US National Championships of Obstacle Course Racing


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A lengthy interview with Jamie Monroe, vice chair for USAOCR.

The organization knows as USAOCR is putting on a national championship event in December in Chula Vista, California.

We do go over a good bit of “How we got here” on today’s episode, however, here is some additional reading/listening either before or after you listen today for further context.

March 2017 – Podcast with Tim Sinnett, the media contact at USAOCR at the time.

May 2017 – Article by McCauley Kraker recapping the first ever US National Championships put on by USAOCR in Miami.

April 2018 – Article about USOCR and it’s parent, WORLD OCR. (formerly known as IOSF).

 

Todays Podcast is sponsored by:

Wetsuit Wearhouse – Save 15% using coupon code ORM15 on all purchases.

Show Notes:

USAOCRChamps.org – Learn more about this event and register here.

AOCRA – “Adrians” organization that has nothing to do with USAOCR. (In case you were confused)

Listen using the player below or the iTunes/Stitcher links at the top of this page. 

Rea Kolbl – To all of our family and friends: You are amazing.

A while ago my husband and I were working out in a gym, and I was in a particularly bad mood; I was hungry, tired and stressed from work, but still wanted to work out, failing at it, and taking it all out on Bun, who by then was well trained in the hangry athlete management and just patiently nodded at my glares and R-rated language. Not getting upset at me actually just made it worse, and while I felt bad I also couldn’t find a way to stop it. Then someone recognized me.

“Are you Rea?? You are amazing!!” Then, turning over to my husband, “isn’t she amazing?”

I half expected Bun to just walk away at that point, but he smiled and said, “I guess she is.”

Finish-line-hugs

No matter how hard the race is, Bun is always there for me at the finish line.  Photo credit: Bob Mulholland

But the truth is, I wasn’t amazing at that moment, and there are many like this in our daily lives. Being tired can make you moody, and being bad at planning sometimes also means I’ll be hungry, overall a bad situation for me and those around. It’s easy to smile at races, be happy during events where I’m rested, full of adrenaline, with nutrition planned (usually by Bun) to avoid hunger. It’s also easy to be amazing after a race, especially a good one. And even after bad ones, there’s always things to learn and to celebrate, hang out with friends I haven’t seen in a long while, and eat all the bananas and peanuts available at the venue.

 

But this is maybe 10% of our daily lives (fine, this year maybe 20%), but there are so many more days of hard training, involuntary sitting down (taper tantrums tend to be even worse than tired tirades), and Bun puts up with me through all of those. Even kisses me goodnight at the end of the day, no matter how many times I told him that the lack of bananas is obviously his fault, and no I refuse to eat that energy bar because the second ingredient is sugar.

 

Always-there-at-the-finish

I think staying up all night is even harder for our crew – at least we’re occupied with “one foot in front of the other”, while they patiently wait ready for us to come into the pit. Photo credit: Victor Martines

So what’s my point? I don’t know how to fix this. I know when I’m annoying, but in that moment, I can’t stop it. So I guess this is a shout-out to all of the spouses out there, all of the partners, family, and friends who see the worst of us, yet still love us, despite. Who come with us to races, stay up all night with us, or stay at home to take care of the household… and who rarely get greeted with “You are amazing!” by strangers in the gym.

Fed-by-the-crew

Without all of your help we wouldn’t even be able to feed ourselves. Photo credit: Tough Mudder

 

Because you are amazing. And we’re only here because you are here, too.

 

The Spear Throw Ate My Homework

 

You’ve all read it before. By now, its become a formula so basic and ingrained that it could be taught in first grade. The litany of excuses that riddle everyone’s race reports are as ubiquitous as race numbers and running shoes. Most notably, its the excuses that we spew out all over social media to explain why we didn’t win. Even worse is when we DO win and we feel the need to undermine our accomplishments by coming up with a reason why we weren’t in peak form but still managed to win! Thanks alot, says #2. What a jerk! Luckily, he’s had hours to mull it over and come up with excuses of his own. Most of the time, here is how it goes:

Step 1 : Introduce what you were doing, and when.

“I had a great race at (RACE NAME) this weekend.”

Step 2 : Come up with some kind of excuse.

“Everything was going great until (CALAMITY) happened”

Note: acceptable answers include: flu, instant unexplainable head-cold, sudden onset of muscle weakness, spontaneous race-nutrition explosion, wardrobe failure, not enough training, too much training, not enough racing, too much racing, etc.

Step 3 : Something incredible happened.

“I was in dead last place, trying to fix my broken shoelace, when I looked deep inside and visions of my ancestors appeared on the monkey bars. They told me to run harder. I came back from 284th place to finish 6th”

Step 4 : How well would you have done, if you didn’t experience your calamity?

“I would have finished 1st, for sure, if my underarm skin hadden gotten so chaffed.”

Step 5 : Put a positive spin on the whole thing.

“Luckily, my dog buster, won his ‘doggy 5km’ race that day and took us all out for pancakes after the race. This race has inspired me to train harder, push myself daily and really take my racing to the next level!”

So…. sound familiar? I get it, and i’m guilty of doing the same thing, but I think this has to stop. Ask yourself, WHY didn’t you get the result you wanted? Was it the weeks of missed workouts? The inability to execute your race? Most of the time, you don’t have anyone to blame but yourself. So OWN it. Swallow your pride. Celebrate your defeat. We learn more from defeat than victory, so embrace it.

Maybe you got beat? Maybe you didn’t achieve your goal? Short of a few very legitimate excuses (Meteor hit the finish line? Lightning fried my timing chip?) The reason you did, or didn’t achieve your goal was likely your own fault. Here are a few tips to help with that.

Set realistic goals! Maybe you’ve never cracked the top 10. That’s fine. But is it realistic to say that you are going to win world championships? Or jump from 50 miles to 100 miles at WTM?

Set goals that aren’t position dependant… and that aren’t dependant on other competitors. Something like “I want to complete every obstacle without failing” or “I want to run 6 min/mile pace on the flats, between obstacles. Or, (if you know the course well, and have raced there before) I want to finish in under 2 hours.
TRAIN! Analyze the race, break it down into components. Running, lifting, obstacles, grip, transitions, etc. Practice these. Time them. Recover, repeat, try to improve. Systematically training and measuring your performance allows you to become faster, better and more efficient. So do it!

Put it all together. Show up on race day. Control EVERY variable that you can. Don’t lose your bib, or show up with broken shoes or without any nutrition. If you want to do well, don’t leave anything to chance.

Execute! Crush it. Have fun.

After the race, avoid the temptation to blame something.

Take 10 minutes to really mull over your performance and see all the ways you can improve.

What went well? What didn’t? How can I shave 4 seconds off my barb-wire crawls?

If I don’t have a good race, its 100% my fault.

Unless there is a spear throw. You can ALWAYS blame the spear throw.

2018 Tough Mudder Competitive Series Updates

There have been some changes in qualifying for various events in the Tough Mudder Competitive Series. In addition, there have been some cash and prize payout changes for some series.

Let’s break it down as easily as as we can.

TOUGHEST MUDDER SERIES

Here are the new WTM contender qualifications.

30 miles for men and 25 for women at any 2018 Toughest Event.

75 miles or better for any man or woman from 2017 WTM.

Legionnaires (men or women) who has completed 50 or more Tough Mudders.

WTM Elite Contender qualifications: (Can earn prize money at WTM)

Past WTM Winner or Top 5 from any of the 2018 Toughest Events.

Payouts for Top 5 podium spots for men and women:

  • $5,000 plus case of Celsius Heat
  • $2,000 plus case of Celsius Heat
  • $1,000 plus case of Celsius Heat
  • $500
  • $250

HOLY GRAIL

No cash prizes for most miles. The prize money was shifted to Tougher and Tough Mudder X prizing.

You will earn “Awesome giant trophy + bragging rights + TBD sponsor prizing and 2019 event entries”

TOUGHER MUDDER

Payout for men and women for top 3 at all of the “Regular/Non-Regional” Tougher Mudders.

  • $500
  • $250
  • $100

Here are the Regional Tougher Mudders:

  • Tougher Mudder North America East Championships – Philadelphia – May 19, 2018
  • Tougher Mudder North America West Championships – Whistler – June 16, 2018
  • Tougher Mudder European Championships – London North – July 7, 2018
  • Tougher Mudder North America Central Championships – Chicago – August 25, 2018

Podium Payout for Top 3 men and women.

  • $2,500
  • $1,000
  • $500

Tougher Mudder World Championships – Seattle – September 22, 2018

Podium Payout for Top 3 men and women.

  • $10,00
  • $2,500
  • $1,000

*Qualify for the championship in Seattle by:

a) Placing top 25 in gender at any of the 4 Regional events.

b) Fill out this special application if you can’t attend any of those 4 events.

TOUGHER MUDDER X

World Championship: Richmond, Virginia June 8, 2018 (later televised on CBS)

Now pays 10 deep to both genders!

  • $25,000
  • $4,000
  • $1,500
  • $1,000
  • $750
  • $500
  • $400
  • $300
  • $200
  • $100

Must have already qualified as top 10 male and female finishers from the Open events in Sacramento from 3/25 or Miami 4/8. If you missed these events and believe you earned special dispensation otherwise, please email athleterelations@toughmudder.com.

WORLD’S TOUGHEST MUDDER

At this time, there are no additional updates about 2018 World’s Toughest Mudder prizes, categories, or payouts. It is also unclear what the distinction of being a contender is for WTM. Last year, it was early pit space, etc. We assume as much this year, but hasn’t been laid out in writing.

Here’s the most recent updated article by Tough Mudder HQ.

Spartan Pro Team : Past, Present, and Future

In The Beginning

Back in 2012, obstacle racing was dying for legitimacy and mainstream buy-in. One of the ways Spartan CEO Joe DeSena thought he could help make this happen was by putting together a “Pro Team”. The Spartan Pro Team was made to showcase that there were serious athletes who traveled to compete in this new thing nearly every weekend. It was also to further Joe’s “OCR in the Olympics” agenda. That this wasn’t just Jack and Jane from the office blowing off steam and being weekend warriors in the mud.

Amelia Boone, Isaiah Vidal, and, of course Hobie Call were some of the first to be asked to join.

Around this time, a smaller race series called Superhero Scramble gave an opportunity for “OCR Team Racing”. The fastest times from 3-4 teammates would win your team prize money. This gave Spartan Race a reason to send it’s racers elsewhere besides just Spartan Races. Superhero Scramble, of course put up their own team, and the idea of “Race Series Pro Teams” was well on it’s way.

Spartan Pro Team Women

As new race series players came onto the OCR scene, they decided they HAD to have a pro team as part of their rollout. First Atlas Race (see pic below), and then BattleFrog Series, made several announcements about how great their races would be AND who they snagged as top pro team members.  (Side note: Superhero, Atlas, and BattleFrog are all gone now, with Superhero and Atlas both closing with debts to athletes who won prize money).

Atlas Pros

Adding Sponsors and More Members

When Spartan announced their sponsorship with Reebok in 2013, the pro team concept took additional shape as these athletes could also pimp shoes and gear for this new title sponsor. As Spartan added additional sponsors, it became a win-win-win for race company, sponsor, and athlete.

In subsequent years, Spartan consistently added members to it’s pro team. Many questioned to what end, as the law of diminishing returns made it seemed redundant to some. At one point in 2015 there were upwards of 30 members. How is it exciting when the 15 pro men snag 15 of the top 20 spots available? If anyone who gets near a Spartan podium ends up on the pro team, how is it news when “Spartan Pro Wins!”?  *Check out the end of this article, where we list all the members from the 2015, 2016, and 2017 Pro Team members.

No details of any Spartan Pro Team contract has ever been made public, but the “unofficial” word has been their have been different “tiers” of athletes. For example, Matt Novakovich and Faye Stenning were both rumored to be on the “A Team” in past years. This means flights, accommodations and race entries were covered, plus additional sponsor money for making the podium, etc. The majority of the other pro team members were at a “lower tier”. So, hypothetically, just the race entry is covered, as long as the athlete can get themselves to the race on their own dime. Many, when asked, were happy to accept this lower tier, as it gave them exposure to help them grow their personal brand and land additional sponsors. Obstacle racers as a whole (including most of you reading this article), have learned to be savvy with travel expenses by carpooling and couch crashing. So the net-net was viewed as positive.

The New Deal

This year, Spartan Race Director of Sport Initiatives Joe Di, informed us of the specific plans for the 2018 Pro Team. This new pro team is a very exclusive group, as the only men are Robert Killian and Ryan Kent. While Rea Kolbl, Nicole Mericle, and Alyssa Hawley are the only women.

Joe Di also announced something called “The Select Athlete Program”. He told us “The Select Athlete Program is a group of 30 plus athletes beneath our premier squad that deserve some recognition, and with performance, our support.”

Here is what members of that team were offered:

  • Three (3) customized 2018 Podium shirts.
  • A 2018 dedicated Spartan Race Bib number.
  • Ten (10) customized JUNK brand headbands.
  • A Spartan Race Mini-Kit, containing a collection of Spartan Race apparel and gear.
  • Five (5) free Race registration codes (if you have a Season Pass – you can use them for friends and family!)
  • Cash Bonuses of up to $500 per event for Podium finishes.
  • Free parking pass and bag check at all Events you register for.
  • Access to “Athlete Tent” at National Series Events.
  • Upgraded Social media support to drive your personal brand.
  • Potential Sponsorship inclusions, seedings, or deals throughout the year.

Members of the “Select Athlete Team” include some former Spartan Pro Team members Veejay Jones, Kevin Donoghue, Glen Racz and Cassidy Watton. In addition, there are some newer names not yet attached to Spartan like Kirk DeWindt, Leigh Wasteney, and Rachel Paquette.

Some athletes were offered “Select Team” contracts and declined. We reached out to a few for comment.

Brakken Kraker told us :

It’s been a wonderful ride representing Spartan. After five years of doing so it will be strange not wearing their logo this year. I’m nothing but grateful for all the opportunities I’ve received, but it was time to branch out and start the next chapter of my OCR experience.

Ryan Woods said:

I’m really happy for the guys on the Pro Team and the Select Team. I really hope one day I will be considered for a position on the pro team as I see it as an honor. I don’t fell there was any advantages for me to be on the Select Team at this time.

Joe Di went on to tell us that the Select Athlete team “…will increase in presence across this year. We may even have a twist or two for you down the line”.  

We’ll list all members that we have been made aware of to date below, but here are some things to look for.

Canadians: Austin Azar, Rachel Paquette, and Jesse Bruce are all on the new “Select Team”. (Canadians Ryan Atkins, Lindsay Webster, and Allison Tai are 3/5 of the 2018 Tough Mudder Pro Team)

Previous Spartan Pros Not Returning: Amelia Boone, Matt Novakovich, Rose Wetzel, and Faye Stenning.

 

 

History of the Spartan Pro Team 2015 – Present

2015 Pro Team

Women

Amelia Boone, Kate Cramer, April Luu, Rose Wetzel, Deanna Blegg, Orla Walsh, Rebecca Clifford, Alex Chikorita Roudayna, Jenny Tobin, Jackie Rust, Karlee Whipple, TyAnn Clark, Tiffanie Novakovich, KK Paul

Men

Cody Moat, Isaiah Vidal, John Yatsko, Hunter McIntyre ,Ryan Kent, Brakken Kraker, Chad Trammell, Glenn Racz, Matt Novakovich, McCauley Kraker, Kevin Donoghue, Matt Novakovich

2016 Pro Team

Women

Returning: Amelia Boone, Rebecca Clifford, Kate Cramer, April Dee, Alyssa Hawley, Alex “Chikorita” Roudanya, Jackie Rust, Orla Walsh.  New: Faye Stenning, Cassidy Watton  Gone: Jenny Tobin, Karlee Whipple, Tyann Clark, Tiffanie Novakovich, KK Paul, Deanna Blegg

Men

Returning: Ryan Kent, Kevin Donoghue, Brakken Kraker, Cody Moat, Matt “Bear” Novakovich, Glenn Racz, Chad Trammell, Isaiah Vidal.  New: Ian Deyerle, Robert Killian  Gone: John Yatsko

2017 Pro Team

Women

Returning: Amelia Boone, Faye Stenning, Alyssa Hawley, Rebecca Clifford, Cassidy Watton, Orla Walsh, Kate Cramer New: Rea Kolbl, Nicole Mericle, Heather Gollnick. Gone: Alex “Chikorita” Roudanya,

Returning: Ryan Kent, Robert Killian, Bear, Brakken, Kevin Donoghue, Isaiah Vidal, Glenn Racz  New: Angel Quintero, Veejay Jones, Ben Greenfield,  Special – Retirement Year Contract: Hobie Call  Gone: Cody Moat, Chad Trammell, Ian Deyerle

2018 Spartan Pro Team Members

Returning men and women: Robert Killian, Ryan Kent, Rea Kolbl, Nicole Mericle, Alyssa Hawley

2018 Spartan Select Team Members (As of press time)

Previous Pro Team Member

Veejay Jones
Kevin Donoghue
Glenn Racz
Heather Gollnick
Cassidy Watton
Ben Greenfield

New

Kirk DeWindt
LeighAnne Wasteney
Rachel Paquette
Nancy Loranger
Austin Azar
Jesse McChesney
Victor Quezada
Greyson Kilgore
Ivan Santana
Mike Ferguson
Jesse Bruce
Jessica Lemon
Nancy Loranger
Sara Knight
Samantha Wood
Cindy Lynch
Brittney McGuire
Laura Cummings
Anne L’Heureux
Laura Rogers
Cassandra Ohman
Leona Moat

Spartan and CRAFT Sportswear Partner to Create OCR-Specific Apparel

Press Release

Spartan and CRAFT Sportswear Partner to Create High-Performance Apparel
Specifically Designed for Obstacle Course Racing

CRAFT Sportswear Named “Official Performance Apparel and Footwear” of Spartan

CLICK ABOVE TO PLAY VIDEO

BOSTON (March 29, 2018) – Spartan and CRAFT Sportswear have entered a global partnership, naming the leader in technical performance apparel as “official performance apparel and footwear” of the world’s largest obstacle race and endurance brand. The multi-year partnership will see the two brands developing the first high-performance technical apparel for the rising sport of Obstacle Course Racing (OCR). CRAFT will be applying the same scientific techniques and sport-specific knowledge it uses in developing Olympic-caliber performance apparel for World Tour cycling teams and Olympic cross-country skiers as well as runners and athletes at all levels. CRAFT is currently available in more than 39 countries, while Spartan has more than 200 races across more than 30 countries around the world.

“The growth of Spartan has created a competitive field of elite OCR athletes who require technical apparel that allows for maximum performance,” said CRAFT Sportswear North America CEO Eric Schenker. “For decades, CRAFT has engineered ergonomically superior products for some of the best athletes in the world, and we’re excited to be the first company to apply that same sport-specific knowledge and research towards developing the first-of-its-kind performance apparel for Spartan athletes. CRAFT is for Olympic Champions and everyday heroes and anyone that finishes a Spartan race has certainly earned that title!”

The OCR-specific “Powered By” CRAFT line of Spartan apparel and footwear is currently under development at the company’s sports science laboratory in Sweden. Spartan athletes face elements that require full functional movement and, at times, extreme temperatures. With just milliseconds on the line between elite finishers, CRAFT’s team of designers and technicians pay strict attention to detail, with every stitch and seam
meticulously placed to address the ergonomic and thermal needs of obstacle racers.

Having recently introduced the brand’s performance footwear in Europe, CRAFT’s all-terrain shoe for Spartan athletes will be its US footwear debut. The first-of-its-kind shoe will be designed specifically for the obstacles and natural elements athletes face on the OCR trail. The “Powered By” line will roll out in early 2019, with cobranded apparel from CRAFT’s existing training line launching in Summer of 2018.

Spartan events focus on sport and athleticism, pushing the bodies and minds of competitors to the limit across miles of unforgiving terrain while they conquer signature obstacles such as the Spear Throw, Inverted Wall, Monkey Bars and Barbed Wire Crawl.

“CRAFT has a proven track record for engineering the best functional apparel for endurance sports, and we’re excited to team up with a global brand that shares our passion for performance and competition to develop the first Olympic-caliber OCR-specific apparel and footwear,” said Spartan Founder and CEO Joe De Sena. “With intense competition unfolding at each race, and athletes pushing themselves to the limit, the CRAFT
‘Powered By’ line is a much-needed addition and step forward for the sport as we continue to attract global brands developing products specifically for our race and fan community.”

Most recently, CRAFT apparel was worn by Team USA Olympians Jessie Diggins and Kikkan Randall when they took home the gold in cross country skiing during the 2018 Winter Games. In addition, CRAFT sponsors a number of other elite athletes and professional teams across the globe in Cross Country Skiing, Cycling, Triathlon, Soccer and Track & Field. Spartan has more than one million annual participants and has seen more than 5 million athletes cross the finish line since it was founded in 2010.

About CRAFT

CRAFT is a Swedish brand specializing in clothing for endurance sports where performance and comfort are crucial for a good result. Combining a true love for endurance sports with a genuine textile heritage and a dedicated organization that dares to think big, we design, develop and manufacture cutting-edge apparel and accessories for Olympic champions and everyday heroes. Visit www.craftsports.us.

About Spartan

Spartan Race is the world’s largest obstacle race and endurance brand, and the first in-sport to feature timing and global rankings. With more than 200 events across more than 30 countries in 2018, Spartan will attract more than one million global participants offering open heats for all fitness levels, along with competitive and elite heats. The Spartan Race lifestyle boasts a community of more than five million passionate social media
followers, health and wellness products, training and nutrition programs, and a popular NBC television series, which has made obstacle racing one of the fastest growing sports in the world. Spartan Race events feature races at three distances, 3+Mile/20+ Obstacle “Sprint,” 8+ Mile/25+ Obstacle “Super” and 12+ Mile/30+Obstacle “Beast,” culminating in the Spartan World Championship in North Lake Tahoe, CA. Visit spartan.com for more information and registration.

MEDIA CONTACT: Jonathan Fine, 781.248.3963, jonathanf@spartan.com