyone and not everyone will enjoy an obstacle course race.   However it may be something that can change your life, just like it changed mine.

What is an obstacle course racer? Look in the mirror. There is an obstacle course racer in you.

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