In my forth season now completing in obstacle course races and mud runs, I have seen a lot of change and growth in the sport. When I began racing in 2010 many of the obstacles looked like something off a kids playground, those who competed where in a small minority of sports. We were very much on the fringe, in 2011 and 2012 the sport grew leaps and bounds, participation exploded and now 2013 has really been the sports coming out party. This year Reebok signed a long-term sponsorship deal with Spartan Race, multiple race series now offer cash prizes to top competitors, and several magazines including Forbes Magazine had called it one of the fastest growing sports in America. This year I have competed both nationally and internationally and today there are too many race series to count. All of this has been great in creating a new sport for many to fall in love with, but those are not the reasons I race.
In 2010, I found myself at a plateau in my own fitness, as a former NCAA D3 two sport athlete, I had spent the five years post college doing other things, coaching the next generation, all the while my own fitness slowly slipped away. Before I knew it I was 20lbs overweight, then I saw a Facebook post for Spartan Race, a new series yet to start in spring 2010. I signed on, something drew me to it, and next thing you know I completed my first race. Instantly it grabbed a hold of me. Obstacle Course Racing takes you out of your clean, cubicle office environment and puts your back in the dirt, connecting us to the primal state in all of us. It was raw, it was real, and it was FUN!
Next thing you know, I was training to do better at the next one, qualifying for World's Toughest Mudder in 2011. Through my training for that race I ran my first ultra marathon, and found a love for trail running, I started to lift weights for the first time since college, and finally my diet improved. The thing with Obstacle Course Races is it not only changes how you look at the world but it also encourages you to push beyond your limits, and find the true you, often the better you. For me that one race in 2011, set me on a new path in life. It was the direction change I desperately needed, and didn't even know it. I recaptured my health, took control of my nutrition with the help of Gaspari Nutrition supplements and overall just became a better person.
People often ask me about why I am drawn to racing, at the end of the day it's not about the competition, it's about all the other benefits I have received from it. I have fallen in love with CrossFit, made new friends, and found a community of like minded individuals who all are constantly striving to be the greatest version of themselves. All of these reasons are why everyone should try an obstacle course race. Is your health not where you want it to be? You can still do an Obstacle Course Race, just at your own pace. EVERYONE CAN DO AN OBSTACLE COURSE RACE! All you need to do it have the courage to toe the line and you may find yourself a changed person when you cross the finish line, much like I did in 2010. Who knows it might just change your life!