How Obstacle Course Racing Changed my Life

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Athleticism was never a foreign concept in the Bowen household. My father was a Ranger in the U.S. Army who frequently participated in running and hiking events, my mother was captain of her high school cheer squad, and I was a third generation All-Conference goal keeper for my high school soccer team.

Something happened in college though, which changed everything.

I joined the Marine Corps following 9/11, however was discharged for medical reasons. I greatly enjoyed my experience: the marching, physical exercise, the suffering…little did I know what lie in the future, but depression took hold and my fitness/health drive plummeted over the next decade.

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That’s me at 179 lbs, the pit of my fitness/health. Full of apathy, lack of drive or purpose, I allowed myself to drift further toward obesity with every poor choice. What was the point? I was happily married with no one to impress. Large portions of whatever I could eat was great and no one judged me, so why change?

A Day of Reckoning

All change encounters a tipping point which challenges the status quo. My proverbial fork in the road arrived in late summer, 2014 on a chance encounter with myself in a full-length mirror in our bedroom. I’d seen myself there 100s of times, but something happened. I saw myself differently, as if in a new light, and suddenly grew sick.

How had I allowed such weight gain, such a poor standard of living? I couldn’t run or move with my daughters (who were now playing soccer); I couldn’t experience life freely because of the anchor of poor health. A time for transformation was long overdue. I had thrown away my 20s and now I had to reclaim my health.

The Transformation

The change began with a 90-day round of P90X3. I had dabbled with the first P90X years before and surrendered early, but not this time. I worked hard with both exercise and nutrition. The pain, suffering, and discipline brought me to my knees gasping more often than not, but then I remembered the goal: I was fighting for my life.

By the end of P90X3 I had lost nearly 30 lbs. and was in better shape than ever before. I could run, jump, swing, climb, and laugh through anything.

P90X3 results

 

Being in shape was great for moral, but to what end? I wasn’t concerned with impressing anyone physically (other than my wife), so I needed a goal, an outlet, a reason to keep pushing.

Enter the World of OCR

An ┬áinvitation from a friend to a local obstacle race facility in Tabor City, North Carolina transformed my life. I and two friends ran the course and I was instantly enamored–I couldn’t even stay with my friends. Every inch of mud and ounce of water, every obstacle was a pure joy and I only wanted more. I had discovered the purpose of my fitness goals: I wanted to be an OCR athlete.

That was the fall of 2014, and now I train full-time for any race my wife and kids will tolerate.

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So, why is OCR so important to me? How has it changed my life?

1) A Purpose for Fitness

Anyone can go to a gym or purchase a program; anyone can workout, but to train means exercise as a means to a greater end. There is no way I would torture myself day after day simply for the vanity of appearance. I train hard because I love obstacle racing and want to perform well.

2) Being Part of Something Exciting and New

The world of Obstacle Racing is dynamic and young. There is so much joy in being part of the fastest growing sport in the United States and contributing to that growth by training and competing. If you are an OCR athlete today, you are building a legacy.

3) I Will Never Experience a Boring Workout Again

OCR athletes can train anytime, anywhere. Go for a run, join your children on the playground, climbs trees, stomp in rain puddles, have a pillow fight, swimming, climbing mountains, hills–the combinations are endless in their utility and enjoyment.

4) Making my Children Proud

Before OCR there is little I can claim as a personal achievement during my 20s. Now, I’ve worked harder and gone farther in my early 30s than in an entire decade–and my wife and children see everything. There is no feeling like your kids screaming your name and cheering you on as your fight and claw your way to the finish line. What they see in me now will echo through their lives. Daddy fights for his goals; he never gives up. I want to be like him.

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There are many more reasons I love this sport: the innovation, the invention, the community…but in the end it lends itself to personal fulfillment. No, OCR is not the end-all, but it’s awakened a drive and passion that I have not felt in years. I may not be the greatest athlete on the course, but if you see me out there you’ll know that I’m one of the fiercest and most determined, and I’m having a damn good time along the way.

What do you enjoy about OCR? What drives you to train and race?

 

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