Race Reports: Thomas van Tonder – OCR World Championships

A look back at another year of top class OCR at Blue Mountain in Toronto Canada
This is not only one of the biggest events of the year, it was my target race for 2017 as well.

This was the second year that #OCRWC was going to be held in the Blue Mountains, an absolute beauty of a venue.

We were a rather big group of Saffers that went over this year. and as a team, we performed very well, against

The weekend consisted of 3 events over the duration of the weekend first the 3km sprint on Friday,
Saturday we had the main event, 15km long course.
And a team relay event on Sunday. All and all a super weekend of OCR against the best in the worlds

I did not take part in the 3km sprint, It was an all or nothing approach on the 15km Saturday.
I had an aim of getting back into the top 10, in the ELITE Field.
2016 I came in on a 16th place, which is good for the ELITE field, BUT… The dream is the podium at world champs, so the first step is getting back into the top 10 and then build it up to next year for a shot at the podium in the elite field.
So this was going to be a very good indication of the last year of hard work has been in the right direction.
The aim has been on running, trail and elevation for some time now.

The start line of the OCR World Champs is something you have to experience to be able to understand. Looking to your side and seeing people like Jonathan Albon lining up with you.
I remember looking forward from the start line and all you could see is a massive crowd of people on either side of the course all the way to where the mountain starts. Even more selfie stick and cameras that people… The eyes of the ocr world all watching. if there is ever a place to take your top performance, that would be it.

I went out all guns blazing from the start line. I was gonna leave it all out there,
And from past experience, i know that playing catch up in an OCR race is never a good position to be in.
The course this year had, even more, climbing that 2016, the first 10 km was basically up and down the ski slopes, first obstacles all easy, stuff like hurdles and walls. It spread the field nicely, but have to admit any wall becomes more of a challenge after having your heart rate close to max.

The climbs were all just too steep to run, as we hit a climb I would pick a spot to which I want to run and then push myself to not power walk until I have reached that spot. Making every second count.
I surprised myself on the climbs, I could keep a strong power walking pace. even making up a spot or 2 on some of the climbs, which was not the case in the previous years of OCRWC,

This was a Huge mental boost, just that acknowledgement that your body is ready for the race, you just have to keep it in full throttle.

 

After the first 3 long climbs we I was close to 20th position, which was good. on some of the loops I could see Hunter McIntyre in the distance, (Long Distance haha ) Every step I just told myself to keep on working. step by step.

The fun thing about having this much climbing in a route is that we would have a lot of decent as well. The downhills have been one of my strong points for a while now, so I would just bomb down and stretch these long legs of mine.
The shoe of choice for this race was my Salomon Sa S-LAB Speed, I needed enough grip on the downhills to have convinced that I could stride and not lose my footing. Almost went with my XA Amfibs, but the S-lab speed has just a bit of a bigger and more aggressive grip.

The second half of the course was a bit more grip intensive, especially leading up to the end. Which was even better for the confidence as we all know that us South Africans love the grip obstacles. So as soon as the obstacles started getting tougher I started making up some spots.
We made our way down to the venue with an epic long downhill. Had a warped wall and then the carries came in to play. And yes the carries where also up and down the slopes,
1st one was the farmers carry. 2 black bags filled with sand, so now you had both your hand full and could not use your arm to help with the power walking up the slope. Was a killer. but again I managed to take a spot or 2 on the carry

By this stage, I was in the top 15. and we had a long climb, the last long one… I felt surprisingly good at this stage so knew I had to work on this climb. We even had an obstacle or 2 on the climb, I remember looking back as I finished the barbwire crawl and I had a HUGE chasing bunch just on my tail, so one mistake could easily cost me a lot of places.
So it was all systems go, keep on working on every step.

After another rig at the top of the climb, it was flat and a long technical downhill to the last couple of obstacles.

It has been raining during the night before the race so most the downhills were actually more like semi controlled falling.
Had one competitor come up next to me, having time to fit in a fist pump and a greeting haha. Have to love OCR people, “lest push for a gap,” he said while flying down the wet technical trail.

The ski resort is used as a downhill bike track in the offseason, so there were small wooden bridges shaped like burms. And man were they slippery after all the rain. I face planted so bad on one of them.

Coming back in to the venue we had 2 rigs to do, I actually took them a bit slower making sure I don’t make any mistakes on the wet grips, Wreck Bag carry was the last leg burning carry, I do love the bags though, they are really comfy, especially on the down where the bag bounces all over the show.
Can’t recall if I lost or gained any positions on this one, it was just focused on grafting as hard as I possibly can, with the finish line just around the corner it was full blown #BeastMode

Claude Eksteen was passing me on the way down as I went up with the carry, felt all to familiar chasing him so close to the finish line, On the last rig, or floating board I could her the marshal say that we are in the fight for top 10, jho that was like an energy bomb, I knew I was close to 10th, And had one french competitor in front of me, so was gunning it as hard as I could to catch him, to make sure I get that top 10 spot.
We made it to the last wall almost at the same time, as I gripped the second rope on the wall I could see him slip off, I knew I got it if I just keep focus.

Crossing that finish line was an overwhelming feeling. taking a moment to turn around, watching the flags on the finish arch, just thanking GOD for carrying me during the race.

The official result got me at a 9th place. 😀 this was then my 3rd time I hit the top 10 in the elite field, so next up must be top 5 or podium.
Going to a hard one to get on to that 3 step stage, but it is an absolute goal for me. #DreamBig

Myself Bradley Claase and Trish Eksteen teamed up to compete in the Mixed pro teams the next day, it was a much muddier and slippery affair as there have been 7000 people threw that course and it has been raining for most of that night as well. #Chaos. The downs were more of a slide than a run.

The course was broken up into 3 segments. Speed, a 5km running route, then strength, which was the carry obstacles and finally technique which was the obstacle specialist,
We made the choice of putting myself on the run, Brad on the carry and then Trish on the obstacles.
and… took home the 3rd place spot for the day.

This was a super bonus for me, as I had the option of racing in age group so that I would be able to get on to the podium at world champs. So racing Elite, and still having a podium in the team event was just a very super turn out. Again, so blessed. #GraceToGOD

This was definitely one of the highlight events of the year, I think they had a much better balance of running and obstacles this year than the previous years. Would like to see a similar course next year. #JustSaying;)

As always Adrian Bijanada, Rachelanne Gladden and everyone on the OCRWC team made this an unforgettable event. Already looking forward to next year… #WeAreOCR #OCRUnite

Huge shout out to all the SA OCR peeps that raced their hearts out this weekend. Proud to be part of this OCR family.

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