"The timorous may stay at home."
~ Murphy v. Steeplechase Amusement Co., 250 N.Y. 479, 483 (N.Y. 1929)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

How far we've come

I'm not big on anniversaries. They always seem to forced, so artificial, to me. Then again, I'm also a sentimental person. I enjoy milestones. I enjoy reflecting on progress that has been made in a defined period of time. So, by that reasoning, maybe I should like anniversaries.

I'm overthinking it again.

I suppose I have an imperfect anniversary coming up this weekend: the Wisconsin Tough Mudder--the obstacle race that started it all for me. Imperfect, because it took place in July last year. So call it my "one-year and two month" anniversary into obstacle racing.

[Aside: holy hell, has it only been that long?! Perhaps it's because multiple 24+ hour races have taken years off my life, but I feel like I've been at it for much longer than a little over a year. Perhaps I should cool it on the 5-hr energy and N.O.-Xplode.]

Ran my first TM with co-workers. "Team-building"?
I feel like "racing" is a misnomer. I never got into this to "race." In fact, I avoided Spartan Races at first because I hated the idea of being chip timed. I didn't want a winner. I wanted a team. I wanted camaraderie. I wanted to go out there and roll around in the mud. But I've watched over the past year as this fledgling "sport"* has grown into a competition, with people deeming themselves "elite" or "professional" because they've run a lot of races. With people saying they are now "certified" to coach obstacle racers. Argue over that all you want, it makes no difference to me. I find it silly, unjustifiably arrogant, and a waste of precious resources.

Because I'm still out there for the same reasons. To push myself. To meet interesting people. To have a hell of a time. I've been sitting on the sidelines these past few months, away from the obstacle racing world, while I've focused on my job, my friends, and (obviously) bettering myself at the sport of fitness. I've largely disengaged from the Facebook groups and the obstacle racing world, but I can't completely block the chatter. I'm not sure I'm too keen on the direction that everything seems to be heading, the elitism that is creeping in, but we all know [the overused cliche] that change is inevitable. However, I do realize that external forces do not always have to dictate internal change.

With a race coming up in a few weeks that I didn't plan on running, that I didn't expect to be able to run, I have no expectations aside from going out and having a blast with all of these people that I've come to know so well and respect so much in the past year. (And beer. Lots of beer post-race--looking at you, Alyssa and Carrie). So I'll set my dial to "kick ass" and see what happens. It's what I did the first time I raced, and it's what I'll continue to do each and every time I go out there.

Perhaps I should like anniversaries, if only to show me that nothing has changed.

*We can also have an argument over whether obstacle course racing can be called a "sport." I suppose curling is a sport. And golf is a sport. So, alright, I suppose we can call it a sport.


  1. Golf and curling are games, not sports. While dividing "sports" from "games" requires arbitrary line drawing, this much is clear to me.

  2. I completely agree with all you said regarding the wannabe elite & professionals. Thank you for saying this, you've earned a completely new found respect from me.

  3. Interesting observations...and contrary to what many are writing about this "sport" lately. But then again, I guess that should be expected from someone that embodies the spirit of a true death racer (in case there's any doubt, that is intended as a compliment!). I do think that change is coming. However, I believe we will see a huge amount of interest in the short term, then as the novelty wears off, a drop back down to point where it will again be the racers who truly enjoy the challenge these events offer. Since I'm not a runner, and have no illusions of ever becoming one, I'm looking forward to having more "do-able" races for me in the area...which this growth should produce. And I'm also looking to build those relationships and camaraderie with people that are just a bit off center too...who actually think this sort of thing is a good time! Good luck in your race and looking forward to the next installment!

  4. I'll be celebrating my "anniversary" in two weeks in Vermont at the Beast. My first race was the first Beast ever. This year will be insane in Killington and I'm not sure how to feel about it either. I'm thrilled I popped my cherry at the inaugural Beast, but wonder what 9/22 will bring for me this year. Have a blast in Wisconsin!