OCR World Championships 

September 24-26, 2021, Vermont
So, how did your favorite Dane (you heard it, Ida) fare at his first competitive event post injury?

Felt like home!

Let’s address the elephant in the room: A broken shin bone. On the last day of March I broke a chunk of my tibia bone during the Georgia Savage Race. This was a huge physical and mental blow which I’m still dealing with – and here’s a short storyline of my rehab:

  • Week 1 – surgery 
  • Week 8 – standing on 2 legs
  • Week 10 – walking
  • Week 14 – first anti gravity treadmill run at 40% bodyweight
  • Week 18 – unsupported easy trail running up to 35 minutes
  • Week 22 – first test on the track (3x 800m incl. pull-ups, slow)
  • Week 24 – OCR World Championships

The above is no excuse for anything, simply an overview so you understand why I’m later saying things like ‘back to rehab’ and ‘taking it easy on the descent’ 🙂

Another elephant in the room: Travel restrictions. In January I was granted a National Interest Exemption (NIE) as a pro athlete, as I was participating in the US National Series. This was valid for 30 days, later extended to 12 months. I travelled on the same NIE this time, arriving in New York 7 days before the event. I came in early to adjust to jetlag, but also to learn how my knee would react to running in similar-to-the-race terrain.

Now let’s get to the race experience! I would participate in the 3k, team relay and even the 100m OCR Championships. Here’s the 3k route map, which doesn’t look any bit like a penis.

That OCRWC feeling. This is my 6th OCRWC and my 3rd were I’ve raced competitively. Besides my wins at the European Championships, this weekend is my absolute highlight of the year. It’s a great obstacle course, the festival feeling is unreal and the community unites so powerfully it’s actually hard to describe it. The last part meant the world to me this year.

3-2-1 and we’re off! I’m one of the first 9 athletes to start the course and it’s a strong field with Veejay Jones, Ian Hosek, Ryan Kempson, Egor, Shawn, Alvaro, Aaron and Jared. No need to put an asterisk here – it’s a showdown! The first 1/3 of the race is a steep incline of 200m vertical climbing over roughly 1 km – something I’d find hard normally and feared even more due to lack of relevant training. I find my place in the back, feeling comfortable and with no knee pain! I can even push a bit and I’m running with Ian, Shawn and Jared on most of the climb. I hit Gorilla ropes as the last guy on top of the hill, but exit in 6th place. I manage to hold on to the guys thanks to Skitch and Low Rig, which are also placed on top of the hill, just before the descent. I was honestly stoked, excited and thrilled all at once! 

The descent (mid 1/3 or the race) was the biggest risk of re-injury. After many talks with my coach, physio, PT and surgeon I had pre-made the decision to take it easy here, no matter what. So I ran down in a safe and controlled manner and arrived dead last (but somewhat pain free) on the first obstacle in the village. I swing through Valkyrie and the 2 new obstacles, Pendulum and Canyon. It felt awesome to hit 3 rigs right after each other, although they were rather simple and short.

I got over the next 2 walls and climbed down safely, but managed to heavily sprain my thumb on ‘Little Foot’, a simple balance obstacle. I had a small foot slip and grabbed something to not fall – unfortunately thumb first. But who needs thumbs for racing, right?! At this point I felt I had lost total sight of the competition and I counted myself out. I was thinking 40th or 50th position – and I didn’t care. I was having a BLAST crushing obstacle and running around, although my running biomechanics weren’t great. So I attacked the last half a mile with a smile.

I might’ve caught some time here though, as I was energetic enough to run decently and to fly through Urban Sky and swing though ricochet as well. After hearing the final obstacle bell I knew I had made it. I had run the OCRWC without making my knee worse! So joyfully I ran to the cargo not, rolled over it and finished the race. All the guys were still there – some even looking tired still. My head starting thinking about placement – and sure enough, I had cracked the top 10 with an 8th place! Just 1:53 minutes from the podium. In 2019 I was 17 seconds from the podium and 5th place. 

The important mental takeaway: I am a very good obstacle course racer. This is not a statement nor me being braggadocios, but a reminder – because I’ve spent the last +5 months questioning just that. I felt broken, I felt I’d never move well again (still a fear), I felt uncompetitive and I felt sad I never got to run the perfect OCRWC. Now I believe that perfect race is coming! I’m not talking a winning race, I’m talking a race were I run my hardest, perform well and do all obstacles perfectly. Because that’s my goal, to be the best possible Leon out there. Let’s see if that’s enough to win one day – I think it might be. But first it’s back to rehab so I can build a body which can handle a good off-season training.

A massive shout out to my fellow Danes who made it over! Ida Mathilde with that 2nd place finish and Patrick Patrong with a dominant Age Group win. We’ll naturally be representing the red-and-white, racing as Team Inov8 during the relays!

Men’s Podium:

1st – Veejay Jones
2nd – Ryan Kempson
3rd – Egor Belousov

Women’s Podium:
1st – Lindsay Webster
2nd – Ida Mathilde R. Steensgaard
3rd – Rose Wetzel

I can’t thank the OCR community enough for being as awesome as you are. Hundreds came over to say hi, get a photo and wish me a good recovery. Many also came to talk about heavier subjects like cancer, and even more came to talk about grip- & pull power training. I appreciate you, the organizers, the volunteers, the build crew and I look forward to seeing you in 2022! 

Photos by The OCR Report / Jack Goras

Feel free to read my other race reviews and experiences.

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