“What an amazing experience this was to be able to not just be there but to compete against the best in the world and be ranked 38th!” – Pieter “Beardman” Joubert
What a month October was. On the 9th i received a 3rd place win at the Night Lights Trail Run Half Marathon at Battle Creek in Woodbury. It was a really pretty, yet very hilly run with an amazing sunset over the Mississippi River followed by some dark wooded running, headlamps flickering away lighting up the trail behind me, haha.
The event of the month though was the OCR (Obstacle Course Racing) World Championships that took place on the 17th and 18th out in Oregonia, Ohio at Kings Domain. This wasn’t just your average race…you had pre-qualify in order compete. I managed to do the Jeep Warrior Race in South Africa earlier this year which placed me in the running.
At registration for the race, they picked up that even after I had entered, there was an problem loading my qualifying race. When the issue was finally sorted out, the Elite men’s category was full and I was asked to enter race in my age group 30-34. I was pretty bummed by this but I was kindly put on the waiting list in case a spot opened up. And to my surprise, two days before the race I received an email asking if I was still interested in racing in the Elites category. I grabbed it!
It was a fresh and early on Saturday morning, arriving in the dark all bundled up as the temperature was below freezing! Not the best but I was surrounded by some amazing company who kept the chats flowing and minds off the cold. It was really nice catching up with the otherSouth African OCR Athlete’s that had made a special trip over.
After a warm up we lined up at the start. It was surreal moment…I was here, having qualified in South Africa, standing shoulder to shoulder in the USA and ready to compete with some of the World’s best OCR Athletes! I’m proud of my accomplishments and far I have come. I took in that moment as I awaited the start of the challenge. BOOM…a cannon fired behind us with not so much as a warning or countdown and the race had begun and off to an extremely fast pace.
I tried not to get caught up in the hype and when out quick but at a pace I knew I could manage for 10 miles, survive 53 obstacles and the terrain.
A few obstacles in and my strategy was working, short monkey bars saw a few people struggling and slipping off the frozen icy bars. 50 pound Wreck Bag Carry which I powered through gaining a few more spots and pipe dreams slowing the crowd down which wasn’t too much of a problem for me but since the bar was frozen and covered with ice a little more challenging.
Off into the woods for a while with a few obstacles that weren’t really all that demanding. They had thrown in a river crossing which was luckily only waist deep but enough to still take the breath away. The water was icy and froze the legs and feet which warmed up after a bit of running on dry terrain.
Then next few obstacles were a lot of fun. As we exiting the woods over the ‘Castle‘, a huge wall about 30 feet tall, it was then the ‘Destroyer‘ which was a smaller wall. ‘Toughest Dragons Back‘ was a new one and a very interesting one indeed. We had to climb up on a 6 foot or so high platform jump across a pretty wide gap onto the side of the next platform grabbing onto a bar, then going over the bar onto the next platform and doing the same to the next. From there onto a few smaller obstacles and onto a pretty long decline/ incline monkey bars, which I flew through. I caught up to the guy in front of me on the monkey bars but was held up behind him as he was struggling, so just had to patiently hang around and wait hoping my grip wouldn’t give in.
Some more hilly forest running with an obstacle here and there when there it was the dreaded ‘Platinum Rig‘! Climb up a rope and onto pipe dreams, cross that, there was a bar that you could grab onto but I reached passed it to the hanging rings, 3 of them ring a bell and done….not sure why I had been worried bout it sailed through no problem.
The next running section seemed a lot more technical and demanding on the legs. Running along and in rocky river beds and creeks, up and down super steep hills, some so steep but luckily they had ropes to assist. Such a spectacular run, probably if not the most amazing trail I have run to date. The fall colors of the trees and all the leaves on the ground was so magical. It felt like I should be in a scene from a movie throwing leaves in the air taking selfies or something haha! Another surreal moment.
The ‘Platinum Rig,’ Bucket Carry, rope climb, 70 pound bag hoist, polish traverse which was really cool over a little valley which other racers coming up ran underneath you. But by far the coolest (temperature wise too) was the water slide that was long and steep and you reached about 30 miles per hour before splashing into a huge pool of ice cold water at the bottom.
Then it was the final stretch of obstacles; couple walls, sternum crusher, some others and then the big one Skull Valley. On this one you had to climb up using skull climbing grips to swing across about a 6 foot gap to a cargo net which you had to climb down and go under without touching the ground, 3 Tarzan rope swings to a platform and then a cargo net which was up overhead and was used like monkey bars to another platform and done, up over the Warped Wall and through the finish.
I ran it in 2 hours 14 minutes some change, claiming 38th place out of 201 Elite males! I’m happy with my position even though I would have like to have done better.
Sunday was no warmer. Frost lay thick on the ground as it welcomed all the athletes back who were taking part in the Team event. This consisted of 3 men or women team running in a relay; speed, technical and the 3rd doing strength.
South Africa had entered 2 male teams and 2 female teams. I felt incredibly proud and honored to be asked to be apart of the team and get to race for my country.
There was a little delay at the start but Willem our speedster was off and it wasn’t long before he handed me the chip. I did the strength and 1st task at hand which was the 50 pound Wreck Bag Carry, handed the chip back to Willem who set off on a longer run this time before handing the chop over to Jay Jay. Jay Jay was the technical genius and he owned the obstacles. After a Tyrene traverse, he handed the chip back to me to complete the last part of the strength portion, sand bucket carry, rope climb, 70 pound bag hoist, up a cliff climb that required ropes to get to the top quickly and down the water slide. (I’m not sure how this was strength exactly…strength of mind maybe because the water was fridged). Not out of the woods yet, the 3 of us joined up and had to complete the last 6 obstacles together before we crossing the finish line in 10th place. The other men’s team took 5th and the 2 women’s teams took 3rd and 4th.
What an amazing experience this was to be able to not just be there but to compete against the best in the world and be ranked 38th. I’m feeling so blessed and thankful to have the support from Mouse, MyMom, iKind Media, Arbitrary Tattoo Studio and all my friends old and new made along the way and Herbalife for supplying me with the best nutrition.
Now time to kick back though, next race is a big one, the 24 Hour World’s Toughest Mudder at Lake Las Vegas, Las Vegas NV on the 14th and 15th of November.
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