So now that you know how I got involved in these types of races, the next question is: why do you run these races? The answer to this question isn’t really simple. Some people say they run OCR because that’s their form of exercise. Others do OCR because of the free beer at the end. No lie, I read a review about a race where a guy said he only ran the race for the free beer. Buddy, let me tell you, that is the most expensive beer you will ever have in your life. After registration, gas mileage, parking and bag check, you’re sometimes close to having spent $200.00 before even crossing the start line. But if someone offered me free pizza at the finish line, I might just change my reasoning for doing OCR.
My first running experience happened in the first grade. I was the fastest kid in my homeroom. So of course the gym teacher thought it was a good idea to have me race against the fastest kid from the other homeroom—his name was Alan. Well, long story short, I lost. Alan would later go on to become one of my best friends. I was even the best man at his wedding. I didn’t run much the rest of my school “career” after that. No, I wasn’t upset that I lost that race. I had a short stint in track and field, but asthma prevented me from completing it. It wasn’t until college that I found running again.
I started playing floor hockey in 2009 with some friends in a recreational league. Floor hockey is like regular hockey, except it’s played on tile or a smooth surface without skates. The rinks are pretty big so there is a lot of running involved. If you’re lucky enough to play with older guys, you get to run even more. I hate sprinting; I’m actually really slow. But compared to these guys, I’m the roadrunner out there. This is what first got my legs moving in the right direction.
Why do I run these races? I’ve been asked this question a lot since I started. When I explain my answer, most people just scratch their head and look even more confused. My girlfriend thinks I’m nuts for paying to run in mud, be cut by barbed wire, and occasionally get electrocuted. If you really think about it, she is right. Let me be clear: I don’t enjoy running. This is in fact a true statement. In order to prepare for the OCR events you’re supposed to train. I always say I’m going to run 3 miles a day to prepare for each event, but that never ends up happening. Why? Because I don’t enjoy running. Everything else regarding OCR is fun, and I enjoy that. Take the running out and it will be an even better time. I do these races because of the challenge: the challenge of crossing the finish line with your teammates or completing an obstacle you’ve been trying to conquer for years. I feel accomplished. I feel more accomplished after these races than I felt at my own college graduation. If you ever get the chance, try to watch people as they cross the finish line. As each person crosses you can see the joy on their face knowing they completed something that sometimes seemed impossible to themselves and to others. It’s one of the most enjoyable experiences on race day. Sometimes you may even get to see a proposal, which is how two of my teammates got engaged.
It’s nice that these events offer incentives to register for their races. Most incentives are the shirt and finishing medal or, in the case of Tough Mudder, the infamous headband. Sure, these things are nice and you can proudly display them, but are you really going to wear your Tough Mudder shirt or medal 20 years from now? Picture it… it’s 2035 and you see some guy at the gym wearing his Tough Mudder shirt and headband from 2015. It’s like us Flyers fans displaying our 1974 & 1975 Stanley Cup banner in 2015. You would almost have to laugh. Don’t get me wrong, the shirts and medals are really nice. I have a drawer full of shirts (most of which I’ve never worn) and a nice display hook of medals. They are a nice reminders of what I accomplished with my team.
Whatever your reason for doing OCR I hope you find enjoyment and excitement. This is a growing sport, and it can only grow through new and returning participation. So if you’ve ever considered doing one, do it! When you complete one, let me know your thoughts and experiences.
In the next mile I’ll talk about our team: The Running Dead.