It’s been less than 48 hours since I ran at OCRA’s UK Championships but with the drama that has ensued as a result I feel as though it’s been a lot longer. Over the previously mentioned 48 hours I have watched every Tom, Dick, Harry, Sally, Shakira and Betty give their two cents over the 2 year-old event culminating in the eruption of what can only be described as hooliganistic-vigilantism (not a real word but I wrote a book so I can do what the heck I want) against, towards and between friends, competitors, organizations and every Tom, Dick, Harry, Sally, Shakira and Betty who has given their previously mentioned two cents.
So here I am: one of the smallest people in OCR to tell you all to grow the feck up and look at the bigger picture here.
Last year was the FIRST OCR UK Championships and having dislocated my shoulder at Worlds I was adamant that over the 10 miles Nuclear had (amazingly) prepared for us, I would redeem myself.
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA – I didn’t.
Instead I got overly excited on the rings (the swingy ones); let go on the penultimate one; swung through the air with my arms in a celebratory double fist pump; slammed into the support beam; bounced off said support beam; shot my legs out in a bid to make sure I still touched the bar; landed flat on my back on the other support bar and got my legs all tangled in the scaffolding. I then remained on the floor (in the rain) for long enough for my body temperature to begin to plummet.
I did eventually get back up and kept going despite my leg turning blacker and blacker by the minute (you don’t even want to hear about my arse), my body shook like a vibrator and my lips were bluer than my shirt (which was bright blue just FYI). I eventually lost my speech, the use of my hands and I got to experience the delights of tunnel vision…the best bit was I still thought I was winning (poor old Ginger Lacey had to delicately tell me that I was in fact the LAST competitor out on course and that even Sean Gash had overtaken me).
I finished that race while even the race director was packing up to go home; already in the snug confines of the beer tent. I physically I was utterly broken and mentally I was being held together by my Mudd Queen mummies and sisters.
Then I snapped.
I learnt that others (boys) in the same position as me – who had totally missed out a large CHUNK of the course – had been allowed to keep their bands because “they tried really hard” and doing something about it “this late in the day” wouldn’t be worth it.
ARE YOU FECKING KIDDING ME???
I COULDN’T FECKING SEE!!
YOU MADE OUR GINGER CRY WHEN SHE (rightfully) CUT MY BAND!!
YOU MADE PAUL BURKO GIVE UP HIS WOODEN SPOON FOR NOTHING!!!
I didn’t deserve to keep my band…I put my all on the line out there and legit nearly died but I didn’t do what the rules dictated I needed to do to keep my band…it hurt more than a circumcision without anaesthetic when they cut that thing off me BUT I didn’t deserve to keep it!
But so so so many people cheated that day and to say that that was alright because they “tried hard” is an absolute pile of masturbation (I realize that that is probably worse than saying “pile of wank” but I want to try and keep this semi-PC).
The thing is I also wasn’t the only person that was totally wronged that day: the percentage of girls who did finish with their bands was a joke and yet was bragged about and I know of other people who were in extremely similar situations to me – where they saw their cheating competitors prevail over their truthful performances.
That day I walked away from OCR.
I was living in the States and so I justified my running away as being an issue with money rather than me being a yellow-bellied wuss. But in reality I just needed a break: the sport that had saved my life had turned into my first real heart break and I had to get over what had happened – for a while I didn’t know if that was possible, but it was and I did.
Uncle Foz came to the rescue (Dejavu) and coaxed me into a Bonefrog. The men and women at that event will never ever know how much they did for me that day: from start to finish – through the cramps, the bear sightings and the face planting – I didn’t stop smiling and giggling. I smashed things I had been away from for so long and I was made to feel like an utter champion the course was tough but they let me know that I was tougher…and I was!
Again and again I returned to bonefrog, training in-between races like a psychotic chimpanzee and I was beyond proud when I had my FIRST EVER PODIUM at their Atlanta race in the summer. I had gone from being zero – hero and it was all thanks to them.
After that training kicked up a notch and for two months I was in the gym nearly every day and running without off days. World championships were round the corner and this time I was coming to kick butt. AND I DID!
Four medals later I felt like an utter champ: I only kept one band but the ones I lost were cut like umbilical cords and left me feeling determined rather than deflated.
It wasn’t until I finished that race that I even considered doing UK championships. I hated OCRA for what had happened last year and while I felt like I was top of the world I also felt as though I was balancing on a very small peak but then I realized something: I had already proven myself this year, I had smashed all my goals…UK champs – for me – wasn’t a time where I needed to prove my abilities…it was OCRA’s turn to prove to me that they were genuinely moving forward.
And I think they have.
I trained very hard for this weekend’s event. My Gemma taught me how to climb a rope and I was (believe it or not) as wrapped up as I’m ever going to get. Alas it was not meant to be and I didn’t make it very far before I humbly came out of the race with the onset of hypo (kinda my thang).
I came out of the race at the 6km mark so I can’t fully comment on everything that happened that day. I had already battled obstacles that someone my size finds extremely difficult with the reaper’s addition being an impossible task for my vertically challenged frame (I now have some delightful bruises from it though). But here’s what I can say:
Not enough people completed the event with two bands.
I have heard the argument that this was a championship event and thus we should not expect it to be easy. I have read the comments that this is an OBSTACLE course race and thus there should be obstacles that we should all have to fight to overcome. I’ve seen the theory that in an 100m you don’t see 600 competitors. BUT this was also the obstacle course RACING UK Championships…this was meant to be a race: you don’t go to watch an 100m sprint final and not see 100% of people make it to the finish line. If you ever watch an elite wave they are – on the whole – super human. But we aren’t just a sport made up of elites…the championship itself had open waves and to not cater for those waves is astonishingly unfair! This sport is astonishingly hard to make fair…I am a lot smaller than the likes of Frederick George who I imagine stepped over the reaper’s toys as though they were hurdles while at OCRWC I had the advantage on the small rigs of being able to lift my body up with a lot more ease than those lanky lads: sometimes it’s half a dozen of one and six of the other. But we have to find a way of making this more fair…we shouldn’t have people not eligible for podium just because they’re a dwarf (is that PC?).
2. Women weren’t thought of enough.
We weren’t. We just weren’t. It’s disgusting but it’s true…in coverage, in obstacle design, in a large part of the organisation women weren’t considered enough and as a result no woman finished with two bands. This is something that OCRA should have learnt from from last year and they didn’t. Everyone needs to stop bashing on the girls for being upset about this because it is extremely infuriating! There were a lot of women out there on Saturday and while of course there are some shorter men and some taller women; a lot of obstacles were not all that achievable for our (generally) littler (I’m gunna stick with that word) legs or our (at least my) not quite as strong arms (I’m talking about the rock bucket carry…what the feck was that all about???). LADIES AND GENTLEMEN YOU ALL ROCKED IT OUT THERE. EVERYONE! IT WAS HARD! YOU ALL DID FUCKING AMAZING AND I REALLY REALLY HOPE YOU DON’T FEEL LIKE LESS JUST BECAUSE YOU COULDN’T DO EVERYTHING!
3. Queues happened.
While OCRA probably should have got this under a lot better control than they did can we all take a minute to acknowledge that this is only the 2nd time this event has been put on. They can certainly take advice from other races throughout the year but this isn’t another race…this is the championships…this is a whole other kettle of fish! At the championships everyone is out for blood and most people NEED to have more than one or two goes at the hardest obstacles.
4. CHANGING THE RULES???
OCRA WHAT THE FECK??? YOU CANNOT CHANGE THE RULES MID-RACE YOU DONUTS!!! This was one of the most unfair things I have seen! Not cool OCRA…not cool!!!!
5.Cheating still happened!!
I don’t think we can really blame this one on OCRA other than say that they could have done with a few more marshalls (OCRA you could have done with a few more marhalls btw)! This one is on us guys: none of us should be cheating but also too many of us (myself included) get a bit scared of piping up when we see it. Whether it be using the side you’re not meant to or running off with a band that should have been taken cheating is naughty! Very naughty! I have had 6 bands cut in 2 years at championship events and I am all too aware of how painful it is to have that thing chopped off…but we need to get away from that band being the be all and end all…it isn’t!
6. With that being said: The bands gotta go!
Just get rid of them! We now all know that this system is shite. It breaks hearts. It fucks people up. It enables cheating rather than prevents it. Its fucking dumb. It takes away from people’s abilities and it doesn’t allow for a race! Get rid of them now!!!!
7. What's with Winter OCRA??
I can't blame OCRA for me being the size I am, and while everyone had the best intentions in the world giving me great advice in terms of what to wear; what I wore was what was best for me in terms of performance and warmth (this girl cannot move her legs, neoprene would have turned them into sticks of cement). Even so I froze because of my daft decision to make my first trip across the monkey bars in the retry lane (ie the wet one); I slipped and splashed 5 times before I finally got through (with some great cheering from Ian, Roy and many other strapping young gents...thanks guys love you loads)! I freeze quick: hypothermic Hatti is a real super hero that we all know well but I still don't think it's all that fair that me coming out due the the cold (at 6km) was even a possibility.
Why the heck is our championships held in the winter?! I had hand warmers down my pants and around my bra and I still was so cold that poor old Claire had to take on my role of motivator extraordinaire and Gem had to step out of sweeping to come and tell me off. EVERYONE was excellent in dealing with me; marshals knew I was a "one to watch" not just because once someone thought I might podium (LOL). Thank you to everyone for all your support and help by the way: you were all making my heart so cozy when nothing else was. But OCRA; I could have smashed that if I had just stayed a bit warmer...give us a chance yeah?! Don't make the weather an extra obstacle!
8. WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO US???
OCRA didn’t do a great job. I don’t love them. I don’t even really like them that much. But they did a much better job than last year in making this a fair(ish), safe(ish), certainly challenging and fun event. They need to work on it and they certainly didn’t make me feel much better about them as an organisation with my main gripe being about the lack of band completion. BUT why the fuck (yeah real swearword for you) are we all turning on eachother? We’re meant to be an inclusive community that once upon a time kicked out those who disrupted the peace. People were genuinely hurt by the events of Saturday, people were left defeated and outright devastated by what happened. I don’t give a shit if you’re the Queen of Sweden (I’d care if it was England), you NEVER make someone feel bad for feeling bad!!!
We all have our opinions on what happened and on what should happen next and yes this sport is getting ready for a massive change but our community doesn’t need to.
To fail hurts. It’s utterly shattering but to loose you guys? Well, I would not have got through my failures and succeeded without you!
As I finish this I have just been mentioned in a comment by the most gloriously beautiful girl Claire Rosser. She claims I’m an inspiration because I shout my little lungs out when I’m out on course. But she’s wrong. The reason I find the energy to always cheer, clap and beam my face off (even when I’m carrying my bodyweight up a mountain) is because every single person I see racing is an inspiration to me…you keep me going, you make me want to run, you show me I can be better, you show me how to be better and you have all believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself.
This sport saved my life because of the people in it and cheering you all on is the least I can do. We should all be cheering…even now…even when we’re hurting, when we’re disagreeing and when we’re a bit down in the dumps. When all the bands are gone, when the “championships are over” and when a unicorn is our national champion (I could not be more chuffed for you btw Tristan…lots of love my dear, you fully deserve this!) all we have left is each other!
Bands were taken this weekend (too many) but we all left our all out there and we are all champions no matter how we got there or how we did! DON’T YOU DARE FORGET THAT!
So OCRA…are you redeemed?…not quite: I think you could have done a lot more to make this a much fairer playing field than it was. but with that being said: I really am rooting for you to not let us down moving forward, following the past few day’s events I think you’ll be in a lot of trouble if you do...