My First Experience in OCR
Updated: Jan 27, 2019
When you hear the term obstacle course race the first thing that comes to mind is bunch of kids running the gauntlet at summer camp. The Rise Up Challenge was kind of like that, except with adults, and with more red bull.
I produce a local podcast called City of Champions where I speak with people from Edmonton doing interesting and inspiring work. Cody Price, the organizer of the Rise Up Challenge reached out to me a couple of months ago with an intriguing invitation. Cody was looking for a first-time obstacle racer to come participate in his event and give some feedback. Enjoying almost all athletic activities, and also being sometimes competitive to a fault, I agreed right away. After reading up on the event, I decided Cody would make for a great podcast guest and invited him on to talk about himself and the event.
Cody was a fantastic guest on the podcast. His untimely MS diagnosis, and subsequent challenges, provides some incredible context to the event he has built up over the last several years. It is clear, in speaking with Cody, that he has put exceptional thought into all elements of the race. Not only has he devised challenging physical obstacles; he has skilfully incorporated a mental aspect into the design of the race.
Race day arrived and the weather couldn't have been more perfect. We arrived at Voyageur Park in Devon, AB at 10:30am on a pleasantly warm, but not too hot, 20 degree Saturday. Music was pumping as we walked from the parking lot to the bright green registration tent. Cody's wife, Melissa, checked us in and told us we'd be in the first heat leaving at 11:30am. We were offered water, red bull, and a place to keep anything we didn't want to carry on us during the race. We took the next 45 minutes to stretch, meet some of our fellow participants, and enjoy the sunshine!
Race time had arrived, and after a brief speech by Cody, we were off. My race partner, Keltie, and I were mid-pack for the first few minutes. While it is officially meant to be a fun-run, my competitive streak began surfacing so I coaxed Keltie to join me in passing a few people, and then a few more. We got to the first obstacle with one other team of two ahead of us. We dove under the footbridge of obstacle one, then jumped the second footbridge of obstacle two. By this time, we were in the lead!
Admittedly, once in the front of the pack, it was easy to maintain this position, as we didn't have to wait for anyone to complete the obstacles ahead of us. We spent the next hour tackling all the great obstacles the race had to offer. We swung from girders, hung from slacklines, and charged through the forest brush, sometimes on foot, and sometimes on hands as well. The hill sprint and the burpee trail were two of the day's most exhaustive obstacles. Swinging from rings, traversing fences inverted, and just generally moving in unconventional ways were some of the days most enjoyable experiences. The day was made that much better by the fact that we were outside in the natural environment!
Keltie and I cruised past the finish line. We were out of breath, but the endorphins were running high as Cody and crew clapping us in and greeted us. The participation medals we received were ridiculously cool — they look like something out of Game of Thrones! We were tempted by the invitation for pizza that was soon to show up, but we had to get back to Edmonton for the afternoon. All in all, I can't think of a better way to spend a sunny Saturday morning.
Cody really pours his heart and soul into this event. In order to set everything up for us lucky racers. He pulls an all nighter on Friday, then spends all day at the course, and tears it down when all the racers are finished. In terms of organization, the Rise Up Challenge has all your bases covered. The Race Kit contained all the information we needed for the day.
One piece of advice we were told that we listened to, and were insanely glad we did: "bring gloves". Our hands would have been torn up by several obstacles had we not. I suggest going to any home hardware store and getting some auto mechanic gloves.
One piece of advice we were told that we did not listen to: "bug spray". 10/10 would recommend.
One thing I wish we did differently: don't grab a bottle of water at the water station unless you plan to finish it quickly. I had to run with the thing for the next 20 minutes, which made some of the obstacles a bit more challenging to manoeuvre with it in my pocket.
I'm grateful that Cody asked me to be a part of the Rise Up Challenge. I can see myself doing more obstacle course races in the future. Maybe next year I'll go for the multi-lap option.