Rea Kolbl – The Ascent (Pro Recap)


By Rea Kolbl


For many racers, the season started in Seattle. But for me, due to excitement from joining the Pro Team and not being able to wait for the Championship series to begin, it started a few months before in December where I went to all the west coast Spartan Races I could get to by car.

I managed to win most of them which gave me a false sense of confidence that I could win them all; it gave my fans the confidence that I could beat them all. And with that came the expectation that the Seattle race was mine to win. But this couldn’t be further from what actually happened; I barely caught the top five, more of a disappointment to me than I was willing to admit. And although I’m known to race with a smile, I spent a good chunk of that weekend in tears, and Bun barely managed to convince me that it’s okay not to win all the races. That it’s okay just to be happy for others, and that this is not the end of my racing career.

New Mindset

So eventually, I came to terms with that too; I realized that my worst mistake was trying to beat the others, and in the process, I lost to myself. So I made a promise to myself that for the rest of the series, I will run my own race, cheer on the others, and be happy on the course and after the race, no matter the outcome. And so the climb began, both literally, and figuratively. Over the next three races, my performance steadily improved, and I did manage to hit the podium twice, being quite happy the first time it happened in Palmerton (I cried there again, but this time they were tears of joy; although the volunteers at the finish line were quite puzzled whether or not they should call a medic for help).


So I went from the 5th place in points back in contention for the three podium spots. But the rankings were so close! Alyssa (Hawley), Nicole (Mericle), and I were separated by a point, and I was in the middle. With the West Virginia race being the tiebreaker, this meant that our relative positions at that race would also determine our rankings for the whole series. And that mattered, a lot. I knew just how high the stakes were, and I’d say about 80% of the nights leading to the race consisted of dreams where I was running the race. So by the time I showed up to the venue, I was ready. I don’t think I’ve ever been so determined to give a race everything I’ve got, and I think that made all the difference.

West Virginia Beast

The West Virginia Beast started as usual, with Nicole breaking out of the start line and setting the pace. But I was surprised at how quickly I caught her. Then the hills started, my favorite, and I knew that I would be first to the summit.

By the way, if you raced, I hope you took a moment to look around on top of the Stairway to Sparta; that view was quite unlike any other. We could see for miles!! And with the morning clouds hovering around the surrounding valleys, it was hard not to be taken in by just how beautiful the landscape was that we were racing in. 

But then the down hills began, and the whole time I was waiting for Lindsay (Webster) to catch up. It was such a surprise that I was still in the lead, coming back down to the venue. I lost my lead missing the spear, which gave Nicole about a 30-second lead. Normally, I would be really bummed having to do burpees, but this was the first race where I accounted for that possibility. And when my 30 (32 actually, just to be safe) burpees were over, I was ready to run. To run even harder than I did before, and to do everything I could to catch Nicole. In a sense, chasing is so much easier than leading, at least for me. And once we were on top of that last hill, Nicole and I were neck to neck. Then the descent started.

Racing Nicole

I knew Nicole was faster than me on the obstacles, so I had one chance to take the lead I would need to come out of that final gauntlet in first. So I sprinted faster than I ever sprinted on trails before. And the whole time I was hoping that Lindsay and Nicole were not going to catch me. It felt like one of those nature shows where a gazelle is chased by a pride of lions. Then the Twister. And I still had the lead. Herc hoist; and I was still in first. Olympus and no one had passed me. Then came the multi rig, my arch nemesis, also again right by the finish line.

During the series, I lost a place just yards from the finish line in three out of four races. In Seattle I slipped to 5th doing burpees, in Monterey Alyssa flew by me as I was hanging awkwardly on a rope at the rig, and in Asheville my slow and steady through Twister was a little too slow and too steady, costing me the win as Lindsay took the gauntlet by storm. All of that was going through my head as I was starting the rig. There were no ropes this time, just rings, bar, and back to rings. But that bar was pretty up high, and the first time I reached for it I missed it, and I started spinning instead of swinging, struggling to hold on.


As I was stuck on that ring and Nicole was catching up (I probably had about a 30 second lead coming into the gauntlet), all of the races where I lost places right there, yards before the finish line, replayed in my head. And there was just no way I was going to let that happen again. So I finished. I caught the bar, crossed the rest of the rig, and rang the bell. Still in first. I couldn’t believe it… I was clear of the obstacles, yards from the finish line, and still in first. Which also meant second in the US Championship Series. I made it.

Words of Gratitude

It seems like I lost in Seattle because I won so many races before; and I won in West Virginia because I lost everywhere else. My weaknesses made me strong when it mattered the most. Thanks to all my sponsors who helped me come out of this in one piece. Thanks to Reebok for making sure I was running in OCR shoes this season, with proper gear all around. Thanks to Brave Soldier for their support after each race, and for choosing me to help represent their brand. Thanks to King’s Camps and Fitness for letting me train in their gym – there’s no way I would be able to hold on to that rig if it wasn’t for all of Mike’s workouts at his open gym. He also taught me the J-hook! No more legless rope climbs guys!! Thanks to Dr. Eva Chiu from Bayside Chiropractic for keeping my back in one piece, which is quite a task given how much of a beating it takes on a daily basis. And most importantly, huge thanks to Bunsak, whose support made my dark days brighter and my good days even more amazing.

Now bring it on, Tahoe!


Photo Credit: Spartan Race


Want to train like Rea? Check out one of her favorite workouts on ORM’s Train Like a Pro series.


Spartan Race SoCal Beast 2016: No Beauty, All Beast

They call it “The Beast” and it certainly lived up to its name.

On Saturday, September 17, 2016, I set out to conquer the Spartan Race SoCal Beast at Pala Raceway in Pala, California with my two buddies, Dwayne and Owen. We are all fortysomething and relatively new to OCR. Our first “serious” OCR event was the Spartan Sprint last December. Earlier this year, I completed the Seattle Super by myself and the Monterey Super with Dwayne, but none of us had ever attempted to complete a Beast until this past weekend. After months of training, we were extremely excited and nervous coming into the race.

Even though we had an 11:30 a.m. start time, we left several hours early to give ourselves plenty of time for the commute from Orange County. There was some minor construction work on the 91 freeway, but we made relatively good time, which is always something to be thankful for living in Southern California.

Spartan Race SoCal Beast Map

We finally arrived and had our first look at Pala Raceway. For those unfamiliar with the new venue, Pala Raceway is an off road racetrack that caters to motocross and dirt bikers. It is surrounded by Palomar Mountain State Park. I cannot confirm this, but it is my understanding that Vail Lake (lovingly referred to by the OCR community as “Hellmecula”) is under new management and they are moving away from these types of events, which forced Spartan Race to find an alternate site. Some people liked the new venue, and others hated it. In my opinion, it was uninspiring and not very scenic especially in comparison to the other Spartan races I completed this year in Seattle and Monterey. In other words, there simply wasn’t a lot of beauty to this beast … yeah, let’s move on.

Thanks to the generous folks at ORM, we were able to score a parking pass in the staff/vendor parking lot a few steps from the main entrance. The general public had two options: $40 VIP parking (also close to the main entrance) and $10 offsite parking which required participants to take a shuttle to the race venue. Several acquaintances from the West Coast Spartans (WCS) group on Facebook told me that they had two major complaints about the parking situation. First, there was no signage anywhere to be found. I believe there was definitely some confusion in this regard since I personally observed numerous cars making U-turns at the main entrance after presumably being re-routed to the offsite parking lot. Second, long shuttle lines. I cannot personally attest to this, but hopefully it was not too unbearable for those that waited around after running 12+ miles in the Pala heat.

Check in was a breeze. The volunteers were efficient and the lines appeared to move quickly. Big props to the volunteers for making check in a seamless and stress free process. After signing the waiver form and showing my identification, I was given the Spartan race packet consisting of a timing chip and starting time wristband, a ticket for a free beer, and a headband with my bib information. Does anyone else share my belief that the Spartan headbands seem to get flimsier (i.e., “cheaper”) each time? Hmmm….
Spartan Race SoCal Registration
Since we arrived early, we had plenty of time to check out the festival area before the race. It was the typical Spartan setup, with lots of vendors and merchandise tents. We hoped to load up with some free Clif Bars before the race but we could not find their tent – either we missed it or there wasn’t one, and we were more than slightly bummed out. Dwayne paid $5 for bag check and he did not encounter any problems. Adjacent to the festival area were showers to rinse off after the race. Unfortunately, Dr. Bronner did not make an appearance at the race venue, so competitors had to use water hoses.
Spartan Race SoCal Showers
After stretching and doing a few warm up sprints, we made our way to the starting area. Spartan Race warns competitors that they will not be allowed to start earlier than their designated time, but they did not check anyone in my group. Maybe it depends on the volunteers working that day or the race venue, but I have noticed that this policy is inconsistent from race to race. In any event, we hopped over the wall, did the always-inspiring Spartan chant (“Who am I?”), and we were on our way.

We started on a slight incline that leveled off for the first mile. Starting at mile two, we began our ascent up a killer mountain that resulted in an elevation gain of nearly 1,000 feet according to my Garmin. We reached the summit right around the three and a half mile mark. I would be negligent in my review if I did not mention the terrain. It was extremely technical and it felt like I was running a trail race. The paths were uneven and there were tons of loose rocks, tree roots, and other obstacles that required you to pay careful attention to each step. Luckily everyone in my group avoided serious injury, but there were lots of WCS members who suffered rolled ankles due to the challenging terrain.

Photo Credit: Spartan Race Photo Credit: Spartan Race

Another thing worth mentioning is that the majority of the trails were single track. This created bottlenecks and made it very difficult to pass if you ended up behind someone running at a slower pace. I have little doubt that most competitors, at one point or another during the race, had someone come up from behind them and scream “on your left!” when there was insufficient room to pass. These are the same idiots who bump into you or cause you to loose your balance, without offering any type of apology as they pass.  Owen hilariously refers to these folks as “passholes.” Don’t be a “passhole.” Please be considerate to your fellow Spartans and pick your spots!

In my opinion, the race could be broken down into three distinct legs. The first leg featured the aforementioned killer mountain climb and descent. This is where we encountered the Over Walls, the A-Frame, the 6 Foot Wall, and the 7 Foot Wall. These obstacles were not terribly difficult and they served as a good warm up for the difficulty that lay ahead. Some WCS members felt that these obstacles were spaced too far apart and I agree. We essentially completed one obstacle for each mile we ran during this portion of the race.
Spartan Race SoCal Barbed Wire
The second leg featured a return to the festival area followed by another – albeit less brutal – trip to the mountains. This is where we encountered the most difficult and challenging obstacles that Spartan had to offer: Barbed Wire (not very long, but uphill and muddy), Atlas Carry, Tyrolean Traverse (rope, not ladder), Bucket Brigade (difficult but not soul crushing), Sand Bag Carry, Rope Climb, Rig, Hercules Hoist (if you saw three Asian dudes struggling to pull that damn sandbag up and down at the same time that was probably us), and Monkey Bars. Even though the second mountain climb and descent was more forgiving, many people began to struggle and cramp up.  They truly looked like the Walking Dead as they trudged forward to the finish.
Spartan Race SoCal Atlas CarryPhoto Credit: Jose Reyes, West Coast Spartans

Spartan Race SoCal Tyrolean TraversePhoto Credit: Jose Reyes, West Coast Spartans

socal-beast-sand-bag-carryPhoto Credit: Jose Reyes, West Coast Spartans

There were also numerous complaints about the course markings during this portion of the race. No one believed that the distance between the ninth and tenth mile markers was accurate. Unfortunately, my Garmin had long since died at this point, but most people estimated that this mile was closer to a mile and a half.  This picture sums up how most people felt when they finally reached “Mile 10”:
Spartan Race SoCal 10-mile MarkPhoto Credit: Jodie Bayardo, West Coast Spartans

The final leg brought us back to the festival area starting with the Memory Test (“Quebec-733-3276”), followed by the Spear Throw (3 for 3, baby!), Rolling Muddy Dunk, Slip Wall and, last but not least, the always popular Fire Jump. After we crossed the finish line, we received our medals, finisher t-shirts, and took a celebratory picture to commemorate Dwayne’s Trifecta in the Spartan photo booth. Although we did not do as well as we had hoped, we had a great time and escaped without any serious injuries.
socal-beast-jumpPhoto Credit: Spartan Race

Since this was our first Beast, I asked a few West Coast Spartans members to provide their feedback regarding the new venue, their impressions of the race, and how it compared to past Beasts.  Here are some of their comments:

“It was very technical and rocky! Heat was relentless, but a change from the never-ending hills in Vail Lake, I would run it again. The barbed wire crawl up a muddy hill was sick.” Christopher A.

“Temecula has better scenery but Pala surprised me in a good way. The hills were just the right length. Not too hard but not easy. Everyone uses the word technical, I agree … Loved the rolling mud and dunk wall at the end. Sand bag carry is my favorite. The climb up the mountain was hard, the run down the mountain was harder. Enjoyed the bear crawls and barb wire crawl.” Tania P.

“I thought it was a lot of running and then the obstacles were all in a row … Hard with the venue to spread the obstacles throughout the race but it affected the quality and fun level for me … I loved running the mining shaft in the middle!” Jenny S.

“In my opinion this was the hardest out of the ones I’ve done simply because of the terrain.  The rocks, sticks, and dirt were horrible!! My legs and feet are killing me and I have horrible blisters.”  Lisa G.

“You run the first part with your feet and the second part with your heart.  Pala broke me.  My legs have never given out on me this much and my time is garbage.  But I want to give a huge thanks to anyone who helped me along the way, you guys are why I keep doing this and going through all the pain…”  Maria V.

In closing, I’d like to thank my buddies, Dwayne and Owen, and all of the WCS members who provided me with valuable insight and great race photos.  You guys rock! Spartan Race is scheduled to return to Pala Raceway in January 2017 for the SoCal Super and Sprint Weekend. Having barely survived “The Beast” we look forward to some payback.

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Spartan Race SoCal: Rocky Pala Raceway

On September 17-18, 2016, Spartans conquered a new venue for the Spartan Race SoCal Sprint and Beast races: Pala Raceway.

For several years, Vail Lake in Temecula has been the go-to location for not only Spartan Race but also Tough Mudder. However, all events got the boot by the new Vail Lake owners and now there is a new stomping ground for SoCal Spartans. After trading Malibu for Castaic Lake as their Los Angeles race venue, they should be used to change by now. So what’s the deal?


Photo Credit: Spartan Race Start Line Photo Credit: Spartan Race

The start line might have been up a solid incline but beyond that, not much climbing was required. The Sprint course offered merely 600ft of elevation gain and, from reports, it appears that the Beast only had one bigger hill thrown in for good measure. The race was mostly narrow single trail covered in rocks, gravel, and sand, which made the surface very technical. The rest was the exact opposite: right on the motocross track with all those lovely little steep ups and downs. Where usually bikes fly through the air, Spartans were fighting against their burning quads and calves. It definitely was a very fast course for those who were sure-footed and nimble.



Vail Lake had much more and steeper climbs and descends, however, the mostly broad trails and roads made it far easier to navigate them safely. By the way, local media was still worried about the heat taking out runners. Two years ago a Sunday race had to be canceled less than 24 hours before the start time.  In turn, the one and only “Hurricane Heatwave” was created.

Water stations were plentiful and other than a dog getting abandoned in the parking lot (who does that?!) on Saturday no unusual heat related mass casualties occurred. If you were wondering why Spartan staff had a dog out on the race course during the Sprint, now you know why.

Sprint racers were surprised to find a trail run instead of an obstacle course race for most of the event with a high obstacle density towards the end. The bucket carry was very tame and a sandbag carry was absent. A last minute emergency forced course designers to get creative and course markers to work long hours. Sadly, the terrain did not give them much to work with and the available space for obstacles on course was very limited. At least the mud mounds before the slip wall right before the finish line gave runners a welcome cool down at the end.




When the dust settled, the majority of racers appeared to be happy about the venue change. Not many miss the stinking mud of Vail Lake or the long inclines and steep descents of the hills around it and are just glad about a change of scenery… Not having to walk .75 miles from parking to the race venue along a road might also play a part in the increased satisfaction.

Weights N’ Dates

Something else that popped up at the SoCal Spartan Race was the Weights N’ Dates dating app with cleverly designed stickers for the male beauties and female beasts. While I personally have not  looked at the app, I would imagine it could help OCR addicts to find people to carpool to races with. If you pay for lunch, maybe they will take cool pictures of you for social media!


SoCal Podium Winners

beast-winners Spartan Race Pala SoCal Beast Winners

sprint-winners Spartan Race Pala SoCal Sprint Winners

(All pictures were taken by the author unless specifically mentioned otherwise)

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Spartan Race – Killington Ultra Beast 2016: No Small Undertaking

The 2016 Killington Ultra Beast was no small undertaking. Two laps of one of the toughest Spartan Races on the map is not a feat to be taken lightly. One of the most challenging aspects of the Ultra Beast for me was knowing on the first lap that I would have to complete everything in front of me not only this time, but another. And when I dared set foot back out on that monstrous course for lap two, I already knew every last detail of what waited ahead.

I had never raced at Killington before, let alone attempt the Ultra Beast, but I figured why not. I know I could do the beast. Let’s push it a bit here.

My drop bin was prepped long before we arrived at the venue emblazoned with the words “You ran FIFTY MILES… You got this.” I was surrounded by family and friends, words of encouragement and good food leading up to the race. I was ready. Nothing much was different from any other race.

Saturday morning, my friends picked me up and drove me to the venue. They dropped off my bin so I could go directly to the start, being the only one in the 6 am heat. Standing around waiting, I got to talk to many friends I wasn’t expecting to see at the start, but I felt like I was in a daze. After a 15 minute delay and then 10 minutes of explaining the rules and singing the national anthem, we were finally off by about 6:25. Consequently, the cutoff times were all pushed back 30 minutes.


From the very beginning, racers got spread out based on power hiking ability. The course started with a 1,000 ft ascent and from just those beginning miles, I was already thinking about lap number two – how much I didn’t want to do this twice. I knew it was far too early to think like this and I redirected my thoughts to each step, one by one.

It didn’t take long before I realized I was somewhere near the front of the pack. I could count the women in front of me: three. I wasn’t moving like I normally do through the obstacles though. I felt extremely sluggish through the first barbed wire crawl and practically powerless on the vertical cargo net. Something wasn’t right, but I knew I had to get it done; so I opted to keep my eyes on the women who kept passing me on the obstacles. I made sure I passed them back on the runnable portions of the course as well as the climbs seeing as that’s my strength.


When we neared the festival grounds, my pace improved greatly, that is until I stepped into the lake. For the remainder of the swim, I was gasping for air because the water was so frigid. I climbed the ladder and made it to the top but chose not to go across the Tarzan Swing since one of the ropes was not knotted and I knew I would slip. I climbed down, swam the rest of the way across and completed my 30 burpees. Back in the lake, rocks and sand in my shoes, and then finally back on solid ground for some more power hiking – rocks and sand still in my shoes because I wasn’t taking them off.

Almost more treacherous than the ascents were the knee shattering and ankle rolling descents. If we weren’t hiking through dense woods on extremely technical “trails” then we were on the ski slopes. Usually, I’d be cheering myself on at this point because downhill running is another strength of mine and typically where I would make up a lot of time, but not on this course. A few steps into each descent and I could feel the pressure building up in my knees. I decided to go swiftly, but not too daringly, at a jog.


I missed the spear throw… SHOCKING. And then a few obstacles later, I made it to the final and easiest object on the multi-rig, the pipe, but just could not shift my left hand forward. I fell. 60 burpees right there at the end before I could get to my sweet salvation: potato chips, sour patch kids, and chocolate covered espresso beans. But why was I so out of it?

After the multi-rig, just before the slip wall (one of the final 3 obstacles), was an exit off to the left which brought us to the transition area. As I entered the transition area, there was a woman holding white bibs. She proceeded to hand me one and said congratulations, you’re in seventh. That was probably the first smile I cracked in several hours. I was extremely proud to be amongst the top 20 females, but I also knew how exhausted I felt. I long thought about stopping here, but it wasn’t what I set out to do. I needed to get back out there for another lap.

After 5 minutes of searching for my bin, which I just couldn’t seem to locate, others began to help and ultimately found it for me. I was greeted by my water, Gatorade, Clif Bars and Bloks, gummy bears and other treats as mentioned earlier. I also had a med kit, towel and extra socks, none of which I used. Very unlike me, I couldn’t be bothered to take my shoes off. A racer nearby took a massive container out of his bin and asked if anyone wanted a peanut butter & jelly. He must’ve had ten sandwiches! So yes, I ate one. I refilled my hydration bladder and packed my race vest with all of my new morale-boosting snacks as well as some solid calorie foods and I was off.

We set out on a short trail run beside the start chute which quickly reconnected to the course. It was there that it was apparent who had just begun the course and who was on lap two. The Ultra Beast participants jogged or even walked as Beast participants sprinted on by. But for the first time this race, I was running with people I knew. And as we approached that first climb once more, we got down on our hands and knees, crawling forward. Before long, I was by myself again and moving slower than everyone around me.

All of the obstacles were textbook Spartan with no real surprises. The course started off with some of the easier obstacles and proceeded to diminish your spirits and crush your soul as you went along. But by lap two, nothing was easy. The Bucket Brigade must’ve taken me 20 minutes the second time around. And at the Tarzan Swing, I barely made it up the ladder at which point my grip was fried. I reached out and grabbed the first rope and then let myself drop into the water. “Well, my headlamp’s gotta be dead now…” And it was.


The burpee area was a mud pit by now and I was thankful we were getting back in the water afterwards. Upon exit of the lake, I took out my Ziploc baggie filled with sour patch kids and espresso beans, drained the lake water out, and ate the espresso beans. It only took 6 miles at a snail’s pace to realize that this would give me the boost I needed. The power hiking expert me was back.

As I climbed up through Norm’s trails in the woods once more, I was soon stuck in a very slow-moving line. I used every opportunity to climb rocks and tree roots just to pass people. Many cheered me on saying, “You go, Ultra Beast,” but I replied “More like ultra idiot.” Although I was completing the obstacles with the most ease I had all day and really began to boost my pace as I watched the clock tick down to 6:30, I was only at the plate drag. Regardless, I sprinted down the mountain to the sandbag carry, got it done as quickly as possible, and sprinted toward the cutoff. I heard a stranger say good for you for finishing strong just before I reached the rope climb… 15 minutes too late. I topped it off with a smile and a heel click, just what I said I’d do when I finished, but it wasn’t long before my timing chip was cut off and I could no longer hold back the tears.

We had 15 hours to complete the course twice. We had to be out of the transition area by 2 pm, giving us exactly 7.5 hours per lap. I completed my first lap in 6.5 hours and despite the extra hour, I still didn’t make it. Approximately 28 miles into the 32 mile Ultra Beast and all that remained from that point was the Death March with a number of obstacles back down at the base right before the finish. The Race Directors knew that racers wouldn’t make it to the finish by 9:30 pm if they didn’t get through the rope climb with at least three hours left to complete the final 4 miles. I knew if I could catch my friend and my mom doing the Beast I would make the cutoff, but I never caught up to them.

As I returned to my drop bin, I received consoling words from friends as well as strangers, none of which seemed to help. Still now, I’m not quite sure how to explain exactly what it is I’m feeling, but one thing I know for sure is that I earned my DNF.

I watched headlamps line the mountain slopes as racers completed the final ascent and descent while I waited by the fire. Everything about it was remarkable: from the simple beauty of the lights to the incredible challenge Spartan Race put in front of us on such a magnificent mountain. Although what stands out most is the physical and mental resolve of the competitors who took on, and more so those who were able to finish, the 2016 Killington Ultra Beast: no small undertaking.


Photo Credit:Kevin Donoghue, Bill Durando, Spartan Race, Justina Rosado

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Dr. Jason Wagner Talks Elevation Training Masks

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Elevation Training Mask

Episode 181 -Jason is a doctor/obstacle racer who wrote a blog post that began this way:

I’m a lung doc and have spent more hours than I can count studying cardiovascular and pulmonary physiology. This makes it nearly impossible for me to ignore all the attention that elevation training masks are getting.

We read the rest of his post and we found it insightful and humorous. We wanted to bring him on so that we could ask questions about what training masks do/don’t accomplish. In addition, we asked him about how to train for elevation, and even IF one should attempt to train for elevation.

Today’s episode is sponsored by

PearUp – Get your group sponsored on Pear and earn up to $1,000 for custom apparel or direct donation.
Udder Mud Run – Use code RUNORM for $10 off this race!

The Liquid Run – Newport Beach. June 18th. Code ORM25 is $25.00 off.

Show Notes:

Should You Wear An Elevation Training Mask – Jason’s blog that grabbed our attention

@theobstacledoc – Jason on Twitter

You can use the player below to listen or use the iTunes or Stitcher buttons at the top of this post.

Ella Kociuba

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Ella Kociuba and dog

Episode 172 – Ella Kociuba burst onto the OCR scene in December of 2011. At just 18 years old, she signed up for the open wave at the Glen Rose Super. She ended up finishing faster than the winning female in the elite heat.

In 2012, she began signing up for elite heats and made the podium in her first several races. Her high point of the year was finishing 3rd at the Vermont Beast Championship race behind Claude Godbout and Amelia Boone. Arguably, the best two women in obstacle racing at that time.

A young female athlete who does well brings a lot of attention, praise, and pressure.

Ella was not ready.

What followed for her was a painful, deep struggle with eating and self image.

In this podcast, Ella opens up about hitting bottom, getting honest, and how her life has turned around since.

Today’s episode is sponsored by

Obstacle Guard – OCR padded arm and leg sleeves. Code ORM is 5% off plus free shipping.

Udder Mud Run – Local favorite has 7k and 1 mile options . Code RUNORM for $10 off.

Show Notes:

Buy Ella’s book.

Ella on Athlinks.

Matt, Joel, and Ella clowning in a 2013 video.

You can use the player below to listen or use the iTunes or Stitcher buttons at the top of this post.