Foreword: It says alot about Matt B. Davis, and our entire ORM team, to support my inclusion in this media company. My writing can downright make OCR enthusiasts uncomfortable, and even angry at times; yet, Matt and team ORM support me because what I talk about is real. It’s real stuff, really happening, and that we all see, in a sport we all know and love. It doesn’t always create feelings of sunshine and kittens, but ORM understands the importance and value of artistic freedom, rather than buckling under the pressure of just wanting to be liked among our community peers.
Love it or hate it, our unique content is what separates us from the handfuls of promo-code pimps, and I’ll champion for artistic freedom over popularity, any day of the week.
Lack of Athletic Integrity
Awhile back, I wrote an article about cheating in obstacle races, and more specifically, the huge number of participants not performing their burpee penalties when failing an obstacle during a Spartan Race.
“Oh, I’m sorry, you’re under-trained and 20 lbs overweight? by all means, skip the penalty, here’s your participation token for a job almost well done.”
“And by the way, see that dude with one leg, a ruck sack, and full fatigues? Sucks for him, too, but he did it.”
Do the Task or Stay Home
Now, recently, we’ve all seen the image floating around Facebook of the dude I like to affectionately refer to as, “Gravel Guy” – the dude who empties his bucket in what appears to an effort to make the challenge easier.
And once again, this topic of participation integrity comes up in the social sphere, and also once again, I have some very strong opinions on this topic; HOWEVER, I most want to address some of our community’s response to the post.
I am proud to call Margaret Schlachter, of the popular OCR blog community, Dirt in your Skirt, a friend; and, I believe it may have been her that posted the image first. She made no judgement at the time, just linked to the image, and simply said, “And go…”
And people did.
However, what struck me the most was the OCR community’s response to such actions. First, one must assume, as did almost all the respondents, that the participant did this in an effort to make the task easier, and thus cheat. Making this same assumption, I would like to randomly address some of the comments that resulted from the image.
“I always say its your race worry about your actions.”
Or another, “Why does it even matter? It’s his race. You’re not running to beat him. You don’t know his story or struggles. “
It’s not your race. It’s not my race. The race has a race owner, director, and the format has very specific, written rules, regarding participant conduct. I believe this comment to be indicative of the “I paid my entry fee, I can do whatever I want” culture. It has no place in OCR, nor sport at all.
His story and struggles are again not relevant. The rules of sport and participation do not change based on your personal circumstances, interpretations or whims of the moment.
“unless in competitive wave, the experience is personal”
What??? So, if someone doesn’t pay the extra money for the first wave, they are not competitive? How exactly do we define who is competitive and who is not? See above. The experience might be personal to you, but its not your race to do whatever you want.
“No one here can judge him.”
From a sporting perspective, he absolutely can be judged. For an athlete to be disqualified in legitimate sport, there is first a case made for the infraction, both sides share their perspective, and a “judge” decides whether or not the athlete will be disqualified or penalized. If I see a photo of a participant cheating an obstacle, I feel perfectly justified to judge that action as such.
He might be as sweet as a pecan sandy, as a person, but he’s cheating an obstacle in athletic competition.
“You people need to find something better to do with your time! Be supportive, not rude!”
Seriously? Be supportive of what exactly? cheating? taking a shortcut? displaying poor athletic integrity?
I get it. There are some topics that fire people up, and some that just don’t have that same effect. But as someone who believes strongly in athletic integrity, I’m glad some of us are taking the time to share the perspective that cheating, and tolerance of such, puts a black eye in the game for everyone.
“This post could be very embarrassing for them and they might not come back into the game.”
So what? Then dude shouldn’t have emptied his bucket in front of official photographers. Hopefully, the lesson learned for dude was not to cheat. If he wants to continue to cheat, then I hope he, they, whoever, don’t come back.
In trail racing, if you are caught cutting the course, you will be DQ’d. Plain and simple.
If you purposely dump your bucket in a Spartan Race, thus “course cutting” your obstacle challenge by choice, you should be DQ’d.
A Simple Concept.
It makes me crazy that this is such a difficult concept for some in our community to grasp, and especially when you consider the roots of OCR, and the strong influence of police, fire and military conduct.
Do the task or stay home.
Can’t do the task? Do your burpees. Take your lumps. Go home, learn the task, and come back to fight another day.
It’s that simple.
That’s not just a lesson in OCR, that’s the basic premise of living a successful life.
Cheating is universally unacceptable in sport.
OCR should be no different.
No, I’m not a mud runner. I am an obstacle racer.
Yes, it matters; and yes, there is a difference.
I love the sport, love racing and love being part of this fast-growing community we call obstacle course racing, but I can’t help but pick out everyday examples that I find odd, inconsistent or contrary to the true vibe of the sport of OCR, as I see it.
Cranky Bastard articles are full of arrogance, elitest, prima donna attitude, but hopefully, plenty of points to make those in our community think, and perhaps drive change where change is needed.