Since last year, I started my career as an obstacle racing athlete. To name a few of my past races, I competed at the European Championships in the Netherlands where I placed 19th in the elite wave. I’ve also been to Canada to take part at the World Championships. Unfortunately, I got injured during the race but still, I made it to the finish, without losing my wristband. So in all, my first season was not a bad start for my first year as an obstacle run athlete, but I knew there was room for improvement.
Last weekend was the moment that I’ve been working towards for the last few months. After a training camp in Monte Gordo (Portugal) last winter, I have been working on my running technique and improving my overall conditioning. Whilst overseas, I had the pleasure of meeting two coaches who asked if they could help me prepare for my next race. Having their level of expertise join my team could only be a good thing and I knew I was getting closer to my goal of winning a big race. So since January this year, I’ve been working extremely hard together with my coaches to get me as prepared as can be for my next big race.
The day of the race was 12th March, it had finally arrived. I wake up in the morning in my hotel room in Meppen, 30 minutes drive from Furstenau, where the Strong Viking Deutschland was about to take place. The Strong Viking Series has competitors from all around Europe so I know this would be a great test to see where I am at with my training.
So after getting warmed up, I made my way to the start line. Whilst we were setting in, the race director was telling us the new rules of the race, I was getting focused. After this the countdown started 3,2,1 ORAAAAH!! We were off.
From the start, I made a sprint till I could reach the front of the pack. For the first part of the race, I averaged around 3rd position as the course turned to a lot of muddy trails. The first main obstacle that I approached was a balance obstacle. Unfortunately for him, I saw the athlete in front of me had taken a tumble. Trying not to do the same, I was trying to focus on my own balance and to clear the obstacle in one attempt. But my foot slipped…I lost my control at the end of the beam, fell off, so I had to start over from the beginning of this part again. I knew I was up against it now.
I had lost my place near the front of the pack and I could see the other athletes were closing in behind me. The next obstacle up was hammer throw, much like you’d see in the Olympics. If you miss the target (I totally missed the target) you receive a 1-minute penalty for your overall time. So after this penalty, I knew I was falling further down the table and sat in around 7th position. I may be down, but I’m not out yet!
I had to dig deep here, I was fighting to try and back into the race to come closer to the front runners. After a few kilometres, I passed two athletes during a horizontal rope climb, so I was back in 5th position, I started to feel like I could do this.
But after the rope, it took quite a while until I could see the other athletes near the front. When I eventually approached the 4th placed runner, I settled near him as I could see the top 3 racers from my current position. Even though I was placing well, I knew the finish line wasn’t too far away and I made to make a move soon. No matter how tired I was.
Whilst going through the motions, I had the lightbulb moment where I was thinking to myself, “I am so close to the podium right know, do I have the strength to give some more energy and try to keep moving forward?”. I had to dig deeper than I ever have before, but the answer was “yes” and with all my energy I kept running. This is what all my training and extra conditioning for, I started to push hard and could hear the sound of the music of the finish area.
I was getting closer and closer to the finish and only a few obstacles away from the end of the race. At the last few obstacle the athlete in 3rd and 2nd positions had gotten a penalty for not finishing the obstacle, I knew this was my chance to get on the podium. I had to finish all the obstacles in one attempt, and summoning all my focus and drive, I did. On the home straight, there was an athlete in front of me and I discovered a gear that I didn’t know that I had, I wasn’t just pushing through the wall, I was smashing it to pieces. Literally metres from the line, I passed the guy in second place and claimed my silver. I did it, my first ever podium finish and I couldn’t have been happier.
I got my first podium moment in my career and I was ecstatic, though the perfectionist in me knows I could have done better. I have now qualified for the OCR Europe Championships, OCR World Championships and for the finals of the Strong Viking Run OCR Series where I’m expecting more of the same results. Watch this space!
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