Dirt in Your Skirt Athlete Profile Series – Anna-Lee Markstedt O’Dwyer
In light of the OCR World Championships this weekend our Dirt in Your Skirt Athlete profile has gone international. Anna-Lee Markstedt O’Dwyer a Personal Assistant from Stockholm, Sweden is currently making her way to the USA for the OCR World Championships. She has been a dominate female on the Swedish OCR circuit, participated in Europe’s Ninja Warrior and finds races all over Europe when she can. She has an impressive array of sponsors in OMPU Sports gear and clothing, VivoBareFoot Shoes, MM Sports, Superior Race (OCR organisors), EPIC Travel Gear, Drift Innovation. Learn a little more about this 37-year old mother, athlete and lover of life!
How did you get involved in your sport:
My sister linked to a Tough Mudder video. I signed up interest for their upcoming race in Sweden. Half a year passed but they never came to Sweden. But then I heard of the Swedish OCR Tough Viking and signed up within 15min. I ran it dressed up as Catwoman of sorts, and ended up coming in 12th, despite mask and costume obstructing my way, so I figured I must have another go and signed up for one in Belgium called Race Against Nature 3 weeks later, where I came in second. Couldn’t stop there, so 3 weeks later I ran Toughest Copenhagen, Denmark and I won…! I was in total shock… and hooked. This was 1 year ago.
Were you always an athlete?
No. God no. I still don’t consider myself an athlete. That sounds far too serious. I was always active, but I’d never trained hard or for anything specific until last year. In fact I had never competed in any sports at all. Previous to my first OCR I had only ever ran two races – two marathons – but that was hardly a “competition” as such, nothing I aspired to win, haha, but rather a sort of whim, something I had on my bucket list. But during those two runs (3 years apart) I realised that I have a knack for (distance) running. The last race I came in at 3h45min and that’s an OK time for someone with so little training.
What are some of your athletic achievements:
I ran 17 races so far and won 10 of them, among which one was the
Nordic Championship in Obstacle Racing 2014.
My Team mate Jessica Fridlund and I were also the only females to ever get over the Guiness Workd Record long Monkey Bars (135m this year!) at Rat Race Dirty Weekend, a 20 miles and 200 obstacle race in the UK.
I was also chosen, among the many hopeful applicants, to participate in the first European Ninja Warrior that took place in Sweden this summer. I can’t tell you how I did yet though 🙂
What are your goals for the upcoming season?
I want to learn some more gymnastics, parkour and Ninja Warrior stuff. If I want to continue doing well in OCR I will HAVE to start running… which I really don’t want to. I do no running at all.
Who is/are your inspiration?
The biggest influence for me so far has been my own team mates in general, but especially: Swedish Jessica Fridlund and Maria Welin. They show great sportsmanship during races and as we are very even we push each other forward, and quite often help each other at obstacles (allowed and encouraged in Europe!). Our Dutch team mate Gijs van Geffen has also always believed in me and supported me 100%, along side Swedish Adam Egerblom that always drags me along on the most awesome adventures, jumping off high stuff, finding new playgrounds, and subjecting me to horrible Matt Novakovich training programs…
What is your most proud moment in sport?
Ironically enough it was coming in 8th, which is probably my worst placement this year, at a race where I was so ill I was shaking before start, but that I managed to complete anyways. I cried when I got in to goal.
was also first in to goal, along side my team member Maria Welin, at Hell Run this summer… And then I mean FIRST out of all runners, Men included. That was pretty awesome. I hate that us girls are generally so far behind the best men.
How do you overcome a bad race or training day.
I never time myself privately (don’t even know hoe fast I run a mile, etc) so no such thing as a bad training day really… As for races, I’ve just been at it for a year, and any time I win I can’t really believe it. I don’t have to high expectations so I don’t get very disappointed. Get back on the horse I suppose? Run another race? Think over what didn’t go very well and prevent it from happening again?
What is your training routine like?
I train twice a day/ 5 days a week.
Mostly classes in my Gym, like Boxing, CrossTraining, and other High Intensity stuff, but also Aqua Power classes, indoor climbing and outdoor obstacle training.
What advice would you give someone starting out in your sport?
I reckon the first race should be all about Fun. Join or create a team. Take your time going through that course. Have a laugh. With some friends by your side you WILL get through each obstacle.
What is your favourite pre-race and post-race food?
I don’t follow any regimes or diets. I see, I want, I eat. 🙂
For some reason the only time in life I’m Not hungry is after a race, but I try to eat a banan, or whatever might be offered at the goal line.
When not training or competing what do you do with your down time?
I have no down time. (Training is my “down time”). I have a full time job and a family. My 4 year old daughter and our sheep dog requires quite a lot of attention, obviously.
What is your favourite quote to motivate you?
If you could share some advice to the next generation of athletes, what would it be?
Well, judging from my own story I suppose it would be: “It’s Never too late” and “Try it! You never know what you can do unless you give it a go”.
What are the races you look forward to this year?
Well, in 5 days time it’s time for the OCRWC…! I’ve been looking forward to that for 6 months now. And in a couple of months we have the brand new Winter OCR’s in Sweden, which will be very dark and cold. Not normally my thing, the cold or the dark, but it will be a new exciting experience.
Besides that there are two great races I look forward to: The Rat Race Dirty Weekend in the UK, and the Strong Viking Runs in Holland. Both very long races with a lot of obstacles.