Three Ways Elite Heat Destroys Obstacle Racing

This post may contain affiliate links.

three ways elite heat destroys obstacle racing

The transition was inevitable, I’m told. A friend and fellow OCR enthusiast often reminds me,

“I saw it in your eyes the first time we met: A passion, the fire of an athlete.”

I may joke a lot, post goofy images, write funny posts, but I do love obstacle racing, which is why what I did last night has me now awake with a storm of mixed feelings.

race fees

Once I placed first in the Spartan Ft. Bragg Sprint open heat in September of 2015 I knew everything had changed, and many folks shared the observation that I belonged in the elite heat.

This post-click haze, this decisive maneuver hangover is stronger than I imagined, and I wonder how things will change now that I’ve entered the elite heat ranks. Here are some possibilities.

1) (Proper) Burpees Matter

The proverbial elephant entered the room when the Spartan race registration process asked me if I agreed with elite heat rules like proper 30 burpee execution for failed obstacles.

mandatory burpees


Oh yeah? Mandatory burpees or what? Disqualification from elite heat you say? Oh…

Why so serious, I mean OCR is just a weekend warrior “sport.”  No one really does all the burpees properly for missed obstacles, do they? And come on, what’s a proper burpee anyway?

One athlete’s burpee is just another’s CrossFit seizure?

2) From Fun Run to Cash Dash

Why so serious? Because money talks, and the dividing line between “open (and now “competitive”)” and “elite” heats is the potential cash purse. Suddenly the entire focus shifts from having the time of your life with friends and family (creating awesome holiday photos!) to a savage battle with mother nature and other elite combatants.

Please, I’m not that shallow.

PicMonkey Collage

Oh wait…

3) Why so OCR Serious?

Okay so I understand that the elites require a strict penalty standard for races, and I get that doing what you love for (potential) money is actually pretty awesome, but will it change me as a person?

Does entering the elite heat steal from the jovial, no pressure spirit of OCR and turn it into a mutated, defiled form of the dreaded rat race? Will I lose the pure, unencumbered joy of ripping through a course once I toe the line with other elites? Will the camaraderie end? The strategic silly photo poses cease? Meeting great people along the trail grow cold?! Will I become an arrogant bro who constantly posts workout and race photos concealing narcissism with a thin veneer of social sharing and “inspiring others?” What have I done??!!


True story, Batman. I’ve messaged some of these folks on social media and received quick responses. OCR elites constantly share videos, training and nutrition tips, funny race and family photos. The motivation?

They love the sport and honestly want others to set, chase, and accomplish goals–all while having a ball.

Just like them.

These athletes are like you and me: stay-at-home moms and dads, attorneys, teachers, tradesmen…they are us, we are them, and all of us understand intimately how interdependent we are upon one another to make OCR the greatest (and most enjoyable) sport on earth.

So how will I change as I transition from open heat to elite heat in OCR?


andrew at the gate

Am I ready for elite?

I train hard. I study the courses. I use proper nutrition. The potential and possibilities are endless. I could land sponsorships, win podium cash, compete in championships…maybe even make a living at this.

…Or none of those. I just might not be good enough.

Many folks tell me I belong in elite competition, but I don’t always feel worthy to toe the line. I screw up, I don’t have a long and glorious sports pedigree, sometimes I eat my body weight in cereal and drink a lot of homemade wine, I fail…

did you have fun

That’s the foundation of it all, isn’t it? Because whether you’re a world class OCR athlete, or a weekend warrior who races in kilts, superhero costumes, or wedding dresses, no one does OCR who isn’t having the time of their life.

For many of us, the 2016 OCR season will be a chapter in our athletic and personal life which will test us in a forge many have faced before. The only question is, are we willing to enter the flames, and once we do…

What will emerge on the other side?

Speak Your Mind