A few weeks ago I got a very interesting call. The call was from the president of the Russian Obstacle Sports Federation (ROSF) who had intriguing information about an important step in the develop of federated sports in Russia.

ROSF was ready to present an OCR event to their Ministry of Sports. A (somewhat) standardized event with the best athletes of the country, the official start of a national series and a non-commercial setup with the athletes in focus. They wanted an internationally recognized athlete to step up the game and battle their athletes, to give constructive feedback for the development of the sport in Russia and to show the OCR community that the world is aware of this amazing development. As many of you know, I am involved in DOCRA and World OCR and I’ve spent countless hours helping out where I can to develop the sport in Denmark. Now I get the chance to have a small touch on the development in Russia as well? Hell yes!
After the main event (saturday) there would be a follow-up race (sunday), which would be a charity event for invalids. Both sounded absolutely amazing, so I got a visa and packed my Inov8’s – time to see how I can hold up with the Russians! Oh hey, I even got the new 2019 OCREC vest – check it out:

The ELITE competition

Let me be 100% honest. I know Russia has 4 insanely fast male athletes. Sergei Perelygin, Anton Suzdalev, Sergei Silin and Egor B. – none who I believed I could match at a ~10k event, maybe at any event. Perelygin has gotten the better of me at the last 3 OCRWC events and even at the 2017 OCREC short course! So here I am, scared and at the same time SUPER excited to see were I’m at.

It turned out, that only Anton would be at the race. Anton was 5th at the 2019 OCRWC Standard Course after 7k (then he lost it..) and I’ve seen this impressive athlete race super well before, battling Nikolaj quite ferociously. He’s been a serious XC-skiing champ since he was quite young, so I imagine his lungs extend all the way to his feet! Even though I couldn’t officially win the race (being a foreigner and all) then this was my chance to see how I would do against one of the best.

Fast forward a bit and I’m in Russia (wuhu!), standing on the start line and hearing a countdown I don’t understand. Luckily I get 3-2-1 and we’re OFF! I look right and left and recognize only Anton as we’re surrounded by 20 Russian athletes. Running down the light descend towards a wall, the first obstacle.

Photo by Vladimir Murenkov

I decide to stick with Anton + 2 other athletes and find my rhythm. At this point I feel damn good and with a sly smile I let the group make a small gap on the first ascent. They run directly into an inverted wall which saps them more than they expected and I’m back on their heels. Oh hey – did I mention that you only have 1 try at all obstacles in this race? If you fail one, then you’re DQ’ed and you can continue running but outside the competition. This means we’re doing some strategic running here not to fail the salmon ladder which is placed 1 km before the finish!

Photo by Vladimir Murenkov

Another 800m or so we cruise together and I can hear the unknown athlete who’s with Anton and I get tired. We pick up a sandbag and begin the next 1200m carry! During the carry we’re climbing a hill and even have to drop it to do a rope climb – a rather unexpected mix. But here we are, dropping the bags just before a ramp with Anton in a 10 second lead. I find a good rhythm again and catch him at the weaver. We’re head to head 4k into the race and there’s only another 3,5 to go.

Photo: ROSF

It turns out several years of racing experience hasn’t taught me how to crawl fast.. Anton outcrawled me hard just shortly after we picked up the 2nd sandbag. I finish the crawl and pick up my bag, only to find myself way behind! I speed up, finish the 700m carry, clear the cargo net, wall, stairway to heaven and another cargo net. Having made up a bit of time, I’m excited to see how Anton will handle the next obstacle – the monkey bars!

Photo by Vladimir Murenkov

Yeah you heard right, monkey bars. But these are special Russian monkey bars, people – you can’t just swing, you got to jump (lache?) between each of them! And they’re close to one another, which is super weird. I was actually scared of this obstacle before the race (no room for mistake), but then I realized during the race that if I’m scared, then the other guys must be terrified! Yeah, I said it.

Jump-jump x 25 and I’m back on Anton’s heels down the next hill! We arrive at salmon ladder at the same time and complete the 5 jumps slowly and controlled. We race next to each other to the 3rd last obstacle (traverse wall) and Anton gets another lead – damn it! The finish is close though, so I give it a kick and take the lead before the big ramp (photo above) which is 150m from the finish. I now have a lead and feel comfortable heading into the final rig. I cross the finish line first, knowing Anton will be the winner of the race – but no matter, I came for the test and I passed!

This race was quite something. A few tweaks and adjustments, then we’re close to something very presentable. The course was both challenging and interesting, a solid test of OCR fitness. I hope the organizers and ROSF will have a great level of success with the future development of this and other concepts. I know the Ministry of Sports really enjoyed the race and they’re excited to continue their work with ROSF.

The Charity event

I was lucky to have the charity event available for the Sunday. I was looking into having a Sunday long run and throwing in a few obstacles would be just perfect! Anton wouldn’t be there so I guessed it would be a 10k solo-ride, and I was right.

Before heading out I was part of a beautiful ceremony to emphasize the importance of helping one another. The organizers are very active in helping invalids being more active and to show the world how we can better communicate and help people who are less fortunate. I enjoyed taking part in this process and left the start box with a smile on my face.

A few guys thought we were racing and stuck with me for the first 1000m. I think they turned it down because they got tired or simply annoyed that they were breathing hard and I was taking it somewhat easy. I was here to have a good time and I did! Crossing the finish line some time later I grabbed a CLIF bar, some yummy energy blocks, a bit of water and headed out on my second lap. The salmon ladder had been taken out and so had the first carry, but that didn’t bother me and the 2nd lap was a great chance to help some of the Russian athletes overcome a few of the obstacles.

When I crossed the finish line again I was pretty tired and happy to have 20k logged on my Garmin. I was also told I won the race, but it being a charity event I donated all prizes to the charity and will only bring home a gold medal and a good OCR experience. I’m happy to have made this trip and to have met some of the Russian OCR community. Everyone have been amazingly nice and welcoming, the country has great hospitality and I’m excited to return one day.

Next week I’m off to Portugal, racing Thibault and some other interesting athletes at the OCR Police Challenge. Thanks for reading along, feel free to reach out if you have any questions. Cheers!