OCR World Championships – A Commentary of the Event
The OCR World Championships just happened and after a solid night of sleep it’s time to process of analyzing what happened in Ohio over the last couple of days. My personal account will come later this is for those who weren’t there or those who were and just can’t get enough of the weekend.
When OCR World Championships was first announced admittedly I did not know Adrian Bijanada as more than the guy behind OCR Gear as well as other websites. When he announced the idea of OCR World Championships I sat at my computer and remember saying, “Who the F@#K does he think he is”. A guy with no race directing background, not tied to a company at all, a guy who worked in NYC in HR for a large art dealer, a guy whose own OCR race resume is minimal to say the least. I called b#ll sh#t on the whole thing and was not really a fan. Not that the sport didn’t need and wasn’t yearning for a unifying event but my doubts were with Bijanada’s background and intentions.
It was not until the spring that I sat down with Bijanada and some other friendships within the sport had grown that I learned Bijanada’s true intentions and made a switch. Proving once again I can be wrong and have been wrong over and over again. After one lunch conversation I was more on board. During that trip I was also invited down to Mud, Guts and Glory in August to race and see the venue for OCR World Championships. My trip in August was the final step in process of me seeing why Bijanada was the right person and had the right (be it small) team in place for the OCR World Championships to succeed. It was in the summer I became one of his biggest supporters. It was at that point I told Adrian I would do whatever I could to help and be part of the event.
I have not tried to cover up for the past couple of months my feelings on the need for OCR World Championships. I think most conversations with athletes at races over the past couple of months have included OCR World Championships and have written at least a half dozen articles on the event leading up to the action. Traveling to Ohio last week I was hopeful and anxious for it all to come off well and people to enjoy the race, the scene and it to be a moment in the sport to remember.
The race happened, we all bonded, work consumed most of my time in Ohio. But now it’s over and we can reflect on the weekend. In my 5+ years involved in OCR this was an important moment and a defining moment in our sport. Everyone that stepped onto the OCRWC venue this weekend felt it. It evoked much of the same feelings I had when I went to my first Spartan Race in spring 2010.
This past weekend was an important moment in the sport of OCR as I wrote on my personal Facebook page…
“Something big happened this weekend, one man had a crazy idea. People called him many names and doubted him every step of the way. The crowd that turned up might look small compared to other races in the sport. However, everyone that was in Ohio this past weekend is walking way with the same intangible feeling that something big just happened.
Congratulations, Adrian Bijanada you beat the odds and put on a world class event that was enjoyed by people all over the world. This was the 2014 OCR World Championships.”
That something big that happened was a unity in the sport of OCR, a unity of countries, and a unity of racing for a common cause. Everyone in Ohio this weekend from the 12 different nations represented was there because they love obstacle racing, not one company or another. It was about bringing together people and providing a level playing field where everyone had a chance to shine. As every athlete crossed the finish line on Saturday their name was announced and were able to have their glory moment. The age group awards and podium was given as much if not more attention than the elites, offering everyone a chance to shine. The Journey- men and women’s division was smiles all around and allowed for those not looking to compete for prizes to still race along side of people from around the world and be part of history.
Does our sport need a World Championship? Yes! Does our sport need a World Championship beyond a single brand? Yes! Is the world ready for championship level races? Yes and it was proved over the weekend. As I wrote on December 31, 2013 in – A New Year A New Day post…
“Looking ahead at 2014, the sport is maturing, out of infancy and into it’s adolescence, more and more people will continue to race whether it be recreationally on weekends, several times a year or at the competitive level. The interest is not waning and if you look at the number of media outlets continuing to jump onto the “Mud Run Phenomenon” you will see it’s still only growing.
As the sport continues to grow-up and find it’s foot holding in the American sports landscape there is one thing us as racers need to do, stop fighting. It’s time for us to acknowledge the industry as a whole. The days of us vs. them is over. In order for the industry to continue to grow cross pollination of athletes to different event companies must happen. To say “I am a Spartan” or “I am a Tough Mudder” that’s over folks. It’s time for us to all say “I am an OCR racer”.”
This past weekend Adrian Bijanada and team made this statement come to life. For a moment the brands no longer mattered, race companies banded together, racers from 12 countries ran side-by-side sharing struggles and learning from each other along the way. This weekend truly was a moment in OCR history and a moment where we can all say, “we are one community”. It gives me a renewed hope in OCR and my only hope now is moving forward other race companies will see the benefit to this event for the sport as a whole to continue to grow and prosper.
Tomorrow more of a recap…