For the second year in a row the Adventurey OCR World Championship was held in England on the ground of the popular race series: Nuclear Race. A few days before the event, they announced that the 2020 edition would be held in Stratton Mountain, Vermont, where the North American Championships have been held for the past two years. As a result, no North American championship announced for next year, because the company has as a principle not to hold a regional championship in the same country as the world. We could have opted for a country other than the United States for a North American event, but it is possible that we do not want to dilute the product and focus on one big event.
Back on the 2019 edition, the organizers had announced that the conditions would not be the same as in 2018. We all remember the perfect conditions that had benefited the organization and the racers in the same way with a climate more than nice for this time of the year in this region. The forecast was rather gloomy, but I will come back to it later in this article. The site configuration is very similar to the previous edition. The big white tent acts as a central point. There are the registration tables, the stage for the podiums, the bar, several tables and chairs, the embroidery service and 3 obstacles that were protected from the weather (Valkyrie, Force5 Rig and Gibbons). The registration process was a lot smoother compared to last year and I think that the way everything was set up contributed greatly to the cause. The start and finish of the course were almost the same place as last year, but a big difference was present in the area of the festival: the 100m sprint. The mini course was positioned directly next to the finish and offered an additional race option. Several athletes have tried to get the fastest time throughout the weekend.
Adventurey keeps the same race format for all its championships: 4 races over three days. A 3k on Friday, the 15k on Saturday as well as the team relay and the charity race for Sunday. Let's start with Friday. If the beautiful weather on Thursday gave hope for good conditions for the weekend, already early Friday morning,Mother Nature took care to bring us back to earth. There was nothing extreme... just a good drizzle and a small unpleasant wind if we had to stop for a long time, but nothing too problematic for the distance to run. The course sends the racers into the trenches as the first obstacle. These are still intact and can be skipped(jumped over) by most athletes ... the degradation of these during the day will make the task more difficult. The route takes beautiful wooded trails that lead us to the obstacles. What characterizes the course of the 3k is the density of obstacle requiring upper body strength and the short distance between them. Most of the race distance is in the first portion before the vast majority of obstacles. Many will be surprised to have their forearms full of lactic acid that simply does not know where to go so the demand for effort is constant. Many athletes also were tricked by "Snake Pit", a rope obstacle that seems rather harmless, but that comes to suck out the little grip strength that remains in your body. Friday's race included only one carry ... if we can define the Yoke Carry as being a decent carry since it was extremely light. The "Weaver" which was less than 500m before the end could also cause some problems since it became very slippery when the rain started. The metal pipes obviously did not help the cause.
In the end, we realize that this time, the obstacles played for something on the ranking. Cardiovascular abilities and the ability to cross obstacles effectively will have put some weight in the balance. For the pros, Jonathan Albon is once again on the top step of the podium followed by Thomas Butler Van Tonder and Sergei Perelygin. On the women's side, Nicole Mericle wins the honors followed by Ida Mathilde Steensgaard and Rebecca Hammond.
Saturday will surely be remembered by many athletes who started the 15k. The long course announced about 76 obstacles. Obviously, all the obstacles of the 3k course were present, but they added many obstacles belonging to the host site, Nuclear Race. Moreover, it is undoubtedly the latter that have come to scramble the cards. If the course of Friday was practically dry, that of Saturday included several passages in the water. Sometimes very cold water combined with wind and a temperature, which had nothing to do with the tropics, provided perfect conditions for hypothermia. This has been the case of several people who decided to abandon or were literally taken out of the course for security reasons. Of course, none of them wanted to give up the famous wristband, but at some point, the health of the participant is more important than a simple bracelet. Some important points of the 15k: An endless "Mud Mile". For those who know the hurdle of the Tough Mudder series, tell yourself that the "Mud mile" of the 15k was ... much ... much longer. Subsequently, the now famous "Wreck bag carry". Without a doubt, the most difficult wreckbag carry in history. This included two muddy trench crossings as well as six muddy cargo nets under which the athletes had to pass. The bag certainly weighed more than 50 pounds at the end of this crossing. It was obviously necessary to bring the bag back to the beginning while it was now filled with mud and water. The worst part of all this is that the original course only required to go under one net out of two ... so 3 instead of 6 ... but the first elites have gone under all six and the rest just followed.
The Nuclear low rig, which was after the water obstacles, was closed after the passage of the pro women. I do not know the exact reason, but the failure rate among the pros probably influenced the decision. Following the low rig, the next obstacle that started to cause problems was the "Stairway to Heaven". The cold was already wreaking havoc on athletes who are normally able to cross this obstacle. Several of them made the decision to leave their wristbands. Subsequently, many wrenched their hearts to successfully overcome each of the obstacles in their path. The cold has already done its damage; the percentage of dnf or band lost was undoubtedly one of the highest in the history of the championship. The elements took control of the race and only the best managed to get through. Water holes, mud holes that looked almost like shifting sands, and cold weather will have won over many runners. An interesting fact to mention is that during the 15k, some obstacles were reversed compared to 3k. This was the case among others of Nitro Rig and Skull Valley. Other obstacles have even been made shorter (Sabretooth and Snake Pit).
For the pros, Jonathan Albon won the race with a time of 1h24m18s. Just 39 seconds behind, Canadian Ryan Atkins finished second ahead of Thomas Buyle of Belgium in third. On the women's side, Karin Karlsson finished first in front of the Danish duo of Katja Christensen and Ida Mathilde Steensgaard. This day will have been very emotional. Hypothermia, lost bracelets and dropouts will have marked this event, but the personal achievements and hard work of some athletes will be remembered.
After a good evening of rest for the body and the mind, the athletes were entitled to a final day of competition. The team race, which is for many the most important of the weekend, gave us another big show. As usual, the course has three sections: Speed, Strength and Technique. The speed course included a good amount of obstacles (22) including "Stairway to heaven". The conditions of the previous day had left a very muddy and slippery course. Many of the athletes who did this step mentioned having to put in extra effort to progress on the almost impassable route. The force section consisted of three load carry one after the other which was not part of the original courses. There was an atlas stone, a chain with a cylinder and the big Nuclear bomb. The last two obstacles of the strength portion were Valkyrie and the Nitro Rig. Subsequently, the athlete taking charge of the technical portion had to overcome almost all upper body obstacles: Sabretooth, Force5 Rig, Force5 Low Rig, Isotope, fire pole slide, Ninja Rings, Snake Pit, the ramp, Skull Valley, Over-under and Gibbons. The team then left together to complete the rest of the obstacles: Triumph, Skitch (modified without hooks, hands only), Yoke carry, equilibrium, Waever, tubes and the final wall. The latter was extremely slippery and the teams had to be effective in getting through the wall without wasting too much time. Several techniques were observed that went from grabing the clothes of his teammate left to strip, to even try to make a rope with the clothes.
The closest fight was once again the battle among men. Everything was played on the final wall where the first three teams crossed the finish line within 11 seconds. Team Urban Sky Elite finished first with a time of 42m45.10s ahead of Team Hang-On The Netherlands with a time of 42m45.74s and Team Platinum Rig with a time of 42m55.82s. A thrilling final just like last year. For the women, the fight was much less stressful, because the gap between the teams was more important. With a good lead, Team Tough Trails DK finished first with a time of 55m.46s. Team Russia 2 finished second with a time of 59m32.92s ahead of Air Team South Africa Ladies (1h1m2.46s). The gap was also important in the mixed category: Team Inov8 - Denmark takes first place (44m46.91s), TTGU second (47m32.68s) and A lion, Spartan and a Ninja walk into a third bar (49m59 .26s).
For the brave ones who wanted it, there was of course the race for the charity. It was the time of rejoicing, testing, madness and having fun with friends. A wheelchair athlete took part in the race with the help of his team. A beautiful demonstration of mutual help and friendship! The emotion was palpable throughout the weekend and the competition being very energy-consuming both mentally and physically, many have witnessed mood swings. Personally, I would like to thank each of the volunteers and Marshall who remained outside in conditions that were not ideal and who did their best to enforce the rules of the obstacle to which they were assigned. Thank you for your patience and your stubbornness towards some more difficult competitors. As for the athletes, I know that the vast majority of you are respectful of volunteers and we must make sure it stays that way. There is no place for episodes of aggression, or even violence in this sport. If you misunderstood a rule or a marshall tells you that you must start again, do not waste your time arguing ... just start again. Occasionally words may come out in the face of emotion, but if so, be sure to apologize to the person in question. That's the lesser of it. Let's make sure we keep the competition clean, respectful and enjoyable for everyone. On this, good work OCRWC. Will we see you at Stratton Mountain next year?