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2018 Spartan Iceland Coverage

24 Hour Spartan Iceland Live Tracking via Athlinks

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2017 Spartan Iceland Coverage Video courtesy of Buffalo.

 

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Find out why we are famous for providing non-stop live coverage for events like.

Obstacle Racing World Championships

World’s Toughest Mudder

Spartan World Championships

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and more.

 

How not to poop your wetsuit

I often joke that endurance races are as much of a running competition as they are an eating contest; I love both so no wonder these types of races are my favorite. But the truth is: several hours into the race, eating, just as running, becomes hard. But you can’t quit – because if you stop eating, eventually you’ll run out of fuel, and your legs will no longer let you move. You can never fall behind on nutrition, and if you rely on your hunger to know when to eat another snack you’re already behind.

Knowing this I came into my first ever endurance OCR event, WTM 2017, with a plan: eat often, eat foods high in calories and easy to process, and I would never have to stop running. That plan worked well until the reality of the wetsuit hit me – when you’re covered in layers of neoprene that are covered by more layers of bibs and windbreakers, eating too much (or eating the wrong foods) is just as much of a disaster as eating too little. Wetsuits are expensive and spouses only have so much patience to deal with our crap (pun intended), so I was determined to figure out my nutrition, study my body’s response to different foods, and test new strategies in endurance events throughout the year to come into WTM 2018 better prepared.

Everyone is different

The most important thing to figure out is what kinds of foods work well for you. Now is a great time to start – throughout the year, notice which foods give you energy, what puts you to sleep, what you can eat 5 minutes before a workout or a run and not barf. Most importantly, figure out which foods make you poop – I started making notes of things to avoid based on how soon after the meal or a snack I was running for the toilet. For me, two of those are nuts and watermelon, which would otherwise be perfect in a race (nuts are high in calories and watermelon is full of electrolytes). When you’re running around in a wetsuit, however, electrolytes aren’t going to help you much if you turn hypothermic stripping out of your wetsuit every 10 minutes (if you’re lucky enough to be able to do it in time).

sad-food

Your choice of food should probably make you a bit happier than this. Photo credit: Jake Ramsby. 

Know your diet

Another important thing is to know your diet, and not deviate from it significantly during the event. I generally eat healthy, with almost no processed food (other than cereal) and I haven’t had a dessert other than fruit in years. While it’s true that any calories are better than no calories, I have no idea how my body would respond to things such as cookies, Snickers bars, or other heavily processed foods so I tend to avoid those. You can certainly eat foods you don’t normally eat on a run, but I would avoid things you never eat. Similar goes for energy gels – a lot of those are basically a mix of fructose and maltodextrin, the main reason for my GI issues before I switched to real food based gels. You might be fine if your stomach is used to processed foods, but if your diet generally consists of meals made from scratch you probably want to find something your stomach will know what to do within a race as well.

pizza-and-coca

Pizza and hot chocolate are a popular nighttime snack. Photo credit: Joe Tabor.

When to eat

Once you have your list of deliciousness to look forward to, just how often should you consume them? I went into WTM 2018 with a plan to have one Spring energy gel every 20 minutes and real food at every pit stop. What I didn’t account for was that my watch was both caked in mud and hidden beneath layers of clothing. You could set an alarm, but it’s unlikely you’ll hear it under all of the layers keeping your head warm. Instead of going by time, I decided to go by the feel – not hunger, but rather energy level. As soon as I started to feel a bit more sluggish, I tried to eat. If I started feeling cold, I tried to eat. I had mental checkpoints along the course, places where if I hadn’t had anything yet by then on that lap, I would eat something there whether or not I felt like I needed it.

eat-on-the-go

Eating on course saves you a lot of time. Photo credit: Brad Kerr Photography

Immodium is your friend

Even with all of the above, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to run for 24 hours without needing to visit a porta potty at least once. Don’t try to hold it longer – you won’t make it through the race anyway, and it will only make it worse and probably give you a stomachache. If you notice that your stool is loose, I highly recommend Immodium – in fact, I recommend this as a precaution as well, and I always take one before a race. I took two of those after my poop lap in Atlanta, after which my stomach calmed down and I was able to keep on racing without any more trouble coming my way. And make sure to note how you feel afterwards – one thing I’ve noticed is that pooping always makes me so hungry soon after, so I make sure to increase my food intake during the pit stop that follows.

hand-warmers

Lines between gear and food get blurred as the temperatures drop below freezing: and warmer or a cookie? Photo credit: Benjamin Keith Riley 

Bottom line

At the end of the day, we are all different and figuring these things out takes a few races to troubleshoot and learn on mistakes. Hopefully, yours will be less smelly than mine.

poop-patrol

Anne Clifford helped both me and Kris Mendoza strip in and out of our wetsuit on the course. The real hero of WTM 2018. Photo credit: Mathieu Lo

 

OCR World Championships 2019 – What’s New, What’s Not

Adventurey, the company that produces the North American OCR Championships and the OCR World Championships, announced the location, and several additional details for the 2019 World Champs.

We’ve listed them below along with ORM thoughts on each.

Back in The U.K.

October 11 – 13, 2019. Kelvedon Hatch, Brentwood, UK. The site of Nuclear Races.

ORM Thoughts : We assumed as much. Financially, it just makes sense to make a (minimum) two year commitment for any venue. Ohio’s King’s Domain served as the venue for 2014 and 2015. 2016 and 2017, the event moved to Blue Mountain in Ontario, Canada. 2018 will see it returning to Gryffindor in the United Kingdom.

Revamped Team Relay Race

This year we reintroduced the concept of team based obstacles during the team leg of the relay. And basically, we fell back in love with them. So, watch out for several new obstacles tailored specifically for the team race in 2019. Additionally, Pro Relay teams must now be comprised of athletes from one nation (e.g. Team USA, Team Sweden). Open teams may continue to be mixed.

ORM Thoughts : Most of the pro teams were already country specific, but this may shake up the category a little bit, if there are last minute injuries, etc, and racers can’t have their first choice.

Expanded Age Groups

As a nod to some of the most inspiring athletes in the OCR community, we’ve expanded our divisions to now include 50-54, 55-59, and 60+ age groups. All will be eligible for cash prizes and podiums awards.

ORM Thoughts : The Grey Berets are rejoicing.

New Band System

With our growth and the ever-rising level of competition, we need more robust procedures to ensure the integrity of our results. To that end, next year’s event will bring more marshals, more photo and video review, and most importantly, a new completion band system. Details to follow in 2019.

ORM Thoughts : OCRWC has probably DQ’d more people in a few races than Spartan has done in 8 years. This is exciting as they continue to lead the way in this department.

FREE Bag Drop

Bag drop will be available and free for the entire weekend (Friday-Sunday).

ORM Thoughts: This seems like a no brainer. Not sure why this wasn’t always the case.

Streamlined Registration Process

Beginning next year, we’re going modify our packet pick up process to help alleviate crowds during the initial opening hours. In addition, athlete t-shirts will be pre-packaged with athlete bibs–so make your selection carefully during registration!

ORM Thoughts : Another no- brainer. However, people are SO excited for this event, 90 percent show up early, then complain about lines. Same thing happens at World’s Toughest Mudder every year.  People freak out at packet pickup and blast it on social media. Then by the end of the event, it’s long forgotten.

Modified Qualifying Standards

While this is always a delicate balance, we’ve started making adjustments to our qualifying criteria, which includes: tightening up requirements, removing certain races, and adding plenty of new ones. A new program that will award wild-card spots to athletes will also launch in 2019.

ORM Thoughts: Let’s hope Terrain Race is off the list for 2019.

A New Race Format

We’re keeping this under wraps for now, but watch out for an entirely new and innovative race format during race weekend. It’s not been done in OCR before—but we’re sure you’ll love it!

ORM Thoughts: Could be awesome. Maybe not. #StayTuned

REGISTER NOW. It’s 25 percent off until November 12th. Adrian assures us this will be the ONLY discount available.

The Last 10 Percent

Racing, as in life, is made up of so many different little parts. If you focus too much on one thing, it’s like stepping up too close to a painting. Sure, you can appreciate the brush strokes, but you’ll miss out on the whole picture. The overarching beauty of the masterpiece before you. Or maybe you are missing out on the hastily composed graffiti on the underside of a bridge. Either way.

So, here’s my approach. Do what you will with it. Embrace. Put it in your junk mail. I don’t really care. And in the end, that’s a lesson right there!

The Physical:

At the end of the day, if you want to win, or do really well, there are certain physical laws that govern you. For most endurance sports, once you have the elite “skill set”, we come into the range of aerobic capacity. In a nutshell, that’s how quickly you can move through the expected terrain at a pace that’s maintainable for 1-2 hours. Seems simple. Let’s delve a little deeper.

  • The expected terrain. If you are going to be competing on the side of a mountain, you need to be good at going up and down hills. Really good. You should probably practice that.
  • You’ll rarely find a 400m soft rubber stretch of course, where you can drop sub 60 second laps. So, why are you spending all your time on one?
  • The running portion is going to make up 70-90% of your time. Train accordingly
  • AEROBIC. Meaning with oxygen. People (especially cross-fitters) love going anaerobic. Beyond competitions that last a few minutes, they fall apart. Most OCR races are at least 45 minutes long. To train your aerobic system, you’ll need to spend lots of time at, or below your Aerobic threshold. Sorry, it’s true. This isn’t the sprinting up stairs speed. This isn’t the sexy, high-paced, dubstep ladden training montage. This is the “running through flowers, for hours” pace. Conversational. Heart rate 120-140 for most people. Get it into you!

The Coach:

If you want to self coach yourself… great. If you want to pay for a coach, also great. Make sure whoever you choose, the following always holds true:

  • Consistent progression. You should be increasing the training load by about 5% every week, with every 3rd or 4th week being an “easy” week.
  • Varied intensities. You workouts should be mostly easy, with some “really hard” stuff thrown in.
  • Tests. Every 4-8 weeks, you should have some kind of test, where you can see if you are getting any faster, or if you are just tiring yourself out.
  • Communication. You should have a relationship with whoever makes your training plan, that allows you to say “DUDE, i’m really tired, why is that?”, or lets you say “I don’t think this is working”. Your coach might need to say “suck it up, keep pushing”, or “hmmm, let’s reassess your plan”, or “maybe we need to get some blood work done.” either way, communication is paramount.
  • Your coach should be someone who is smart and who has some sort of a reputation in the industry. Ask 5 of your competitors about your coach. If they all think he’s a twat, maybe it’s time to look elsewhere… This can include you, if you are self coached! Don’t be a twat.

Spiritual

I’ve always believed that the most important facet of competition is the mental and the spiritual, not the physical. I’ve won many races that I shouldn’t have. Where the guy who finished second is a faster runner, or better at obstacles. So, what’s the big secret here? I don’t know. I’m probably wrong. But something here might help.

Your ego will build you up. This will create expectations. So, try best to let go of your ego.
“How do you do that” (Hunter M asks)? Accept that you aren’t special. If you are Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, or a Mud Running champion, at the end of the day, no one is special. We are all just on a rock, hurtling through space and time, doing our best and maybe inspiring 1 or 2 other people to do slightly better too. Sorry if you thought the earth revolved around you, but it doesn’t.

Alright, now that you have no ego, release your expectation of how you might perform relative to others. Just go out there, breathe really hard, make your legs burn and see what happens.
I’m not here to discuss theism, but really? If God exists, i’d hope that he really doesn’t care about the outcome of an athletic pursuit. I really hope….

Now also, stop caring about what other people think about your performance. You may have 10 fans, or 100,000. But most of them would be unaffected if you quit the sport tomorrow. Don’t do it for them, do it for yourself.

Putting it all together

Cool. Now that we’ve squashed all ego and all expectations of how you might do, get back to the “Physical”. Break down the course. Break down your preparation. Break down EVERYTHING that you can. This includes your breakfast. Your running form. Your technique for picking up a sandbag. Look for where you lose time relative to your competitors. Work on those weaknesses, then build it all back up. Become a student of your sport. Learn as much as you can and then apply it.

I hear you saying “But Ryan, why would I want to spend all my time doing this?”. Well, this article WAS called “The last 10%”. You can go out and get 90% of the performance right now, without doing any of this stuff. Guess what. If you learn these principles and you apply them to anything else in life, whether it’s basket weaving, organizing your pantry or designing medical implants, you WILL improve. So maybe there is a bigger lesson there. Or maybe not. meh.

Spartan Race – Lake Tahoe – World Championships 2018


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Interviews with the top athletes near the finish line and around podium time. So many great names from the 2018 Spartan Race World Championships at Squaw Valley, Lake Tahoe, CA.

Todays Podcast is sponsored by:

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

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

The Fab Five Females Of OCR

In OCR’s relatively short history, we have not seen intense competition from this many rivals near the top from either gender.

If you have viewed the Spartan on NBC series in recent years, you may have watched Amelia versus Rose, Hunter battle Hobie, or even Atkins and Woodsy go back and forth for the top spot, but we never have we seen anything like this.

5 women, vying for 3 spots on the podium. Any one of which can win on any given day.

All 5 are around the same age, so all 5 of them can still get stronger (and maybe even faster), and all have plenty of races left in them.

Nicole Mericle – Boulder, CO – 30 years old

Nicole Mericle

Background: Collegiate cross country and track runner, rock climbing enthusiast

First OCR: May 2016 Fort Carson Spartan Super  –  (She placed 3rd to KK and Faye)

Stats: 38 races. 27 podiums. 11 firsts.

Titles: 3K OCR World Champion 2017, Tougher Mudder World Champion 2017, USA OCR 3K and 15K Champion 2017

Strengths: Running fast on flat and uphill terrain, grip and pull up strength obstacles, (and apparently slip walls with short ropes). Despite being the shortest of the Fab 5, I have some jumping, explosive power.

Weaknesses: Carrying heavy things

Give us one word to describe the following women:

Faye – Passionate
Rea – Adventurous
Nicole – Spirited
Lindsay – Champion
Alyssa – Lionhearted

Who out of these women is your toughest competitor?  Lindsay has her training and lifestyle so dialed in. I know she’s always going to be prepared, she knows how to race smart and she’s a fighter when it comes down to it. That’s a hard combination to beat and it’s why Lindsay is oftentimes unbeatable. In order to beat Lindsay I have to be firing at 100%, nothing can go wrong for me and usually something has to go wrong for her.

What else did we not ask you, that you want the world to know? I will not lead the race at the start in Tahoe.

Faye Stenning – Manhattan, New York – 28 years old

Background: Track and Cross Country

First OCR date: 2013

Stats: 69 races to date. 56 podiums. 33 firsts.

Titles: 2nd place at 2016 and 2018 USA Spartan Championship Series , 3rd at Spartan World Championships 2016

Strengths: Speed and endurance

Weaknesses: Technical descents (and the slip wall apparently)

Give us one word to describe the following women:

Faye- Work horse
Rea- Passionate
Nicole-Sassy and speedy
Lindsay- Gold Standard
Alyssa- Down to Earth

Who out of these women is your toughest competitor:

All of the above, depends on the day and the race conditions.

Lindsay Webster – Caledon, Ontario – 28 years old

Background:  Cross country skiing and mountain biking

First OCR date: Spartan World Championships in 2014 at Killington, VT (4th place)

Stats: 80 races, 70 podiums, 40 firsts.

Titles: OCR World Champion 2015, OCR World Champion short course 2016, OCR World Champion long course 2016, 1st place Spartan US Championship Series 2016, OCR World Champion short course 2017, OCR World Champion long course 2017, 1st place Spartan US Championship Series 2017, 1st place Spartan World Championships 2017, 1st place Spartan North American Championship 2018, 1st place OCR North American Championship 2018 long course, 1st place OCR North American Championship 2018 short course, 1st place Spartan US Championship Series 2018. 2018 Tougher Mudder Champion

Strengths: Technical running, descending, hills.

Weaknesses: Flat running, sometimes long carries depending on the day.

Give us one word to describe the following women:

Faye-  Driven. This girl works hard and races harder. She always gives 100% and you can tell if you’ve ever heard her breathing during a race lol.
Rea – Mountain Goat
Nicole – Speedster
Lindsay – Chameleon 😉 Because if you saw me off the race course I think I’m fairly unassuming haha.
Alyssa- Strong. Both physically and mentally.

Who out of these women is your toughest competitor: I’d say Rea or Nicole, depending on the race course.

What else did you not ask you that the world should know:
Rebecca Hammond! Watch for that girl 😉 She’ll be giving me a run for my money next year, I’d bet on it haha. She’s smart… she both races and trains smart, and doesn’t get flustered when something goes wrong in a race. She just figured it out and keeps moving, which is a seriously desirable quality in OCR.

Rea Kolbl – Boulder, CO – 27 years old

 

Background: Slovenian National Team member gymnastics, pole vaulting, trail running

First OCR date: One open heat 2013, Elite heats began in 2016

Stats: 53 races, 47 podiums, 26 firsts

Titles:  World’s Toughest Mudder 2017 champion, 2017 Spartan World Elite Series Champion & Spartan US Elite Series Champion

Strengths: Long climbs, steep ascents

Weaknesses: Technical downhills

Give us one word to describe the following women:

Faye -Fierce all around
Rea -Hill climbing queen
Nicole -Running rabbit
Lindsay -Technical descents magician
Alyssa – Heavy carry and muddy course monster

Who out of these women is your toughest competitor:
Each venue is different enough that any of them could be my toughest competitor. Course with lots of technical descents makes Lindsay tough to beat, and a race like Seattle with lots of mud puts Alyssa on top. You can bet that Nicole will take it away on a course with lots of flat, runnable terrain, and Faye can bring out her redlining abilities on any course. But make it super hilly without any significant bushwacking on the course, I think my chances of doing well are pretty high.

What else did we not ask you, that you want the world to know?
While all of these ladies are my competitors, each and every one of them is an amazing human being and I’m honored every time to share a course and a weekend of racing with such an incredible group.

 Alyssa Hawley – Spokane, WA – Age 28

 

Background:  OCR Division 1 College Softball

First OCR date: May 2015

Stats: 40 podiums with 19 overall wins.

Name of titles: 3rd place Spartan World Champion 2017

Strengths: Heavy carries, technical and muddy courses

Weaknesses: Flat and fast courses

One word to describe the following women :

Faye – Gritty

Rea – Mountain Goat

Nicole – Speedy

Lindsay – Unstoppable

Alyssa-  Hard worker

Who out of these women is your toughest competitor:

Lindsay. She doesn’t seem to have any weaknesses.

Related : How will all the top women fair in Tahoe for the 2018 Spartan World Championship.