Everything is shut down. All your favorite places. All your favorite races. All of it, shut down. We all hoped it would be a hiccup to the race season and that maybe we only miss a month’s worth of races, and only one major Spartan Race USNS series race. But we’re past that now. We can’t control it anymore. The United States is officially leading the world in confirmed cases and growing exponentially every day. All types of race series are postponing or cancelling events and we are even seeing events in June being affected by this pandemic. Just last week, the famed ultra-running race ‘Western States’ cancelled their race slated to be held at the tail end of June. The Olympics just postponed to 2021. This doesn’t bode well for the OCR scene. Where once we hoped that at most the Seattle leg of the Spartan Race USNS race would be out of play we may now see either a highly shortened pro race series, if it continues at all. Spartan Race has also postponed races in the month of May and may very well be announcing more postponements in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, on the home front, the majority of us are sheltered in place left with a lot of issues to deal with. This global pandemic is taking a toll on every aspect of our lives: Financial, emotional, mental and physical. Frankly, it’s overwhelming. I’ve found myself on the brinks of many a breakdown. Even though it may be tough to see, I think through all the gloom I think there are many silver linings and, for the most part, it can all be boiled down to a single concept: Community.
All throughout the OCR, endurance, and fitness worlds we see that one of the biggest driving forces that makes these things special to us is the community, which makes this “Hey, stay away from each other!” thing so hard on a lot of us.
The amazing thing about people is that they are adaptable and even we are presented with this global obstacle we have found multiple ways to continue being as normal as we can be during this time. In just about every Facebook group you look you’re bound to stumble upon a Zoom, Skype, WhatsApp, Facetime, Teams and every other video conferencing app meeting set up by community members to keep in touch with those they would normally see at races across the country. I’ve taken part in a lot of virtual meetups over the past few weeks and I see them function almost as group therapy sessions. We get together at certain times to see friendly faces, talk about how we are dealing (or talk about anything else besides cornonavirus because it can all be very overwhelming) and we even sometimes workout with each other. These virtual meetups have helped me cope with being sheltered in place and I know that many of us in our daily chat see it the same way.
The OCR Discord group functions in the same way, minus the video interaction. (Shout out to the DISCORD!) We’ll have discussions throughout the day on all sorts of topics including training, nutrition and whether or not Carole Baskin fed her second husband to the tigers. It’s keeping that community lively that drives us away from stir craziness.
Even Spartan Race has seen that keeping the community together while we have to keep apart is important and the even have their own Zoom meeting that runs 24 hours a day where anyone is welcome to join, chat and partake in regularly run workouts throughout the day and night. Sometimes though, it isn’t just about talking with each other; It’s also about training and competing any way we can, to keep things as normal as we can. Spartan Race has launched the ‘Be Unbreakable’ fitness series where weekly challenges will be posted so we can keep some sort of friendly competition going. Savage Race has their own at home workout series called ‘Savage Anywhere’, where you complete workout challenges to earn the medal and shirt you would have earned come race day. Bonefrog is also running their own virtual challenge with similar prizes as Savage Anywhere. It’s not just OCR that sees the importance of community.
Looking at the Crossfit world you see many gyms starting WhatsApp groups, Zoom at Home workouts, and even many gyms lending out their own gym equipment to keep their community happy and able to continue exercising.
I want to end this with this: It’s tough to see the light at the end of the tunnel when right now it’s a faint light in the distance, and we can’t tell if were getting closer or farther away. But you need to focus on that light because when we come out of this the other side… It’s going to be pretty f**kin’ awesome. I think when all is said and done, it will be like Christmas day every day for a long time. Just think about it… Right now, we can’t enjoy all the luxuries we’ve become so accustomed to in our daily lives. We don’t have our OCRs, our gyms, and in even some cases out trails! Besides your health and safety (which thanks to the million emails over the past month we know is number 1), most people just go through life taking it all for granted. And now? It’s all been snatched from us. We can’t compete. We can’t interact in person. We can’t go to our favorite places, gyms, etc. We can’t go about life in a normal way.
But when it’s all over, you’ll have it all back. You’ll have your gym, your real-life hangouts, your friends (even the irritating ones), your vacations and race-cations all back! And everything is going feel like the first time you did it all. And my hope is people don’t take it for granted when it comes back around. For OCR, my hope is every race is filled to capacity (Not only for the community’s sake, but financially so we continue to see the sport grow). Every wave is filled with people actually EXCITED at the prospect of doing burpees, even though I hope you’re taking this extended off season to work your grip strength, in the cold and wet conditions. My hope is that the excitement level is through the roof at every race in the shortened season. My hope is that people come back to the start line stronger both physically and mentally. My hope is that we continue to build our community as we have done in this pandemic to strengthen one another.
I see that happening now all over the internet, and I hope it continues when I see you at the start line.