Return of The Danes

We’re the two-time champions of the prestigious Gov Games, having clinched money, glory, and some seriously cool experiences in this adrenaline-pumping competition. Think of it as a teamwork-based challenge inspired by Wipeout, Ninja Warrior, Parkour, and OCR. Team Copenhagen includes myself as team captain, along with OCR athletes Jonas Drescher, Gustav Cordua, Pierre Axelsen, parkour superstar Oliver Thorpe, and Sebastian Ifversen, the top male HYROX athlete in Denmark. We compete in the international category known as the Battle of the Cities.

First OCR of the year!

Our first step in the arena

Before diving into our experiences, let’s introduce the Gov Games. This event is all about the spirit of competition, structured through different categories for government employees, community teams, and our international clash. There’s big money on the line with payouts up to 500,000 AED, and the games are broadcast live on YouTube and Dubai TV. Teams score by mastering obstacles with the chance to hit bonus buzzers for extra points.

Last year, we were among the few teams to snag top points across seven obstacle courses. Out of 28 teams, we made it to the thrilling finals alongside teams from the Czech Republic (Kutna Hora), Australia (Brisbane), and Poland (Gdansk). You can catch the intense moments here, where we narrowly secured victory over the other teams by constructing a towering house of cards.

In 2024 the competition had increased dramatically. Being the 2nd year with international competition, the 28 teams had had time to prepare better and structure the teams for better performance. We didn’t arrive believing we’d win, but that we would have to fight to our limits to even make the final.

The Burj Khalifa!
As a new, and really cool event, the organizer introduced the opportunity to win up to 16 extra points. All teams had to run up 161 flights of stairs in the legendary Burj Khalifa, and any team faster than 30 minutes would get top points. Anyone slower would receive fewer points for every second wasted. It was a high-stakes event 3 days before the 7 obstacle tracks, and with all teammates being tied together via (weightless) vests with ropes in between we knew it came down to running the best group effort. We agreed to have me in the front as I’m good at pacing effort and had struggled with lung issues for 4 weeks. As feared, I got tired! Having counted seconds per floor I knew we were on time to break 30 (I actually told the organizer we’d run 28:10), but my body started failing me at the 130th floor. Not a lot, but losing 1-2 seconds per floor could be detrimental to our opportunities of making the final! Dry air and countless stairs later our young gun pushed me, and the team, into a 28:18 minute finish at the top. We were elated to hear we had the only sub-30 minute time of the first 7 teams who tackled the Burj Khalifa. Later that day 3 other teams broke 30, and 2 of them (Spain and Czech Republic) even bested us. We celebrated the success with many high-fives, some good food, and laughs. We had top points going into the 7 obstacle courses on Saturday!

In 2023 the Battle of the Cities were the first teams to take on the 7 courses, but this year the government categories tried them before we did. This meant every single international team had a chance to study the courses and come up with a strong game plan. We knew this would even the field even more, meaning every single detail would matter. When we toed the first course we had a strong plan, but found ourselves beat by Team Moscow and with 2 of our athletes already wet from having made clumsy mistakes on 2 of the obstacles. I got a little nervous, but kept my cool as team captain and made sure we calmed our nerves before taking on the 2nd course. We had to be damn fast, but if we stressed out – it would never work out. You can see all the 7 course designs in the photos below.

Having started on the 6th course with Moscow, Colorado, and Lisbon we had a chance to compare ourselves every round with 2 of the other favorites. Moscow were incredibly fast, and so were Colorado. But having lost a little time in the 6th track, we attacked the 7th with intention and also came away with the fastest time on “Link Loop”.

Equilibrium was our next track, starting with a team effort Tetris style obstacle we had to stack and balance. I was in charge of coordination and the guys did an amazing job stacking the big tiles perfectly. We lead into the next balance section of the course, but could see especially Moscow were fast on the balance beam and rolling logs. Sebastian ate dirt a few times, but once over we pushed the button in a fast time, ready to take on Wind Wash. That was an interesting course, as we first had to inflate a, well not a SUP board, but something similar. Then we had to reach for a high rope, lift up a wall, and paddle it against a wind turbine with maximal 3 people on board. Jonas is the strongest with paddling experience, so he paddled and we pushed the button as the first team! Looking over at the score board we were placed strongly in the top 4 with Colorado and Moscow. But that almost changed on the next course.

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Dancing Stones was the name of the 3rd (but our 5th) course. It was an interesting mix of arcade basketball throwing, a pipeline traverse with a bonus point buzzer, and finally 6 very unstable mushroom-looking balancing blocks. We had agreed to have our parkour champion, Oliver, simply run the Dancing Stones and let us know how easy it was, but he immediately fell into the water and to be honest, that scared us a little. So we started wobbling around on the stones, getting a few people across but with Sebastian and myself struggling the very most. Time flew by, the crowd was loud, and the 3 other teams had finished when I was the last person still battling the Dancing Stones. I knew that if we missed a single obstacle and therefore 5 points, the chance to make the final would disappear. Somehow, and I’m not sure how, I found a flow on the Dancing Stones and with the counter yelling 5-4-3 seconds left I jumped to safety with the team and we cleared the course with less than 2 seconds to spare. This was intense, and ridiculously stressful. So stressful I got sick in the evening and couldn’t even go back to the venue to watch the community teams and my friends compete.

Luckily we had only 2 tracks to go, and for me just 1. With 6 people on the team, we always had 1 substitute, and I would be sitting out on our last course (The Power). But Ring Of Power, I was part of that course! With another chance for a bonus buzzer, we sent Oliver to get that on the first obstacle – which was a traverse using both arms and legs in a plank position while moving sideways. Then we did what we do best, swing in rings across a small water section before taking on the final obstacle. It was a huge balance platform with 2 walls on it. We had to help each other counterbalance the platform and make it across, which may sound easy – but was very difficult. We had 3 different techniques to apply, and when we finally had ferried 4 people across I was the last to go. Oliver was supposed to help me from the other side, but it was impossible to communicate out there. So I thought he helped and I just walked it. Turns out he wasn’t, and we had once again overcomplicated a somewhat simple task. Not a big deal, we were almost tied for 1st overall with just 1 track to go. The team handled that with excellence and here are the final results for the top 4 teams are:

Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Marseilles, and Copenhagen would be the final 4 teams in the Battle of the Cities, and the last of 4 finals to happen on the huge obstacle course. At this point, not a single team in the 3 other categories had finished the entire course in 45 minutes, not even that of Ida Mathilde, who represented NAS and won gold in the community category ahead of OCR Empire. The obstacles included a relay to form a logo, a fire hose crawl, a pump station, a hamster wheel monkey bar, a puzzle, a huge wall to reach a rope which then should break 3 barriers and finally for the entire team to ascend the tall, wet and dangerous wall all together. What a battle we had ahead of us!

The initial relay was favorable for our team, as the opposing teams primarily had ninja and parkour athletes. We knew we could finish a bit faster without expanding the same amount of energy. Racing a 45 minute race is a distribution of energy, especially once communication and problem solving is essential. We moved on to the 2nd obstacle alongside the other teams, where we had to roll out a very long firehose. The key here was to make sure it wasn’t too twisted, otherwise it wouldn’t be long enough to attach to the water tank. We crawled through 3 tubes with the hose and attached it with a shared lead. Then we took on an awkward obstacle, which was pumping water into a water tank. 4 people worked simultaneously in pairs of 2. I took control of our timing, and luckily we gained a little bit of time here. That meant we got to the huge monkey bar hamster wheel first – only to make the same mistakes as teams from the other categories. We thought we could simply solve it with a biceps lock-off hold, but twice we touched the water and had to restart. Then we succumbed to the back-up technique of hanging in arms and legs, slowly moving forward and trying to make sure no one fell off. Pierre had massive struggles here, so we impromptu decided to roll him around like a shish kebab and he jumped off from the very top. We didn’t gain much ground on this obstacle, at least not to Saint Petersburg who also pushed a strong pace. That all changed on the puzzle though.

Jonas was in charge of the left side, I was of the right. We guided the team and helped along to quickly move and match the 5 symbols into 5 rows. We gained minutes on this obstacle! That meant we were the first to take on the first crux of the track, getting 1 person to the top of the huge slippery team wall. We stacked one person at a time and as I stood on top of the human ladder balancing on hands only, I managed to grip the slippery metal bar with 1 hand. That was all I needed, and I climbed up. I threw down the rope and slid down to meet the team, who attached the rope so we could use the wrecking ball lever and break 3 styrofoam barriers. This part was fun and cool, and we also had time to look around and see we had a lead. Honestly, we thought we had won now. No other team had made it this far and we didn’t believe anyone would manage to get all 5 people to the top of the wall. It was a very, very difficult task, maybe impossible?

Impossible isn’t in our race vocabulary though, so we get back to give it a try. Once again I was on top, but crawling and stepping on my teammates I felt small “cracks” in our human ladder. We lost valuable centimeters this time around and I could no longer reach the metal bar. We had feared this, as we’re not very tall and height would matter. I looked down and yelled “1.000.000 kroner, boys – I’m going for it” and felt them tense up. I made a jump and with just a few fingers around the metal bar, I managed to hold on. If I had fallen I would’ve hurt the team – it was a dangerous thing, stacking that many people over shallow water. Marseilles found out the hard way when they had to leave the competition due to an almost severed upper lip. A guy had a kissing accident with a trail shoe from a falling teammate on the wall.

With me up there, we had the first step down. We then started to get people up one at a time, taking good rest in between each person to not wear out the team totally. Jonas got up and then Oliver. The three of us would make up the upper part of the human ladder. Oliver is strongest and would take the top, Jonas is insanely strong as well and would take 2nd with me in 3rd, the middle of the ladder. Before building it from the top and lowering us down, we tied Oliver’s shoelaces together. Giving Jonas something extra to hold on to, which he desperately ended up needing.

I felt Pierre reach my feet, and we went into full beast mode to make it. The guys crawled up and we held on for dear life and the promise of glory and money. I yelled into the wall that Jonas couldn’t let go, and once Pierre and Gustav were up I also ascended. Jonas and Oliver were heavily worn out, but we managed to pull them up – to the thunderous applause from the audience. We had made it, the only team to finish the final and with more than 8 minutes to spare. We just had to climb a small ladder and soak it in. And soak it in we did. Tears, smiles, hugs, and happiness. This is a day none of us will ever forget – one you can rewatch on YouTube here as well. I am beyond proud of the team, managing to win the competition two years in a row.

Could be cool with a hat-trick, right? See you next year!

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