I am slow. I am overweight. I am also an OCR athlete. And, it was the best decision I’ve ever made for myself. I’m not the fastest, but I will run my heart out on every course. I’m not the strongest, but I will pick up anybody on the course that needs a lift. I will probably never place in the top of my age group, but I will make sure that anyone that wants to start a race, crosses that finish line. Ultimately, it’s not the number of first place finishes that I’ll remember in my final days. Instead, I’ll remember who was with me when I crossed the finish line.
I fell into OCR’s in 2012 when I was overweight and on a very detrimental path. I met a friend that was determined to get me back in shape and outside again. Having ran a Tough Mudder the fall before, he knew my competitive nature wouldn’t be able to resist pushing myself; if he could just get me to take the first step. After four months of shedding several pounds, crying many tears, and completing a Warrior Dash, I found myself at the starting line of the SC Tough Mudder. I convinced two friends to run with me and that we should dress up in costumes because we all know that takes every ounce of pain away! Four hours and 10.2 miles later, we crossed the finish line and I knew I had found something that I would be doing for a long time.
Two and a half years, and many finish lines later, I have had many ups and downs in my journey. Thirty pounds lost and gained, friends coming and going, injuries left and right, but among all of it, I also found a home. After meeting them on the Tough Mudder Charlotte course in 2013 with quadriplegic Justin Falls, I joined More Heart Than Scars in 2014. A year later I was also made a black shirt member of the Dirtbags. I have helped a number of adaptive athletes conquer fears, obstacles and cross finish lines with these amazing people and even though I never thought I would be the person walking into a festival area and hear somebody call out “Foxy!” and run up for a hug, that’s exactly what happens each time I step onto a venue. Whether I show up alone or with a team, it never fails that I see someone I’ve made a connection with in another race and I know that no matter what challenge I decide to do next, they will always be there to support me.
At the end of 2014, I decided that I wanted to really challenge myself to step up with my own racing. I love the races that I get to help adaptive athletes through more than anything, but doing so has also made me forget that I still need to conquer my own fears and challenge myself to be better.
With that realization (and the push of many mudder friends) I decided that World’s Toughest Mudder was what I needed to accomplish in 2015. Now, it’s time to learn how to take all the advice and encouragement I’ve given so many adaptive athletes and put it to use on my own journey. For someone who has torn, pulled, and sprained more body parts than I can count, let’s just say I’m excited, nervous, and scared to share this year’s lessons and all the mistakes to come on my road to WTM. Here’s to learning which body glide will make a wetsuit bearable, finding which shoes will allow my feet to swell to the size of a man’s, and how to keep my marriage intact while I throw everything I have into something completely crazy! Luckily, I have an entire community that I can call family to help me along the way.
Editor’s Note: We will be follow Sarah on her journey to World’s Toughest Mudder along with a diverse group of women in 2015. They share their stories and their trip to WTM.