“We’re just going to keep running. We don’t need to stop. If you get ahead, don’t wait for me. I’m not going to wait for you.”
Couple these words with the gorgeous Buddha tattoo painted across her back, and I know that Alissa was my kind of girl. We got to talking at an obstacle course race (OCR) that I competed in this weekend, the Green Beret Challenge. Although I had registered for the event with three of my boxmates, we were quickly separated, as I charged to the front of the pack, and they cast themselves as the reptilian role in the tortoise and the hare.
Alissa’s tattoo is actually what sparked on conversation. I have always been interested in Buddhism, and my recent yoga training has only deepened that interest. I decided I wouldn’t mind looking at the tattoo for the five mile obstacle course. When I complimented on her, I didn’t realize our conversation would last nearly the whole race as well, but, boy was I glad it did.
Turns out, I had happened upon an OCR pro. In the previous year, Alissa competed in over 45 races, to include ones spanning 24 and 36 hours! Although her training hadn’t been as solid this year, she still had plenty of know-how when it comes to tackling and destroying these kinds of races. The tips were much appreciated, as I haven’t run more than two miles lately and only completed one OCR previously, a Sprint Spartan last March.
I had no idea what to expect going in to the Green Beret Challenge. I assumed it would be similar to the Spartan, but, hopefully, with less mud. Compared to the Spartan that took place at an Olympic Horse Park, the Green Beret Challenge was much more urban. The venue was Guardian Centers, a nearby military and first responder training facility. The center mimics a metropolitan area after a disaster. Buildings are crumbling, cars lay strewn and shattered, areas are flooded with water to the roofs, and there is even an attacked subway station. Racing through the area, consisted of carrying cadaver dummies, climbing out of the roof of a school bus, and sliding across sunken cars. The obstacles could easily translate into real world situations. And, of course, it wouldn’t be a true OCR without crawling through a little mud.
With the aid of my new friend and the drive within my own heart, I was able to complete the race in an hour and 23 minutes, far below the expected two hour time. Despite the grueling obstacles, the heat of the Georgia sun, and the scrapes and bruises I accumulated along the way, I loved every second of it. If these races weren’t so expensive, I could see myself getting deeply involved in them, maybe even doing 46 in a year. However, for now, a couple a year will have to curb my addiction.
So, why do we put ourselves through these militaristic trials? Because, OCRs are exhilarating. They push your body and mind to the absolute limits, but it is at this point where you discover what you are truly capable of. If you are considering completing one, I offer a couple of tips: don’t be afraid, find a buddy, and pick a warmer month (mud in the cold is a no go for me.) If you want a kickass Army experience minus the gun touting, and the chance at a medal without having to jump on a grenade, an obstacle course race is the way to go.