This is the story of Team Inov8 / Nutramino, 3rd place finishers at the 2018 OCR World Championships held in Kelvedon Hatch, England.
As many of you know, I prioritize the 3k Short Course and the Team Relay at Championship events. I love both formats and this years Relay would be the most intense we’ve ever done! Let me paint the picture real quick:
Teams of 3 battle through 4 legs of a relay, each with a speciale area – speed, strength, technique and teamwork. I always team up with Nikolaj Dam (speed) and Ida Mathilde (strength) – we love each other and we race very well together. We had raced 3 Championships together and earned 2 golds and 1 silver prior to this race – now could be our first World Championship title! We normally battle somewhat the same teams; Team Russia (Egor, Sergei and Mikhina) Team Chzech Republic are the ones hot on our heels. This year the competitive and awesome wonder-couple from Canada, Lindsay and Ryan, would team up with Mikhail Gerylo and for the first time join the mix category. A deadly team! Also, a new Russian team with Anton, Sinil and Petrova were ready to go hard as well and a high-end German and Polish team as well. Time’s are changing and so is the competition!
We didn’t allow ourselves to get fazed by these “new” challengers, but we knew that only a 105% effort could lead to a potential win. The course had also experienced a few changes, but would followed the course map:
First off the running leg would be a bit longer and so would the strength leg, which now involved a total of 4 and 3,7km of running. My part would be shortened from 2,5km to 1,5km-ish, consisting of 12 obstacles. Most teams in mix had chosen their woman to be the technical leg, simply because of the distance. We chose to stick to our formation and have Nikolaj hopefully give Ida a lead, so she wouldn’t be run over by the big and furious guys. Should we have done this differently? We’ll consider that next year, for now – let’s go through the race!
5-4-3-2-1 and the gun went off, Nikolaj sprinted down the hill towards the trenches! This is his experience of the first leg:
“Since 2015 I have participated in every World/European Championship Relay Race. My part has always been the speed section. I believe I’m good at obstacles, but when it’s come to a short all-out cross country style running with a few light obstacles I’m on fire.
The plan was clear! stick to the front runners or try to get away on the technical trails parts. As always every racer has something left in the tank after a tough weekend. This was not an exception. The gun started and the field blasted away in an insane sprint kind of intensity. Quickly more and more guys were failing to keep with the frontrunners pace (I think every mixed team choosed a guy to run). But 3 guys did not seem to burn out. Polish Piotr (4th Friday and sub-15 minute 5k runner), Russian Sergei (3rd friday) and German Mathias (2.20 marathoner). These guys can run! The further we went into the race the harder it was to stick with them. But I knew they where having just the same thoughts and pain as me – or else they would have run away earlier.
Nikolaj Dam at the finish line
The course was flat and fast – 4km so it reminded me of my road racing background. All pain and Lactate when we got to the balance beam I was in 3rd place. But it was slippery and I was so close to my limit, so I had a crash which meant Mathias was getting in front of me and I was now in 4th with Piotr in front, Sergei in second, Mattias in 3rd and Mik from canada right on my tails. I had a frustrated feeling I was letting my team down… I forced myself to catch up again but we had under a 1km left so I really had to put the speed to the maximum. I was only gaining a bit of ground, but as we got closer I hear Leon cheering and it certainly helped so I got a little closer to Mathias and the guys. I saw Ida was ready and was cheering at me. The next thing I remember is I’m lying on the ground and Ida is on her way with the strength part. I knew I was running the fastest I could.“
Falling to the ground Nikolaj passed it on to Ida in 4th. A tough position to keep with primarily male runners in front and behind her, even if she managed a 2nd place on the standard course the day before! Read about Ida’s intense strength leg from her own point of view:
“After two hard days of racing I needed a good long warmup. I love strength obstacles and when I saw the strength part included a lot of wreck bag carry, I thought great! Though when I stood at the strength transition I looked around and couldn’t see many women who had this part! But I knew I could do well with the strength obstacles so I kept my mind focused – it started very well with the team in 4th and an obviously exhausted Nikolaj.
Off I went, racing to the wreck bag as the second obstacle and into the forest, legs burning already and some of the guys overtaking me, but I kept on pushing. After two other long carry obstacles there was a long running part in the forest and I found myself around 7th place. I ran as fast as I could, my lungs and legs burning and Nikolaj, who came to cheer, shouting at me. I was overtaken by a couple of men I the running with frustrated me but I could not push harder than I did.
Ida Mathilde on the 15k course (2nd place)
Finally after what felt like forever I could see the transition zone! I could here Leon shouting :” Ida I need more time”, I knew he was right as we were about 11th or 12th place by now! A last carry right before the transition, people shouting “come on” I finally reached Leon and I collapsed. The official told me hey you can’t lie here and I crawled to the outer part of the transition zone. I was a bit out of myself and I felt I had lost just too much damn time on my part.. But I also new I could not have pushed harder… Nikolaj was there to get my mind back in the right place and we jogged to the last transition zone. We stood there and saw Leon, smashing the course! Overtaking so many competitor as reaching us in 3 position! I was so, so happy and a bit suprised as I was sure I had tossed away our podium chances! But now we were in 3rd!“
Honest talk: Ida had the shitty part of this race. I know she would beat maybe every women head-to-head here, but she raced some top male athletes and did amazing. Well, back to my technical leg:
I knew I had to make up about 5 minutes on a 1,5km course to secure is the lead for the teamwork leg. Lindsay was in front, followed by our Russian friends, the Polish, the Chezh and more. It was quite the gap, but I knew I felt strong and fast, I knew I hadn’t raced the day before and all my competitors would be girls – I said it over and over again in my mind, but a chill ran through my spine before I shot off in a wild chase. These girls were fast.
I take a chance on the Platinum Rig (1st obstacle) and jump for the bell – I made it and I race downhill to La Gaffe. Already now I’m pushed the speed even more than I did on Friday. I clear La Gaffe like it’s not even there and race back towards Varjagan Saga. I overtake the first couple of athletes here and feel fast on the obstacle! I can hear the entire crowd cheer me on, I see Nikolaj, Katrine and Ida and also Albon, who’s pushing me to run faster.
I clear one more athlete on Trapeze, another on the Force 5 Rig and speed towards Isotope. At this point I lose the crowd, I don’t have anyone right in front of me and my legs start to BURN! I had been pushing very, very hard to make up lost ground and feel the pain now. It’s too early though, I still have 7 obstacles to go! Catching my breath on Isotope and Dragon’s Back I clear Fireman’s Pole and speed toward Ninja Rings. Glory be the ninja style obstacle, I see some of the fast teams struggling here! Even though I mess around on my own lane and lose a bit of time, I clear it faster than the girls and take over a few more. My breath was back, I felt strong and I’m now heading over the small ramp and back towards the last 2 obstacles!
Katrine was there yelling at me “YOU’RE in 5TH!, Lindsay is in front but not by much!“. I speed up, running towards skitch. On my way I pass the weaver were everyone is waiting anxiously and cheering. I briefly see my team and I’m reminded this is not MY race, it’s OUR race. Skitch was good to me and I pass both Germany and Sweden – but I didn’t know I was in 3rd by then.
The weaver would be the last obstacle and I hear Albon yelling at me – “weave like you’ve never weaved before!!” – which is exactly what I did and I met the team. I wanted nothing more than to lie on the ground, but I got to stabilize some heavy stones which Ida and Nikolaj are carrying. It didn’t look pretty, but it worked and we’re on to the next team surprise obstacle, a rope-climb-over were the team could only use 1 rope for all.
Photy by DOCRA / Ekstremsporten.dk
We make it over and speed towards the Russian team which we can spot in the horizon. At this point I’m somewhat rejuvenated and ready to race, so we push hard and Nikolaj is even helping Ida to run a bit faster! Down the hill, through the Inov8 portal and onto the very last obstacle, the Inov8 slipwall! The Canadian Team is about to clear the wall when we arrive, but the Russian team i struggling so we start the ascend with a clear plan. Nikolaj and I would be base for Ida who would climb up, I would then help Nikolaj who would give me a leg to catch. But by the time I’m holding on to Nikolaj and we’re all off the ground, the Russians cross the frame and we didn’t catch them. Other teams arrive at the wall but we’re done and speed off towards the finish and Brian Jordans comforting voice – “Team Inov8 from Deeeenmark!“
Photy by DOCRA / Ekstremsporten.dk
Once we finished we didn’t know the position. It was a scramble and when we heard we made 3rd, we were both surpised and happy! I know we all at some point believed we failed the team at this race, but none of us did. Nikolaj raced so hard he almost passed out, Ida crushed it against the toughest competition she could have and I managed the fastest technical leg of all participants, also the all-mens teams. We wanted to win so bad, but the other teams just went a bit faster than us – no shame in that, just more motivation to get stronger, faster and better for the next World Championships.
Photo by Frederik Rubens
Thanks for reading along, I hope you enjoyed our tale of the Relay event. Special thanks for Nutramino and Inov8, our common sponsors and the business’ that help all 3 of us to compete at the highest possible level.
- Fix You Sports Clinic
- Din Online Partner