Strong Viking OCR Series Frankfurt

OCR Series Frankfurt was a race I’d been looking forward to since I missed the two races in the series I had planned to attend in March and Frankfurt was the only one (and last one) that lined up with my schedule. It’s been a while since I’ve run a Strong Viking race, but I like the longer races and I know Strong Viking put on some pretty awesome obstacles. With the Frankfurt race being a Water Edition I knew I would get a rematch with Flying Ragnar (a trapeze over water) that I’ve failed quite a few times in the past, so that was exciting too.

 The OCR Series functions in a way that rewards runners who run more than one race in the series, meaning the elite runners who have participated in a race earlier in the season get to start in front of a wall, which new elite runners have to scale before they can start running. It’s not a huge hurdle but it does set you back about half a minute from the front runners.

I made sure I was over the wall as one of the first runners and got off to a good start, so the initial small setback didn’t concern me too much. Going into the race my strategy was to keep to my own race, focus on what was in front of me and keep pushing myself from start till finish to empty the tank on course.

I got into my own rhythm and started moving up in the massive group of runners, with guys and girls running in the same single heat. The first few obstacles were easily managed, a Ropeclimb and a Balance obstacle, then into the woods and when we turned a corner out of the small forest section, a new (to me that is) obstacle was waiting; Tree Hug.

The obstacle is Stong Viking’s take on a Ninja Warrior obstacle where you jump onto a big log that slides downwards – only Strong Viking’s version you had to slide upwards, meaning you had to create the momentum and force with your body to make the big log move forward and upwards to the end of the slide, where you had to hit a bell. This was a mandatory obstacle, so in order to continue the race we had to make it through.

I tried pulling the log towards me and back a little to create more forward momentum jumping onto the log. To my unfortunate surprise the log barely moved on the slide when I swung and jumped on. I tried the same method a couple of times, each time trying to create more force and power in my jump onto the log. Every time with the same outcome; barely any movement. A few times I made it to the middle of the slide, but nowhere near the bell at the end. As I stood and tried to understand and learn the technique more and more people passed me and flew through Tree Hug in just a few seconds. I tried running up to the log and jumping forward onto it, but every time I made the jump it was as though I was pulling the log down instead of pushing it forward. I don’t have a count of how many times I tried but at this point almost all girls had passed me, and I started to consider my options.

“Maybe I should just quit now. I’ve already lost at this point”

We’re at the 5th obstacle at 3,5km and I’m already left in the dust spending minutes on an obstacle that literally takes less than 10 seconds to complete if you know how. But then I remembered what I came for, and I knew I wouldn’t be satisfied with myself if I threw in the towel, even if that meant finishing dead last.

After spending nearly 5 minutes at the obstacle one of my competitors who flew by and completed the obstacle easily gave me a tip on how to set off from the plateau to keep the log moving. This was a game changer! I finally made it to the end of the slide to ring the bell and run on!

I believed I was completely out of contention for the podium at this point, but I wanted the greatest race I could personally get and still follow through with my race plan of pushing myself from start till finish. Every step I focused on giving the best I could in the moment with the thought “Every step better than your last” repeating in my head.

This kept me to my own race and I stuck to the only thing I could control; me and my own effort.

The obstacles following were pretty straightforward and I started picking up a few spots on the first 7km loop back to the venue. Before getting that far though the Flying Ragnar was waiting for me, ready to get that rematch. This trapeze obstacle above water had been made slightly easier than in the past, meaning this time I could actually jump to reach the metal bar. So far so good. Only I didn’t jump off the bar as it swung towards the bell you had to ring with your hand. Instead I swung back with the bar and let go on the way back, sending me into the water as far away from the end as possible. This obstacle wasn’t mandatory, so not ringing the bell meant doing 10 burpees before you could continue on with your race.

Reaching the venue after the first 7km loop of the 20km course, I was in 5th place, still quite far back from the leading ladies. With my own race in mind I actually didn’t listen too much to the referees telling me about my placing, I couldn’t run any faster than I already did, and I sure wasn’t going to slow down, so nothing they said could affect my effort.

The second loop, the yellow 13km, had more running in between obstacles which meant I could get into a good rhythm and really focus on pushing everything out of every step. Trying to push yourself constantly over such a long distance is a really tough task, not only physically but mentally. I wanted to slow down so many times when I felt I couldn’t breathe, and it was too hard, but I said to myself

“This is exactly how you should be feeling to know you’re giving it your all. This is actually a good sign”

The second loop also had more heavy carries and drags, and some of these I struggled a bit with, but the rigs and grip obstacles went very smooth. Coming off the last obstacle on the 2nd loop I caught a girl and moved up to 4th place. Still the placing didn’t concern me, as I had no hopes of catching the front girls, knowing that they’d had a pretty big lead on me since kilometer 3 and they aren’t slow runners. Both fellow runners along the course and marshals cheered me on as I rounded the venue for the second time finishing the 2nd of 3 loops, and I really appreciated all the cheering and kind words out on course though I never answered or took time to look anywhere else than where I was headed.

A couple of more strength obstacles to start the 3rd and last loop; Conan’s Wheel and Thor’s Odyssey (sandbag carry). As I got the sandbag carry I saw one girl just finishing it up, throwing her bag back in the pile and one girl not too far ahead on the loop, walking with the bag. I quickly grabbed a sandbag, threw it over the shoulder and started running. I passed the girl who was in 3rd on the sandbag loop and not to long after completing the loop I caught up to the girl in 2nd. Still not changing my strategy or letting me get distracted, just pushing my own limits. I got on the Weaver side by side with the 2nd place female and after finishing it simultaneously I passed her on the run. After this obstacle there was a running stretch out on a wider gravel road and slightly downhill towards a nutrition point before the route took you into the narrower forest track again. Turning the corner to the downhill gravel road I saw the leading female 50-100 meters ahead. I charged down the slight descent with all I had, passing her right before the nutrition point where I quickly grabbed a water cup as I flew by (almost wasting all the water). I forgot to throw the cup in time and in fear of leaving something on course (littering is not permitted), I shoved it down my tights for the rest of the course.

Only one strength obstacle left to conquer before all the rigs! The Atlas Stone, where you have to lift a 30, 40 and 50kg slam ball over bars of different heights. It went relatively smooth and I could continue on to the fun grip obstacles Gunnars Ropes (jump with a short rope in your hands across a wooden log) and Gunnars Struggle (same principle but jumping with a wooden stick instead). After completing these it was a short run towards the venue where the last gauntlet of obstacles had to be conquered: Ice Man, Ice Axe, Beserker Crawl and Floating Dip Bar (not on the map).

Ice Man was a quick dip into a container filled with ice water (which was actually pretty refreshing considering the heat). Straight after was Ice Axe, which are giant axes you have to traverse a bar with, making a transition over a construction point in the middle. Having wet hands from the ice bath made it tricky and the axes felt pretty unhandy too. I fell down and had to do a penalty of running with a jerry can. I could only hope I had enough gap down to the next female and that she would fail one or two or the last obstacles as well.

Next up was Beserker Crawl, which is a crawl you perform in a lot of low hanging rings. It wasn’t fast, but I got all the way through and had one obstacle left before the finish walls. I’ve done the Floating Dip Walk several times in training but at this point by arms were a bit taxed from the previous grip strength obstacles. I made it almost all the way to the end point when my arms gave up and I had to do the penalty; 1 minute battlerope. From the penalty area I could look to the obstacles and see the 2nd female on the Berserker Crawl, and when she fell down and had to do a 1 minute burpee penalty on that one, I knew it was locked in. Excited and almost in disbelief I ran to the finish and scaled the 3 walls to the top as the first female!

Having gone from being 30 seconds behind at the start, throwing 5 minutes away at the 5th obstacle and almost throwing in the towel, to staying in the fight and persevere all the way to take the lead just 3 km from the finish and win the race!

This race was truly a testament of how you should never give up even if you get behind. If you stick to your own race and keep on pushing and running your best race, you might end up turning it all around at the end! 🙂

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