How I Will Defeat Ryan Atkins in 2016

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how i will defeat ryan atkins

It’s cute reading everyone’s New Year’s resolutions.

“I’m getting in shape!”

“I’m training for a marathon!”

“I beat cancer, so I’m going for my Spartan trifecta!”

really

Nice try, mortals, but folks have done this before and the masses deserve a better class of epic, um…ness.

It was Saturday, January 2, 2016 just two days into the new year. While the rest of you were still nursing hangovers, my mission was to ruck/run 26.2 miles from Woodstock, VA, climb over 2000 feet of Massanutten ridge line toward Fort Valley, and back again.

Why? Because OCR does not tolerate the tyranny of champions. Ours is a legacy of underdogs, dark horses, and usurpers, and this year I will put an end to the stifling reign of the likes of Ryan Atkins, Cody Moat, Jonathan Albon, Robert Killian, and other badasses I can’t remember right now.

I do this in the name of the people! The tyrants have selected their champions, and now I will represent you–the humble OCR masses–in…

OCR Kombat!

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That’s right OCR world. Let the echo of my Davidic cry calling out the Goliaths among us thunder abroad. You open heat peasants need not fear, for your kinda semi-pro, elite heat-ish, please “like” my athlete page, would love sponsorship from even obscure companies, ahem, champion has arrived!

And so, invigorated by an accidental overdose of pre-workout mix, mountain air, and my ruck loaded with 30 lbs. of stones, I ventured off, because only epic training will equip me to confront such great odds.

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A 2,000-foot climb of twisting, serpentine gravel road immediately greeted my entry to the mountain like legendary Hydra. The cold air burned my lungs, and the steep grade lit my thighs ablaze, but the mission burned ever brighter in my heart. Like a mantra I proclaimed, “I must move on, for my people.” And so, after 2 1/2 hours of arduous climb, I reached the summit at Woodstock Tower.

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What sweet victory! I stopped for a moment and smelled the proverbial roses of the beautiful surrounding country, but soon continued so as to repeal that siren’s call. No time for games. This is training!

I continued down the long, steady decline of Mine Mountain Road, constantly on the lookout for bears, mountain lions, desperate hunters, and other mythic beasts my enemies might have deployed. Alas, all was quiet save the steady rustle of summer’s last, stubborn leaves and the trickle of creeks and streams.

At 13.1 miles I celebrated with a hearty “Ya-hooo!” and 15 push-ups, only to be met by rapid gunfire from the adjacent woods. I immediately burst into a sprint, waving my orange beanie screaming “I’m not a f*cking deer!” It was the quickest 400 meters of my life.

Nice try, Mr. Atkins, unleashing your redneck Kraken.

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Unfortunately, my close encounter with gunfire claimed my ruck pack as the jostling stones from my god-like speed literally chewed their way out of my pack, just like the Olympians out of the belly of Kronos.

I had officially traveled farther and higher than ever before. Though my pack was now lighter, the ache in my body and fatigue soon took over. The scenery of aquamarine spring-fed pools, the warmth of the sun against my cheek, and the care-free play of birds and squirrels gradually cooled the flames of my endeavor. Of course this minor, futile distraction only lasted a few moments. I remembered all of you: the thousands–perhaps millions!–of average OCR enthusiasts, and how my story of triumph upon the mountain would inspire you out of mediocrity (but not too much; this is my year. You can have next year) and pursue greater than cookie-cutter resolutions.

Dehydrated, legs heavy, and spirits in peril, I crossed the mountain once more and reached the other side with four miles to go. There were moments when I’d forgotten why I began in the first place. The echoes of names, the foes of my mission, tumbled through my mind like the residue of some long forgotten dream. I looked out upon the road–this urban scar of progress–and tapped my staff against the pavement, as if testing a mirage. Then, the waterfall beneath the bridge:

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“Almost there…” I muttered with dry, cracked lips.

But, almost where?

26.2 miles, 6000 feet of cumulative elevation, and 6 hours later I reached our host’s home and fell to my wasted knees too dehydrated to cry, but gagged on the dry knot in my throat. I had made it there and back again, but with what?

No swag, no medal, no post-race photos, family and friends, or even competitors awaited me at the finish. I was left with myself, having pushed my body and will to the limit until I was left with only the journey as a prize.

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And that’s the greatest of all.

Would I like to win a race? Yes, and to be honest, I plan to toe the line with them in 2016 and chase them until my heart explodes. But my journey over the mountain taught me to remember why you train, why you race, why you run, why we resolve.

The joy and freedom, because that’s the common denominator of it all–from OCR champions to the woman who beat cancer and celebrating her new lease on life–it’s joy that brings us back to the fry, no matter what the resolution or goal.

 

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So, how will I defeat Ryan Atkins in 2016? Hell, by the time I stumbled into the kitchen I passed out in the middle of eating a tuna sandwich and only have partial recollection that the day even happened. Guess if I beat him we’ll all be surprised.

Big shout out to MudGear for hooking me up with that sweet pair of compression socks. My calves were on fire, but would have locked up from cramps and my feet covered in blisters if not for the socks. Grab a pair.

Also my pal Kyle Sozanski for the amazing Mortal Kombat image. Thanks for helping extend my credibility as a serious blogger in the OCR community.

 

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