Let’s Have a Cool Cheating Scandal

There should be a good cheating scandal in OCR.

There’s historical precedent—stealing was A-OK for the ancient from-Sparta Spartans, as long as you didn’t get caught.

Although, to be honest, I’m not really interested in the kind of cheating where you don’t get caught. Sure, there’s skipping burpees, or taking shortcuts, or (very possibly) performance enhancing drugs, which would be effective and probably pretty easy to get away with, but they’re lame. If that’s the kind of cheating you want, you could find in plain old running—think Fred Lorz at the 1904 Olympics, who drove 11 of the miles, or Ben Johnson, who showed America that Canada was better than we were, and then showed us we were better after all, although it’s feasible that everyone was cheating* which, surprisingly, means that we can all live together happily and recognize each other’s strengths and weaknesses and appreciate each other for the most excellent people we are.

Ben Johnson and Cheetah energy drink

It ended OK. Now Ben Johnson endorses Cheetah energy drinks. This is true. (At least, Wikipedia true.)

No, I’m inspired by Femke Van den Driessche, the Belgian cyclist who hid a motor in her bike frame.  It’s probably unfair to single her out—she’s probably not the only one, and given the quite famous prevalence of doping in the sport, it’s entirely possible that I’m the best non-cheating bicyclist in the world. But that’s not really the point. The point is that there’s some audacity and creativity and gumption involved in Van den Driessche’s cheating that, while maybe not admirable, could conceivably make a good heist movie. Or whatever the sports cheating movie equivalent of a heist movie is.

What are some cheats that the OCR world could aspire to?

We could take a page from Rosie Ruiz. She “won” the Boston Marathon, by cutting the course, in 1980. But lame course-cutting is not the inspiration we should take. To qualify for the Boston Marathon, she used a subway ride in the New York Marathon to get a qualifying time. The kind of inspiring cheating I’m talking about involves clandestinely and cost-effectively building a functioning subway system under the rural woods where races take place, and secretly slipping in and out of it during the race. Maybe during water crossings.

Among the elites, a bit of chemical incapacitation of your opponents would be easy, effective, and Batman-esque (retro Adam West-style Batman, not grumbly Christian Bale) with a bit of knockout gas. I suspect it would even be pretty easy to sneak it onto the course. Camelbaks and other devices to carry water on your back could probably be modified to hold the gas, and I have to assume it would be fairly easy to develop a way to puncture it at an opportune time.

Batman screen capture

Or you could just get a sidekick with a farting problem.

Another easy competition cheat: Change the memory wall. Just bring a yellow marker, turn Cs into Os, Ds into Bs, 1s into 4s, and 3s into 8s. The downside, of course, is that sometimes the memory wall is just a decoy obstacle, so your efforts may be a waste of time. Also, it only hurts people who are behind you, who you really don’t need to hurt, so it’s not all that valuable, unless you’re an elite who just wants to be a dick to all the open runners. But still, it shows a bit of creativity, or at least a bit of chaos.

A jet pack would help immensely on walls and it would be a suitable culmination to decades of mad scientist research. The downside is, it would be bulky and there’s a decent chance that it would kill you. Also, don’t wear jet pants, even if you really enjoyed Arrested Development. Urban Dictionary says it’s not remotely acceptable.

Springy shoes, or maybe crampons in your shoes might be a lower-tech, less-lethal, still-likely-to-snap-off-in-the-middle-of-a-race alternative. But we’re getting away from my stated audaciousness goal here. So instead, how about…

A trained falcon to carry the spear from your hand to the target. The only problem I see is that this may technically not be cheating. If you successfully train a falcon to not only carry your spear with enough force and precision to thrust it into a haybale, but also to show up at the spear throw obstacle at the same time that you arrive, you probably deserve to skip the burpees.


Majestic, no? I’m not sure if it would carry the spear in its claws or on its back; claws are obvious but then it would hold the weapon sideways, so… By Omar Runolfsson, Flickr: Gyr Falcon – Falco rusticolus – Falki, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16084158

What about the traverse wall, rope climb, and other obstacles that you finish by ringing a cowbell? Easy. Get a pair of gloves, bury a strong electromagnet in them, and ring the bell from a distance. It may also fry nearby pacemakers or Garmins, so maybe that’s not ideal. Of course, if you’re actually contemplating this, you’re probably not thinking about the impact of your actions on other people.**

What about those grip-strength obstacles that always happen after mud pits? Well, as a child of the 80s, I’ve got an easy way to solve those. Go Go Gadget Arms! Or, if you insist on realistic options, maybe just some metal claws that attach to the wrist so you don’t need to grip at all. (And as an aside, remember how great it was when Inspector Gadget was high art when I was in second grade? Sometimes it sucks having standards.)

Inspector Gadget movie still

It is, however, nice when standards prevent you from seeing crappy live-action movies of quasi-beloved cartoons.

And one final option that my 20-year-old minor in chemistry*** tells me is absolutely positively possible. Just coat yourself with some extraordinarily hydrophobic substance. If it’s strong enough, the water, mud, and muck on the course will magically part as you approach, making running faster and ending the phenomenon of lost time due to having shoes sucked into and eaten by the earth. This is another one that may technically not be cheating, even though crossing the finish line completely clean may raise suspicion. I guess it may also not be possible, but still, science is cool. And that’s what we’re going for here. I want cheating that inspires, not cheating that works. Cheating that works is lame.

* PEDs are an issue that I’m completely incompetent to discuss in an actual way. I grew up in the Nancy Reagan Just Say No War on Drugs era, so I’ve got a deeply built-in aversion to any use of the term “drug,” even though I’m fully aware of how absurd and devastating drug policy over the past few decades has been. I hope there’s a grown-up discussion that can be had, but I’m not capable of it.

** In case you didn’t notice, this post is a joke. Don’t actually cheat, asshole.

***Actually, not technically a minor—my college was very insistent upon that—but it would take a long time to explain all the intricacies, and then I’d have to kill you, and calling it a minor gives you the information you need, so let’s go with it.


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Filed under Funny, Obstacle Course Racing

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