Shardana World Team Challenge

The past week I’ve been in Olbia, Sardinia with 3 other Danish OCR Athletes (Katja K. Kristensen, Nikolaj Dam & Michael Schjøtt) to represent the Danish Obstacle Course Racing Association at Shardana World Team Challenge 2018. The World Team Challenge is a competition between all the national OCR federations. Teams from all over the world participated, among others teams from Europe but also the Philippines, USA and Canada.

The event was hosted by Shardana Events who also hosted two individual races the same weekend we decided to race after the world team competition; a 3 km sprint and a 10 km long race. The team competition itself was set to be 15 km with 25 obstacles, some of which were individual and some team based obstacles. The team consisted of two girls and two guys from each country chosen by the federation.

World Team Challenge

Leading up to the team event we didn’t quite know what to expect. Little information had been shared about the obstacles, and we didn’t know a lot of the runners from the other teams except last year’s winners from the Czech Republic (included in the team was Zuzana Kocumová, two time Spartan World Champion and former Olympian skier).

 

We came in to the competition all well rested and excited to give it our all. Although our team hadn’t raced together before, we had a strategy to how we were going to work together on the course. The two guys would either drag or push us girls physically while running to push the pace. Regarding the obstacles we were given two wristbands; if one from the team failed to complete an obstacle, we could chose to cut the band and one member of the team (the chosen team captain) had to run a 200m penalty loop with a sandbag near finish line. If both bands were cut the captain had to run the loop twice. If the team had lost both bands and decided to give up on a third obstacle, the team would be disqualified.

The start of the race was a 100m water run and a pretty brutal beginning, as the wind caused a lot of waves to push to shore. Following the water run were two walls (2.40m and 2.60m), all the 15 teams were coming at the first wall trying to get a spot at the bottom to throw their teammates over. It was quite chaotic and me and Katja ended up on the other side long before the guys could get up and over as there were hands and shoes everywhere. This meant our team fell behind from start and had a lot of catching up to do. Our tactic on the run worked very well and to my surprise, not having run for about two months, I was flying! We started catching up to the other teams one by one.

 

The route let us through a lot of different terrain, from running on the beach to rocks, into off-road bushes and up hills with little to no track to follow. The obstacles were quite unique and well thought out as well; the team based obstacles included “Move Together” long boards we had to maneuver under our feet simultaneously, “Wife Carry” a piggy back ride where boys carried the girls, “Donkey Pull” which was pulling your own gender through sand in a wheelbarrow bucket and “Princess Carry” guys carrying the girls in front. I liked this different way of thinking about a team competition compared to the relay most people know from OCRWC. In this setup the teamwork played a huge role, and we saw several teams picking up on our pull/push strategy during the race. The team wasn’t allowed to split up and if they did they had to wait for the rest of the team at the next obstacle before they could begin. Also the team had to stay in one lane, ones they’d started an obstacle. Basically we had to think of ourselves as one working unit.

We pushed as hard as we could and worked very well together, the communication was great despite not having been on this team before. Some of the individual obstacles were among others “Heavy Snake” a heavy sandbag carry up a hill, “Bring the Bags” two heavy bags we had to run a small course with and all the grip obstacles such as the traverse wall and the 4 different rigs.

 

The traverse wall was right after the heavy bags and was an incline wall with different climbing holes on it. It didn’t look that difficult from a distance, but coming at full speed and a high pulse it was hard to focus and move steadily.

Katja flew right through it, the guys got through on their second try and I kept struggling, despite usually having a good grip. It was stressful and I didn’t want to let the team down, but eventually we decided to cut the first band for a penalty loop at the end. We then got through some more obstacles and ended down at the beach where we started for a final stretch of obstacles before the finish – all the rigs.

The first rigs was the only obstacle I had dreaded before the race; a combination of rings and ropes pretty far apart from each other. I tried to catch my breath before we started the obstacle, but it was hard having pushed the pace for so long already. I got out, got to the middle and got stuck. You really had to have the right momentum on this obstacle in order to get through, especially if you, like me and Katja, were short (we’re about 160cm & 162cm).

Katja and the guys got through and I struggled again. The pressure got to me, and I couldn’t focus. In my head I had already let the team down. After struggling for a while we decided to cut the second band, as me and Katja knew there wouldn’t be problems with the other 3 rigs. It was tough having to make these decisions but it was all about being strategic as well; 400 meters with a sandbag may be faster than wasting time trying to get through an obstacle if you’ve already failed in your head.

As assumed the last rigs went fine, we got through in first try and got down to the last obstacle; a quarter pipe. There was a rope for the girls on the left, while the guys had to run all to the top. Us girls got up in second try and the guys went straight up so we could run to the finish and the penalty area. Another team was coming from behind; the Slovakian team. This team only had to do one penalty loop and they were coming up right behind us as our captain Nikolaj started his two loops. The Slovakian captain finished his first loop just before Nikolaj could finish his second, but he forgot to exit the penalty loop and kept running with the bag just long enough for Nikolaj to finish and get out – then it was a race to the finish!

We ran all we could, but knowing it was the last person who’s time would count, their team weren’t as fast runners as us. We finished in second behind Poland who got through the first rig when we were starting it.

All the teams had run a bit wrong on course and the Polish team actually ended up doing 1 km less than us, but after the jury discussed the situation the placings stayed the same. I felt quite a lot of guilt having failed the two obstacles, as had I got through them in first try we might have won. On the bright side my running was really good, but that doesn’t really count for much if you can’t clear the obstacles. It was a tough one to swallow, but you either win or you learn, and I definitely wasn’t ready to quite on that. I would have my redemption in the afternoon and the following day.

 

10 km

In the afternoon of the day of the team race there was a 3km sprint we all did, which I won’t write much about other than I cleared those two obstacles I had struggled with in the first race, and got through with my wristband in 4th place, being majorly set back by the first wall I couldn’t clear before my 30th try or something. I got through though and it was a good feeling leading up to the last race of the weekend on Sunday, even though my body was pretty sore and used.

On Sunday I really felt I had something to prove. Not so much to others as to myself. I was determined to run my heart out and finish strong, rising from my disappointment the day before.

The race once again started with a water run and the 2.40m wall we had to clear without help, no step on the wall and jumping from sand. It was tough, and like on the 3k I wasn’t the first to clear but it didn’t take me nearly as long as the day before. The next 2.60m wall had a step on it but wasn’t particularly easy either.

After those two walls I was in 5th position and the first woman had a big lead. I knew I had to run my heart out and hope I would have enough energy when I got to the tough obstacles near the end. I pushed as hard as I could and trusted my legs would take me to the front of the pack if I kept going at this pace. Within the next kilometers I caught up with 4rd, then 3rd and 2nd, who was my national teammate. I passed her up an ascent and she cheered me on to go for the top spot on the podium.

We weren’t even halfway through at that point but I just kept pushing like the girls were right on my tail. When I got to the second heavy carry right before the traverse wall I still hadn’t seen the female in front, and a Swedish girl was not that far behind. I ran as fast as I could with the bag and got to the traverse wall where I stopped for a second to catch my breath. I knew I had to get through on my first go if I wanted to keep the Swedish girl at a distance, so I couldn’t afford to mess up. The tactic worked, and I got through by focusing on my breathing and trusting my skills. The next stretch down to the beach had an atlas stone carry and a crawl, which I got through pretty fast, but I could still see the Swedish girl not too far behind.

I had to slow down as the next obstacle was the Rings and Ropes rig, and I knew that one could give me issues. When I got to the obstacle I saw the Italian girl who’d been in front from the beginning. She was struggling.

“Breathe”

I thought to myself, still being a bit itchy with nerves.

I failed my first attempt and tried again too fast and failed again. The Swedish girl had now caught up to me and was ready to start the obstacle. I wasn’t quite ready to go again, so I controlled myself and let her start without chasing right after. She fell down. Now I was ready to go, and this time I wasn’t going to blow it. I gave it my all, was smart about my actions and got through.

“You’ve got it now”

I thought to myself “You’ve won”. I knew it was only about getting through the last obstacles controlled now, as I was a faster runner than the other girls.

I went up the last obstacle, the quarter pipe, and pushed the pace the last stretch to the finish. It was a victory, and not just at the race but in my mind. You may fail one moment, but that doesn’t define you – you gotta get back out there and improve till what once beat you won’t ever get to you again.

You may not succeed the first time you try something, but that just means you haven’t learned how to yet.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *