Local athlete Glenda Gray rubbed shoulders and raced through fields of mud alongside 4,000 athletes from around the world during the Obstacle Course Racing World Championships (OCRWC) in The Blue Mountains, Ont. Oct. 13-15.
It was Gray’s first time competing at such a level for obstacle course racing, after qualifying for worlds during her first race of the season back in May, finishing 10th overall about of over 300 athletes.
Gray said she was “pretty happy” with her results at the OCRWC, although she did not get an official time.
“It was my first actual year of racing and trying to be competitive with it, so just to be able to compare and see that speed-wise I can keep up with the majority of the women,” she said. “I know I need to improve my obstacle work but I know that will come.”
“As far as this being my rookie race season, I’m pretty happy with it.”
Unique to the world championship, if athletes miss even one obstacle, they are disqualified from having an official time for podium play. Normally in OCRs, if you fail an obstacle you can do 30 burpees, or some other equal penalty, and just keep going.
Gray competed in three events over the weekend, racing in the three-kilometre short course Oct. 13, with 13 obstacles. Gray only missed one obstacle.
Obstacles included rope climbs, vertical walls, barbed wire crawls, monkey bars, multi-rigs and sand bag carries, along with many other signature obstacles that race circuits from around the world were invited to bring.
On Saturday, Gray was up against a 15-kilometre course with 43 obstacles spattered throughout, and over 3,000 feet of elevation change.
The elevation and obstacles were not the only challenge, Gray said. Overnight there had been rainfall that caused the course to dissolve into mud.
“Going up a black diamond ski hill after that much mud, and because there were a few heats that went out before us so all the grass was ripped out… it was just mud, and you had to just dig your fingers in to crawl up the slope,” Gray said.
Gray missed four obstacles during the 15-kilometre event, but said she was among the 82 per cent of women that were unable to complete every obstacle.
On Oct. 15, Gray competed with two other Alberta women in the team event, which involved speed, strength and tactical sections. Gray took on the speed section of the race, and gave her team a head start by being in the top 10 out of 50 women’s teams.
Gray said, looking at the race results by putting everyone who completed 100 per cent of obstacles ahead of her, she finished 112 out of 416 athletes in the three-kilometre race and took 194th place out of 1,316 women in the 15-kilometre race.
Gray said the trickiest part for her were the obstacles, and she was optimistic about taking the experience at the OCRWC to see how much further she needs to go to be amongst the top athletes.
“It was just incredible to realize, I know I had improved in that area, but just to see how much further to go to be one of the top women is just awesome,” she said.