The Urban OCR Racer’s Lament

Let me start out this post by saying that I kind of regret it in advance. It’s a complaint, and complaining is often a way to avoid doing what ought to be done.*

On the other hand, the one thing I’ve learned from my mother’s Christmas/Tea Party recruitment letters (yes, the two are the same thing) is how important it is to always present oneself as a member of the most cruelly victimized group in all of society’s history. So while there are many wonderful things about living in a large city, let me instead offer my OCR-related complaints.

Because there are many unique challenges that urban OCR racers face that our rural brothers and sisters never do:

  1. Obstacle training. Based on what the internet tells me, everyone who lives outside of major cities has replicas of OCR obstacles in their backyards, and parks, and schools, and street corners, and local libraries. But Chicago doesn’t do that. And I can’t build obstacles in my backyard, since I live in an apartment and don’t have one. How do you train on obstacles you can’t touch? You can’t just go up to Evanston and try to scale the concrete fences surrounding all of the rich people’s estates—they have large, nasty dogs. The spear throw is particularly vexing. Have you ever tried practicing throwing a spear in a crowded Chicago park? That’s especially frowned upon, unless it’s frequented by families where the parents don’t particularly like their kids.
  2. Trail running. How do you practice running on muddy, irregular forest paths in a world of perpetual pavement?
    Ice skating ribbon at Maggie Daley Park

    It’s so ribbony… and yet with a smack of ice.

    Every place that I could possibly run has friction of some sort, which hasn’t yet happened in one of the outdoor OCRs I’ve done. I suppose maybe I could break into a skating rink and try running there. And there is a new outdoor one downtown, but it’s primarily open in the winter.

  3. Hill running. I live about 18 miles from the nearest hill, so it’s pretty tough to practice my hill sprints. (Okay, so maybe this isn’t strictly an urban vs. rural issue, but self-centeredness is awesome for the internet, so I’m going to go with it and say that every city is pancake-flat.)
  4. Race access. Nearly all OCRs are in rural areas, at least an hour outside of a major city. While all rural areas are within twelve feet of each other (right? I think that’s how geography works) it takes a hugely long time for people to drive from the city to the rural. Moreover: while it may be surprising to many folks, I don’t own a car. For many situations in Chicago, a car is a stupid and unnecessary expense—but that means that I need to rent one to get to most races. And while you shouldn’t get the supplemental insurance normally, when you don’t have car insurance already, how are you supposed to handle that? I’m pretty sure I’m getting screwed.

And despite all of this, I keep on working… because I’m amazing, and a hero, and the single force holding back evil in the world.

* While many memes like to say that complaining is always a waste of time, I think those are downright evil—and I’m not using that term lightly. In my own life, there have been a surprising number of times in my life when people have justified doing really crappy things to me by my lack of complaining. And obviously, there are far more serious things—assault-like crimes or abuse or such—where complaining really really loudly to anyone who will listen is a thoroughly justified response (perhaps supplemented by a rather hard punch or stab to the perpetrator’s genitals, although that gets complicated as well). While it’s not internet-friendly, I believe in appropriate complaining.


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Filed under Funny, Obstacle Course Racing

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