The return to JAX!
Let’s address the elephant in the room: A broken shin bone. On the last day of March 2021 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
After that I’ve done the Spartan Race World Champs and had a further surgery to remove the metal. I’ve been in a lot of pain since that surgery and training has been hard – so I really needed this trip. For motivation and to feel more like an athlete in week 48 of the recovery journey.
The game plan was set from home. I’d have to run in 100% zen in order to stick to the plan! Run kind-of-hard and push a hard tempo effort – but by any sign of weird pain, quit the race without being angry or too frustrated.
Now let’s get to the race experience! This weekend I would do the Super (10k) as a tempo effort and see how my body would feel for the Sprint (5k) distance.
That Spartan feeling. This would be my 2nd year starting in Jacksonville. Last year I felt fast, competitive and ready to hang on with the top dogs at the US National Series. A missed spear ruined my 4th/5th place finish, so I was eager to hit it this year – as a little band aid on the mental wound. The venue was amazing and I really, really enjoyed how welcoming and warm everyone were around Ida and I. Thank you, OCR community!
3-2-1 and we’re off! Even though this weekend is all about the first Age Group US National Series race, there’s a strongly packed ELITE heat on the start line at 7:30 AM. Kirk Dewindt, Nick Ryker, Alvaro Vasques, Tyler Verman, Kris Bob Brown and a few others. I’ll be honest – I could really have used a confidence booster and an easy podium this weekend, but that wasn’t the case! As we blast out the starting gate I find myself comfortably with the lead group, since everyone (for once) agreed to start at a reasonable pace! How about that.
I settle into that tempo effort and slowly let the leading group build a small gap. Over the walls, through the water and the wet monkey bars I’m feeling good and happy. Come the sandbag carry I’m hit with a realization of short legs and tough times! The leading group makes an actual gap and I have to mentally adjust to not start chasing them hard.
We keep trotting through the mud and simple obstacles like the atlas carry, herc hoist and A frame cargo before we hit the spear. I notice Kris and Kirk doing synchronized burpees and I grab my spear, thinking back to last year. Step back, breathe and step forward – I stick that thing right in the middle of the Spartan face! I’m actually really good with spear throwing, so this wasn’t a surprise. But boy did it feel good!
From there on we cruise onto the Super loop of the course and without being sure of placement, I fall into a steady rhythm of running. Breathing is good, speed is .. well OK-ish, and I can see the back of Alvaro not too far ahead. A few minutes into the loop we’re past Beater, Kris overtakes me just by Bender. He’s fast, and that’s very OK. I’m fast on obstacles so I maintain touch with Kris for most of the loop as we trot through mud and some of the cooler Spartan obstacles like Twister and Olympus.
Kirk still hasn’t ran past me yet, which is very motivating to maintain that hard tempo effort. I can also still see Alvaro and Kris as we head into Helix (pictured above). I lose sight of them totally in the mud madness which comes after, crossing my fingers they might slip on the muddy Z walls. Seems like everybody remembered their #getagrip training and we all pass through nicely! I believe this is also around the time Kirk passes me. My legs felt fine, but I had to remind myself to not risk it on the last 2km of the course. I wanted to! But, what’s really the difference between 5th and 6th? And more importantly then it was important to me, to stick to my plan!
I have very little success making easy work of the bucket carry, but from then it was a cruise! I was right behind Kirk as we ran into the motocross area. We tackled walls, climbed ropes and also a mountain of a barbed wire crawl! I was on Kirk’s heels here and he made a push afterwards I couldn’t hold onto. I dived into the water at dunk wall and smiled all the way to the finish line!
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 11 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 at the level I’m dreaming of.
A massive shout out to my fellow Dane who made it over with me! Ida Mathilde who snuck in a comfortable win – so happy for you! We also agreed to run the Sprint course the next day (scroll down for that) and we enjoyed representing the red-and-white, racing as Team Inov8!
1st – Tyler Veerman
2nd – Nick Ryker
3rd – Kris Brown
1st – Ida Mathilde R. Steensgaard
2nd – Alexandra Walker
3rd – Rachel Watters
I can’t thank the OCR community enough for being as awesome as you are. So many came over to say hi, get a photo and wish me a good recovery. Some 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 this season!
The SPRINT! This would be a slightly different race. After a successful test on the Super I felt OK to try and move a little faster during the sprint. I was more confident with the gnarly terrain and also with the abilities of my knee
Like a rocket ship people fly out the gate! In strong contrast to a reasonably start yesterday, we’re back to a classic Spartan start – one with very little concern of how the body will feel in just 10 minutes. That meant I settled in around 10th place and slowly started picking up on all but 3 athletes; Kirk, Alvaro and tyler. The strategy and increased speed felt great through mud, water and the monkey bars, but I got my ass handed to my on the sandbag carry. I lost 20-30 seconds on the lead group and was pushed back to 7th place. Damn it!
I then had a mental talk with myself. Settle in for another tempo and not care about placement, or push a little and actually try to feel like I’m racing. I decided on the latter and started picking up on the guys in front of me. I ran decently and got through atlas carry, herc hoist, A frame and spear very succesfully – now in a battle for 4th place with Elmer King, a guy I didn’t know in advance but who ran strongly in the terrain. We’re neck on neck through the mud madness before Z-wall and I say “hope we don’t fall down the muddy thing” to incur a little mistrust in the obstacle – but to no avail. Elmer cruises through Z-wall just like I do, but Kirk was on the ground doing burpees.
I decide to push harder. I’m gaining ground on Elmer heading into the bucket carry and he builds it right back. I close in on the motocross field, where I also get glances of Tyler and Alvaro not far ahead. Elmer hesitates on the rope climb and when I get to it I realize why – it’s very, very slippery! Not a problem for me though, it only made sure I got down faster than ever. I crawl the cargo net and somehow Kirk had closed the distance between us! Elmer begins the rings (multi-rig?) and he looks very, very nervous in his moves. I smile because I know I’ve got that obstacle in the bank – and then he falls right off! What a shame, I was excited to race head to head on the last half a mile.
Kirk hangs close so I crawl quickly up the mountain of barbed wire and run hard to dunk wall. Coming out I recognize the lead I have to Kirk and see Alvaro climb the 2nd to last obstacle. It’s locked in and I run towards the finish line with a big fat smile on my face and the taste of hard work in my mouth!
Final thoughts of the weekend: I can accept and understand why I am not fast enough. It’s not something I do happily as I can let go of negative thoughts like “lost work”, “being unlucky” and other thoughts of frustration. But most of the time I can find a way to live with those thoughts and only focus on things I can actually change now. Change the changeables, baby. And that’s what I’ll do! You won’t see my back at my former level of fitness, I’m ready to work hard, smart and show you a whole new level!
Next up Ida and I will train and have fun in sunny Florida. We’ll hit a Ninja Gym and go to the beach, eat Chipotle and work on social media to create even more amazing content for you! We’ll then do the first Savage Race US National Series before heading to Colorado. Remember you can always see which events I’ve got next by clicking “EVENTS” in the header of this website.
1st – Tyler Veerman
2nd – Alvaro Vasques
3rd – Leon Kofoed
1st – Ida Mathilde R. Steensgaard
2nd – Alexandra Walker
3rd – Rachel Watters
Dive into the past ⤵
Read about the 8-week grip- & pull power program, the 4-week strength preparation program and get insights into the program, into why I made it and what you can expect from it!
The king of grip returns to the tree he fell at in 2022, and also returns to the podium at Europes most competitive championship!
Get your POV experience of the European Champion taking on the American ELITE at the Savage Race Pro Series in Gainesville!
A packed field always leads to great racing – so let’s dive into it!
Share this list with your family and friends to let them know exactly what to get YOU for Christmas this year! Let’s prepare for a muddy ’23 with loads of obstacle events.