Exceeding their own expectations

Terri Schwulst and Megan Armstrong felt more than a little bit intimidated as they stood on the sideline at Warrior’s Blythedale race last month, watching the Commando Elite athletes putting themselves through their paces.

Because the following day, they’d be facing those obstacles.

These two Obstacle Course Racing newbies, and cousins, are based in East London, and admitted more than a few butterflies scattered around their stomachs as they made their way to the KZN coastline.

Since April, these good friends have had one common goal – to push their bodies, push their limits, and compete in an OCR event.

They’ve been familiar faces at SA OCR’s Eastern Cape Regional Representative Jaime Griffith’s MAD Fitness Studio for a while, and since April have had Warrior Blythedale locked in their minds.

“Watching the championships on Saturday, the nerves kicked in big time and we both thought of dropping down to Rookie, because – what were we thinking!!! The whole thing just looked too intimidating and we felt we hadn’t trained enough or had enough upper body strength to get ourselves through it all. However we stuck to our original plan of doing Commando, and we are so pleased we did,” said Terri.

Megan agreed, describing her pre race nerves as “out of this world,” having family there for support, as well as Jaime and fellow OCR friend Charisse Coetzee was massive, and yes, they exceeded their expectations.

“The first time I had ever jumped off something was at Warrior, I’m petrified of heights!”

The mental challenge of OCR was as much of a part of the race as the physical side.

“You have to believe in yourself and have faith in your abilities and know that you absolutely can DO IT! Once I jumped off the highest level of the Tower of Rage – I felt what it is like to feel like a true Warrior,” said Terri.

They’re both busy ladies, juggling work and family, and Megan said this added to the satisfaction of completing such a challenge.

“I’m constantly busy and have other obstacles to get through in my daily life, but with the support from my husband, he makes it that much easier for me to follow this sport which is growing into a passion.”

Despite the nerves and initial self doubt, there wasn’t much they didn’t love about race day.

“I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. Blythedale was an amazing venue. The run was stunning.. Perhaps I can say what I didn’t enjoy was the weather…!” said Terri.

Both of these new OCR recruits agreed none of this would be possible without Jaime’s support; her patience, expertise, and what she has to offer so many athletes from marathon runners to body builders.

“Jaime’s biggest asset to the sport and the participants is her dedication to them. She makes them feel confident and at ease, consistently reminding them to take deep breaths to slow their heart rate down (the adrenaline spikes before your first race) and with very single rookie she is bringing through the ranks, she was there for their first race,” said Charisse.

Jaime said to have watched Terri and Megan exceed their own expectations, face their fears and defy all limitations, was an “indescribable feeling” for her.

Jaime gets as much out of helping and watching others, as she does in competing herself.

“I can only hope that by their examples, that other ‘normal’ women can take that next step, and believe in themselves, become empowered, and strive to be more.”

Megan feels they have achieved this.

“Through Terri and myself plucking up the courage to compete in Warrior, we have encouraged other ladies in Jaime’s MAD Fitness Studio to start OCR training,” she said, adding they would love to see more advertising and recognition out there for people starting in the sport.

“This will mean there is no misconception about a person having to look a certain way, be a certain age or fitness to compete.”

With all this enthusiasm and great ideas, could the next SA OCR champ be from East London?!

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