Savage Race Pro Series, Gainesville

Your OCR guy is back in business!

It’s been almost exactly 2 years ago since I fractured a tibia at Savage Race, Georgia. I never made it a full mile into that course, so although I’m back racing now – I decided to sit out the first Savage Series event of ’23, since it was hosted at the same venue in Georgia. This race in Gainesville would be flatter and I wouldn’t have a mental block about the course.

Before giving y’all a POV experience of racing in my Inov8’s, let’s me address a subject which has been coming up far too regularly since COVID-19: The death of OCR. I’m not enjoying the terminology and I don’t believe it’s true. Also, life didn’t serve me a chance to be a great obstacle racer in 2013, nor in 2017. I didn’t race for big bucks in the US, I didn’t have fat sponsors. So it does make me sad to feel (somewhat) surrounded by negativity now that I have my second chance to get fitter than ever. But instead of crying it out back home, I flew my somewhat-prepared behinds to America to race it out with the big dogs for small checks.

I’d recommend everyone to simple do it. And talk about it. Loudly. The sport and what it gives is worth is 

This year started very well for me. Incredibly well, to be honest. I’ve managed to set life up so I’m mainly living off OCR with strong sponsorships and a much-needed win at the Gov Games. People who know me, knows I’m keeping plenty busy with other projects – but now I’ve “bought myself” the extra time to become the best OCR athlete I can be. The next few years will be FUN!

I flew into Orlando 3 days time before the race, and met up with my coach, Ian Hosek, and other OCR athletes before heading to race site. Legs felt good and I was excited to toe the start line! With a last minute addition of Veejay Jones (reigning world champ) to the race, it was a deep field of strong names; Ryan Kempson, Shawn Roberts, Ian Hosek, Joseph Cotto and many more. I was excited to race with this group!

In the starting carrell everyone is nice, but also deadly serious. The race would start with a downhill and therefore a very fast pace. We had 10km of racing with only 26 obstacles, so running speed was of the essence – and so was prioritizing the race!

3-2-1 and we’re OFF! Hurtling down the hill, everyone is closely grouped together and I find myself in the lead pack feeling comfortable. Chainsaw Rick ran a Hail Marry start and sprinted away, but slowed down on the first incline – and so did I. I knew I had to run smart, so I let Ryan, Shawn and Veejay go, and settled into a battle with Kevin, Joseph and Hosek for 4th place. I felt strong, but then the terrain changed while we ran through dried-out creeks. It was hard for me to maintain a good posture, and worse – keep up with the large group battling for 4th place.

3 kilometers into the race I’m pretty sure it’s game over. I’m huffing and puffing a little too much, and we’ve only been through a few simple obstacles. Joseph is having right ahead of me and the pack of followers are spread out – but I’m not feeling good or strong. It took some inner dialogue and slight adjustments, but half a kilometer later I’m in full control. I let Joseph get a slight lead through the long carry, the I found my pace and we built a distance to everyone behind us. Occasionally I could see the back of the lead pack, and I though to myself we were gaining on them.

The next 3km was a good battle with Joseph. I got closer on every obstacle and we ran at a similar pace – but I could hear my breathing was better than his. We cleared basic obstacles and crawls, and crushed 2kms in sub 3.50 pace (with obstacles!). I could feel it was time to leave Joseph, so after a new crawl obstacle (twist and shout) I made a surge and found myself chasing the familiar running stride of Veejay Jones.

As I’m closing in on Veejay many thoughts are racing through my brain. I’ve never kept up with him before, so a huge sense of pride motivates to keep up the pace. But at the same time I’m well aware of the struggles he’s had, and he probably outran his training by keeping up with the 2 leaders (who I only could spot far in the distance). 

I’m slowly closing the gap on the flats and through basic obstacles like crawls and a traverse wall. The deciding factor could be a brand new obstacle; the Gibbon Take. This obstacle combines Anchors Away with the classic Gibbon by F5rce, and although short, it could be troublesome. it was for Veejay, who needed 3-4 shots to land the first Gibbon, and by that time I was on the obstacle as well. I prepared for this one back in Denmark, and cleared it smoothly whilst catching my breath, and now I’m just a few meters behind Jones. 

Baseline strength and specific prep is key to clearing new obstacles. It takes a very specific gym or setup to prepare on the actual obstacles, but everyone can build strength and body control anywhere! 

It felt SO awkward to close the gap and even run past him. Questioning my sanity, I let my body do the work and opened up a gap leading into the last half mile of the race. This part was PACKED with obstacles, and pretty cool ones as well. I cleared a short rig, threw a tire, lifted a heavy chain, and jogged up the hill for the Savage Rig. Looking over my shoulder I had plenty time to clear the obstacle in control – and looking forwards, there was no rush since Kempson and Roberts already hugged at the finish line. I swung through and as I landed I felt a little puke (you’re getting all the details) in my mouth. As nasty as that was, I knew I had run a smart race! I slowly cleared the mega ramp and happily jumped in the ice bath and trotted across the finish line. What a start to the OCR season! 

Men’s podium:

1st – Shawn Roberts
2nd – Ryan Kempson
3rd – Leon Kofoed (that’s me!)

Women’s podium:

1st – Kris Rugloski
2nd – Alexandra Walker
3rd – Jamie Horianopoulos

Massive shout-out to the ANYONE who watched, read, shared or participated in this race. OCR is not dying – not as long as we’re still wanting it to grow. Thanks to The OCR Report for live coverage, great photos and all that jazz.

I’m powered by and can highly recommend:
Shaping New Tomorrow, the perfect fit for any occasion.
Bodylab, my favourite supplement company on the planet
Inov8, the best trail, gym and OCR shoes on the market.
Garmin, world-leading sports GPS watches with indestructible sapphire glass.
FixYou Sports Clinic, for all your sports therapy, massage and physio needs.

Feel free to read my other race reviews and experiences.

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