George Trotter, known to me and many others as the Gentleman OCR Racer.
I first met George at the 5KM Urban Attack fun run when we both ran with Always With A Smile. Previously I had spoken to him several times online, and read a few of his stories. I was fascinated by him and his story from the start.
I am proud to call George a friend, and a team mate (he also runs with the RPCC Warriors, Richard Pringles new team) and i'm very proud to be able to share his story with you today.
George, for those out there who don't know your story, can you give us a quick overview of yourself, your past and how you got to where you are today?
That's easy. 21 months ago my life was going down the drain. I weighed 27st 10lbs, I was addicted to cocaine, and almost got killed twice through violent acts.
I moved to a homeless charity called Emmaus and after being there for a month a friend pointed out that I couldn't walk but could only waddle along. As harsh as that sounds, he was helping me realise I needed to do something about it.
I had a strong faith as a Christian: my heart and thoughts were in order, but I wasn't dealing with my weight. I realised that now I needed to sort my health out.
At 37 I am enjoying training. I have hills to train on where I live in Winchester and I am now setting my sights on competing at the world championships.
Wow, that's quite a huge change in life. Would you say that having faith (in either a religion or yourself), and having that mental capacity to make a change is one of the most important things you have in working towards your goal?
Yes. When I have doubts about myself and my capabilities I draw on my religious faith and all the people that have worked with me to push me forwards and help me to achieve anything I set out to do, and not let anything stop me. All the times so called friends have said “you can't” or “you won't” ...really I have to thank thank them because I have enjoyed proving them wrong.
Even when I come in near the end of a race the support around me, mixed with my faith, pushes me to better it next time: I no longer want to settle at the back or just to complete a race . I am aiming to compete with the big boys and girls. It may not be next year or the year after but I have faith that it will be at some point.
In what way do you think your past & your faith has affected your behaviour on the race course, and also in life? When I met you at Urban Attack you were offering to help people across the monkey bars on your shoulders. Whilst the OCR community is particularly helpful and friendly, this is going above and beyond. Where does this kindness come from?
Before I started OCR I didn't feel I had a purpose. I felt that despite my faith, my past would never let me become something. I now feel that I have a purpose: I have drive and ambition and I want to make my family, my kids, and my friends proud of me.
While on the race track I like to do what I call "making the world a better place, one obstacle at a time".
What I mean by that is I know what its like to be crippled by fear or self doubt and at the time all it would have taken is a little encouragement, and I might have done it.
If me helping others shows that they can do it even with a little help, next time they can do it on their own, and help or encourage someone else. (The true definition of Paying it forward!)
Another reason like I like to help others out, and something that will always stick with me is that right from the start of my OCR journey I have had great role models. On my second ever race I saw David Beatty. He had already done two laps of the Sprint (a 5km Obstacle course race), but when he saw that I was racing on my own, he went in for a third lap to keep me company, and to push and encourage me whilst going round. Despite this, he also had time to stop and help others on the course.
The prize at Bordon was awarded to me through nominations. It was recognition from other racers for the fact I “never gave up even when faced with a large obstacle and for always thinking of others before myself”.
It still amazes me and touches my heart when I have peers and elite racers saying I am inspirational, but as I don't feel worthy as I only do what they do just worse- but I get told off every time I say that! (Well i'm going to tell you off right now! Your humility is admirable, but i'm going to tell you that you are worthy of the recognition you have received, and more! )
The Judgement day award is a great way of fellow racers showing their appreciation of you, how did it make you feel?
I can't pay anyone back for voting for me, but I intend to thank everyone by doing my best and continuing to improve, and staying true to who I am. Plus I have finally been given a nickname I am proud of : " The Gentleman ".
Getting the new pair of inov-8s(which was the prize) was awesome. I don't have a proper job and I live at the hostel so I can't afford all the race gear. Every last bean I get is going on races and getting to races: some i'm still not sure on how I am getting to! Winning these shoes has taken a weight off, and has lessened the amount of money I need to get in order to continue racing.
You mentioned competing at the OCR world championships (Held in Ohio each October). What is your strategy for this and when do you hope to be there by?
My strategy is to train as much as I can to improve my fitness and upper body strength as to compete as a journey man entry. (To qualify as a Journeyman/woman, athletes must complete at least four obstacle course races after October 25th, 2014 and prior to the OCRWC.) As to paying to get there and stay there have no idea but that's just another hurdle I have to conquer and if I can it will be this year.
I am currently trying to find a local PT Instructor who would like to work with me on a pro bono basis, who would like a advertising project, such as a before and after, to promote himself, and to help me to get to the level that I need to be to get better. I am doing what I can on my own, but without the funds, and with limited knowledge it is hard.
Is there anyone in particular you would like to mention or thank?
As to who I have to thank I could spend all day thanking everyone for all the encouragement, you included. The main ones are the whole of the RPCC crew including Mr “awesome” Rich Pringle and Steve Hammond, especially for using this passage which has inspired me no end:
"But those who hope in the lord will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
They will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint"
Stuart Amory for his endless encouragement support and friendship.
David Beatty for not letting me quit.
I've also got to say a huge thank you to my fellow racer Jana for at Bordon JD always being in the right place at the right time with a hug.
And thank you to Terry Mathews from Sussex Body blast for training tips and for donating my first tech tee that actually fits me!
Do you have any words of wisdom for people who may be needing to make a change in life, who need a little more faith, or who are struggling?
Everyone may not have the same faith as me but I want people who think they have messed up in life or are depressed and think they can't do it, that if they put their mind to it and are determined they can achieve anything. Failing that, I encourage anyone to get in touch with me and I will help them achieve it if I can because family sticks together and we are one big family no matter what.
I have no doubt that George will continue his amazing journey, and achieve his goals. Aside from medals and placings, George is in my opinion, the epitome of this sport. An ordinary guy, who has overcome demons and struggled to get where he is. Who has changed his life and used this new outlet as the catalyst and his motivation.
He has met some amazing people on his way, and he learns from this to become the best person he can be. I am always amazed by how friendly and welcoming the OCR Family is, but George is teaching us all a lesson in how we can make just a little bit more effort, and extend out to even more people, and make a difference in their lives.
George has set up a go fund me page so that he can reach his goals a little faster, if you would like to donate anything to help him, please click here for the link.
Let's get George to the OCR World Championships!
I wish you all the best George, and I can't wait to run with you over the next year with RPCC Warriors.