This past weekend, I competed in the Obstacle Course Race World Championships.
I was surprised that I qualified when I raced in Toronto this past May and a little intimidated heading into this 48-obstacle course that was 15K up, down, and around Blue Mountain in Collingwood, Ont.
I came into it with three goals: a) Attempt every obstacle, b) focus on running the trails, c) finish the race. I’m proud to say that I completed all of my goals and above all, I had an incredible time.
My wave of women was slotted to go ahead at 11:30 a.m. with perfect weather– 20 degrees, with a light breeze. At registration, we received all of your typical race items: a timing chip and bib. But as well, we were given a rubber bracelet. Complete all the obstacles, keep the bracelet. Fail at even one and someone comes to cut it of. And rather than other OCR races that allow runners to complete burpees instead of going through with a particular obstacle, this one doled out time penalties. I knew going into the race that I wasn’t going to be able to complete every obstacle. As a World Championship event, it was supposed to be tough. With athletes showing up from 42 different countries, the course was designed to challenge all of them. Needless to say, my bracelet was cut.
The seventeenth obstacle is what did it. At the “Platinum Rig” I decided after two tries that I would rather attempt to save my strength. But I did attempt it– goal A complete. I succeeded in meeting my other two goals too. I am thrilled to say I completed the whole thing as well.
And as for any race, there were highs and lows.
One particular low, was something that a lot in the running community can probably understand– especially those new to the sport. Impostor syndrome.
Even though I knew that I had justly qualified for the OCRWC, I started to doubt myself upon arrival. Maybe it was seeing so many professional-looking team jerseys representing different clubs, gyms, or national teams. Or maybe it was my general lack of knowledge of any of the “usual” obstacles. Either way, I started to feel like I shouldn’t have signed up– regardless of my qualifications. While I had a spectacular time on the course, who was I to participate in the World Championships of a sport to which I was so new?
I needn’t have felt that way. The official results of the OCRWC came out on Monday. I almost didn’t check them. I can honestly say that I wasn’t interested in seeing my time. I know I enjoyed myself, I know I did my best. I didn’t want to look up my result because I didn’t want to risk ruining that feeling.
As a type-A competitive individual though, it didn’t take long for me to cave and check anyway. There were 75 women in my 30-34 age group with 24 women having completed all the obstacles. They were moved to a different results category. The remaining 51 of us missed at least one obstacle and our finish times were adjusted accordingly. To my surprise, I ended up placing 24th of the 51 which elicited a surprising wave of relief. Could I have trained harder? Sure. Did I belong there? Maybe I did.
Unsurprisingly, the OCR bug has bitten me hard. I now look forward to exploring the different gyms and clubs around Toronto and continuing to meet the incredible men and women who work hard to be ambassadors for a sport that requires endurance, strength, and determination. I guess it’s not all just mud and tire flipping…