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ISSUE 03 / Spring 2013 obstacleracingmagazine.com.au | a Obstacle Racing mag 2013 spring.indd 1
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S T N E T N
prin 03 / s
Spartan Hurricane WOD Women in OCR Parkour - Obstacle Racingâ€™s Older Cousing Spartan Race World Championships Benny Mulley - My Journey What Am I Doing Here? - The Spartan Ultra Beast Experience Bec Grimwood - All Grit
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What a year it’s been! The highlight so far an astounding result by the Southern Cross Spartans at the Spartan Race World Championships in Vermont in September. With their remarkable efforts, Matt Murphy, Deanna Blegg and Ryan Roberts are fast becoming international household obstacle racing names—if they weren’t already. It hasn’t been up and up for the sport, with some upsets in the form of cancelled events and folding event companies. However, there is far more up than down, evidenced by increasing mainstream media attention, continued, though slower, growth in major brands and the continued uprising of minor events. And birth of the newest evolution that perhaps takes obstacle racing to it’s true roots; permanent obstacle courses. Event organisers continue to push the boundaries, whether it be the ingenuity of introducing new novelties and twists to the standard obstacle event, or in raising difficulty levels to keep challenging highly adaptive racers. While the long term future is exciting, if not just a little foggy, the near term is clear as crystal. Still to come this year is World’s Toughest Mudder, with Australia once again sending some formidable strength across the seas, not least being Deanna Blegg who returns for another attempt at the title of World’s Toughest. Domestically the weather is heating up, allowing racers and obstacle courses to thaw. We’re seeing an upsurge in events and in all likelihood, participation numbers. The Obstacle Course Racing League has just a few months left of racing, mostly focused around Stampede and Spartan events. The final number one spot is still up for grabs, despite the number one position being parked in by one racer for the better part of the year. Outside of Stampede and Spartan Race is plenty of Tough Mudder action, Raw Challenge events, the revival of Beach Bash and the unique racing format of the Call of the Beast, the first obstacle race held in Canberra, our nation’s capital. And this is naming just some of the events rounding out the very full national calendar. Racers who were searching for a higher level test of mind and body had their chance in November when Spartan Race brought the Beast to Sydney, NSW. The entire day had a buoyant, positive atmosphere, and will go down as a personal highlight of domestic endurance racing. Special mention must be made of those 100 or so individuals who stepped up to take on the Beast course twice, thereby earning an Ultra Beast finishers medal and unique bragging rights. The event lived up to expectations and remains a race unlike anything yet seen in this country. Whatever your interest in obstacle racing, there is much you can still make of 2013. Get amongst the walls, crawls and sprawls but keep half an eye out for 2014. Things are only getting muddier!
Cheers, Will Lind
Editors Will Lind firstname.lastname@example.org Wok Whitmore email@example.com Designer Marc Norris Media Sales Adam McDonald firstname.lastname@example.org
Contributors Words Leah Dansie Maryanne Eve Bec Grimwood Cam Hill Shane Koziwoda Michelle Rao Matt D’Aquino Jen Dugard Paul Dye Tim Kacprzak Darryl Luck Benny Mulley Cassie O’Loughlan Jarrod Pace Shaun Phelps Bron Sparkes Paul Towers Pictures Adventure Event Photography Aurora Images Bryce Blackmore Jac&Jon Photography Lyndon Maher Dmitry Gudkov Michelle Rao
Some opinions expressed in Obstacle Racing Magazine are not necessarily those of its staff or contributing editors. Those opinions are reproduced with no guarantee of accuracy although Obstacle Racing Magazine endeavours to ensure those opinions and comments are factual. © Obstacle Racing Magazine, 2013. All rights reserved.
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A film documenting the rise of obstacle course racing in Australia. From the countryâ€™s first events to the first Australian OCR team competing at the Spartan World Champs in Vermont, USA.
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Despite obstacle racing being a sport requiring minimal gear, racers love their equipment. Debates over shoe and shock choices, glove or no glove options and shape and style of shorts or bottoms are endless. These quick recommendations might save some worry the next time you start wondering about your next purchase.
Merrell Trail Glove Who’d a thunk it?! I’ve run in a few different shoes in most conditions and it turns out that these little things are by far my favourite. Merrell Road Gloves are light weight when wet or dry, fit like a glove (strangely enough) and are no trouble in the mud at all. Having run Tough Mudder with conventional trail shoes on one day and in the Merrell Road Gloves the next, I was so ridiculously impressed to the point my team mates told me to shut up about them or I’d meet an early end to the event. Honestly, in the Mud Mile, I felt like I was cheating because I just couldn’t get my feet stuck. There was no chance of them coming off as Gloves wrap to your feet. After the race I took them off to empty out the normal barrage of rocks and silt and to my surprise, hardly anything came out at all! I’ll be buying Merrell Trail Gloves as soon as I can get my hands on them. — Paul Dye
TruFit Form Toe Socks My ‘must have’ items for obstacle racing are my TruFit Form Toe Socks from Barefootinc. These socks are lightweight but also tough. I have run my last 8 Obstacle Races plus my training sessions in them and they are still as good as new. They are quite comfortable and keep all the mud and gravel that inevitably fills your shoes during a race from rubbing between your toes and causing blisters. Ankle height collars mean they are perfect socks for those who run in minimalist shoes and/or calf compression or gaiters. The socks also have ‘left’ and ‘right’ foot indicators on top. This may not sound important but it’s one less thing to think about when you want to keep your focus on the race ahead. — Darryl Luck
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The KoKoda Challenge TaKes enduranCe, Courage, maTeship & saCrifiCe one sTep furTher, To bring you a new,
Saturday 22nd March Kokoda Grunt is a hard-core obstacle course that will test your very being against the natural elements and specially engineered obstacles in the picturesque yet rugged landscape of Camp Kokoda, on the shores of Lake Maroon.
Garmin Fenix GPS Watch I have been using the Garmin Fenix for 10 months now and would have to say it’s the one ‘must have’ training aid for obstacle course racing. I have thrown anything and everything at this time piece, from 40 degree to subzero temperatures, thick mud to hours in the surf. It has continually functioned flawlessly while begging for more. This GPS watch does it all by allowing me to monitor/record heart rate, altitude, air pressure, temperature, calories burnt, waypoints, all in real time. All recorded data can be reviewed by connecting the watch to Garmin’s free online data base where detailed maps, splits and overlays can be viewed to help fine tune my training. The watch is robust and strong while feeling light and looking stylish at the same time. I cannot recommend the Garmin Fenix highly enough as it has helped me train harder for longer and guarantees that I nail every session time in and time again. — Jarrod Pace
From the 5km for the newly recruited adventurers to the gruelling 10km for the more seasoned competitors, we will have you sweating, grunting, laughing, crying and begging for more.
regisTer now! new in 2014... The Kid’s “gromeT grunT” A fun obstacle course designed especially for your little ‘Gruntlets’.
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Winter Warrior Challenge
WRITTEN BY Cam Hill. Images by Jac&Jon Photography.
Racers were spoiled with fine skies and a unique challenge at the Winter Warrior Challenge—fresh snow dumped across the course in the week leading up to the event. Cam Hill travelled all the way from Perth to meet the vibrant obstacle racing community in Victoria, and throw down amongst the obstacles and the snow on the slopes of Lake Mountain.
The build up to this race was the biggest of any of my races as of yet. Not only was it in another state, but it was up a mountain side in snow. I hadn’t seen snow before this point, and this was Australia’s one and only Obstacle Course Race in this cold white substance. I hadn’t met any of the other obstacle racers from any other states before, and as I was soon to find out, they were just as eccentric and fun as those of us from the west. We arrived and were greeted with hugs, hand shakes and a great show of welcoming. The night before the race was filled with trading some racing stories and having a good laugh, as any Australian does. There wasn’t any form of angry competitiveness like I’ve found in other races or sports; however, being a bit wrecked from the flight, an early night was in store. The next morning, with all the laughs and fun, you wouldn’t think any of us were about to run 15km up a mountain, in the snow, but we were. We had a quick breakfast, jumped in our cars and drove up for the race. The drive up showed me what a toll on the town of Marysville and surrounding areas the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires had taken, and what a strong community spirit the town had in order to rebuild. The further and further we drove up the mountain the more excited I got, then I saw the snow, and things got even better. We arrived at the top of Lake Mountain, checked in for our Obstacle Course Racing League (OCRL) wave, had a warm up run ( with a few snowballs thrown) and lined up for the race. The OCRL guys were the first wave off the mark, and I suddenly realised how big it is in Victoria compared to WA. There was so many more
faces than I expected to see donning the yellow OCRL bibs. Just before we took off I spotted the only other West Australian there. He wished me luck and we were off! The first part consisted of a steep, slippery run uphill, and a fast downhill and around a few bends through the forest of snow. Eventually the first obstacle appeared, the tyre run. It’s a common obstacle in races, but with slippery snow, it was made harder. Straight after than we were on a winding run through the trees and up and down the slippery rocks. After a little bit more running we came to a winding down hill dash. This was harder than I thought as I had to keep an eye on my ankles due to the slippery substance below my feet. At the bottom of this first trek there was a cargo net climb and then two wooden cable reels to jump over. After the first cable reel I had to take off my jacket and second layer as it had begun to warm up during the run. When I turned around I was surprised to see a man in a wig and pink Tutu (Shaun Phelps) sitting down and enjoying the view. After that came more running through the slippery snow, but this time, it was uphill. As I was running I noticed out of the corner of my eye a Spartan, dressed for combat! Eventually I realised I wasn’t hallucinating and it was another racer dressed up and having some fun. I then came to a downhill run, two more cargo net climbs and a winding downhill track. For me, the downhill parts were tricky to begin with because my ankles needed to adjust to the constant change in surface. All of a sudden I heard a polite, “coming past on the right”, and then once again the Tutu came past. I followed him downhill to more obstacles.
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“I hadn’t met any of the other obstacle racers from any other states before, and as I was soon to find out, they were just as eccentric and fun as those of us from the west.”
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The first out of this section was the monkey bars. After lots of wet hands going over these, they were slippery! As if to prove this point one of the racers in front of me slipped off half way across, only to land on his back. Luckily I didn’t. After checking if he was alright it was the next obstacle, the rope traverse. Upside down, hand after hand, foot after foot nice and quick. Straight from there we had to move several car tyres from one wooden pole to another about ten meters away. Unfortunately my first attempt of carrying three at a time involved one rolling away from me. It didn’t take long but when you’re trying to keep your footing, anything can be made harder. The volunteer then informed me that I then had to wrap some rope around another tyre, drag it behind me to a marker, and then back. Once this section was
done the uphill run back to the top began. We ran away from the tyres and back up the mountain. This time it was on the road. The trees and the snow made for a magnificent sight. What a great place to hold a race! It was only about two kilometres along the uphill road that the snow track came back into play. I had heard there was going to be a three meter wall to get over. So when we came to the first wall I was surprised to see how small it was. After the quick bound over the 1.5m wall was a wooden crawl under. Then came the next wall, a little bigger, possibly 2 meters, but still not bad. Another crawl, and then, the three meter wall came into view. Ahead of me were a few people struggling, which wasn’t reassuring. However the guys just in front did it straight away, and I was confident again. The first
the d n a s e e r t e “Th or a f e d a m w o n s ht. ig s t n e ic if n mag ce a l p t a e r g a What ce!” to hold a ra try, I stuffed up. The second time I was over the top, under the next set of crawl unders and back into the race. Then came three more wooden tree trunk walls, a wooden A-Frame, and the final uphill dash for the last 4km’s of the race. I spoke to and ran with a few different people over this last part. It was great seeing all of this snow, trees and just thinking how lucky I was to be racing here. As the race got steeper and steeper
I noticed the signs on the trees counting down, until it got to 13km and I could hear the spectators not far off. Then, my right calf started to twitch and feel a little tight. I figured it was nothing and kept on going. When I reached the last three wooden walls, made from tree trunks again, I was almost over the top, then BAM, my calf cramped up and I just sat there for a bit hanging my leg over the wall. Luckily there was a volunteer right near there with
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R A E G H G H G TOU U O T E R L O C F TA S OB RS
a good sense of humour. After I jumped off of the wall I had a few people stop and ask if I was okay. Once again the OCR crowd seems to be so friendly! I got over the next two walls and walked to the final two hurdles. Two massive wooden cable reels to get over. All of a sudden the guy I had seen fall off of the monkey bars was back with me and I helped him over the first, and then got myself over. Luckily he was there for the second one, because after I helped him over, my leg was so cramped up that I could barely walk and he helped me over that final hurdle. We then jogged the last part together as fast as my leg would go. We came around the bend and saw all the volunteers, family members and other runners cheering us on. So we ran up that last hill
and crossed the line, which was a large inflated orange tunnel. Not sure who this guy was, but thanks for keeping me running for that last part! Afterwards all the racers relaxed got changed and mingled. I think itâ€™s safe to say that everyone there had a great time and enjoyed themselves. Then came the awards and everyone was so happy for the prize winners and there were no sour faces or complaints. It was one big happy family. It was time to say goodbye to the great group of people that I had met over there. Iâ€™d like to give a big congratulations and thanks to the guys at The Warrior Challenge for putting on such a great event. Not only for the race but for the brilliant set up in general. The choice of location couldnâ€™t be better. It was well worth the trip from WA.
E C A
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Obstacle racing, like any activity, is not without risk, but it isn’t as inherently dangerous as you might think. On the whole it seems that the injuries that arise are not unlike injuries you would face in probably most any other sport or activity, except maybe sleeping or chess. Story by Will Lind.
r Kieran McCarthy, the Event Doctor at True Grit, is a military doctor by trade who has spent the last few years working with the Australian Special Forces covering their intense Selection course and other military activities. You could say that Dr McCarthy would have seen pretty much the lot when it comes to sporting injuries you might face during an obstacle course race. We asked Dr McCarthy for some insight into what sort of injuries participants are ending up with, some advice when it comes to preventing injuries out on course and general rehabilitation guidance.
When the Game Becomes a Pain Interviewee: Dr Kieran McCarthy, FRACGP Director, Spartan Medical Consultants True Grit Event Doctor
Most Common Injuries • Skin grazes & Bruising (both lower leg and hands) • Ankle sprains • Twisted & Sprained Knees • Lower Leg Fractures • Shoulder Injuries (sprains / subluxation) Other potential, less common, injuries: Falls from heights, which present significant risk of spinal and head injury. Thankfully they are rare. We also get asthma related problems when people forget their ventolin puffers. How do most injuries occur? Most actually occur whilst running on uneven ground and not through contact with obstacles. Some of the most significant injuries occur while participants are being over-exuberant in a team environment, such as tripping each other over in the mud or wrestling. What to watch out for: Your footing! Have a look at the obstacle as you approach and try to determine the best way over before leaping onto it. Consider watching other people first and look out for any areas that may cause you to injure yourself. If you get injured out on course without supplies or medical assistance, what should you do?
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Most people continue on with minor injuries— adrenaline is a great pain killer— and why the largest first aid facility is usually at the end. If your injury is significant and you can’t continue, stay where you are. Ask someone to alert safety staff at the next obstacle. Be wary of continuing when you have rolled your ankle. What may be a relatively simple recovery over a couple of weeks can become a significant ligament rupture needing surgery. If you can’t immediately weight bear you may have a fracture, so don’t walk on it. If you witness someone take a significant fall, especially from a height, stop and assist. Presume they have a head and spinal injury and do not move them from where they land. Support their neck to reduce movement until help arrives. What to expect at the medical assistance or First Aid tent: Essentially limited first aid. Rolled ankles are generally strapped and iced. Each event has different levels of medical support, especially in the field. Injuries affecting your mobility will usually require evacuation back to the main first aid tent for assessment. Occasionally ambulance transfers to hospital are required. All first aid teams carry extensive emergency equipment and injury interventions. What is one of the rare or more serious injuries seen on course?
“Some of the most significant injuries occur while participants are being over-exuberant in a team environment, such as tripping each other over in the mud or wrestling.” A female completed almost all of one race with a subluxed hip (almost dislocated). This was a chronic condition (not due to the race), and although we admire her determination, it might not have been the best option for her hip joint. We also had a male competitor who suffered some significant knee fractures and ACL disruption after being intentionally tripped up by a mate.
• Ensure you have engaged in an appropriate fitness program prior to the race. Not only will it improve your enjoyment of the event, it will also reduce your risk of injury, by strengthening the supporting muscles and ligaments. • Watch out for heat related illness. It can creep up on you so ensure you stay adequately hydrated both before, during and after events, especially the longer ones.
Suggestions for preventative action of common injuries: • Reduce abrasions by covering exposed skin with 2XU compression tights or similar. • Wear thin gloves to protect the hands. • Wear sturdy trail running shoes. • Have situational awareness of your surroundings, especially when running over uneven ground. • If you need to strap your ankles / knees before the race you probably shouldn’t be running.
Basic rehabilitation for more common injuries: RICE—Rest.Ice.Compression.Elevation— is king. Physiotherapy is generally only useful after 72 hrs of RICE self care. Treat the simple ankle sprain with respect. If you don’t allow it to heal properly you may be plagued with ongoing instability and an increased risk of more significant damage. A visit to your GP is always a good option if your body is not playing the way you want it to be.
TOUGH MUMS I AM LEADING A TEAM OF TOUGH MUMS IN OBSTACLE RACING EVENTS IN SYDNEY, MELBOURNE AND BRISBANE
To be a part of my Tough Mum team, all you need to do is visit jendugard.com and register your details. All mums will receive a free Tough Mums BodyScience team t-shirt. Mums this is your chance to train and compete in obstacle races with like-minded women who love being fit, love mud and love having fun!
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reviewed BY Tim Kacprzak
Product REVIEW Shock and Impact Resistance: For test number one I threw the Guardian out the window at 100km an hour. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Guardian not only looks the part but survived the ordeal unscathed. Agility and obstacle negotiation : Just as we crawl, roll, climb and swim, any backpack or hydration pack was going to go climb, crawl, roll and swim along with us. There is nothing worse
Geigrrig Guardian Rig When I think hydration pack I think of flimsy, super light mesh wrapped around a water bladder. In contrast, when I think obstacle racing, I think tough, brutal and unforgiving. What lightweight backpack with a soft bladder of water inside would suit one of the toughest events on the planet? My search brought me to the guys at Geigerrig who have been a leading force in innovation in the hydration pack market for many years. The pack of choice was the Geigerrig Guardian Rig. The Details : The Guardian ‘Rig’ (the pack itself) comes with a 2 litre ‘engine’ (water bladder). It has hard shell front and back sections with the bladder situated snugly
within. The ‘Rig’ itself weighs in at around 1.7kg, with a full 2 litre bladder obviously taking that out to closer to 4kg. It has a super slim design, generous amount of padding on the back and an air flow system that keeps your back cool. The shoulder straps have plenty of adjustment and there is a neat integrated whistle strap for emergencies. Some extra carry room would be handy with only the one zip pocket on the front. Perhaps a pocket on the front arm strap for quick access to energy gels would of been a good idea. Suitable for Obstacle Racing?: Not only did the Geigerrig need to hold up to some of the most torturous of tests but the demands of obstacle racing meant it must be nimble enough to sit on someone’s back for hours and not have them wanting to rip it off and toss it in the pile of muddy shoes at the end of the event. How did the Guardian fare?
than being snagged on barb wire or jammed up in a pipe with what feels like a small child on your back. The Guardian’s low profile design and hard shell exterior was perfect through all my testing. I rolled , I jumped, I crawled and I swum with it on. To be honest I felt even more confident attacking my test challenges knowing that my back was protected from the terrain. Taking the Guardian into an obstacle racing event would translate into less time spent in the barb wire crawls and allow for some added floatation support on the water crossings. The added weight of the Guardian with a full bladder inside was barely noticeable as the pack design allows for an even distribution of weight across the back and shoulders. As I scaled walls and climbed ropes I felt that the Guardian was no less a hindrance then a few extra layers of mud on my shoes. Feel and Comfort : I took the pack for runs ranging from 5km to beyond 21km and was pleased with the results. The padding on the back held up and the wide shoulder straps were not uncomfortable at all. The pack itself comes with a generous amount of padding for
back comfort, and the front straps allow for plenty of adjustment. If the pack had anything to hide I would have found it during the hours of running. The Unique Geigerrig Hydration System : I can now get to the most exciting part of the Guardian, the hydration system. Personally the biggest issue I had with hydration packs in obstacle racing was the fact that I did not want to go sticking my mouth around a muddy nozzle to hydrate myself. This is no longer an issue with Geigerrig’s hydration system. Geigerrig have an easy to use pressurised system that allows you to squirt water at pressure out of the nozzle as you please. I was pleasantly surprised when I was able to not only have a drink of water, but to squirt myself with some water to cool down and even wash off my hands after crawling through some mud before hitting some monkey bars. At one point I wanted to test out how good a shot I was by offering a drink to a passerby. Although that was met with a weird look and a pleasant ‘no thank you’ I can honestly see this feature being a huge asset for friends and groups participating in events together. Final Say: Although not an ideal pack for Ultra marathons due to the added weight of the back support, the Guardian does an amazing job of being the hybrid pack between having higher level support to tackle an obstacle race without being too heavy and cumbersome. The Guardian is durable without being too heavy, it’s comfortable and the innovative pressurized hydration system is quite incredible. I highly recommend the Guardian as an obstacle racing hydration pack. Personally I was very pleased with the Guardian and it will be the first bit of gear I throw into my race day kit bag. Geigerrig Australia has offered a unique 25% discount to Obstacle Racing Magazine readers. Purchase Geigerrig products through www. outdooraustralia.com.au using the discount code ‘ORMagazine’ to make the most of the discount offer.
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Spartan Hurricane WOD
If there’s one thing you need to know about the Spartan Race brand it’s this; they will always find a way to throw you off balance. Even if it’s not of their own doing, it’s part of their ethos to look you in the eye and challenge you to take the unexpected in your stride. The Spartan Hurricane WOD was expectedly unexpected. A cold breeze met us as in the predawn at William Dart Park in Brisbane at the University of Queensland. It seemed to take a lifetime for the sun to fight it’s way above the horizon and it felt like a lifetime more before any warmth reached me. As the parkland was illuminated we got our first real look at the Spartan Hurricane training setup. I liked what I saw.
Mountains of Sandbags, immense tangles of Powerbands and rank upon rank of Kettlebells, Sloshbags, coiled Battle Ropes and Bulgarian Training Bags. In full view was an assortment of walls, rope climbs, rope traverse and cargo nets. This was no ordinary weekend bootcamp setup. I had plenty of time to take in the view because as the light grew so did the registration line. By the time true morning was upon us there was also a full sprawl of impatient participants massing across the park. Queuing is a weakness of mine. As it is with many of us. So I’m glad I was near the front. Even then, I needn’t have worried. Sure, things were a little late to
“The Spartan Hurricane WOD was expectedly unexpected.”
get started. But I’m not going to be critical on this point. It was a virtually free event and over a 1000 people needed to be registered for the day. A short 15 minute delay was hardly a make or break criticism. Registrations out of the way and every participant sorted into one of six sizeable training groups, it was time to get serious. Block one: Noosa Bootcamp. Training Device: Sandbags All groups assembled and ready, the first session started as abruptly as a freak hailstorm. It was almost enough to have us diving for cover. The Noosa Bootcamp team barked orders and I followed the directions in a daze. Squat. Run with the sandbag. Clean. Shoulder press. Lunge. Run again. Burpee. As quick as it started the session ended. Just like that. The clouds parted momentarily and we were given respite. I was
WRITTEN BY Will Lind
drained. Not quite sure what had happened I looked around and surveyed the damage. Yep, the first wave of the hurricane had hit and nobody had escaped undamaged. Was this really only the first session? We had another five to go! Block two: Crossfit Foxes. Training Device: Powerbands The Crossfit Foxes met us with stern faces and two enormous piles of Powerbands. They put us through some partner resisted sprint work and a bunch of Tabata intervals. Not my favourite session of the day, I’ll be honest, but not because of the interval work. Points were lost for what was perhaps not the best thought out exercise selection for the crowd that attended the Hurricane event that day. Burpees and squats with the Powerband loaded around our necks and under our feet. There’s nothing innately wrong
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with the exercise. It’s a little more complex, sure, that is fine. What really lost it for me was not just the prescription of the exercise but that when people started to stop because it was becoming painful, and I mean injury pain, we were ordered to push on. Wisest would have been to have an alternative exercise selection. In their defense I gather the Spartan crew would of given one directive above all others to the trainers - give ‘em hell. So yeah, it was hell we got! Bands down. Necks stretched. Water gulped. No time for anything more but shuffling over to session three. Block Three: Commando Steve. Training Device: Bodyweight exercises, walls The Commando of Biggest Loser fame and his crew were out to break us in his military style training. They had control of the walls but they didn’t need
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“This session felt like it lasted an eternity. A never ending thrashing where all we could do was batten down the hatches and brace ourselves until it all blew over.” tricks or gimmicks to bring on the hurt. Plenty of burpees, pushups, crawls and rolls had us at their mercy. This was my second favourite session of the day. I’m an obstacle racer. It doesn’t really matter what the situation, a wall will always put a smile on my face. And burpees, yeah they hurt the group but I consider them a racer’s staple. If you’re fearful of burpees, you need to do more of them. End of story. So for 30 minutes they yelled and we suffered. This time I did it with a smile in my heart. Squat holds burned holes in my quads. Dead bug holds destroyed my abdominals. The Commando and his team managed to smash us for the third time that day but personally the session left me feeling enervated and ready for more. Break time. I scoffed something into my mouth, washed it down with water and moved on. Block Four: Bootcamps Australia. Training device: Battle Ropes I’m a ropes fan but I don’t turn to them often. That weakness was shown up here. We were hammered by three consecutive 10 minute blocks of rope work punctuated by short efforts of bear crawls, spiderman walks and frog jumps. Ropes are tough at the best of times let alone after 90 minutes into an almost non-stop 3 hour training session. I just couldn’t get out of a midway slump and really put in my all. The session started to get repetitive. My mind started to drift. Continuing became more mental
than physical. This session felt like it lasted an eternity. A never ending thrashing where all we could do was batten down the hatches and brace ourselves until it all blew over. Which of course, it did. At least for a short moment. You’d think you would of had enough by now. You’d be right. I was done. But the Hurricane WOD was not. I think I snuck in some more food. I must of because my mood picked up again and I felt a confidence inspiring flow of energy spread throughout my body. Block Five: Ironedge. Training device: Kettlebells, Sloshbags, Bulgarian Training Bags, Slam Balls The edge to the Ironedge crew’s session was an intertraining group competition. The prize? No burpees. This seemed to give my group a massive kick of motivation. We’d had our fill of burpees (to be honest, I sort of wouldn’t of minded a few more. I’m a bit sick like that). So off we went with kettlebell cleans and presses, sloshbag work, plenty of static squat holds and plank holds and a some brand new stuff for me on the Bulgarian Training Bag. The IronEdge crew certainly had some polish to their section. This was critical as they were throwing some of the more complex exercises our way. And thanks to having our repetitions set for us, we could count down each exercise and repetition to the end of the session. Something I can always use to get me through a tough workout.
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So as if I were hunching my shoulders, turning my back to the winds and counting down, I survived this fifth and next to last onslaught. Block six: Terrain Training. Training Device: Obstacle Replication – rope climbs, rope traverse, cargo net crawls, sandbag carry This was the sixth and final
30 minute workout we would be facing in under four hours. What glorious light did I see at the end of the tunnel but a blessed obstacle course replication set up by Terrain Training. Oh a Hurricane we may have faced but now it was my turn to show the storm a thing or two about fury! Terrain Training asked half the group to pick up a sandbag. I believe I was the first. Those with sandbags were directed to run around the entire park while the other half hit the obstacles bag-less for their first lap. When we were asked to move up to the line for the start I was front and centre. You can take the boy out of the obstacle race but you can’t take the obstacle race out of the boy. So on the very second they said go, I was off, striding out into a run for the first time that morning, sandbag across my shoulders and a grin
on my face. Something less than a kilometre later I returned to the start eagerly asking what was next. A leopard crawl, you say? A reverse bear crawl? All with the sandbag? Awesome. Straight onto the ground I dragged and scraped myself, and that sandbag, across the grass that included a section under the tightest cargo net I’ve ever seen, happier than I’d been all day. If there was any let down to this final section it was that I got only a single shot at the rope climb and rope traverse. On the plus side I got to show at least one person a solid rope climb technique that seemed to help them out. By my third time round I could sense a change in the air. The screaming winds faded. The dust settled. The damage could now be tallied. While there was a mix of emotions elicited by
the Hurricane, from anger and disappointment to satisfaction and relief, the overriding sensation was fatigue. Whichever way you look at it, every person that day was challenged. Mentally. Physically. Or both. From that perspective, Spartan achieved their goal with the Hurricane WOD. This was an opportunity for you to learn and to grow. As is every experience. It wasn’t perfect. It wasn’t polished. It was a massive almost free event enabled by a huge amount of time and effort put in by a mass of volunteers. It was a morning very well spent. Was it tough? Did it stretch your patience or your physicality? I’d hope so. Something a good friend of mine said sometime during the day sums it all up nicely, “What did you expect, a Sunday stroll in the park? This is the Spartan Hurricane.”
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Tough Bloke Challenge
WRITTEN BY Paul Towers
Location: Appin, NSW, Distance: 8km, Obstacles: 20+ The Tough Bloke Challenge is the original Australian Obstacle Racing Series with the first race taking place way back in 2008. At that time the more well known international events were mere business concepts and the idea of running through mud, dodging barbed wire and lugging tyres around a track had yet to enter the mainstreamâ€™s public consciousness. As a result of its pedigree, the Tough Bloke Challenge has always managed to draw a strong crowd of serious racers along with everyday people looking to challenge themselves on a demanding eight kilometre course. The 29th and 30th of June 2013 would prove to be no different, although this time round
the weather would have a major impact on the race and turn out to be one of the biggest obstacles faced by participants. For the entire week leading up to the event, Sydney was hit by a consistent deluge of rain. The amount of rain was so intense that many people would have been questioning whether or not the event would even go ahead. However, Saturday arrived nonetheless and people began making their way to Appin, south of Campbelltown. What greeted them upon arrival was a registration area that slowly degraded until all that was beneath oneâ€™s feet was mud, mud and more mud. This did little to dampen the spirits of racers and many people took it in their stride,
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so intense “The amount of rain wasld ve been that many people wou tha no the questioning whether or go ahead.” event would even or even relished the chance, to get muddy one last time before heading to the showers. The course itself followed a similar track to last year, although this time round the course covered an impressive eight kilometres instead of the regular seven. Although components of the course were the same or similar, the fact that the race runs annually meant that it was just as fun and challenging as last year. The race launched from the start gate where racers were immediately greeted by a large hay bale wall. From that point forward the race largely stuck to the tight and often technical trails that litter the area. During this section of the run it became immediately obvious that staying on your feet for the entire event was going to be a challenge. Not only was there the typical mud one would expect
but the up and down nature of the course meant that the rain water was forming its own little channels as it made its way downhill. It was often hard to tell how deep the muddy water was and on more than one occasion there were expletives heard as people slipped, tripped or fell. Following the first section of running was a series of obstacles in close proximity that would be very familiar to seasoned obstacle racers. Included in this bunch was Hurdy Gurdy (logs to climb over and under), Itsy Bitsy Spider (cargo net), Cheeky Monkey (monkey bars) and Nut Cracker (a timber frame to clamber up and over) just to name a few. Even by this early stage of the race those competing in the Obstacle Course Racing League had spread out over the course. The same was to be witnessed in the ‘elite’ waves that
ran on both days. This provided an even playing field for those competing and also meant that on many occasions you were running against the clock, rather than the person who may or may not have been just around the corner. After passing Sticky Peak it was time to pick up the pace and cover some more ground before facing two of the more challenging, and time consuming, obstacles on the course. The first of which was a creek crossing. On any other day this would have been a fairly straightforward obstacle. However the rain had turned what one would imagine being a nice peaceful creek into a waist deep water crossing that was freezing cold. Battling the cold and fighting your way up the creek with the aid of a rope reminded everyone of the reason why they do these events, to be put out of their
comfort zone and face situations that aren’t all that pleasant. Following this was a tyre carry where participants had to pick up two car tyres and trudge around a muddy track. Again this water was at least shin deep and in many parts so slippery that it was hard to keep balanced without the aid of one’s hands, which were firmly gripped around each tyre. The next section of the course featured some familiar obstacles, including Donkey Kong (Tarzan rope swing), Goldmine, which comprised a narrow pipe where the water level rose to the point where you had to hold your breath and crawl through the last section of pipe, Twinkle Toes (balance beam) and Foofy Slide (a zip line). It was then time for one last stretch of trails before reaching the famed Hells Gate. As the Tough Bloke Challenge race information clearly highlights, forgetting to wear long socks or compression pants can be a big mistake here as the rope burns into your legs as you struggle your way across the twenty metre rope before dropping down and crossing that finish line.
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n i n e Wom
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Photography Dmitry Gudkov
OCR From international elite athletes to fitness leaders to mumâ€™s out there finding themselves in amongst the carries and crawls, Australian women love obstacle racing. For any number of reasons, be it the mud, the largely non competitive atmosphere or the family friendly approach taken by most event organisers, obstacle racing enjoys high female participation rates compared to other sports. This is a pattern we can expect to continue, in no small part due to the strong contingent of dedicated women at the forefront of the growing sport encouraging and inspiring others to follow suit. We hear from and about some of the women making their way in the muddy world of obstacle course racing. obstacleracingmagazine.com.au | 31
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Women in OCR
World’s t s e h g u o T g n i m i A Mu m s ’ d l r o W r fo Toughest Mu d de r Story by Marya
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Deanna Blegg is a household name for Obstacle Racers. Recently claiming 2nd at the World Spartan Race Championships in the USA, she had already cemented herself in the national competitive Australian Obstacle Racing League circuit as the number one ranking female. A professional and considered approach to competition has allowed Deanna to win the female elite racer division at every obstacle racing event she has participated in — ’chicking’ (beating) many of the elite male athletes to the line too.
rior to 2013 Deanna was a little known Adventure Racer. Sure, she was massively successful, (it seems everything this amazing woman tries her hand at brings success), but it wasn’t until her cross over to Obstacle Racing in 2012 and her subsequent participation in the 2012 World’s Toughest Mudder (WTM), that the world of Obstacle Racing discovered this champion. The mother of two from Kangaroo Ground, Victoria, blitzed WTM, finishing the 24 hours. An astounding feat in itself, Deanna also finished 2nd female and 3rd overall against a field of over 1300. We all watched however we could via internet sources and social media, amazed at Deanna’s achievement and excitedly anticipating what this absolute champion would bring to Obstacle Racing in 2013. As one of Deanna’s biggest fans and now one of her good friends, I was fortunate enough to spend a ‘lazy’ Friday with her…gulp! We started the day with a CrossFit session at her box; CrossFit Diamond Valley, followed by a 10km trail run through beautiful Smith’s Gully and lastly lunch at Deanna’s local favorite (where she also recently married her partner Peter Thorpe). We talked all things WTM and more, including just what is next for this very inspiring Woman Of Obstacle Racing.
could improve. Yes, I was happy with what I had achieved, but my goal had been to win. Yes, I have unfinished business. My goal is to go back and win the women’s division. What worked and what didn’t during that crazy 24 hour race? In terms of my fitness or my strength it wasn’t that either of these were lacking, or that my strategy/ game plan didn’t work. There are a few things that I would say need tweaking. It was more about gastro intestinal issues and pain management. I always race clean, meaning drug free. Other than my prescribed medications, I never use anything. But I most definitely would have benefited from the use of some Imodium or similar. From around lap 4 I was battling with diarrhea. The muddy water didn’t agree with me and before long I was taking around 30 minutes out per lap for toilet breaks. This meant stopping, stripping down and worst of all, getting cold, which is a big no no. The end result was that I lost valuable time. Similarly, pain management became an issue. The hurt dished out at an event like WTM is huge. After a time it not only hurts, it really really hurts. The pain in your legs is indescribable. Having access to Panadol or Neurofen possibly would have made a difference to the level of pain I was experiencing. At the time I feel my food choices for the event
were spot on. I was still consuming gluten and I found sandwiches and minestrone soup, and also broth, to be perfect fuel. Since then I have discovered that I am gluten intolerant and I now obviously exclude gluten from my diet. My diet during the race next time round will obviously reflect these changes. I am a big consumer of honey as a fast fuel source when racing. At last year’s WTM I consumed 2 litres of honey. That was 100ml every hour. This will remain the same. In terms of gear I was really happy with my choice of clothes. My wetsuit was perfect. Although the first two laps was hell as you are so hot. But after that I just seemed to settle into it and I felt comfortable. I think changing clothes during the event is another crucial mistake as again this is when you will get cold. I am, however, this time planning to run the entire event in Kayak booties. Last year I ran the first lap in runners and I ended up with blisters. I then changed over to my kayak booties. I certainly wouldn’t go out and race 20km in kayak booties but for an endurance event where you are not racing as such, they are perfect. Throughout the event my number one strategy was to keep moving. If you stop you get cold. My game plan will not change. During WTM I watched other athletes stop for extended periods of time, have showers, sleep, change clothes and so on. These things I feel spell the end of the race. Or they would for me. Yes, I would come in from each lap, grab some broth, some sandwiches and just walk off again, commencing my next lap whilst refueling. But I would always keep moving. This is my game plan and these are all strategies that worked for me. Everyone is different. What works for one person may not work for someone else. And what about support, this year at WTM will be very different to last year I am sure Last year my mum came to WTM. She remained at the event the whole time cheering me on. It was very comforting to see her lone torch as I travelled around the track. I knew there were Aussie racers at the event, however, it was difficult to find them. I was told by a US Sport Commentator that there was a whole
Maryanne: You celebrated a massive success in WTM 2012. Were you satisfied with this result? Deanna: I don’t usually go into a race with a goal to win. My aim is to give it my all and do my best. But this was different. I had set myself the goal to be the winning female of this race. I achieved 2nd place. I didn’t win. Still, to place 3rd outright and 2nd female; I came home on a massive high. I was so proud of what I had accomplished. It has been said that you have ‘unfinished business’ in regards to this race. Would you agree? What does that mean? As soon as I had finished the race I knew I would be going back. While it was all still fresh in my mind I immediately began to plan what I could do differently, thinking through the ways that I obstacleracingmagazine.com.au | 33
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Women in OCR this year which reportedly had 40% and even 60% female attendance. It has been amazing to watch the support of women in this sport not only of each other but by male competitors and event organizers. It really is unique. I have been involved in other sports where this just does not happen. And it seems to not only be support but real respect and appreciation of all of the women who participate in obstacle races. I think this sport appeals to women because there are no time limits. In general it is not a race and you can run in teams, which means supporting each other. This is what women love to do. As women we are hardwired to behave this way. These events are so doable, they attract all abilities and there is a ripple effect when women see other women complete these events. It makes them realize that they too can give these races a go and as we know Obstacle Races are addictive. Once you’ve done one you can’t stop. This sense of achievement can then extend off the course to other life areas. It can plant the seed for change and make you feel like you can do anything you set your mind to.
community of Aussie’s back home glued to their computers giving their virtual support. This was very encouraging to hear and I wondered, who were all these people? This time around after making so many new friends within the OCR community it will be wonderful to be running alongside fellow racers and friends, supporting and encouraging each other and also to have the support of the OCR community back home. Has your training differed this year since immersing yourself in OCR? Talk to me about your new love of CrossFit I wouldn’t really say that I am training differently. It’s more a case that my training has morphed. I still do a lot of running and I guess I am now training 30 hours a week rather than my usual 20 hours, but I am also building up to a couple of important events in September and coming back from a rib injury. So I’m cramming in a sense. It is not unusual for me to complete a 14 hour session over a 2 day period as part of my normal training regime. I am, however, now doing much more strength and agility type training. I began CrossFit a few months back and let’s just say it agrees with me. My ability to have both strength and endurance is working in my favour. CrossFit may help me with WTM. It will certainly make me stronger and perhaps more able to excel on the obstacles, which is a definite bonus as I will then have to complete less penalty miles. But it has also markedly reduced my body fat and muscle mass has increased by 1.6 kilograms. And now after completing some eight plus Obstacle Course Races in as many months, do you feel more experienced coming into WTM? Sure, with competition comes experience. Prior to WTM I had only done two obstacle races. I have been able to work out my weaknesses and practice them so as they become a strength. I am still a work in progress, however, it is certainly coming along. Ultimately, the events are still running dominated so it is a matter of staying in
top form with your running. It is not uncommon for me to throw in push ups, burpees and other odds and ends in a run nowadays. Adventure Racing seems to be a passion of yours. So why the switch to OCR? Adventure Racing is definitely still a passion. I’ve been doing it for around 5-6 years and I still participate. For me the attraction of obstacle races is that they are generally short compared to Adventure Races, which by comparison often run for a number of days. Obstacle races are predominantly running events and I love to run, it’s my favorite discipline. I also love to jump, climb and roll in the mud. I am about fun and excitement. I have fallen in love with this sport because it attracts people who want to learn and grow; it is an amazing community of people who can be part of it on so many different levels. Everyone involved seems to have a story of change and growth. Obstacle racing is not as yet full of politics or rules and I think that it will always be a fun sport. The amazing thing about this sport is it attracts like-minded people that are so diverse. Let’s talk about Women and OCR (at this point D’s face lights up) This is why I love the sport of OCR. It is so inclusive of women. There have been races
What about the phenomena of ‘chicking’? Yes, ‘chicking’ is important (giggles). Beating the boys is an achievement and for me more so if the guys don’t like to be beaten by a ‘girl’. In Obstacle Racing I have found the men generally respect me and my ability to ‘chick’ them. They don’t have an issue with me being at the front of the start corral and are happy to race alongside me. So what does the rest of the year hold for you? Well, it is going to be pretty busy for me from now up until Christmas. On Sunday, September 1st, I head off to race in China for a couple of multi-day adventure Quest events. From there I fly back to Australia for a day and a half before I head off to Vermont, USA, for the Spartan Race World Championships. I’m back in Australia by late September with my first Crossfit competition on Saturday 5th October followed on the 6th by the Melbourne Spartan Super Race. I’ll probably be at The Stampede late in October and then in November there is the Spartan Ultra Beast and maybe I’ll aim for the Beast double... I’ll see how I am feeling. MidNovember is World’s Toughest Mudder, again in the USA. It doesn’t stop! On 8th December there is the Lorne Adventure Festival then on the 14th and 15th December I have the Adventure Junkies 24 hr X/marathon adventure race. After that, it’s feet up and a rest fishing by the Murray.
“Once you’ve done one you can’t stop. This sense of achievement can then extend off the course to other life areas. It can plant the seed for change and make you feel like you can do anything you set your mind to.”
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reviewed BY Cassie O’Loughlin
Elevation Training Mask 2.0 A lung buster and harbinger of lactic acid, Cassie O’Loughlin speaks glowingly about the Elevation Training Mask 2.0. My first contact with elevation training began in the Bavarian alps in Germany. Hiking and mountain biking I began to see the benefits of training at a higher altitude. I had often heard of football teams travelling to the highest points on our planet to improve their cardiovascular and mental endurance too. Upon settling back into a relatively flat area in regional Victoria and viewing a “gas mask” type apparatus used by fellow gym goers, I stumbled across the new addition Elevation Training Mask 2.0. Unlike its predecessor, I didn’t feel like I was about to head for a bomb shelter when wearing it. It was well fitting (not the one size fits all method), moulded nylon that is somewhat stylish (for the ladies) and came with varying levels of fittings which simulate higher levels of training by restricting the amount of oxygen that reaches the lungs. I first began on a lower altitude setting doing 1 minute interval rows with 1 minute rest but I’ve now built up to entire training sessions without needing to remove the mask. You feel the heart rate increase with less effort, with my most recent highest heart rate reached being 201bpm. Why use the mask, you ask? Because we don’t all have the luxury of mountain tops and it is widely known and researched that training in high altitude not only increases your lung capacity but also helps increase your anaerobic threshold. It’s affordable too. Forget spending the big dollars on high altitude training camps. And versatile. I use mine in Crossfit, Spin, Pump (all cardio dominant activities) and more recently in conjunction with my obstacle racing preparation in the hills and tracks in regional Victoria. I personally cannot speak highly enough of this product. Having a mild form of asthma I have found this as a great aid in increasing my lung capacity and building lung strength. Above: Cassie (left) wears elevation training mask 2.0 with an altitude variation of 9,000 feet with the limited addition “Bane” sleeve; Beth (right) wears elevation training mask 2.0 with and altitude variation of 3,000 feet with the limited addition “Matrix” sleeve
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Women in OCR
Tough Mum Mission
rom the outside Obstacle Racing seems fit solely for fitness freaks and adventure junkies. The domain of thrill seeking over achievers pursuing pain and dirt. You could not be more wrong. Insiders know that obstacle Racing is for everyone. It is one reason why we have fallen so heavily for this sport. Case in point is Tough Mums, a mums only obstacle race training group originating in Sydneyâ€™s eastern suburbs. Founded by mums fitness expert and Obstacle Racer, Jen Dugard, Tough Mums was the natural progression from Jenâ€™s mums only training group; Body Beyond Baby, which helps mums rebuild their post baby bodies from the inside out. The Tough Mums first tackled an obstacle race at Tough Bloke Challenge in 2012. After an eight week lead in of obstacle specific training, 15 mums, decked out in their signature orange shirts, conquered the course and had so much fun that it was inevitable more events would follow. Since the Tough Bloke Challenge, the
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team has continued to grow and specific Tough Mum training sessions now form part of Jen’s weekly training schedule. Tough Mum’s have been seen at a number of events, including three Spartan Races, Urbanathlon, Tough Bloke Challenge 2013 and a major showing of 35 mums at last year’s Stampede in Sydney. An action packed schedule of races is lined up for the remainder of 2013, including a ‘mums only’ trip away to Melbourne for the Spartan Super in October. While having fun and getting active is a big draw card for Tough Mums, there is a deeper purpose to all Tough Mum and Body Beyond Baby training sessions. Jen Dugard’s mission is to ensure all mums are training well. A goal reached when smart training is combined with all that hard work. “We want to change the way that mums are trained. We will train them hard when they are ready but they must always train well. And we will only push them to the next level when we are sure they have rebuilt their body from the inside out. We spend a lot of time educating mothers on what is and is not normal after having a baby. Many mums are experiencing symptoms of a weak pelvic floor, such as leaking when running, jumping and sneezing, thinking this is a normal by-product of having a baby – it is not. These things will heal themselves to a certain point but then they need help. In the long run if these issues are not addressed they will only get worse”. Jen recalls a conversation in an obstacle racing group about a new mum who was worried about leaking breasts during an upcoming race. When Jen asked how old this mother’s baby was she discovered the mother had given birth only 6 weeks previously and the race was the following week. After first tentatively giving advice, Jen faced a barrage of comments and stories from other mums describing symptoms of pelvic floor weakness whilst taking part in Obstacle Course Racing. Many of these women thought this was normal or that there was no other option than to push through. “With advice from the right health professionals these women can get help and
“With advice from the right health professionals these women can get help and add specific pelvic floor re-training to their current training routines. We are not saying don’t race but we are saying to listen to your body.” add specific pelvic floor re-training to their current training routines. We are not saying don’t race but we are saying to listen to your body. If your baby is still young spend the right time building back up to your previous fitness levels before racing again. Your whole body is in rehab after having a baby and if your child is older it’s not too late either. We work closely with women’s health physiotherapists who use Real Time Ultrasound to assess pelvic floor and transversus abdominus activation. We then use this information to give our mums the best possible care and plan of action. Using our methods many of our mums end up stronger and fitter than they have ever been”. Robin, a 51 year old mother and Tough Mum team member, knows only too well what it is like to experience the embarrassment and frustration of pelvic floor weakness. At 46, when her youngest son was only one year old, Robin decided to start training again. She spent time with a personal trainer and even joined a run club with her oldest daughter. After experiencing bladder weakness and resorting to tying her jumper around her waist to hide any embarrassment, Robin gave up exercising. That was until four years later, at 50 years old, she found Body Beyond Baby through a friend and discovered that what she had thought was normal actually wasn’t. With Jen’s help, Robin began rebuilding her body. “My daughter is turning 12 this year and all that time I had just accepted my fate that leakage was just the norm. Then my son
came along, just adding to the weakness. Now, after six months of training, I can confidently have a drink of water before I run.” Not only can Robin run but she took part in her first obstacle race this year and has already signed up for her next one. “I am hooked, I love the challenge and I am so grateful to be feeling fit and strong again – I want all mums to know that if I can do it they can too” The Tough Mum team is growing and Jen has a vision to take it national. All Tough Mum trainers are mums and Jen continues to raise awareness around safe and effective exercise for mums. “I want to help mums to really find their sense of self again, to help them to become fitter, stronger and more healthy versions of themselves. All while setting a great example for their children.” So where will you see the Tough Mums next? ‘The Stampede in Sydney is where we will have the greatest presence this year. It is our goal to have 100 mums running as part of our team. And we would love for all obstacle racing mums, old and new to join us!” Interested in joining Tough Mums, for your own wellbeing or as a trainer? You can find Tough Mums on Facebook, where you can also access more details about how to be part of the 100 strong mums team taking part at The Stampede. Visit www.jendugard.com to learn more about Jen and her team and also check out her new book ‘How to Love your Body as much as your Baby’ obstacleracingmagazine.com.au | 37
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Women in OCR
Things Obstacle Racing Mums Should Know (and others won’t tell you)
Author: Jen Dugard
There are certain subjects that people don’t really want to talk about; certain bodily functions that are not usually touched upon around the dining room table, exercise techniques and mindsets that can actually do you more harm than good. BUT you, as a fit mum or a wanting-to-be fit mum, one who wants to push herself, try new things and be involved in obstacle racing, should know about. I can’t cover everything but here is my top five things Obstacle Racing Mums should know:
Leaking is NOT normal! – I find it shocking that many mums think that any kind of leakage is just a bi-product of having a baby so they shut up and put up. It’s not. It’s not normal and you shouldn’t, and don’t, have to live with it. I understand you may be afraid that your doctor or physio is going to
your rectus abdominals. Aside from the fact that if you have separation the intra-abdominal pressure on your rectus could push them further apart, you are only really training your outer abdominal layer when what you need to target is your Transversus Abdominus – your inner core muscles. These are the ones that will flatten your stomach AND provide that ‘core’ strength that you need for OCR.
You shouldn’t ‘just have’ backache – most cases of backache come from weaker inner core muscles and if you want to do your very best in obstacle racing any backache that you have could be an indication that you need to put in some extra time on the basics. Yes feeding and carrying children can contribute toward fatigue but if you take the time to rebuild from the inside out
you should be able to get through both life and your next obstacle race pain free.
You can be fitter, stronger and look hotter than ever before – It drives me nuts when people disregard what is possible both physically and mentally as a mum. Mums are some of the strongest people I know. Yes our bodies change shape and yes we may sometimes feel a little out of our own skin at first but with hard work and commitment I believe that every mum can achieve their version of their best ever body. There is no one picture of best body but the one you create for yourself, we are all different. By focusing on the awesome sport of obstacle racing, all of the training disciplines that go with it, I know that when you choose to believe in YOU, you can achieve whatever you put your mind to AND be an even better mum for it.
“most cases of backache come from weaker inner core muscles.” tell you to stop doing the things that you love but I, alongside my women’s health physio’s, work with women everyday that continue to remain active as well as complimenting their training with pelvic floor rehab. No mum should have to worry about weeing herself on course.
Your separation won’t just fix itself – The ‘peak’ when you sit up out of bed, or the ‘gap’ you can put your fingers into between your rectus abdominals, won’t heal itself. Many mums leave hospital after being told their two finger separation is ‘normal’. Yes, two fingers is a very normal gap of the recuts abdominals after having a baby but in many cases it won’t just fix itself. This preconception of ‘normal’ and the view that you can then just go back to what you were doing before can often make things worse. You need to ensure you are doing proper re-training exercises to help fix the gap and improve your strength.
Sit-ups won’t give you a flat tummy – Nor will they properly strengthen your abdominals. By performing sit-ups you are working primarily
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The Benefits of CrossFit for OCR The changeability and all round adaptability that Crossfit develops in participants is not unlike that demanded of an obstacle racer during a race and in training. It’s no wonder these two pursuits would go hand in hand. Story by Leah Dansie. My introduction to CrossFit came in 2011 when I stepped in to a gym that was unlike any other. CrossFit is a method of training that utilises everything and anything and therein lies its beauty. The official definition of Crossfit is ‘constantly varied functional movements performed at relatively high intensity’ (CrossFit. com). However, this only begins to describe the sport. Within this broad definition there are 10 general physical skills,including
also to a range of other sports. This shows the versatility of CrossFit’s simple yet demanding training methodology. CrossFit has given me the solid physical base to compete in events from the Northface 100km ultra marathon to obstacle course races as well as sprint and halfironman length triathlons. One of the hallmarks of CrossFit training is that it prepares you for anything, both the ‘unknown and unknowable’ – similar to the physical skills required to
CrossFit, the training principles behind CrossFit can enhance your overall fitness. However, a word of caution. As with any sport, you do need to tailor your training program for endurance to excel at obstacle course racing if this is your goal. By incorporating sport specific skills such as hill running and body weight strength and power, you will ensure that you are well equipped to handle whatever your next race throws at you.
is your body becomes tuned to generating power for sustained periods as required in an obstacle course race’. As evidence of how CrossFit principles can be utilised as a training tool, in my first encounter of competitive racing at Spartan Race Sydney I was well prepared for the obstacles even though I had no specific training for any of them. CrossFit has formed the basis of my fitness program since starting obstacle course racing and has
It’s not just me that endorses the benefits of CrossFit and strength training for obstacle course racing. Adrian Baori, Co-owner of CrossFit Scorch says, ‘The beauty of using CrossFit to prepare for obstacle course racing is that it teaches you to be an all-round athlete efficient in moving your body. Combining CrossFit with cardio dominant activities like running, rowing and swimming, a person’s total output can’t help but improve. The machine that
been an effective training tool. I feel this sort of training can benefit people from all walks of life and is especially applicable to the world of obstacle course racing.
“CrossFit has given me the solid physical base to compete in events from the Northface 100km ultra marathon to obstacle course races as well as sprint and half-ironman length triathlons.” endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, accuracy, agility and balance. The aim is to create broad general and inclusive fitness (CrossFit.com). This is achieved by moving external loads or body weight, a range of cardio movements or any combination of these, all backed by a solid base of good nutrition. My first encounter sparked a curiosity that lead me not only to the competitive side of CrossFit, but
complete an obstacle course. To successfully complete an obstacle course you need strength for rope climbing, accuracy for spear throws, flexibility to climb under objects, power to jump over walls, endurance for running etc. CrossFit is also about being able to have the physical skills to handle whatever life throws at you, similar to an obstacle course when you don’t know what the obstacles are. Due to the similar nature of obstacle course racing and
Leah Dansie runs Absolute Health and Fitness, For more info visit absolutehealthandfitness.com.au. Special thanks to Alexander Richardson of Sydney Strength; (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Adrian Baori of CrossFit Scorch (www.crossfitscorch.com). obstacleracingmagazine.com.au | 39
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Women in OCR
Attend any Victorian Obstacle Race and you will come across a bubbly group of girls who call themselves TEAM RaNdOm. They are a positive little community that formed out of a mutual love of Obstacle Course Racing. While the team is made up of mainly girls, it not exclusive to females. TEAM RaNdOm is an inclusive environment and you will often find others tagging along, soaking up the positivity out on the course. Obstacle Racing Magazine spoke with Team Captain, Madam Mudd (Michelle Rao), about TEAM RaNdOmâ€™s love of Obstacle Racing and just what makes the team tick.
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Story by Maryanne Eve and Michelle Rao.
the sense of achievement as you pass the finish line!’. Tara is a stay at home Mum to 2 young boys and Manager of TEAM RaNdOm. She has also been recently appointed the role of Admin Assistant with the Obstacle Course Racing Association. Tara, who had struggled with her weight most of her life, had plenty of doubts when Michelle asked if she wanted to join in on their first race at The Stampede. ‘I’ll never be able to do something like that. That’s really intense’, she recalls saying. Unable to withstand Michelle’s enthusiasm, Tara decided to sign up. Besides the personal challenge, Tara says, ‘OCR brings me something else that I didn’t find in regular sport. I just love the atmosphere, the people and the camaraderie....even between strangers. I still have a long way to go before I reach my fitness goals and find myself walking a lot of the course, but that’s another thing I love about Obstacle racing, you see all different fitness levels out there giving it a go. Crossing the finish line has to be one of the best feelings in the world, especially after your very first race. It is such a huge feeling of accomplishment and excitement that I just can’t explain it. You have to experience it yourself’. Rachel, aka Tidal Wave Tookie, is the Team Motivator who, ‘...loves the water obstacles, and getting muddy – plus it’s great to look back on what you’ve done and apply it to your ever day life, i.e. If I can get through that, I can get through anything’. Rachael is Michelle’s younger sister, is also ex-military after serving in the Royal Australian Navy for seven years. ‘I’ve always hung out with my sister since we were kids. She never made me feel like an annoying little sister, I was always one of the gang. So it’s only natural that now I’m a part of her amazing obstacle racing team. I got the title of Team Motivator as
“We’re even known to push strangers through the obstacles and they never even know your name. It’s those RaNdOm acts of kindness that make the world go round” laugh and accomplish things I never thought I could. I have dabbled in sport and fitness here and there but never really found my ‘thing’. Finally I have found my sport and new obsession in obstacle racing! I just love the physical challenge, the memories, the feeling of accomplishment, the obstacles, dressing up in costumes, the funny moments with my team mates…I could go on forever!’. Michelle is often joined on the course by her best friend of almost 20yrs, and partner in crime, Tara, who has earned herself the nickname Dirty Boo. ‘I love everything about obstacle racing, most of all the challenge, getting muddy, having fun with friends and
I love encouraging people to go beyond their comfort zone. When people know you care about them they push themselves that little bit further in your company, as they know they are in safe hands and will never get ridiculed if they don’t make it. The Navy taught me that if you do something as a team it’s so much easier than going at it alone. Just a few positive words can mean the difference between someone having a go, or giving up. It’s not about me out there; I get my thrills from seeing that look of satisfaction on my team mate’s faces. We’re even known to push strangers through the obstacles, and they never even know your name. It’s those RaNdOm
Belinda Toto – ‘I love the challenge of facing my fears and pushing myself to the limit with the support of a great team.’ Vicki McDonald – ‘I love overcoming my fears, pushing myself harder each time and the proud and accomplished feeling of completing a race.’ Susan Hofferts – ‘I love the atmosphere, the challenges and the laughs along the way.’ Anastasia Wolf – ‘The preparation, anticipation and the sense of accomplishment at the end of it all.’ Diane Paech – ‘I enjoy the team work required, with a bunch of awesome women to get the job done and achieve a result together!’ Kerrie Tsaousis – ‘I love the adrenalin rush and crossing that finish line knowing that you have accomplished something great.’
EAM RaNdOm is an Obstacle Racing team in Melbourne whose love of obstacle racing was born in October 2012, with their very first race, The Stampede. Michelle recalls, ‘I never even knew obstacle racing existed until I heard of this great event where you could round up a bunch of mates and torture yourselves on a 5 or 10km course by jumping fire, crawling through mud, walking through ice water, climbing cargo nets over a bus, etc.. all while dressing up in a fun costume! Now how could I resist something like that?’. Michelle asked around and got a few friends keen enough to join the fun for that first event, ‘We couldn’t think of a common theme to dress up in that all of us were happy with so we just went with ‘random’ costumes of our choice, hence the name TEAM RaNdOm, and now we are completely hooked!’. To date TEAM RaNdOm have challenged themselves and completed, eight obstacle races. Although it’s been mainly women who have participated in events thus far, TEAM RaNdOm is made up of women and men of all ages and fitness levels, from the first timer to the Veteran obstacle racer. The girls run with family, friends, work mates and random people they have never met! According to Michelle, ‘We’ve even been lucky enough to pick up an extra team mate and friend on course during an obstacle race. It makes for loads of fun, great new friends, and making amazing memories that will last a lifetime.’ Michelle, aka Madam Mudd, was elected as the Team Captain by her team mates. ‘As a married, work at home and a Mum of 3 active boys, I find obstacle racing to be my outlet. I enjoy being able to get out, get muddy, have a
Why does TEAM RaNdOm love obstacle racing?
acts of kindness that make the world go round’. TEAM RaNdOm‘s motto is Nobody Gets Left Behind, which is why their team is a great one to join if you’ve never tackled an obstacle course before. According to Michelle the majority of the team will always stick to the pack, encouraging, congratulating and helping one another through the course so no one ever gets left alone. They also have team mates who like to gun it for time to challenge their personal bests. ‘Ideally, and as TEAM RaNdOm grows, we envisage having 2-3 levels of different capabilities running as TEAM RaNdOm - The beginners, the veterans, and the experienced racers. This way, we cater for all racers, all ages and different capabilities. We also hope to gain our very own sponsors someday’. Facebook: www.facebook.com/TeamRandomAU Twitter: twitter.com/TEAMRaNdOmAU Instagram: instagram.com/team_random_au Email: email@example.com obstacleracingmagazine.com.au | 41
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r u o k r Pa
in s u o c r e ld o s â€™ g in c a R le Obstac
Story By Will Lind
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A lot of our life is spent getting from point A to point B; For work. For family. For fun. Some walk. Some drive. Some run, ride or swim. Us obstacle racers choose to have our point A to point B served up with as many obstacles in the way as possible, and hopefully with a kilo or two of mud clinging to our bodies. Parkour is no different in the sense that it’s essentially all about getting from the beginning to the end via all the obstacles that stand in the way. It involves similar leaping, vaulting and scaling of walls as we see in obstacle racing. Plus, Parkour has a strong grounding in personal development. It’s not about winning. It’s not about racing. It’s about the challenge. In fact, the two pursuits are more similar than they are different, once you start looking into it. Even the mud, by the technical definition of Parkour, is not off limits to practitioners. Par-what? Outsiders and the uninitiated hear Parkour and would be forgiven for picturing vagrant types running around city centres doing backflips off park benches. If they weren’t doing that, they’d be defacing property or tagging a wall somewhere. This is probably accurate in some instances, just as the suit and tie guy sitting next to you on the bus might get out for a bit of night time vagrancy every now and again. Truth be told, to stereotype Parkour practitioners in such a way would upset the majority of them. It’s an honest, athletic and holistic pursuit that attracts clean living, healthy individuals. There are some points of difference between Parkour and obstacle racing. For starters, Parkour has no definitive start point. Nor does it really have an end point. It’s not a sport and it’s not competitive. There are no true races, there’s no timing or ranking system and you won’t find national championships or state titles. Point of difference? Maybe not so much when you think about it. The challenge, the growth and the achievement are why most of us enjoy our obstacle racing. We grow through the experience of enlisting for harder events, training for them and then conquering them.
The lingo tells us a lot about the discipline Parkour (pronounced Par-Kour - sounds like car-pour) has no special meaning by itself. It refers to Parkour, the pursuit. It derives from the French word, parcour, which sounds the same
A and translates to journey, route or course. The word was originally chosen for it’s meaning in the context of the term, parcour de combatant, a military style of training strongly associated with the idea of an assault course. Another point of similarity—like obstacle racing, Parkour has roots in the military obstacle course. Practitioners of Parkour are called traceurs (for men - pronounced tra-seur) or traceuse (for women - pronounced tra-seuse), both of which are rooted in the French verb tracer, which as you can guess, means to trace. As in trace a path. As in people who practice Parkour trace paths through the obstacle course. Kind of cool how that all works.
risk takers or people with a death wish. While watching a confident, experienced traceur, you will never doubt their competency or for a single moment expect them to fail and fall. To a traceur the world is a playground and full of possibilities. Ledges, walls, light poles, rooftops, stairways. They’re all challenges waiting to be conquered. While tricks and flashiness aren’t part of the Parkour creed, play and messing around most certainly are. Playing the game is where you improve. The question is always, how can I do that? Quickly followed by, how do I do it better? Finished off with, how do I make it harder? Where most of the population barely see
“It’s an honest, athletic and holistic pursuit that attracts clean living, healthy individuals.” Their world is a playground Parkour is more a training discipline than anything else. Almost like a martial art. The focus is on developing the skills and abilities needed for ease of progression through any landscape. We would often picture this as an urban setting, but this isn’t necessarily the case. Parkour is as much at home in the wilderness as it is in the concrete jungle. Traceurs and traceuse are lean, lithe, limbre and strong. They run, climb walls, vault rails, balance, leap and swing. They are courageous and despite the obvious risks associated with what they’re doing, they don’t come across as
the world they’re making their way through every day, a traceur sees questions that need answering. The difference between Parkour and free-running Looking in, Parkour and free-running are pretty much indistinguishable. They both appear to be young guys and gals running around the streets disrespecting public and private property alike by turning it into a gymnastics playground. They leap over stuff, off stuff and through stuff. They wear similar looking clothes. They’re doing similar moves. obstacleracingmagazine.com.au | 43
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I assure you that Parkour is not free-running. Or should I say, free-running is not Parkour. Nor is street performing a part of Parkour. The difference lies in the motive or purpose of the pursuit. Free-running is a more literal expression of self. It’s got a much more aesthetic feel to it. If you see someone doing backflips off a park wall or running up and then flipping off a tree, that’s more free-running. You attempt tricks and moves in free-running, adding as much flourish and flamboyance as you want. So what makes Parkour Parkour? For starters Parkour is entirely about moving from one point to another in as fast and an efficient way as possible. If a movement would slow the progression, it is a waste of energy and time. There are no tricks, just more difficult environments that require higher levels of skill and athleticism to negotiate. At the far end of the spectrum, Parkour practitioners disdain the flashiness and showboating of free-running. The most important physical aspect of Parkour is developing advanced levels of movement. You must flow. You must use momentum, the natural abilities of your body and the environment to move. If you fight, struggle or muscle your way through, you will lose energy and speed. This is simply not the way. The real point of difference You’ve got the physical point of Parkour, which is to move as fast and efficiently as possible
through the environment, negotiating all obstacles while minimising the loss of energy and momentum. To look only at the physical is to ignore the whole point of Parkour. Parkour is a holistic pursuit just like any martial art or whole of life discipline out there. Health. Longevity. Strength. Discipline. Growth. They’re all core concepts. Oh, and assistance. That’s right, there’s an important altruistic component. The whole point of being a better person is to develop your capability to help others. A part of Parkour is about training to assist others in time of crisis or emergency. This almost spiritual side of Parkour is it’s beautiful point of difference. Tracuers are not out there scaling walls to avoid starting an essay for their university assignment. At least not completely. They’re out there for the mental challenge. For the discipline. For the progression. They’re also out there because one day they might be confronted with a situation in which their athleticism can be called upon to do good in the world. If the movement or the training is not underpinned by all these motives, it’s not Parkour. You can take the very same movements and perform them for show or for competition, and it’s no longer Parkour. In an obstacle race we might borrow the movements we learn from Parkour, but it can never be Parkour.
“Forg e Maket winning i Abou t yout all aboor losing your u r . persogrowtht you. . Abou nal j ourn t ey.”
Parkour for Obstacle Racing I see two lessons for obstacle racers here. The first is the lesson in movement and athleticism. The second, and arguably more important, is the formalisation and protection of our purpose and the whole philosophy of obstacle racing. Lessons in movement and athleticism 1. Train for efficiency of movement: Muscle is only part of the answer. If you’ve got the strength, you’re only partway there. The rest is about using your momentum and the environment itself to get up, over, through or under. It’s about figuring out how to do things better, with less energy wastage. 2. Be imaginative in training: Think up your own challenges and see the natural world as your obstacle course. Every spare moment is an opportunity to challenge yourself and grow. Every difficulty is just another obstacle to be negotiated. 3. Be confident: If you have doubts about failing as you come into an obstacle, that is where your focus lies. So to with your training and your goals. If failure is what sits in your mind as you hit obstacles, it’s likely that failure is what you’ll get. Don’t fear the wall. And just don’t fall off balance beams. 4. Consistently challenge yourself for more: Understand that you’re always capable of more. Find new walls to scale. Find better ways to scale them. And think outside the box. Maybe you’re better off running around the wall instead? 5. Respect your limits to stay safe: Reach too far too soon and you are asking for serious injury. At all times be aware of where you’re at, what you’re doing and what you are attempting to do. Mindlessly throwing yourself at a wall or ledge is how accidents happen. Have your mind on the wall, the ledge, the pole, the gap or whatever other obstacle you’ve decided to tackle. It is not casual risk taking. It is calculated daring. Lessons in purpose and philosophical underpinnings Parkour shows us that it doesn’t have to be about the racing. Forget winning or losing. Make it all about you. About your growth. About your personal journey. About you being better by helping others just as you are helping yourself. Parkour has somewhat formalised this concept. It’s essential to its existence. Remove it and all of a sudden you have Parkour-like movements, but no Parkour. We can embrace this in obstacle racing and keep it safe. Formalise it if needs be. We are already out there to grow and learn about ourselves. We are already crawling and climbing to test our limits and surpass them. And camaraderie and assistance are just as much a part obstacle racing as the obstacles. Let’s make sure it stays that way. If you’re not out there in the mud, throwing spears, carrying sandbags and running through the wild, all because you choose to be a better person, aren’t you missing the point of the obstacle race? For more information about Parkour contact your local state Australian Parkour Association representative at www.parkour.asn.au
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World Championships The Southern Cross Spartans showed world class form at the grueling Spartan Race World Championships in Vermont, USA, on 22 November 2013. The immense 21km Spartan Beast, fondly known as the â€˜Beast from the Eastâ€™, proved a rigorous testing ground upon which the Aussie team performed admirably. With incredible performances across the team, it is the stellar results earned by Matt Murphy, second place male, Deanna Blegg, second place female, and Ryan Roberts, fifth place male, that rightly gained the attention of the obstacle racing world. Considered underdogs leading into the event, the Southern Cross Spartans tested themselves against the hardest obstacle racing course there is and the elite of the elite of obstacle racers out there, only leaving after having firmly planted Australia on the map as a hotbed of obstacle racing talent.
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Prepared for the Worst to Give Their Best
Finishers Three Australians in the top 10 at the Spartan Race World Championships was more was expected. But no one flukes a result at the Spartan Beast in Killington. The event is too brutal, too immense, to allow anyone to sneak through. The stellar results from Matt Murphy (2nd male) Deanna Blegg (2nd female) and Ryan Roberts (5th male) are due to weeks of committed training, an intelligent approach to racing, and bucket loads of true blue Australian grit. Story by Will Lind.
You need to think carefully before you go laying down a challenge to Central Coast boy, Matt Murphy. Your problem is simple; if Murphy picks up your challenge he will do everything in his power to own it. If you are not able to match that level of resolve and effort, he has you beat from the outset. A larrikin grin does little to hide a steely intelligence and a talented eye for searching out solutions to immense physical obstacles. Twelve weeks before the World Championships Murphy turned his ex-Professional Triathlete’s mind to preparing for a day of glorious brutality on the Killington ski slopes. For twelve weeks he single-mindedly worked towards that day, doggedly gaining in strength and stamina and all the while building his will for one astounding showing. The hard work paid off. Murphy finished in an exceptional second place. A result nesting him comfortably amongst some of the world’s best athletes who had also thrown down at an event even the winner, Hobie Call, described as being designed not to challenge racers, but to destroy them. To be fair to Murphy, it is an understatement to say he simply turned his mind to preparing for the event. With every intention of being in the best possible shape and giving 110 per cent on the day, it’s more accurate to say Murphy turned it up full gas. All his efforts were for one purpose; to ensure he gave himself, ‘…every opportunity to come away with the best result possible [meaning] minimal burpees, great nutrition and smart pacing. If I crossed the line knowing I did all those well I was happy and I knew putting all those together would result in a great outcome’. Twelve weeks of intense focus. No distractions. No let ups. A strategy was prepared that was partly structured, but also about training by feel to avoid illness, injury and other symptoms of overtraining. Roughly speaking, the program included three gym sessions per week and plenty of running. Training built for nine weeks before slowly declining in load for the last three. The effort over those twelve weeks is not something Murphy will quickly forget. So much so must it sit within his memory that when congratulated for his result not long after finishing, his first response was to reference the hard work he had put in. Not because he felt anyone would thinking his place was a fluke or luck. But because there is a direct link in his mind between results gained and the work put in to get there. Much of Murphy’s results are quickly attributed to the support provided by his training team of four at home on the Central Coast in NSW. Playing the role of coach and mentor, Murphy has cultivated a high achieving and highly supportive foursome. Close friends and accomplished racers themselves, Murphy acknowledges the support the training group provided. ‘Without the consistency and each of us holding one another accountable, I would not have been
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able to do what I did. We were each other’s rock through poor days and on good days. We helped each other get through some tough days. They are the best.’ While some of thier training was completed alone, the foursome, including Murphy, Ryan Roberts, Melissa Robertson and Jarrod Page, were there for each other for every 3:30am morning training session, excessively hard and long training runs, and for the throwing, carrying and lifting. Pushing. Encouraging. Extending. Murphy could be considered an ‘all on’ racer, as in, he puts it all on the line. But it’s not a toss of the dice style gamble for Murphy. It’s starts with preparation and conditioning. At first glance, preparing for Killington seems an impossible task—all you have to do is be prepared for most anything coming your way. The event had so many unknowns, so may uncertainties, that Murphy actually planned to be prepared for everything. Readiness
was so much more than simply looking up a competitor’s run time and surpassing it in training. You couldn’t find out their best lift or highest jump and aim for that. Murphy couldn’t even know what he was facing from the event itself, including how long it would take him or what it is like to race the world class athletes arrayed before him. All he could do was prepare as intelligently and as thoroughly as possible, with a fine eye for the details, and as he puts it, ‘leave no stone unturned’ in his approach. It has been a big year for Murphy, starring in Search4Hurt, reigning as Australia’s unbeaten Spartan Racer and best all round obstacle racer in Australia, and now taking home a phenomenal result at the Spartan Race World Championships. What’s next? A short time will pass and this high achieving lad from the Central Coast will pick another goal. For now, the focus is work and family, both of which bore the cost of Murphy’s attention to
e line h t d e s s o r c I “If hose t l l a id d I g in know d I knew n a y p p a h s a w well I together e s o h t l l a g puttin great a in t l u s e r d woul Murphy t t a M .” e m o outc
performing at his best for the Championships. Still, Murphy notes that, ‘Training will still be important and I’ll stay consistent, but no pressure now the result I want is in the bag’. And when asked about going back in 2014 for the win, Murphy responds in true work-horse fashion, ‘I think it would be better to say I’ll be better prepared next year, and what benefit that brings will be the result’.
Deanna Blegg Powered by one of the world’s most finely tuned diesel engines, quality foods straight from the earth and a mind as centred and present as any monk’s, Blegg truly revels in adversity. While she doesn’t describe herself as quick over a short distance, though you wouldn’t bet against her, Blegg has a strong preference for long courses. Really long courses. And make ‘em tough. The tougher the better. An experienced endurance athlete, 44 year old Blegg gets stronger as time passes, just as you would expect others to start to fade. Still, she was happy enough to see the finish line of the Spartan Race World Championships Beast after 4 hours and 24 minutes of negotiating what Blegg agrees was a brutal course. The end was particularly sweet for Blegg, who already knew she was claiming 2nd place. A hard fought battle and an all out effort from herself would have left Blegg satisfied. That’s her style. But a top ten was also on her mind. Second place female, 16th overall and 1st in her age group, while certainly not beyond the realm of possibilities, was an exceptional result, from her perspective, and ours. A fierce and determined racer, Blegg has competition in her blood. Not necessarily with any one person, but with the course and the event itself. Rarely would the actions or tactics of a competitor throw her off her game or change her plan of attack. Blegg does not study her competitors, or concern herself with anything outside her control. ‘I do no research on my competitors or course maps at all’, she says, ‘I can’t change what they do or how they race. The only thing I can change is how I perform. if I’m thinking about other people, it creates a nervousness that’s unnecessary. It’s unnecessary thought and worry for me because so what? I can’t change that’. This confidence, this surety, is one element that makes Blegg such a high quality athlete. Blegg’s training was not targeted specifically towards the Beast. Instead, she conditions herself for a different type of hardship, major multi day and multi discipline adventure races, which by chance, are almost perfect preparation for obstacle races reflecting similar terrain and conditions. Blegg trains to race, which is then training for more racing. ‘I’m lucky in the respect that my racing prepares me for obstacle race. I don’t do lunges, pack carries or whatever else’. However, Blegg acknowledges that obstacles, particularly the draining carries at the Beast, add a different dimension to racing. And according to Blegg, that one day at the Beast was the, ‘most individually brutal event I’ve done ever.’ Most recently, just 10 days before the Beast, Blegg was in China for two weeks and two adventure races, with her team placing a highly commendable 5th overall and first Australian obstacleracingmagazine.com.au | 49
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team at the prestigious Wulong Mountain Quest. When not racing, training consists of several hours most days a week of different disciplines, from running to mountain biking, yoga, swimming and paddling, with Crossfit being the most recent inclusion in her regime. The Beast was literally a day of ups and downs, a situation Blegg flattens out for herself with a steady approach, a firm resolve and an experienced eye for tackling a gruelling course. By two thirds through Blegg was not even aware of her place in the race, knowing only that she had to continue on, pushing for a balance between speed and conservation. During a race she constantly monitors how her body feels, caring for her physical self so it can give back for the full duration of an event. Even upon discovering she was in 2nd place, not much changed. Perhaps her steps were a touch lighter. A smile that much quicker to spread across her face. But that steady rhythm, those fast steps and her commitment to racing to her utmost abilities, they all remained the same. On finishing 16th overall, in front of the vast majority of men, Blegg is maybe a touch smug. She respects all competitors, and it’s not her goal to ‘chick’ the male competitors, but she has noticed some males find it disconcerting to be passed and beaten by a female. In which case, she does draw some satisfaction from the moment. There’s a refreshing honesty to the way Blegg races. She respects her competitors, the course, the rules and herself. And she doesn’t compare herself to anyone else out there. She knows who she is, neither downplaying nor overstating her abilities or her prospects.
“By two thirds through Blegg was not even aware of her place in the race, knowing only that she had to continue on.” - Deanna Blegg Blegg has an honest attempt at completing all obstacles, is strict with her burpee penalties and has no place for whinging or complaining. She is calculating at obstacles and strategises all things under her control. Although, even where a course map is available, she prefers not to know, confident her body is prepared for anything and enjoying the surprises. With plenty of national level obstacle racing still to come, our leading female and one of our overall best obstacle racers also has more adventure racing ahead of her. And another crack at the World’s Toughest Mudder title later in 2013. It’s a short rest for now, with a longer holiday planned for the end of the year, which will be one well earned rest for our beautiful, world class racer, mother, and our own daughter of the outdoors and the earth.
Ryan Roberts A 24 year old arborist from the Central Coast now proudly lays claim to being the 5th best Spartan Racer in the world, which also makes him one of the greatest obstacle racers out there right now. A surprising result, maybe,
but neither fluke nor luck got Ryan Roberts that stellar result at the Vermont Spartan Race World Championships. You do not chance your way through the Killington Beast. Originally planning on fighting for a top 15 position, Roberts lowered his sights after reading some pre race hype in the days preceding the event. With mountain racing world champions, Olympic runners and professional Spartan Racers in attendance, Ryan felt it more appropriate to adjust his goal to a top 20. Even then, he couldn’t really be sure if that was a fair goal. It seems no one expected the astounding result that came. Under the tutelage of Matt Murphy, (who proved himself one of the World’s best with a 2nd place finish himself), the vastly inexperienced Roberts willingly followed every instruction and tip of Murphy’s. And with only a year of running training behind him, Ryan faithfully threw himself into the regime Murphy set out, taking to the task with energy and drive matched perhaps only by Murphy himself. Roberts was part of the very same foursome from the Central Coast Murphy moulded
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into what is clearly one of the most effective obstacle racing training teams in the world. Though focus was sometimes an issue, motivation was not, and even should lethargy or mental fatigue threaten to raise its head, Roberts knew the group would stick together, saying they could, ‘rely on one another to get out of bed, sometimes as early as 3:30am. We just made every session count. And all helped each other to just get the job done’. The World Championships was always the goal. Initially unclear on what the event would entail, Murphy would adjust the training plan as more details came to light. Intensity and session length began to blow out to reflect the enormity of the task they all faced. ‘We probably trained six days a week, totalling between 10 to 15 hours, ‘ says Roberts, ‘Our training consisted of a range intensities, styles and exercises, including hill repeats, 20km tempo runs at 4am, burpees and strength grip training for obstacles. If we felt great we would train hard but if I felt off or sick Matt didn’t push us till we were 100 per cent again’. Asked about strategy, Roberts says the game plan, ‘was to take care of our bodies by having the right amount of nutrition and water’. And in terms of racing, ‘the priority was to conserve energy from the start, attacking at certain parts of the course or certain obstacles’. Robert’s entire race almost came unstuck when faced with a mechanical issue of sorts, losing access to the water in his hydration pack. Roberts tried to fix the problem but in a panic, soldiered on without a solution and as result, without water. Desperately needing hydration and with water stations scarce out on course, Roberts resorted to drinking out of the tiny streams that crossed his path or from the water crossings racers were required to swim through. While not assailed by doubts, Roberts was not immune to some uncertainty on the start line when surrounded by famous faces and some of the world’s elite. That is until the announcer introduced his mentor, Murphy, to the crowd and Roberts gathered with his Australian team mates. With that support around him Roberts says his attitude quickly changed. ‘It was like a switch that flicked. I suddenly felt that every single one of us deserves to be on this start line! I wasn’t nervous because us Aussies were bunched together, laughing, joking and pumping each other up’. During the race, the nerves and doubts were far from his mind. With a strong plan, and some world class training behind him, Roberts took it one step, one task at a time. Of all the challenges, the hills have left a lasting impression on Roberts, which he says were, ‘like nothing I’ve experienced in terms of the length and number of repeats’. Knowing that endurance sports reward patience and time, Roberts plans to spend 2014 running some longer distances and entering local races in preparation for the more competitive Spartan races. He is not the only one eager to see where his mighty legs and never-say-die attitude can take him. This young racer might just be the new age of obstacle racing. Lucky for us, he is a proud Southern Cross Spartan.
“losing acce in his hydrat ss to the water n pack. Rober tried to fixio ts t h e p r o b l em but in a panic, sold iered on wit hout a solution an d a s re without wat er.” - Ryan Rsoult, berts
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The Beast by the Numbers The Vermont Beast is an event like no other, making it difficult to draw any comparisons. Perhaps the numbers will paint a picture clearer than words or photos ever could... Spartan Race Beast distance events are around half marathon in length (21km) and are held numerous times a year, just like Spartan Sprint (7km) or Spartan Super (14km) distance events. However, there is a particularly special Beast held once a year at Killington Ski Resort, Vermont, USA. Affectionately known as the Beast from the East, this event is incomparable to any other Spartan Race event. The weekend of the Championships itself included multiple events, including a Sprint, a charity event on Sunday, an open Beast event both Saturday and Sunday and last but not least, the monumental Ultra Beast, a whole different story being an event that is twice the distance of the Beast (this year won by Junyong Pak in time of 8:36:28). However, the World Championships were contested on Saturday 21st September in the Elite Beast event, and this is where most of the attention lay. What exactly what this ghastly course everyone keeps talking about?
The 2013 Spartan Beast by the numbers What Where Distance Finishers Male Finishers Female Finishers Time of the winner & fastest male (Hobie Call) Average pace of the winner Equivalent Running Times: 10km 5km 100m Fastest Female (Amelia Boone) Final Finisher Time *Elevation Gain/Loss *Elevation Max Total *Elevation Min Total
Spartan Race Beast World Championships Killington, Vermont, USA 22.6km 436 339 97 3:35:57 10min/km 1 hour 40 minutes 50 minutes 60 seconds 4:09:53 15:59:07 6,273ft - 7,700ft (1911m - 2347m) 2163ft (659m) 3829ft (1167m)
* Data acquired from multiple participant GPS devices
Garmin GPS Elevation Profile
Obstacles includedâ€Ś 6ft, 7ft and 8ft Wall Low Wall Vaults Under Wall Crawls Pipe Crawls Vertical Cargo Net Suspended Horizontal Cargo Net Rope Traverse Log Hop 60-70 Pound Sandbag carry Bucket carry Spartan Pancake Sandbag Carry 3 x Barbed wire crawls 2 x Rope climbs (1 x climb out of a lake midway through a swim) Tarzan Rope Swing Atlas Carry Tractor Pull Up Hill Tyre Drag Monkey Bars Spear Throw Under-Over-Through Underwater Wall Memory Test Inverted Angled Walls Incline Angled Wall Hay Bales Hercules Hoist Traverse Wall
** Data obtained from GPS device worn by Kyle Creek
Southern Cross Spartan Place and Times Name Matt Murphy Ryan Roberts Deanna Blegg Kyle Creek Brendan Hunt Mick Crossley Will Lind Mark Stiegler Shaun Phelps Michael Aspinall Melissa Robertson Leah Dansie Jarrad Page*** Rino Paluch Kate Barsby Jen Dugard*** Paul Towers Dave Brooks
Age 28 25 44 24 25 27 28 44 41 32 32 29 24 32 33 32 24 26
Place (Gender) 2nd 5th 2nd 19th 21st 26th 29th 56th 60th 61st 15th 21st 72nd 118th 31st 26th 198th 214th
Place (Age group) 1st 2nd 1st 6th 8th 10th 11th 8th 9th 11th 7th 2nd 10th 24th 12th 7th 23rd 53rd
Time 3:44:16 4:05:49 4:24:11 4:28:23 4:31:55 4:37:27 4:40:34 5:13:19 5:13:50 5:15:14 5:16:43 5:37:50 5:43:45 5:54:39 6:12:37 6:19:10 6:56:23 7:07:20
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AV A I
Is your booty being hugged?
R M EMBE
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“They Came in all Humility, and Behaved Like Boss.” Story by Will Lind. Reunion Island is a mountainous pimple sitting innocuously between Mauritius and Madagascar in the Indian Ocean. I went there for a bike race once. Four days of racing with a five man team. We won the tour. We earned it too. A journalist followed us around for the week taking quotes and writing up each day’s events. The island is French, so using an online translator we did our best to figure out just what was being said about our performance and our bearing. One line came out after the final day of racing, after our victory was confirmed, that is so apt, so appropriate for this moment, that I would borrow it now. Despite the high likelihood that something was very much lost in translation, I cannot think of a better way describe just how the Southern Cross Spartans went about their business at the Spartan Race World Championships—’They came in all humility, and behaved like boss’. The Southern Cross Spartans weren’t quite afterthoughts. I mean, they were expected. And Vermont was welcoming and hospitable. It’s more that they just weren’t highly considered for the race. Or considered much at all. Cofounder of Spartan Race, Joe DeSena, himself told me they had not been on his radar. ‘Mexico, perhaps, but not Australia’. There was no insult or slight intended. There was none taken. The Southern Cross Spartans weren’t actually there to prove a point to anyone anyway. They were
there to do what they love, which is to race an obstacle race as best as they possibly could. Which is exactly what they did. Each and every one of them. And by their actions alone I promise you, they made an impression. You never expect the lighting to actually hit right outside your back door. But when it does, you jump up and you pay attention. The Beast is unlike anything yet seen in Australia. It is difficult to describe the severity of the course. Brutal is too kind a word. I swear, despair and agony were part of the design. The hills were so severe, and so long, you walked them. For hours at a time. The descents so twisted, so unkempt and treacherous, only the bravest souls ran freely down them, risking limb all the while. At halfway, roughly 10km in, there was more fatigue than would be expected at the finish of most other events. Legs were so depleted and cramping so badly at halfway, racers were stopping to massage control back into them. Burpee penalties became a rest from the hurt while the whole show became ludicrous due to how over the top the difficulty level was. That’s what they faced. That’s what they defeated. And you just hear that thunder now. Boom! Matt Murphy. The mighty. The indomitable. The room reverberates as he brings home 2nd place male, behind only the legendary US racer Hobie Call. And boom!
Deanna Blegg, our unstoppable force of nature, crosses for 2nd place female, behind another legend from the US, Amelia Boone. Again. Boom! Ryan Roberts in 5th place, having barely found his running legs in this life. All respect and acclamation to these fine athletes. You worked hard. You played hard. You brought home the goods. I salute you, you humble, approachable, down to earth inspirations. Don’t for a second think the storm stopped there. Five Australians in the top 20, seven in
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the top 35 and 11 in the top 100 contestants. And this was their first time there. Let me steer your attention away from the results though. Away from placings and rankings. Because it wasn’t the results that made their impression so deep, or so lasting. It wasn’t what came of the race that makes me so proud, so touched, so enamoured with these Southern Cross Spartans. It was how they went about their business. They did you proud, these men and women of our great southern land. It was with the utmost respect for their competitors and their hosts, and the highest regard for each other, that they conquered that course. Not a single one of them called for quarter. No one asked for easy. No one asked for an inch. No one asked for an end undeserved. Smiling when they could, but heads always held high, they walked and crawled the hills of that hellish course. They carried its 30kg sandbags. They swam its icy waters. They conquered its obstacles or did their time doing burpees. You can guarantee they did every single one of them too. Chest to ground. Just the way it’s done back home. They fought, these sons and daughters, tooth and nail, all the way to the finish line. Our Southern Cross Spartans weren’t there to downplay the abilities or the talent of their
international counterparts. They weren’t there to crush anyone or destroy anyone’s spirit. Sure they were loud out on that course, as Australian’s have a tendency to be. They were rightfully brave too, unapologetically staking their claim on the start line. Yet they did so graciously. If you faced the Beast that day, you shared something. They were all aware of that. With their Tutu and Mankini, and their personalities on fine display, they brought colour, life and talent to the race. And they surpassed all expectation. The Southern Cross Spartans weren’t soldiers. Not even solid steel or cold iron. They were human. Warm, living flesh encompassing enormous beating hearts full of honesty. And nothing is stronger than honesty. Honesty is truth, which is unbreakable. Truth doesn’t bend. It can’t be twisted or melted. It cannot change
shape and there are no shades or angles. Their willingness to be vulnerable is what made these men and women simply undeniable. Noble warriors, one and all, are our Southern Cross Spartans, adhering strictly to a an unwritten, unspoken code. Movement in the face of fear. Attitude and effort over results. Respect and dignity to all before rankings or placings. The future paved by these founding fathers and mothers is a bright one. Not just ripe in opportunity, but flooded with humanity and soul. So remember their humility. Remember their strength and pride. Remember their names and remember what they represent. I know when next I want to quit, when I’m down on my knees praying for an exit, I will remember the Southern Cross Spartans, and I will rise to their standards as I rise to my feet, and continue on. It’s the Southern Cross way.
“They were there to do what they love, which is to race an obstacle race as best as they possibly could.”
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Story by Michael Aspinall
The Space Between Your Ears. Michael Aspinal was a member of the Australian contingent of Southern Cross Spartans who travelled to Vermont to battle the Spartan Beast. There were surprises in store even for an athlete as hardened as this veteran Spartan Racer.
he 2013 Vermont Beast Spartan World Championship was more than a race. It’s a life changing event that exposes your weakness and your strengths. It is about the power of the human will to stay in the fight and never give up, to dig deep and tap into uncharted areas beyond our comfort zones, thereby making us grow and become better people. Nothing in life worth achieving comes easy and the accomplishments you hold dearest to your heart will be the ones attained through hard work and the willingness to never give up. The mental battles and will of the human spirit shown on that hill in Vermont was extraordinary. Hundreds upon hundreds of fellow Spartans willing to push their minds and bodies to breaking point and beyond. And while the emotional roller coaster of highs
and lows experienced on those Killington hills broke many people, many more broke through and pushed on through the pain. World champions, Olympians and top Spartan athletes pulled out where many weekend warriors, mums and dads, kept going and pushed on through the pain, the cold and the injuries. In my opinion it’s the ability to master your emotions and become mentally tough that is key to not only to finish a Spartan Race but to excel in life. As an athlete who competed in the Vermont beast I got to experience firsthand the mental and physical battles experienced during that race. The course is designed to break you physically which they did an amazing job at, but the real battle starts between your
focused on myself. Poor old me looking for an escape route to stop the pain! ‘Stop now heaps of people have pulled out, you have nothing to prove’, I said to myself. I literally had to slap myself on the face and yell to break my negative state. ‘Where focus goes energy flows’, I muttered to myself as I looked up into the distance of weary bodies trudging up this massive mountain with a sandbag. One of the driving purposes for me to keep going was the thought of my Grandma who has acute Leukemia back home with only few weeks to live. I grew up with my grandparents and are very close to them. Both of them told me to make them proud, never give up and do Australia proud.
ears. The mental chit chat and internal dialog flowing through your mind will crush you in a heartbeat if kept unchecked. Being a Mental Toughness Coach & Personal Trainer I knew roughly what to expect in the Beast. Was I in for a shock! Just 2km into the race I suffered with severe leg cramps. Thoughts of pulling out fleeted through my mind as I yelled out for salt and both my quads bulged out, vibrating in spasms. ‘Just keep moving, bloody standing here is not getting you anywhere’, I yelled at myself. One of my favourite quotes, ‘Pain is temporary, but if I quit it will last forever’, jumped into my mind, giving me motivation to keep moving. The mental battle had begun earlier than expected. What pushes an athlete or weekend warrior to participate in such a gruelling event? What drives us to put one foot in front of the other when our bodies are screaming to stop from the pain? Battered by cramps, the negative mental chatter became stronger and stronger as I
Those few words of inspiration drove me to dig deep when I was in a world of hurt many times over. Those internal voices ebbed and flowed from positive to negative throughout the whole race in my own internal Spartan mind race. There were many moments in the race where you think you have absolutely nothing left in the tank but out of nowhere you find the inner strength to fight on and push through the pain. Where did that come from? Mental Toughness is something that you are rarely born with. It is a skill developed over time through repetition and practice. For when the going gets tough, here are my top 7 Tips to Spartan Beast Glory: 1. Remove quitting as an option 2. Find a higher purpose 3. Stay positive 4. Visualize success 5. Embrace the suck 6. Nurture your body with nutrition and hydration 7. Find the fun.
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Beach Bash is the craziest and sandiest oBstacle challenge in australia.
Take on Australiaâ€™s newest obstacle course over 4km or 6km of sand PLUS take a ride down the worldâ€™s largest inflatable slide - Slide Show Bob.
Register via www.beachbash.com.au Follow us on Facebook www.facebook.com/thebeachbash
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World Championships Story By Warwick Whitmore
Spartan Race World Champs
From the Finish Line
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Spartan Race founder Joe DeSena leans in as a race update comes through to Norm Koch’s radio atop his right shoulder. These are two of the main men behind the Spartan Race World Championships race and yet sporadic radio updates from on course are their only way of keeping track of the athletes within the field and knowing who is placed where, such are the difficulties of covering and updating the movements of athletes in an obstacle course race. Norm is the event’s race director and many would know already that DeSena is the founder of what is now a global brand – Spartan Race. The news that comes through is not what they were expecting as the front-runners of the Spartan Race World Championship race in Vermont approach the final mile of this grueling course. But let’s take a step back and look at what unfolded throughout what was an extremely entertaining men’s Elite race that no one saw but everyone heard about over the 3.5 hours that it took the winner to complete. The top athletes were slightly delayed in their start time, not beginning until 8:15am to take on the 13 mile Spartan Beast course that was structured around (or rather, up and down) the ski slopes of Killington, Vermont… intimidating to say the least. The first update came through as the athletes completed the sandbag carry – about 3 miles into the course – and it was Cody Moat (2012 Champion) and Matt Novakovich leading the pack. Novakovich had run his first Spartan Race just a few weeks earlier and beat Hobie Call in a Super race by five minutes, this made him one of the athletes to look out for in the World Championship event. In third and fourth place were
two more heavily favoured Americans, Hobie Call and Hunter McIntyre while Australia’s Matt Murphy sat further back in the field but still within attacking range. As the athletes became visible from the festival area for the first time at the half-way mark it was Cody Moat who lead Matt Novakovich up the rope climb and then down the hill for the second of their barbed wire crawls. Hobie and Hunter followed a couple of minutes behind the lead pairing and Matt Murphy trailed the battle for the podium by roughly five minutes as all five successfully completed the rope climb and then headed down hill for the barded wire crawl followed by an elevated cargo net crawl and then into the lake for another rope climb followed by the traverse wall and tarzan ropes to round out the middle of the course. Just before all of this happened we also caught word that
cramped up severely and dropped back toward the field while Hobie Call and Hunter McIntyre had held a strong enough place to put themselves in the lead. What was most surprising at this point in time was that the reigning champion, Cody Moat, had also dropped his pace and in doing so allowed Matt Murphy to take 3rd position in the race leading into the final few miles. It was all then a guessing game as for who would win. It was expected by many to be an epic four-hour race but as the three and a half hour mark passed the first runner became visible to the crowd and made their way over the final wall, jumped the fire pit and ran through the gladiators to claim victory, it was Hobie Call! It then took almost ten excruciating minutes for the second place athlete to emerge and when he popped out from the trees at the top of the hill we almost couldn’t believe our eyes.
turnaround point of the carry, got the inside run and just went for it,” said Matt. It was then another 25 minutes before the women’s Elite winner was known and there were not to many surprised people when Amelia Boone emerged first into the festival area and started for the finish line. But after Matt’s incredible performance, Steve and myself dared to dream a little as the last we’d heard Deanna was in third place and certainly in a position to challenge for the podium. We waited. As the minutes went by we were becoming more and more confident of another Aussie silver medalist as we assumed that the longer the race was going for, the better the chances were of Deanna claiming second due to her phenomenal endurance capability. Then, approximately 15 minutes after Amelia had finished, Deanna emerged at the top of the hill
‘As the athletes negotiated the final couple of miles of this brutal course, out of sight and without radio updates, we waited anxiously at the finish line for a winner.’ Australia’s Deanna Blegg was sitting in third in the Elite women’s race, with the lead pairing including last year’s champion Amelia Boone from the United States. This was to be the last update that we received on the women’s race. The next update on the men’s Elite race came through at roughly the 9-mile mark when the athletes hit the Tyrolean Traverse (rope traverse) and it was at this point that we knew there was a new lead group in the race. Apparently Novakovich had
As I stood at the finish line with Steve Greenaway from Spartan Race Australia we simultaneously exclaimed, “It’s Matt!” Joe DeSena almost didn’t believe it as the lead that Hobie and Hunter had with just 4 miles remaining in the race seemed to be an uncatchable one and thus all were expecting Hunter to come in 2nd. But as Matt explained, when he hit the second and final sandbag carry of the race Hunter had dropped away from Hobie and was in sight. “I caught him at the
and we knew that it was another silver medal for Australia! – I’m still not sure that the Americans can actually believe that it happened. Those four hours around the finish line were an amazing experience – probably made so by the fantastic results – and I can only assume that when we do get to see NBC Sport’s broadcast of the Spartan Race World Championships it will truly reflect what was an enthralling morning of some of the best obstacle racing entertainment that the world has seen.
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ATHLETE PROFILES Deanna Blegg (44) Victoria, VIC Team Captain: Deanna comes from an adventure racing background so obstacle racing was a natural transition. Having competed in and won over 30 adventure and obstacle racing events since 2010 and coming 3rd at Worlds Toughest Mudder (a 24hour, complete as many laps as you can obstacle race) in 2012, Deanna is a true inspiration to her team mates and the wider obstacle racing community.
Shaun Phelps (41) Melbourne, VIC Team Captain: The toughest Tutu out there, Shaun wears the pink dress up to remind himself, and others, that at the end of the day this sport is about fun. An Australian Rules football player for many years, a triathlete and runner, Shaun caught the OCR bug roughly 12 months ago, racing competitively for the first time in Spartan Race, Melbourne, March 2013. Placing second on the day, Shaun has since consistently finished in the top 20, is currently ranked 6th overall in Australia in the Obstacle Racing League and the 3rd Australian male Spartan Racer.
Melissa Robertson (32) Central Coast, NSW Melissa did her first obstacle race in 2011 when she tagged along with her local boot camp to Tough Bloke. Since then sheâ€™s taken on many other obstacles races with her proudest moments being a 1st in the Brisbane Spartan Super, 2nd in the Sydney Spartan Sprint and being classed as a Mud Sweat and Beers Toughest Nut by completing 4 laps of a 10km obstacle course. When not Obstacle Racing Melissa works fulltime as a Web Developer, spending all day programming the server side of websites. 60 | Obstacle Racing Magazine
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Michael Aspinal (32) Sydney, NSW Michael comes from a triathlon racing background and loves to push his mind and body to its limits. He has competed in Olympic and half-Ironman distance triathlons, marathons and 100km ultra endurance events. Obstacle racing become an obsession in 2012 after his first OCR race, Urbanathlon. Michael is a Personal Trainer and Mental Toughness Coach at Platinum Fight and fitness Centre (Sydney) and is Australia’s most experienced Spartan racer with 11 races completed in the USA, Canada and Australia. Michael was the first Spartan SGX trainer in Australia and will compete in the one of the world toughest events next year, the Spartan Death Race.
Jen Dugard (32) Sydney, NSW As a personal trainer, ex competitive gymnast and focused athlete, obstacle racing is the perfect competition progression for Jen. Her first event was Tough Bloke Challenge in 2012 where she led her team of Tough Mums (an obstacle race training group just for mums) through the mud. Since then Jen has placed at Urbanathlon Sydney (1st elite wave), Spartan Race Brisbane (3rd placing) and finished first in Saturday’s elite competition at this years Tough Bloke Challenge. Jen is not only driven by her racing but also her passion to show all mums that they can be fit, healthy and achieve their goals as well as having children.
Leah Dansie (29) Sydney, NSW Leah has competed in events from the Crossfit Regionals to the Northface 100 ultra marathon, as well as obstacle course races, marathons and sprint, Olympic and half-ironman length triathlons. Since 2012, she has been actively engaged in Obstacle Course Racing. Leah placed 3rd in Spartan Race in early 2013. Leah is the owner of Absolute Health and Fitness, a training facility based in Sutherland NSW. She will be coaching at CrossFit Scorch from mid 2013 and is keen to introduce other women to the benefits of strength and conditioning training. obstacleracingmagazine.com.au | 61
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Will Lind (28) ACT Will was drawn to obstacle racing after falling out of love with road cycling. The mud, the challenge and the success of being the fastest finisher at his first event, Tough Mudder at Phillip Island, was all it took to see Will hooked on obstacle racing. He has since proved a committed racer and possibly the most consistent performer, leading the Obstacle Course Racing League leader board after several top ten finishes this year, including first place finishes across multiple distance events. A Personal Trainer and blogger at Pure Will, Will is highly passionate about finding out what makes other’s tick, and harnessing that knowledge to empower their own personal development.
Kate Barsby (33) Victoria, NSW Kate, has enjoyed early success in her first year of competition in the INOV8 obstacle racing league, highlighted by a 1st place in the Mad Cow Mud Run Endurance event over 24km, a 2nd at the Tough Bloke Challenge, 3rd Spartan Sprint Melbourne, and a 4th Spartan Super Brisbane. Also a personal trainer, Kate established ‘No Excuses Complete Fitness’ which enables her to pass on her passion for health and fitness and assist others in maximising their potential to achieve their goals. Kate is also set to take Jen’s ‘Tough Mum’ brand interstate.
Matt Murphy (28) Central Coast, NSW Matt has had unrivalled success as an obstacle racer in Australia in 2013. A five year veteran of this sport, Matt has shown he knows what it takes, and that he has what it takes, to be a top level obstacle racer. An unbeaten Spartan Racer and close to unbeaten in other obstacle events this year, he is passionate about searching out his personal best. Matt revels in the challenge of racing the best, knowing this is the only way to ensure you are tested beyond your current limitations. Years of professional level competition has given Matt a strong grounding in how to prepare for the toughest of events. He is also a coach and mentor of the fearsome foursome obstacle race training team situated on the Central Coast.
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Kyle Creek (24) Melbourne, VIC It was about three years ago that Kyle first tasted obstacle racing, at a Tough Bloke Challenge at Wonga Park, Victoria. While he enjoys the full body challenge of an obstacle race, Kyle is also a Hockey player and a triathlete, as well as flirting with duathlons, tennis, beach volleyball, indoor hockey, basketball and running races. Kyleâ€™s tenacity and obvious enjoyment for the race has put him in 3rd place in the Obstacle Racing League and allows him a strong mindset coming into any competition or facing any challenge before him.
Paul Towers (24) NSW
Jarrad Page (25) Central Coast, NSW As a carpenter and student studying Construction Management at university, it is discipline and organisation that allows a busy Jarrad Page to fit training in around his hefty commitments. A soccer background gave way to an interest in running that became serious around 18 months ago, about the time he met mentor and training partner, Matt Murphy. Jarrad, one of the foursome from the Central Coast, has placed in local 10km running events, competed in the NSW State Relay Championships and nabbed a top 10 in the NSW Hill Running Championships. Obstacle racing evolved into a serious commitment just this year, although his attention was piqued after some earlier participation in mud runs and Warrior Dash. Part of the winning team at the Brisbane Spartan Super and with a top 15 finish on the day himself, Jarradâ€™s is yet another name to keep an eye on in the obstacle racing circuit.
Soon to be father, Paul is a high carbohydrate vegan ultra runner, meaning he aims to consume mostly raw, vegan foods (think a lot of fruit), to fuel his performance at running events well beyond the marathon distance of 42.6km. Previously Paul has been a recreational athlete, taking a deeper interest in fitness as he is drawn into long distance running and obstacle racing. Resume Writing and Personal Training allow him some flexibility when it comes to training, but the hours of training needed for such long endurance sport requires high level commitment and discipline nonetheless. Just as obstacle racing has impacted his own life in a positive way, Paul loves how obstacle racing has changed otherâ€™s lives and empowered individuals to seek more for themselves and challenge their self imposed limitations.
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Mark Stiegler (44) Bacchus Marsh, VIC A father of two and owner of the Crossfit box, Crossfit Bacchus, Mark is also an experienced and accomplished endurance athlete. With multiple Ironman distance triathlon events under his belt, Mark is no stranger to the turmoil and unique difficulties presented when aiming to perform for long periods of time. Ranked 9th in the Obstacle Course Racing League, Mark has been involved in obstacle racing for two years now, and if nothing else is thankful for the sport for making running fun again.
Mick Crossley (27) Melbourne, VIC Mick works as a mobile Autoelectrician in the Melbourne Metropolitan area for Driven Auto Electrics and has excelled in that field, representing Victoria twice for World Skills, awarded a silver medallion for excellence in electro technology and has been self employed for 4 years. He brings the same determination to obstacle racing, which began with a Tough Bloke Challenge 2 years ago. He has since competed in numerous events of all distances and difficulty levels, from 6km to 23km, and in the scorching heat and frozen winters. Currently fourth in the Obstacle Course Racing League, Mick is an all rounder having been involved in, or still engaged in, an assortment of activities that include triathlon, cricket, snowboarding, skating and surfing.
Dave Brooks (26) NSW The challenge is what drew Dave into obstacle racing and keeps him there. Before obstacle racing came baseball and cricket, but since November 2011, it has all been about the running, the obstacles and the mud. Working as a Water Treatment Plant Operator, Dave has run, swung, climbed and crawled his way to sitting 14th on the Obstacle Course Racing League ladder, with the Spartan Race World Champships one of the toughest challenges faced so far.
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Rino Paluch (31) NSW When not training, travelling to race, or racing, Rino is a manager at a food and wine importer. His time spent playing representative level Rugby League, Volleyball, Touch Football, Athletics and Baseball has set the foundations for his current ranking of 8th in the Obstacle Course Racing League. After only months or so since his first obstacle race, Rino loves that obstacle racing requires the combining of so many different athletic attributesâ€”including strength, speed, agility, balance, accuracyâ€”to be a successful racer. It is a sport he is attracted to because he believes it is built for all round athletes.
Ryan Roberts (25) NSW Climbing trees may not be ideal preparation for most sports out there, but working as an Arborist seems to be more help than hindrance for Ryan. A member of the fearsome foursome from the Central Coast, Ryan has flourished under the tutelage of the experienced Matt Murphy. Promising results at the Spartan Sprint in Sydney and the Super in Brisbane belie the fact that Ryan is a young racer with just a year of training in his legs. Focus of attention and effort combined have brought Ryan to the attention of the obstacle racing world. Time and continued effort are what will Ryan to come into his own as a racer and an athlete.
Brendan Hunt (25) NSW Brendan is as well rounded as they come, pursing a variety of interests including soccer, baseball, BMX racing, motocross, athletics and cross country running, snowboarding, wakeboarding, surfing, rock climbing and now obstacle course racing. An Aircraft Technician in the Royal Australian Air Force, Brendan is another young obstacle racer, with just 10 months of competition behind him, but plenty ahead of him. For Brendan, obstacle racing is all about the competitiveness, the difficulty, the unpredictability and of course, the fun. 66 | Obstacle Racing Magazine
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20/11/2013 10:47 AM pm 3/10/13 11:09
Southern Cross Spartans Training Camp Story by Shaun Phelps
Captains Report The first weekend in August saw a small group of Victorian Obstacle Racers jump on a plane bound for the sunny Central Coast. All except for Kyle Creek who missed his flight and joined us a little later than expected. We were all pretty happy to be leaving behind the freezing temperatures forecast for Melbourne for that weekend. That would mean 2 degrees for my mountain hometown at Kinglake. We were off to training camp with the Southern Cross Spartan’s, our Spartan Race World Championship Team representing Australia at the Spartan Beast in Vermont, USA. We had all received our itinerary prior to the trip and it was looking like it was to be an awesome jam packed weekend. There would be opportunity to hang out, but we’d also be training hard with like-minded people. We were looking forward to some luxury accommodation at Kooindah Waters Resort and the much anticipated announcement of the final team selection. We had been advised that there were 12 places. With 20 attending the camp there were to be some cuts before the close of the weekend. Once the team arrived, the work commenced pretty quickly with a 2 hour training session at Coach Mick Gleeson’s Obstacle Racing specific training facility, Unique Fitness. Mick has a military background and is a successful Obstacle Racing athlete. A lot of work has gone into creating a range of obstacles at his premises, including a rope climb, traverse rope, quarter pipe, over-unders and monkey bars (just to name a few). The session consisted of 500m runs punctuated by an attempt at an obstacle. Unfortunately half an hour into this first session I rolled my ankle coming down from the rope climb. I was shattered. I knew pretty quickly that it was nothing serious but it was enough that my own weekend of training would need to be radically modified. The atmosphere amongst the team was very positive and while most of us had already met at different races, some had only linked up throughout the season via social media. It was a fantastic chance to put faces and personalities to profile pictures. Given there was to be some final selections occurring there was, however, a little nervous tension in the air. This seemed to ease once people settled into the weekend. On Saturday morning we headed off into the perfect mid 20 degree weather for a 4.5km loop we could do three or four times along sunny streets, the beach and a swim across a channels, each lap passing an upper body specific playground. Due to my mishap the evening before I was unable to run but I
“Running hard and obstacles with burpee penalties for any failure. Everyone was working at race pace.“ was able do plenty of lunge and burpees punctuated by an upper body workout on the playground. It was then off to McDonald Media Group headquarters for lunch and interviews for the Southern Cross Spartan documentary. The afternoon saw us participate in a high ropes course which was a fun team bonding experience and thankfully something I could do even with my ankle injury. Saturday evening
took on an educative focus with sessions from both Mick Gleeson covering training and recovery and Dietician Veronica Vogel, who provided general dietary advice on pre and post race nutrition. The final day of camp saw the Southern Cross Spartans being treated to an intense session which simulated an Obstacle Race of sorts. Running hard and obstacles with burpee penalties for any failure. Everyone was working at race pace. I stuck to the spin bike, again punctuating this with obstacles. The weekend came to a close and the man who has made it all happen, Adam McDonald, unexpectedly announced that the team would not be cut and that all current members would be invited to attend the Spartan World Championships. Anxieties were eased and our team of 20 were very relieved to say the least. It was a great weekend and a fantastic opportunity to bond as a team. As team CoCaptain it was great to see the team come together, get along so well and support each other. A big thank you to Adam McDonald and others who have made this happen. The Southern Cross Spartans are pumped and looking forward to doing Australia proud.
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R M EMBE
LOWERS ENERGY COST REDUCED MUSCLE OSCILLATION AIDS IN EXPLOSIVE POWER
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A big man with a big heart, Benny Mulley has a keen eye for what is right and good in this world… And obstacle racing and the surrounding community meets that mark of approval. A father and an obstacle racer, Benny has found his place amongst all the muddy smiles, getting fit and staying muddy at obstacle races across the country. Benny shares his story.
MY JOURNEY Australian Obstacle Course Racing has evolved at a staggering pace over the last year. One of my favourite elements of this growth has been watching the stories filter into the world and the all the different personalities emerge. A weird past-time maybe, but one which quite often leaves me with a massive smile on my face and tears rolling down my cheek. I’ve been privileged to hear many of these stories first hand and it would be an injustice to those who have honoured me with their words to single any name, athlete or personality out from the rest. They all deserve the right to be seen as resilient, triumphant survivors who have found obstacle racing as a rock to anchor to as they come up in the world. Like them, like these legends, Obstacle Racing has been the light at the end of my tunnel. Growing up, I never considered myself to be very good at sports. I was a bit of a natural at basketball and archery, and was a member of a McDonald’s Tennis squad when younger. Not ever really fitting in and always struggling with anxiety, I never committed to anything. I was that chubby kid who was bullied. For a while. Things changed when I realised how big I was. Then I became the bully. How big? I grew so quickly that at fifteen years old I had titanium pins inserted into both sides of my hips. I spent months on crutches. My activity levels dropped and I withdrew from most social activities. Personal demons drove me further and further into a world of self pity, violence and many other poor life choices.
There’s plenty of story sitting behind that preceding sentence but I will skip to where my new life began; after the birth of my son. Around the same time one of my mates was murdered at his own birthday party and my best mate died, also at a young age. These events, coupled with numerous suicides and deaths of blokes I had grown up with, left me pretty well alone and questioning the life I was leading. Choices were made. Some made by me and some by the universe. Mostly it was my son that got me moving. I figured, ‘like it or lump it, I’m setting an example for my son and at the moment I’m setting a poor one.’ I was confused. And I was sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. The best thinking I had lead me into a mess. So I had this idea that my thinking was not gonna get me out. I started asked for help. I took every piece of advice given to me. My thinking was I needed new ideas, theories or beliefs. What I realised I needed was a whole new attitude. Skip forward six years. I’d been studying so I could help people help themselves and although I’d gained a lot of weight, I was happy. I had my son in my life. I was making far better life choices. And for once, I was facing life on life’s own terms. However, I was still very lonely and did not feel as though I was accepted or belonged anywhere. One morning my son was laying with me in bed when he turned to me and said, ‘Dad, you know how you’re fat. I want you to know I still love you’. This flattened me. I thought of the example my own Dad had set for me. He was
always fit and strong. I had never seen him as fat. The man was a legend. In my eyes, he still is. I thought, ‘who the hell am I to make a young child have to process what had just come from my son’s mouth?’. A line had been crossed. I signed up at the local gym and stood on the scales—152.3kg. My thought was, ‘you putrid fat ****’. I got to work and every time I felt like quitting I thought of those scales and how I felt. I thought about the example I was setting for my boy . Good or bad, the example he would take into his life was completely up to me to define. The beginning was a struggle. I was arranging my workouts around the pay TV programs showing later that night. And I did not like
“‘Dad, you know how you’re fat. I want you to know I still love you’. This flattened me.” obstacleracingmagazine.com.au | 71
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being down the back of classes with the good looking people who I thought had been gifted with looks and muscles. After time I learnt to respect these dudes and the effort they consistently put in with diet and program. For myself, I started losing weight. I upped my efforts, adding in running and riding to the gym. I was feeling bloody awesome. Despite the changes I still struggle with accepting my body. I have a lot of excess skin around my middle but I have learnt it’s not how I look, it’s how I feel and the effort I put in that’s truly important. Right now, mentally and physically, I feel unbreakable. The staff at my gym are fantastic and very supportive. One man in particular has been extra important. It was about two years ago I was told the muscular, long nosed ‘Mr Bean’ lookalike was my trainer. I had watched him train while he did his freaky workouts like wearing a weight vest, exploding off the chin up bar and other crazy stuff. The man’s name is Luke Bradbury and today I’m proud to call him my mate. I owe Luke everything and believe the mentality he has imparted unto me is the reason I am where I am today. I asked him initially when we started working together what the hardest thing in the gym was to use as I wanted to master it. He introduced me to Kettlebells and the Olympic bar. I loved it. No one ever used them. They were always free except when this sweaty fat bloke was smashing out a session. Kettlebells are easily my favourite piece of equipment. Luke even leaves his personal Kettle bells at the gym for me to use as I’ve outgrown those the gym stocks. Where does Obstacle Racing fit in? One day I was called into the office where they had pulled up a video clip of Tough Mudder. I must have watched it 15 times. There was this excitement
“I looked over to my son sitting there smiling. He pointed at his eye, his heart and back at me—our sign for ‘I love you’.” inside and my mouth watered (and not for Mum’s potato bake). I approached Luke and asked him if he thought I could do it—’if you train right you could do anything’, he said. I was blown away. Someone believed in me. Before we had even competed at an event ourselves, we started gathering a group of strong, positive focused people to train and compete at Obstacle Races together. We call ourselves the Raymond Terrorists and for every one of us, the game is all about effort and attitude. We all work hard, we have a no excuses attitude and a policy where success is determined by commitment and output alone. We are not concerned about how good you are. All that matters is how hard you try. The Terrorists do not finish until everyone is done. Even the faster members will go back and support the others up to the very final repetition. The attitudes of the group is mind blowing. At Raw Challenge this year I ran the course twice then had a two hour wait until I could go once more with my Son in the youth wave. Three members of the group waited around solely to take photos of my son , the ‘Tiny Terror’, and myself. This sentiment was not lost on me and I am humbled to call these people team mates. The photos of my son and I now sit near my front door and remind me what is truly important when I return from a stressful day at work.
Another Obstacle Racing highlight has been becoming a Spartan Street Team member. I’ve enjoyed being a part of the Street Team and thought it could not get much better until the eve of the Sydney Spartan sprint. I arrived at the Picton site to volunteer. I was a bit late and the team was leaving when I arrived, so I had a poke around anyway and ran into couple of blokes by the names of Max and Sel. They were quick to ask what I was doing so I told them I was there to volunteer. I was then asked if I wanted to be a Gladiator on the course. I nearly fell over! Of course I bloody would. However, I quickly tried to explain how I did not meet the ‘Spartan Specifications’. ‘Look at ya, you look intimidating enough to me’, said Max, with Sel nodded in agreement. I later found out I was talking to Max De’Lacy CEO of Spartan Australia and Sel who represents Body Science. I drove back to the motel with a massive smile on my face thinking ‘I’M GONNA BE A FRIGGAN GLADIATOR’. I don’t know who was more excited when I told my son and very supportive partner. I went to sleep that night thinking about my journey and how far I’d come, the example I’m setting for my boy and the fact I was gonna get to hammer people—I didn’t sleep much that night. Race day dawned and I was treated like someone special. They handed me BSC Compression gear and some Vibrams—(stuff I couldn’t afford myself- Special thanks to BSC and Barefootinc)— and I met some of the nicest people. I finally got to meet some street Team Buddies too, and sit them on their backsides. I was physical all day, having so much fun belting people and congratulating them for their efforts in the same motion. At one point during the madness I looked over to my son sitting there smiling. He pointed at his eye, his heart and back at me—our sign for ‘I love you’. It was at this point I felt someone’s shoulder as they smashed into me and sent me tumbling backwards and my thoughts were, ‘Love you more and its only gonna get better mate’. I could barley move for a couple days after and I had a massive bruise on my chest from the shield handle and being smashed by Commando Steve (I did get him in a headlock. I even have a picture. It was like hugging a gum tree). To top it off the course itself was the toughest I had done. I made sure the other Gladiators who were in attendance when I ran through knew that Benny was here. Best day ever. My son is now eleven years old. He is two belts off his black belt in martial arts and is the cross country champ of his former school. The little man amazes me when he looks up and repeats my own sayings back to me like, ‘Remember dad, it’s not about if you win or lose but rather how hard you try’. Eleven years old and he has done three mud runs with the Terrorists. He also loves this muddy sport. Needless to say I’m loving my Obstacle Racing journey. My Awesome partner and I and few Terrorists are going to smash the Spartan Beast in November. Our kids are already talking about the kids Spartan Race. Mostly, I finally feel as though I belong somewhere and accepted for being me. That somewhere is in the mud.
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reviewed BY Shane Koziwoda
COMPRESSPORT Calf Compression Sleeves I have been using the COMPRESSPORT Calf Compression Sleeves for four months now and love them. Let me just say that this is an individual take on the Calf Compression Sleeves. We all have different strengths and weaknesses and what works for me may not work for others.
I’ve broken this review down into seven categories; comfort, sizing, durability, training, racing, recovery, aesthetics. Comfort: I found the Calf Sleeves very comfortable. They are a snug fit that is very even from top to bottom. They are tight enough without being noticeable. I have yet to have any issue with the
Sleeves creeping up or down when I train or race. Sizing: COMPRESSPORT sizing is a little different, using the terminology of ‘T0’ to ‘T4’ rather than the standard X-small to X-large. They use a size chart to match height and circumference measurements that has worked well for me. I would normally choose the smallest sizes in clothing but being that my calves are a proportionally larger part of my body I opted for the T2 and they fit well. Durability: I have been wearing a pair of Calf Sleeves for about four months for most of my training sessions and racing. I have run them through water, mud and heavy terrain, even bashing them along rope, timber and rock obstacles. There is no sign of damage to them. Training: I hear people talk about their long runs and how their calf muscle tighten afterwards. I generally experience this too. I have been trialling the COMPRESSPORT Sleeves over long runs and find it has made a big difference. I find early in my long runs my calf muscles feel stiff and as the run goes on they become tighter. Then, of course, they get sore afterwards. With the Compression Sleeves on during that early stage my calf muscles keep warm, which in turn keeps them loose for a far greater distance and help with soreness post run. I notice a difference training for speed or in hill work. With speed and hill work you are forcing yourself on your toes a lot more then what you are used to and demanding your calf muscles to do a lot more work. Add to this the cool down during recovery periods in between intervals and you have a recipe for cramps. With the compressions on my calf muscles don’t get cold and stiff between intervals. I would regularly get cramps in these types of sessions and can happily say since wearing the Compression Sleeves I have not had any. Recovery: I won’t say recovery has been amazing. As good as
I am finding the Calf Sleeves, they are still only looking after my calf muscles. For overnight recovery I would still put on full leg compressions to help out the hamstrings, quads and hip flexors. I do, however, like to keep them on for a couple of hours after hard training sessions or races while I walk around and stretch in the cooling down period so those tight calf muscles gets some extra recovery. Racing: It’s the day you train so hard for. I used to wear full length compressions before a race. I would head to the race in them, warm up in them then strip down just before I race. With the Compression Sleeves I can do the same thing, except I leave them on and gain benefits in the race as well. On top of the compression benefits, they provide protection from rope burns from the rope climb and traverses and the cuts and bruises you often get from the crawls, creek runs and general heavy terrain. In terms of durability the COMPRESSPORT Calf Sleeves live up to the challenge. And just for that little extra goodness I enjoy the extra warmth they provide when wading through ice cold creeks or water crossings. Aesthetics: In the compression market there seems to be only be black, white or skin coloured gear. COMPRESSPORT have gone out on a limb and made some really bright colours. They will not suit everyone but I kind of like being ‘out there’ and in a sport where you are splattered in mud for most of the event, it is nice to know that your friends and family that are watching know to look out for the bright purple or green legs! All up I have very little to complain about and a lot to rave about when it comes to the COMPRESSPORT Calf Compression Sleeves. For me, they are nothing short of brilliant. Obstacle Racing Magazine readers can receive a 20% discount on COMPRESSPORT gear when shopping at http://www.healthmg. com.au using the code ‘rino13’.
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Men’s Health Urbanathlon
WRITTEN BY Bron Sparkes
Location: Melbourne VIC Length: 11 km Obstacles: 10 Early on Sunday morning a 4WD drives into a car park in Melbourne Docklands. Four characters emerge; a man in a pink tutu, a sexy blonde police-woman wearing fishnet stockings, a female commando with abs of steel and a polka dot rainbow warrior wearing a pair of whities. You could be forgiven for mistaking them for a bunch of carnies, or a bunch of all night revellers, lost and looking for more action. Especially with the looks they get from the sporty looking people out that morning all dressed in their workout gear. What isn’t immediately apparent is that workout gear wearers and the four crazies were all their for the same purpose—the Melbourne Men’s Health Urbanathalon. I had been looking forward to the Melbourne Urbanathalon for many months. I work in a corporate job in the Docklands and as a result, the Docklands are my training grounds. I am often running, jumping, doing burpees and bear crawling around the urban streets. The lunchtime crowd must think I am crazy! I only hope that my antics will inspire one or two people there to get active too. Walking along the city street past Etihad Stadium towards the registration area we strolled right past the monkey bars and parallel bar setup. As we got closer to where the other competitors were gathering we came across many of the familiar faces in obstacle course racing; people quickly becoming part of our obstacle racing family. After a quick catch up, it was time to marshal for the Obstacle Course Racing League (OCRL) wave. Being the last wave of the event, we watched as all the other participants took off from the start line. We were rearing to go and welcomed being corralled at the starting line if it meant our turn was all the sooner.
The first obstacle, a series of road barriers to hurl oneself over, was not far from the start. I cart wheeled over each one, polka dots flying! Once passing the barriers and overcoming my spinning head, it was time for a run. We ran along the Yarra River, over bridges and up towards the Casino. The next series of obstacles was a cargo net to crawl under and some walls to climb over. By this stage, the OCRL competitors were well amongst other Urbanathletes from earlier waves. Under the net and over the walls, we passed them by, encouraging them as we went past. While running along the wharf towards the underside of the Bolte Bridge, I had a great experience. The route took us up towards the sandbag carry and then back from where we had come. This design in the course allowed us to see some of the faster OCRL athletes as they returned from the sandbag carry. We were able to high five and call out to each other as we passed by. This is one of the things I love about Obstacle Racing. We might be competing for time, or points, but there is a great deal of camaraderie within the sport. From complete strangers participating in an event for the first time, or the ‘veterans’ of the sport, we are all in it together. Approximately half way through the course I was starting to feel something was missing. My polka dots and my whities were still pristine. No mud, no water. One of the things we obstacle course racers love about the sport is the mud. We love to get dirty. There is something a little bit special about that first ‘mud bath’ in a race. It seems to wash away the serious responsibility of being an adult and gives us permission to play like kids again. So I started to look for it. Finding mud in an urban environment is
hard but I succeeded. Up behind the warehouses, were another series of road barriers. Being in a less developed section of the Docklands there were a few muddy puddles. I made sure I ran through them, not around them! There were a few more obstacles along the docks back towards Etihad Stadium then a sharp left turn to the parallel bars and monkey bars we had seen earlier in the day. It was great to
see a crowd of spectators around these obstacles. They seemed to get quite a kick out of seeing adults doing ‘child’s play’! I got halfway along the monkey bars and found myself stuck behind someone else who was carefully crossing the length of the bars. I was hanging for a while and started to worry that my grip strength wasn’t going to hold up so I yelled at him ‘hurry up!’. I found out later that this was his
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ping, “I am often running, jum doing burpees and beaer urban crawling around th streets. The lunchtimecrazy!” crowd must think I am
first OCRL event, and he, like me, was terrified of the 30-burpee penalty. We both got across the bars and forged a friendship in that moment. We have often found ourselves racing at a similar pace at subsequent races! At about the 9km mark there was a 100 metre sprint that took us towards the finish line. As I ran past the finish line I saw the final obstacle, the quarter-pipe. It looked steep and people were
failing it. It was at this stage of the race that I started to doubt myself. I had another 3 km of running and obstacles to complete and I worried about it the whole way. At this stage, I was running alongside another OCRL competitor. We chatted with each other as we ran and I asked for some advice on the quarter-pipe. He gave me some tips and I started to work through how I would put that advice into action as I ran. Arriving at the final obstacle there was a long line of people waiting for their attempt. While waiting, doubts started to creep back in. I thought that I would save time and be better off doing 30 burpees instead of waiting for my turn to then fail. This is where the magic of Obstacle Racing occurs as these thoughts passed through my head:
“Life is full of obstacles and hardship. Many racers have amazing stories where they have overcome adversity in their lives. To me, they are almost like the fringe dwellers of fitness. The physical obstacles we face in a race are a lot like the obstacles we have in our own lives. They scare us. They create self-doubt. We can worry about them and we can be scared of the consequences if we do not conquer them. In a race, when faced with our obstacle ‘nemesis’, we have to call on a certain strength. One we did not think we had to take on the challenge. Tackling it might hurt, we might get injured (I carry massive bruises from each race I do), we might even fail the obstacle and endure a round of 30 burpees on our already spent bodies, but we still give
it a go. And when we succeed, our confidence is restored. We become stronger as a result.” So, I waited my turn. I watched some succeed and others fail. I was determined to conquer. When it was my turn, I was ready. Without looking back, I ran at the quarter-pipe and found myself at the top, first go. My doubts had been unfounded and I had just learnt a valuable lesson. Don’t let your doubts undermine your inner strength. Call on it. Running towards the finish line I was clean, there was no mud, and my shoes were dry. I looked a bit like that fresh looking 4WD that had only ever driven through city streets. Not the standard finish to an obstacle race. Nonetheless, I had just completed my first OCRL event and conquered every obstacle in it! I felt amazing.
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Author: Matt D’Aquino
If you want to learn a skill or ability, you are best served by seeking out the masters. Though grip might not be the difference between life or death as it is in some of the more extreme rock climbing sports, it is still the beginning and end of success in a sport like Judo. Grip strength has been vital in Matt D’Aquino’s Judo career. He is one of Australia’s most successful Judo players, is a 2008 Beijing Olympian, a multiple Australian and Oceania champion and in 2009 Matt made history being the first Australian male to win the Pac Rim championships. If you want to hold onto something and not ever have to let go, Matt is the man who knows how to reach that point. Obstacle Racing Magazine asked Matt how he has conditioned his arms and hands for maximum grip results. If you are interested in entering an obstacle course race it is important to be mentally prepared, physically fit and willing to have a try at anything. One aspect of physicality that racers tend to overlook is grip strength. Grip strength is a crucial component of many obstacles, not least the rope climb, monkey bars and other hanging or climbing variety obstacles, as well as some of the object carries. There are plenty of tests for your finger and forearm strength out on course. Including a few simple grip strengthening movements into your workouts will mean you have one
less weakness threatening to undo all your fitness gains due to a slip or a drop. And when it comes to Spartan Race and their burpee penalties, this could save you a lot of hurt and time. Many trainers believe that grip strength can be defined by how big your forearms are, but in actual fact grip strength is a combination forearm, finger and wrist strength. If you ever look at the fingers and forearms of professional rock climbers, you will notice that some have some huge forearm muscles while other have very thin forearms with little muscle tone. What matters with grip strength is not how big the forearms are
but how much they can hold for a particular amount of time. Your forearms are made up of muscles with a variety of different roles. Some muscles in the forearm are used to rotate your wrist, while others are used to flex and extend the wrist. Your hands are made up of intrinsic and extrinsic muscles that assist in grabbing while your wrist also has muscles and tendons that are used to grip. Many racers at some stage in training or competition will have experienced the feeling of lactic acid blowing out the forearms and the resulting rip failure. Once your forearms blowout, your biceps and
shoulders soon follow. There goes your shot at completing the rope climb, or getting through those monkey bars. The exercises below can be done individually for strength, or, if you are looking to increase your lactic acid buffer, then include them in a forearm circuit at least twice a week. If you are a person who already performs a lot of rope climbs or towel chin ups I suggest you include these movements only once a week. This is due to the fact that you do not want to over train your fingers and forearms as this can result in some niggling tendonitis issues.
Exercise 1: Towel chin ups Towel chin ups are a great exercise to strengthen your fingers under the load of your body weight. Loop a towel or a bar or tree branch and start performing chinups. If you don’t have a towel you can also use battle rope or bundle of smaller ropes.
Exercise 2: 1 or 2 hand hang Doing a dead hang will strengthen the shoulder socket as well as force you to rely on your forearms to keep you up. Simply hang off a chin up bar for as long as you can. The fatter the bar the harder this exercise becomes. If a single arm dead hang is too hard then perform a 2 arm dead hang instead.
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Exercises3: Pushup bar rotations Pushup bar rotations are a great way to load your forearms and strengthen the wrists at the same time. This movement is also great when supersetting with pushups or bear crawls. Rest a barbell on a few weight plates or aerobics steps. Place your hands shoulder width apart and assume a push up position. Begin rolling your wrists by flexing and extending them in both directions.
Exercise 4: Bucket of rice This is a classic grip strengthening exercise and it is one of the best ways to develop hand and finger strength. Simply buy a standard sized laundry bucket and fill it with rice. Place your hand inside so that the rice covers half your forearm. Begin opening and shutting your hand and rotate your arm back and forth and you will feel the lactic acid set in fairly quickly.
Exercise 5: Pinch grip farmers walk Pinch grip farmers walks are harder than they look. Hold 2 weight plates pinched in your fingers and perform a lap of the gym. Try to use metal plates opposed to rubber pates as the rubber provides too easy a gripping surface. This exercise will strengthen your fingers and forearm strength quickly.
Exercise 6: Newspaper scrunching Open up a newspaper and lay it out on the floor. Using your one hand, scrunch up the entire page and repeat until you have crushed half a newspaper.
Exercise 7: Bouldering If you have a Rock Climbing centre nearby simply pay a casual visit and climb along the bottom of the course. This is great cross training and one of the best sports for grip strength.
Circuit Training for Grip Strength Circuit 1: 1 Minute – bucket of rice 1 Minute – newspaper scrunching 30 Seconds – farmers walk Circuit 2: Towel chin up maximum repetitions 30 Push up bar rotations 1 minute – pinch grip farmers walk Circuit 3: Maximum time 1 or 2 hand dead hang 20 Push up bar rotations Repeat 2 rounds Circuit 4: 20 Push up bar rotations 1 minute – Pinch grip farmers walk Maximum repetitions towel chin ups 30 second – bucket of rice 4 pages of newspaper scrunching Maximum time 1 or 2 hand deadhang
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Interview by Wok Whitmore. Images by Lyndon Maher
Event Director – BEACH BASH
How did you get involved with obstacle racing and Beach Bash? Well if we go back to the very start I got involved because Matt Murphy went and ran what was then The Valley Stampede and at the time I was one of Matt’s clients within his personal training group. I arrived for class one day and asked him what he’d done on the weekend and he said he went and did this valley run through the bush with obstacles. This was a few years ago when The Valley Stampede was relatively new and I think it may have been their second event so I asked Matt about where you do this and how much it costs. He told me and I thought, “Geez, that might be worth a crack” because I’m always looking for business opportunities and then I thought, “I wonder if there’s anyone holding these on the beach?” Did you think that after your first event and the issues surrounding it that Beach Bash would bounce back to the position that it is now in? Yes and no. Straight after the event, it was such a hit in the guts that one wonders if you’d ever get back up again, but I did after I thought about how much potential there was, the infrastructure that we had and the mountains that we’d climbed and I’m glad that I made that last effort to get to the summit as those benefits are now emerging. I think the main thing is that I had a belief in it like nobody else simply because I thought of the idea originally and when you have that total belief in something and you get knocked down you think, “Stuff it. I’ll get back up again, it will work. Were your beliefs strengthened after being able to run the event on the Sunday and the positives that stemmed from that? Yes, it was the positives that came out of that. Had we not run that event I think psychologically you’d be finished but running that event after having a crew working all night with no sleep at all in order to set it up, it being successful and the reaction that we got from people after it saying how fantastic it was, that definitely encourages you, and it was only half an event!
Who makes up the team behind Beach Bash? Well there’s Pete in Forster who organises two running festivals and a swimming festival, so he’s had experience with that over quite a few years and has run very successful events, building on them all the time. And then there’s Jason who is a joint venture partner from Coolangatta in Queensland. Jason’s got a marketing company and he does the marketing for the Titans NRL, Professional Golfer’s Association, QLD Cricket, QLD Netball and QLD Hockey, so he’s got a bit of a sports promotions background, the two fits are really good. With so many locations keen for a Beach Bash, what does 2014 hold? We’re just getting bigger, we’ll go further interstate, certainly south and we’ve also had interest from Perth so we’ll certainly look at the possibility of a Beach Bash in the west. Another place that has shown a lot of interest is Townsville and we think it could be great up there because of the young demographic with
a lot of army and air force personnel based there. Only thing is they don’t have very good beaches in terms of the availability of sand at high tide, the water comes in a fair bit. And you’ve also attracted some celebrity endorsements? Yes, we’ve just had Nikki Hudson promoting the event on the Gold Coast and she’s really popular in that area. Nikki’s a good friend of our Gold Coast race director and when he asked her to get involved she said she’d love to despite not knowing anything about obstacle racing let alone beach bash so she did some study and then came back and said she loved the idea of it because she’s still got a really competitive spirit. Will the Beach Bash festival area remain as a fitness expo? Yes, so that when people have finished they aren’t just having a drink and some food and then leaving, it creates more of a festivity so people
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“I thought of the idea originally and when you have that total belief in something and you get knocked down you think, “Stuff it. I’ll get back up again, it will work.””
hang around and go down the slide, have a look at fitness gear and maybe do some shopping which makes it more of a day for the whole family. What were you doing before all of this? I was a landscape architect and then I had an exporting business, but for the years before that I was working in the fashion industry as a fabric importer and business administrator. But I’ve always liked sport, I’ve always been into sailing. As a kid I was really into tennis but then in later years it became sailing and I still sail but not as competitively as I used to. Where do you see Beach Bash in five years? I see the same concept but I see it getting bigger, more awesome obstacles, I’m always thinking of new obstacles. I think it will be bigger and be run in every state and I think instead of lugging gear from state to state, it will be state based and we’ll have one in each area and already we’ve also had enquiries from New Zealand and even Asia may be a possibility. obstacleracingmagazine.com.au | 81
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What Am I Doing Here? The Spartan Ultra Beast Experience The infamous granddaddy of obstacle course races, the Ultra Beast, is a marathon distance event, which is right where any similarities with the marathon ends. Twice the distance of the revered Spartan Race Beast, and arguably well more than twice the difficulty, the Ultra Beast defines the exact opposite end of the spectrum to a walk in the park. An event with average finish times above 10 hours that is brimming with physical and mental challenges designed to undermine your confidence, if you can guarantee anything it’s that at some point you’ll be asking yourself, ‘what am I doing here?’. >>
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he first intelligent question that came to mind as I stood amongst the four or five hundred people ready to attempt the 2013 Spartan Race Ultra Beast was, “What am I doing here?” I still don’t have a good answer. I survived the Ultra Beast last year and earned a season pass, and I suppose that drove me to return. It really is hard to comprehend the forces that drive us to attempt an event that is certain to make us suffer a full day of pain and discomfort for a glow-in-the-dark trinket worth one dollar. It was pitch black and we were milling about in the festival area. Andy Weinberg of Death Race was on the mic talking ragtime about how overnight flooding had forced them to add two miles to the course, and that our drop bins had been moved to random locations on the mountain. As a past Death Racer, I ignored him. People were jumping up and down and getting themselves amped up. I tried to do the opposite. Going out fast would be disastrous. Last year the course had been around 28 miles and had taken me nearly ten and a half hours. Junyong Pak was beside me. We had both scouted what portions of the course we could on Saturday and had both adjusted our nutrition plans after hearing so many racers complain of cramping. He floated up to the front and I stayed where I was. My experience last year told me that only a few people, perhaps four or five, would be able to actually “run” the whole course. Many others would burn themselves out trying. After the standard Spartan motivational repetitions, we headed out en masse onto the Beast course. We would do the first 5 miles of it now, head into the woods for an undetermined number of miles and then rejoin the Beast course where we left off and complete the 9+ miles that remained. Thanks to the rain, we all
had wet feet within two minutes of the start. A couple standard obstacles went by and we started the first of a seemingly endless number of climbs. I stopped for a moment high above the valley and looked back on the slowly moving line of headlamps creeping up the mountain like a ponderous caterpillar. It was still very dark. A few weeks back I hiked the Presidential Traverse in the White Mountains. It was a very challenging climb and we stopped at one point on the trail in complete darkness, turned off our headlamps and stood quietly. We were above the alpine line so there were few trees or animals. For a few minutes we were in the most complete silence of my life. It was surreal. Moments like these are indelible. The true indicator that this race was going to be different came at the first sandbag carry. To this point I had gone four miles in two hours and was doing math in my head about the paces needed to beat cutoffs and simply finish. When I put the 60lb bag on my shoulders and headed up again, the math got even less hopeful. In my opinion, that sandbag carry was the way they should all be. It was very, very difficult and twice as long as any other I’d done prior. On the way down, I slipped on a severe decline and the sandbag flew off my shoulders and rolled about 40 feet, nearly taking out a few racers on their way up. It was dangerous. Just like the race. We climbed back to the top after that. I think we hit another obstacle wall up there. There were a silly number of walls everywhere. Most of them small ones. Reminded me of Ruckus, not in a good way. We then embarked into uncharted territory (and the infamous forestgreen course markers) with our first steps onto the Ultra Beast course. We had to navigate a twisty balance board walk across two by sixes, lot of folks fell off this one. There were a series of gnarly up and down bushwhacking trails, one of which ripped off my timing chip and gave me
“The miles in this race were the hardest I’ve done anywhere. They taxed all of us in ways we are still feeling, believe me.” a deep, arrow shaped wound on my palm. Then came the long grassy slope. It was awesome. It was a three-mile winding path, covered almost entirely by soft grass and moss, and gently sloped downhill towards Bear Mountain. I maintained a sub 7 minute pace on that stretch. It was broken up by a barbed wire crawl, but this portion of the race greatly improved my race math. I ran much of it with two other guys, names unknown, and we passed dozens of folks. We came out of it to a (surprise) 4-foot wall manned by Alex McCabe. He told us Junyong Pak was leading and an hour ahead. Sounded about right. We headed into the woods for quite some time on “trails” that had been thick bramble and woods before Todd came through and tied green ribbons to random trees. At the end of those, we had the pleasure of reliving the brutal final ascent from last year’s Beast.
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At this point a volunteer incorrectly instructed us to run down the main ski slope to the base of Bear Mountain where our bins had been dropped. Turns out there was a path we were to take off to the right. We were all sad to have missed it because that descent was by far the worst of the day. It was crazy. The slope was covered with low, thorny bushes and burrs, many of which disguised ankle breaking holes and rocks. We all made it down, but SLOWLY. We ran over to a spear throw, and on the way my wife Amy caught me and kissed me which made a great photo thanks to Anthony Matesi! I shanked the spear throw (though I later stuck the second one dead center). I blame the kiss. First burpees of the day. Then we had a pond crossing, a set of small walls (Grr) manned by Matt Bollock and a log flip. The log flip was adjacent to our bins and we were at approximately 12.5 miles at that point.
One would therefore assume that it was time to access the bins. Wrong. Oh, sure you could get to them by doing a burpee penalty, but most of us decided to keep on going and access them when we could do so without penalty. That turned out to be an error for many. I bypassed the bins and headed up a trail, over another stupid short wall, and into the woods. We were in the woods for a couple of miles and there was another really nice decline to run on. We came out to a set of obstacles by the road and a ski lift. If you were up there, you probably saw the 12-foot ladder wall erected there as you drove by. The Hobie Hop over a bridge (I was scolded by Jennifer for lack of hopping at one point), an awesome set of commando monkey bars (pipes hanging from chains and different heights and orientations), and the ladder wall. Great course design through this section. From there it was another challenging set
of ascents and descents. I can’t overstate the impact these continual climbs had. They were intense and relentless. The miles in this race were the hardest I’ve done anywhere. They taxed all of us in ways we are still feeling, believe me. After a while I looked down at my GPS watch and realized we had passed the 16-mile mark and still no bins. Furthermore, we were far away from the base in the woods. The folks I trudged along with at that point were out of liquids. I was very happy I’d opted for my 100oz Camelback. Unbeknownst to us, there was quite a battle going on at the front of the race. Pak had been running with a 2:25 marathoner who brought no water along and who told his family he expected to finish in 4 hours. He accessed his bin with the penalty burpees and disappeared. Ben Nephew and Olof Dallner exchanged the lead many times in these miles, apparently. obstacleracingmagazine.com.au | 85
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Ben is a very well-known trail and ultra runner and was running all the hills. Olof described to me how his sizable lead disappeared as Ben ran past him on a steep ascent. Crazy. We had a climb so steep there were ropes to assist, and after that there was a Hercules Hoist, and then we finally ran down to the bins. 18-MILES IN! When I got to the bins there were a few dozen people there. Most of them had burpeed in. I told people that it was a long way back here and that they should get moving. It had taken me a few hours to get back. I was getting a bit of sugar belly at this point from the Gatorade and didn’t eat much at my bin. I refilled my Camelback, drank, snacked a little, kissed my family, and moved on. Just outside the bins we had to select logs and carry them up the mountain, navigating a barbed wire crawl (with the log) along the way. That was challenging. I was feeling a bit tired at that point. We followed that with a very long steep ascent that went on for a couple miles and brought us back to the Beast course. I think we rejoined right at the second (for us) Hercules Hoist and monkey bars. I confirmed with a volunteer that we were to follow the Beast course henceforth and that there was just over 9 miles left. By my math, that meant a 30-mile course.
“I got down to the water obstacles looking forward to cooling off. The rope climb out of the water was fine, as was the traverse wall, but the Tarzan Traverse got me.“ The remaining miles were so much easier in terms of elevation and grade that I ran much of it. Not easy, mind you, easier. It was a pretty fun course and it was cool running this part with more people around. I’d been running alone or with just a few people for hours and hours. The Ultra Beasters spread out very quickly. There were a couple of barbed wire crawls in here, one of which was the longest ever. Fun. I got down to the water obstacles looking forward to cooling off. The rope climb out of the water was fine, as was the traverse wall, but the Tarzan Traverse got me. Last year I made
this easily, but the ropes were wet and mine were missing knots! In the drink. I came out of the water and saw Sandy (Hi Sandy!) and it wasn’t until I got to the memorisation challenge that I remembered that I owed burpees for falling off the ropes. I assume there was a designated place to do them, but I missed it. Two things here: one, we had gotten our codes to memorize 20 miles ago (I remembered mine as I turned it into a song), two the burpees I did for Tarzan wrecked me! I had been taking electrolyte/salt tabs all day and had avoided cramps, but after those
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very ugly burpees my legs were trashed. They froze up hard and I felt like I was walking on chopsticks. There was a little gulley on the course and I did the Frankenstein walk through there. I must have looked pretty bad. Thankfully, the cramps passed fairly quickly, though I did have to settle for a fast walk all the way to the Tyrolean Traverse. These were by far the coldest miles of the race for me. Not being able to run really hurt. As for the traverse, practice makes such a difference on that one. It really enables you to survive even when you are burnt! The race actually hinged on this obstacle, as I learned later. Ben Nephew was actually in the lead when he reached it. He fell off all three times, did his 90 burpees AND was assessed the 15 minute penalty. Pak and Olof both completed the traverse. Pak overtook Ben shortly after and kept the lead. The 15-minute penalty moved Ben from 2nd to 3rd at the finish line. The end was in sight now. A few miles of trail running that felt a lot longer than it was brought me to the last sandbag carry. Honestly this one felt superfluous to me. It was on a very easy grade with the standard pancake sandbags and felt like it was just a way to make the race a bit longer. I ran pretty fast from there over the last few obstacles to the finish, feeling strong. It was awesome having so many friends and family there yelling my name. The gladiators held back the batons and offered me fist bumps instead, an honor they bestowed on all Ultras and Death Racers who finished. I don’t know why, but I thought that was pretty cool. I saw Marcie and Bobby at the finish. They gave me my glow-inthe-dark medal. Thanks! I saw Carrie Adams from Spartan there and she gave me a great hug. She is a very special person who got me into the Ultra last year. From there I walked back to the fire jump and stood with Pak and Yvette, Olof and Caitlin, and my family and warmed up while we all cheered for the amazing people who crossed that finish line. This race was the single hardest course I’ve done. It took me 11 hours and 55 minutes, and only 43% of entrants finished. The Death Race and World’s Toughest Mudder were harder, but only because they are longer. It was a treacherous, difficult, maddeningly long fight through those woods. I’m not sure I’ll feel very compelled to return a third time. When the preregistration link came out today I rolled my eyes and closed it. A couple of things to chew on before I go. Firstly, I do recommend this race. Highly. But that comes with some caveats. Firstly, this is not a race you can show up and do. I was averaging 50-60 miles a week in the months prior to the event. The leg strength that came with those miles was essential, in my opinion. The local Tough Mudders are fabulous training for this race as they are all on mountains and they don’t care if you run extra laps. Beyond the miles, you have to practice the hard obstacles any way you can. Often. Don’t assume that you’ll even be able to do burpees after 20 miles. They almost got me! You must plan your nutrition and hydration very well. I had a problem with several aspects of this
race. Problem #1. 30 is not 26.2. I’ve been around the block a few times now. I actually guessed it would be 30. That’s what I planned for, and good thing I did. Advertise it as “More Than 26.2.” Problem #2. If you tell us we can access our bins at the approximate halfway point, then we should be able to do that. Without a penalty. Having the bins 5 mountain miles further than we expected is a Death Race style mind game that is not appropriate for a straight race. People like me aren’t going to do burpees to get to our bins. We are going to keep going until we are supposed to get to them. The miles without water cost some racers badly. Problem #3. If your 23-mile cut off actually comes at 27+ miles, then maintaining the cutoff time is unfair. You designed the course. You knew the length would keep people out there much longer this year. I personally have a big problem with people being pulled off the course before the stated course closure time of 9pm. Problem #4. Prize money. The most absurd part of this
race was the $1,000 prize. How can this be justified? The course was more than twice as long and difficult than the Beast course, and yet had 1/15th the prize? I assume this meant to encourage people to enter the championship event, but the distribution of money was announced very late, and the division of the cash minimizes the incredible achievement of winning Spartan’s most difficult race. That’s right, the Ultra Beast is their MOST difficult event. It should get a real prize. Less than the championship race is fine, but why not $10k? All that aside, the course itself was fantastic and I appreciated how much effort went into the Ultra Beast only portion, especially the cool and unusual obstacles. The course designers, Norm Koch, Dan Luzzi, and Todd Sedlak really outdid themselves in a big way. Very impressive. I was also very thankful for all the friends I saw out on the course. You really helped me push on. As always, huge thanks go to the volunteers and staff as well. Enjoy those season passes! That is all.
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All Grit Story by Will Lind. Images by www.auroraimages.com.au
uoyant, though a touch shy, or maybe just reserved, 26 year old Bec came up to say ‘hi’ for the first time in real life at a True Grit event in Adelaide. We’d met, as is becoming more normal these days, on Facebook. Getting to know each other through those clipped, social media exchanges, it eventually came to the point where she entrusted me with reading her story. I read it and was given permission to share it with others. And those who have since heard the story have gained a privileged insight into where Bec has come from and the immense personal obstacles she has overcome. Meeting her at the True Grit event, I couldn’t read much into her. She was not so much closed off as much as centred within herself. If I hadn’t already known what was behind her, I would never come close with even the most far fetched guess as to what she had come through. Bec is a determined, strong and capable women, evidenced by the fact she ran that 24km True Grit event with what she thought was plantar facia¸ but what turned out to be a fractured foot. In training and racing she will not shy away from a challenge, ‘If I want confidence, I’ll do a 300 Burpees for Time challenge’, are her words, which are not those of a person looking to shirk hard work. An experienced Obstacle Racer, Bec is also invested in growing the Obstacle Course Racing community, initiating and managing an Obstacle Course Racing Facebook Community Board, Guest Editing for the Obstacle Racing Magazine and volunteering for the Obstacle Course Racing Association of Australia. Bec is not just here to stay. She is here to make change. It was a bumpy road that led to Bec’s first Obstacle Race, a Tough Bloke Challenge in Melbourne, March 2012. She had played sport in school but ended most of her athletic endeavours during high school. Just prior to obstacle racing, Bec had been running but in that familiar way to many of us she, ‘got bored, which made it hard for me to find motivation to get out the door’. One of Bec’s personal obstacles has been dealing with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), a psychological disorder effecting between two to five per cent of the population. BPD causes people to experience distressing emotional states, difficulty relating to other people and self harming behaviour. 1 This is not a recent issue for Bec, who can see how BPD has played a role in her developmental years. ‘Growing up in a country town I didn’t have a lot to do. I didn’t have a lot of friends either. I had little support and felt no one understood me. I suffered with BPD which at the time was managed very poorly by professionals who misdiagnosed me with depression and treated me as such with little results. I had been the victim of bullying at school, alongside other personal issues, and I just had no coping mechanisms in place. I tried to just forget about my past. Entertainment for me sadly ended up being alcohol which soon turned into an addiction that lead to drugs as well.’ One of the symptoms of BPD is the urge to self
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harm to cope with day to day stresses, which was something Bec resorted to when unable to find ways to deal with problems that came her way. She recounts that, ‘I didn’t know how to deal with things and I often would find myself sitting in a hospital with my father at all hours of the morning because I had either attempted, or felt like attempting suicide. My poor dad had no idea what he was in for when he took me in full time at the age of 14. I will always be thankful for the sleepless nights and the continual support he’s always given me. I owe my life to him more than anyone can possibly understand.’ Even at such a young age Bec did not consider a future possible. Of any sort. No weddings, careers or families lay ahead for her. Life was pain. After moving to Melbourne at 17 years old Bec thought she faced a clean slate. And though after some time she overcame her addiction to drinking, her addiction to drugs became much worse. A nightmarish incident when she had gone to purchase more drugs marks her lowest moment, ‘When I was 21 I went to pick up some drugs from the city and before I knew it I woke up in a strange house being held captive by a
their own expectations and become successful, long lived events. And over the next decade she hopes that, ‘Obstacle Course Racing will be recognised as an Olympic sport and for me personally, I would love to be at a level where I can represent Australia!’ Having been through the lows and fought back to the highs, Bec has found a new perspective on life. Her advice to the isolated and the vulnerable, or indeed anyone out there searching, is to, ‘Trust your gut, realise that you are not invincible and that people quite often don’t have your best interests at heart. Look after yourself. Put you
first, no one else will. Realise that the sky is the limit. You are capable of more than you know. Work hard for your dreams, don’t be afraid to dream big and most importantly, talk to people. Don’t let things get bad before asking for help. Seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness.’ For more information on Borderline Personality Disorder and other mental health issues, visit Sane Austrlalia at www.sane.org. 1. http://www.sane.org/information/factsheetspodcasts/160-borderline-personality-disorder
“I just had no coping m hanisms in place. I tried to just ec my past. Entertainmentforget about r me sadly ended up beingfo which soon turned into alcohol that lead to drugs as an addiction well.”
man with 2 guns. I had been drugged and raped and all my money stolen. I don’t remember too much from that time and I am grateful for that.’ After three days fearing for her life and Bec was finally able to escape, slipping out the door and running for her life. ‘I will never forget that moment, it was the moment I finally came alive.’ Too ashamed to tell her employers what had happened, Bec lost her job. You would be forgiven for thinking her situation would get worse from then on. But it didn’t. Bec stopped taking drugs and ‘deleted’ people from her life. She ended the destruction. It was slow going and the detox period was difficult, but near 12 months later Bec was starting to feel ‘normal’ again. And running became an outlet. You ask Bec about her future now and it’s full of hopeful challenges. She is intent on becoming a faster and stronger Obstacle Racer and is playing a role in the development of the sport. ‘I will do what I can, where I can to improve Obstacle Racing in Australia and I will try to drag as many people into it as possible! Everyone should experience the excitement and thrill of an Obstacle Course Race, even if it is just once!’ Bec would see all her favourite races exceed obstacleracingmagazine.com.au | 89
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True Grit Sydney
WRITTEN BY Paul Towers
Location: Sydney, NSW, Distance: 12km, Obstacles: 30+ On the 7th of September 2013 True Grit made their way to the Hawkesbury Region of Sydney for their first ever New South Wales event. The company had already developed a strong reputation amongst many Obstacle Racers after putting on some tough and unique events in both South Australia and Brisbane. As a result I was keenly awaiting race day and anticipated a course that made good use of the natural terrain and provided a mix of challenging and military inspired obstacles. For myself, and many other participants in the Obstacle Course Racing League, this race would act as a final hit out and training run before we departed for America in order to participate in the Spartan Race World Championships. Known as the Southern Cross Spartans we would be part of the first ever Australian Representative Team in the sport of Obstacle Racing. This impacted the way I approached the race in two ways. Firstly, I had been training hard in the weeks leading up to the event and was in good condition physically, and secondly I had not tapered or pulled back my training in the past week like I normally before a race. With the Spartan Beast only around the corner there were bigger races on the horizon and True Grit fell neatly into place as part of my overall training plan. My training in the weeks gone by was largely focused on preparing my body for the Spartan Race World Championships but this would also provide dividends for a race like True Grit which made good use of the surrounding hills and gullies on the property. Given the Spartan Race would be a Beast event (21 + Kilometres) and take place in Killington Vermont, a ski village with a maximum height of 1,293 metres, the majority of my training had been focused on hill running. Hill running provides a number of benefits associated with building power, speed and
endurance in your legs and is a great way to increase the intensity of your training without physically running for a longer period of time. The biggest thing I can take away from my training in the lead up to True Grit, and subsequently share with others, is the importance of adapting your training to the specific demands of each race you will compete in. In past years my training was very basic and normally comprised of training runs that were dictated by the time I had available and not the adaptations I had to force my body to make in order to become a better runner. However, with the help of my Coach I have gained an appreciation of training and certainly seen benefits from incorporating different types of sessions into my training plan. Primarily my training focused on running hills, lots and lots of hills. Given the elevation change we would likely face in Killington it was import to incorporate multiple hill repeats in many runs in order to overcome the negatives of living my the coast where most of the terrain is largely flat and at sea level. Saturday represented the peak of my training week and built up to a three hour run where I ran a looped course that enabled me to run up two different hills multiple times in the session. One hill was fairly steep and short, the other a long slow gradual grind. Incorporating these two different hills was important as you never know what you will face on race day and the demands of running up each hill do feel different, especially in a race situation. Following this would be a run on Sunday of between two and two and a half hours that would gradually increase in intensity. This allowed me to appreciate the benefits of holding yourself back a little at the race start and then bringing it home strong as we would typically run for 60 minutes at an easy pace, before increasing
the speed every 30 minutes until the run was compete. This is not something I would recommend for complete beginners to the sport as it is important you build up to running this distance in training, before you then start playing with the intensity and speed or the session. Earlier in the week was multiple sprints of between 800 metres and 1,600 metres with Burpees mixed in, as well as hill repeats on Tuesday. Typically most people us the up phase of a hill as the hard part of their run and while this was true for my training sessions as well I also made good use of the downhill. Running hard and fast downhill is a concept many people never really give much consideration to. But being prepared and willing to let go as you fly downhill can deliver many benefits in a race situation when you pass others who are perhaps not as well prepared. With all that training under my belt and the fact that the True Grit course went for approximately tweleve kilometres I knew I was well prepared. My race started well and after the start of the race had been called I found myself in fifth position after a kilometre
or two. Many of the obstacles in this first section had been about warming the legs and were not too challenging, however, with thirty obstacles on the course I knew that they would not all be this easy. The first true challenge of the race occurred a little later on as we entered a tree covered section and were asked to choose between two paths, left of right. By this stage I was sitting in 7th position but starting to come into the race and enter a period where I know that I had hit my stride and could start trying to take back a position or two. I made up my mind early that I would be going left and headed straight up the hill. Cutting through bush and heading up hill was tough and I quickly began to doubt my decision to go left. Eventually however I reached the peak, cut across the mountain and began to head back down. Popping back onto the path I saw two people run past. I had yet to see them in the race and originally thought they may have been lost before it dawned on me that they had actually overtaken me. Going left was now firmly in the wrong decision basket. I quickly overtook my two new
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competitors but was still unsure of how many other people had passed me. As a result I just had to press on and see where the rest of the race would take me. As promised True Grit had a number of military themed obstacles that followed. To their credit they made great use of the natural landscape and really upped the anti on a number of their obstacles. The Sandbag Carry in particular, was perhaps the heaviest I have ever encountered and lugging it uphill was no easy feet. The ammo carry, while not as heavy was also taxing on the body. Cargo nets and ropes also made their presence felt on the course. But instead of your standard climb up and over concept they were draped from boulders and rocks which ensured that you really had to think about your footing and choose your hand placing wisely. As the race continued we eventually entered what was known as the Swamp. This
of occasions, a wall to clamber over, a traverse rope and ramp and cargo net combo before the finish line. I managed to cross the line in 7th position, however was awarded 6th place in the league after one of my fellow competitors missed a few obstacles. Finishing the race in around seventy two minutes was perfect from a training perspective and the number of hill runs and demands of the obstacles would help prepare me for what I would face in Vermont. All that was left now was one last week of hard training, before I could taper for the Spartan Race World Championships. Overall True Grit certainly lived up to their expectations and I think many Race Organisers in Australia would benefit from taking a peak at their course to see how it should be done. Furthermore, the pre and post race atmosphere was amongst the best I have witnessed with good music and numerous stalls established in the central area.
my y il r a im r â€œP on d e s u c o f training g hills, lots runnin of hills.â€œ and lots section of the course was perhaps six or seven hundred metres long and was essentially a water logged plain. This made running extremely tough and in many instances a fast walk or jog was the quickest pace that could be managed. This section of the course did however have a benefit as I was finally able to get a view of the course ahead and see that I was still in 7th place, besides the two people who had initially overtaken me my decision to go left had not caused me to lose any additional places. Emerging from the Swamp was a relief and we were now on the back half of the course. As we looped back around we were faced with a trail run that cut into and through the bushes on a number
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The Raymond Terrorists
Where effort and exertion are valued above results, and team spirit overrules personal ambition. The Raymond Terrorists leave no one behind...
Story by Will Lind.
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Raymond Terrace, a small town of around 30 000 souls roughly 26km north of Newcastle, NSW, is home to one of the most spirited Obstacle Racing training groups around—the Raymond Terrorists. Much more a team than a regular training group, members stick by each other, stick up for each other and measure success on effort alone. Attitude is everything and no one is ever left behind. Not even in training. Benny Mulley, a founding member and leader amongst the group, is heavily invested in this small community of positive, like minded people who get together for mud runs and races. It all began with some talk one day after a training session in the middle of 2011 at their stomping grounds at Anytime Fitness. While chatting with Luke Bradbery, Benny’s Personal Trainer, owner of Militia Fitness and now trainer of the Raymond Terrorists, talk turned to pulling a proactive, determined group together to participate in mud runs. This was before anyone involved had even completed an event themselves. As Benny tells it, ‘It is a group where we are not concerned about how good you are. All that matters is how hard you try. It is one-hundred per cent about attitude.’ Now the group has around 20 core members, with more showing up for events and the normal fluctuation during weekly workouts. Most of the group train together daily, with key sessions being a Monday night run, ‘Mudder’ training at 6pm on Wednesday nights and an outdoor session at 8:30am on Saturday mornings. There is no ‘typical’ member of the Raymond Terrorists, with the mix of ages, genders, personalities and backgrounds being eclectic to say the least. What holds true for all of them is the attitude and the commitment. A ‘True Terrorist’ is someone who participates in three mud runs or events, displays strong work ethic when the time calls for it and refuses to give in. Although, should anyone falter it is doubtless the team would be right there for each other when the going is hardest. For Dallas Jones, 25, the team gives to members as much as members give to the team. ‘I am a member of a team and I rely on the team. I defer to it and sacrifice for it because the team, not the individual, is the ultimate champion’.
All inclusive, the Raymond Terrorists would welcome absolutely anyone to come and join a workout. However, only the right personality will want to stick around for the long run. Tammy Proctor, 36, joined the Terrorists around 18 months ago with her sister. Luke and Benny supported the sisters during their first race and have helped them develop their fitness to levels they have never experienced before. Tammy has now completed several events and is looking forward to more. ‘The whole Terrorist attitude is it’s not about you, it’s about the team. The Terrorists help everyone, it’s just our way. I wear my ‘True Terrorist’ badge with honour.’ Trainer Luke is proud of his team. ‘We train hard to make the events easy, or at least more enjoyable. I love this group because of the passion and camaraderie that it has developed. Everybody puts in 100 per cent effort, and they do this for themselves as well as for the team. Attitude and ‘ticker’ are very important traits for the Raymond Terrorists; you put in the work, you AND the team benefit. A huge part of our training is mental focus and encouraging people to get out of their comfort zones as often as possible’. For the Raymond Terrorists it is all about overcoming your own excuses. The group is there to help you find the way through, but expects commitment and effort. You turn
“All that matters is how hard you try.” up. You give it your all. You overcome. Since their inception the Raymond Terrorists have completed around 13 mud runs or events and have grown from a group of 6 at their first event to their strongest showing of over 20 members at Tough Mudder, Sydney, 2013. As the group grows their core values remain the same. ‘There are 40 year old women who train harder than most 20 year olds,’ says Benny, ‘and Members will do 12 to 16 hour shifts and still turn up to sessions because they love the training and group so much. The Terrorists do not finish until we are all finished and the fastest often do not stop when their final set is done. They will go and support their team mates all the way to the final bell.’ Expect to see the Raymond Terrorists represented at many more events into the future. Representatives of the Terrorists have committed to a ‘one in-all in’ policy for any Spartan Race burpee penalty incurred for not completing an obstacle. If any one of them falls or stumbles, the whole team will be there to pick them up. That’s just the Raymond Terrorist way.
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u a . m .co
>> Race Calendar 2013-14 23 Nov 2013
Greate Aussie Ram Run
Hawkesbury River NSW
23 Nov 2013
Suck It Up Buttercup
24 Nov 2013
Xtreme OCR Landsborough
1.5 - 4.5km
30 Nov 2013
Call of the Beasts
30 Nov & 01 Dec 2013
Western Sydney NSW
30 Nov 2013
The Holt Bolt
01 Dec 2013
MS Mud Run
07 Dec & 08 Dec 2013
07 Dec 2013
Warrior Challenge Lake Mountain VIC
07 Dec 2013
Black Out - Rhino Park
22 Dec 2013
Xtreme OCR Landsborough
1.5 - 4.5km
25 Jan 2014
The Holt Bolt
26 Jan 2014
Xtreme OCR Landsborough
1.5 - 4.5km
15 Feb 2014
Barrington Tops NSW
22 Feb 2014
Mud Run Emerald
22 Feb 2014
Raw Challenge Nugent
22 Feb & 23 Feb 2014
Operation Blackhawk Nagambie VIC
23 Feb 2014
Xtreme OCR Landsborough
1.5 - 4.5km
01 Mar 2014
Tough Bloke Challenge
Wonga Park VIC
08 Mar 2014
09 Mar 2014
Mad Cow Mud Run
22 Mar 2014 Kokoda Grunt Lake Maroon
QLD QLD QLD
4 & 8km
22 Mar 2014
22 Mar & 23 Mar 2014
29 Mar 2014
The Holt Bolt
05 Apr 2014
26 Apr & 27 Apr 2014
04 May 2014
Blood Sweat & Fears
10 & 21km
31 May 2014
The Holt Bolt
31 May 2014
31 May & 01 Jun 2014
28 Jun & 29 Jun 2014
Tough Bloke Challenge
12 Jul 2014
13 Jul 2014
26 Jul 2014
The Holt Bolt
16 Aug & 17 Aug 2014
27 Sep 2014
The Holt Bolt
QLD SA QLD WA
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Own season one of the original TV series
AS SEEN ON
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Obstacle Racing Magazine is a community driven publication dedicated to bringing you all the fun of OCR from Australia and around the world
Published on Jan 6, 2014
Obstacle Racing Magazine is a community driven publication dedicated to bringing you all the fun of OCR from Australia and around the world