ORM presents the series of stories on OCR Transformations. Runners and athletes whose mind body, and spirit have been altered through obstacle racing.
Colin grew up in a tiny village of about 500 people in a remote part of New Zealand. His house was nestled at the base of the hills and was surrounded by bush. On the hilltops where it plateaued out, the ground was all swampland. Colin and his friends would spend every hour they could hiking through the shrub, into the hills and onto the swampland to collect sphagnum moss (which was used to put in flower arrangements in the mid 1970’s). Each of them would take two coal bags at a time and fill them. Then they would carry them back down to the shed at Colin’s home where they would then clean the moss. The round trip was probably about 5-6km and each filled bag of wet moss weighed about 30kg. At seven years old, that was almost their entire body weight.
From the age of four, Colin played Rugby every weekend. He spent most of his youth as a very active kid which resulted in him being pretty slim while growing up. Colin has a ton of great memories spending time sleeping out in the bush, out on riverbanks, tubing down rivers, and doing fun community events. In school, Colin’s focus was to be either a geologist or an astronomer.
When Colin was 12, his parents split and he moved to the city. The city was the complete opposite of what he had known his life thus far. Suddenly, there were three people living in a tiny one-bedroom apartment surrounded by more apartments and lots of concrete. Without the close support of the community, Colin withdrew from life and really hid within himself. Colin’s grades started to drop at school and he was finding it difficult to make friends. Also, without sports to keep him motivated and involved…he started to drift.
When Colin was thirteen he had enough of city living and he wanted to go to the home he had known for years. Colin hopped on his bike and started pedaling. He remembers that there was a mountain range that divided the South Island of New Zealand and the city where he was from was on the other side. All Colin knew was that he needed to reach his home. After about three hours of cycling and realizing that the mountains kept getting taller and taller…he finally stopped and turned back around. Colin remembers this day as the day he became a quitter. On this day, he started giving up on overcoming obstacles in order to reach his goals.
OUT OF SIGHT
At the age of 23, Colin got on a plane and ended even farther from his goal of getting back home. Now half way around the world, he would find work through manual labor while traveling. At the end of each week he would relax by getting drunk and needless to say his health and fitness deteriorated over the next ten years.
In 2005, Colin moved back to New Zealand and after a mental decline…he was hospitalized for three weeks with severe stress and anxiety. “Is this me? How long am I going to be here staring at a wall?” thought Colin. One day, Colin left the hospital…better, but on prescription medication which he would continue to be on for the next decade. He enrolled in classes to help deal with anxiety and stress such as yoga, nature walks, etc… in an attempt to enjoy his life more. Colin struggled through the next seven years in a daze.
Taking medication every day for ten years took a toll on his body. He gained 30kg and at 5’10, being 100kg was hard for Colin (he was used to being 70kg soaking wet). Most of his weight gain occurred within the first two years and it felt impossible to make a change.
In 2009, Colin moved from New Zealand to Australia and he was lucky enough to live opposite of one of the most famous beaches—Bondi Beach. Unfortunately, there were days when Colin could barely muster up the energy for a swim. Side effects of his mood enhancers and thyroid medication caused him to live in a “zombie” state of mind. Even getting through the day was a constant battle for Colin.
In 2012, Colin had enough of the chemical therapy. He told his wife, “I’m going to be off this stuff within two years”. His wife was concerned for him to remove the medication from his program, but after overcoming his stress and anxiety trough programs and meditation…he knew that now was the time to transform him physically.
Things fell apart once again for Colin in 2013. After embarking on a failed business venture, his emotional and financial health was tested. This test of his strength helped guide Colin down the path he needed to follow all along. He went back to school and studied to be a Personal Trainer.
A week after graduating, Colin was looking for PT work in the local magazines. The first ad he saw read “blah blah blah…please send a photo as I don’t want to be trained by anyone fatter than me”. At this point, Colin knew he wasn’t going to get any clients without making a change. This is the point when Colin decided to be his own client.
COMMITTING TO THE CHANGE
When he began his fitness journey, Colin weighed a little over 90kg and had 23.5% body fat and he could barely run 400 meters. Almost a year later, he dropped about 12kg and felt much better about his overall physical and mental health. Another wrench was thrown into his plans when they had to leave Australia and go to North America. His Visa didn’t allow him to find proper work so he had to find another avenue to keep himself busy. With some research, Colin found Obstacle Racing.
Mud Mulisha was hosting a series of three races in his area at the time…so he signed up for all three. As added motivation, Colin signed up for the elite races with the simple hope of finishing. Before he knew it, he was throwing himself under logs and through mud! Within 100 meters he was hooked. This was the first time that Colin had participated in a sport as an individual and he managed to cross the finish line in 4th place!
Colin’s new renewed sense of achievement allowed him to unlock his internal ability to train for his next race. He focused on motivation and how the top athletes trained for the sport. Within a few weeks, Colin had completely changed his training routine.
The second part of the race series ended up being cancelled due to a forest fire, so this gave Colin plenty of extra time to train in between his next event. He bought ropes, built climbing walls, made sand pits for hand strengthen, anything he could build he did it.
Through the physical challenges that obstacle racing brought…Colin realized that it was also helping overcome all of the stress, anxiety, and childhood memories he had been fighting so hard against for years. Obstacle racing truly taught him how to overcome life’s obstacles and how to grow from challenges presented to him.
Colin was seeing life in a new way. Rope climbing was now his way to climb out of the physical numbness he was left with after years of medication. The barbed wire crawl taught him that sometimes you have to crawl through your pain to get to your goal.
For the next race, Colin wanted to be standing on the podium. The race was fast and he wasn’t prepared for the adrenaline rush and nearly drowned at the take-off across the water obstacle at the starting point. He also wore the wrong shoes that day which made it nearly impossible to run in. While running through the woods…Colin kept stumbling on tree roots, slipped on all of the mud, and couldn’t get a grip on his breathing. He just kept reminding himself to have fun and everything will fall into place.
On that day, Colin crossed the finish line in 3rd place. The warm welcome at the finish line reminded Colin that he did not have to go out of his way to get recognized in life. Obstacle racing taught Colin that enjoying life was enough and that the people on the OCR community just enjoy seeing people do what they love!
Colin had another mental transformation at the Spartan Beast in Sun Peaks 2015. He went there to qualify for the OCR World Championships, but a string of nerves overtook him at the starting line. He remembers seeing the mountain that they were meant to run and he hid away in the back of the elite starting wave just in case he decided to chicken out at the last minute. He remembers that everyone took off at the start while he was still fidgeting with GPS and by the time he walked across the start line…the rest of the pack was out of sight. All Colin could do at this point was run and run hard and that is exactly what he did…finishing third in his age group.
With the support of his family, Colin has been able to turn his health around in eighteen months. He has committed himself to proper training and has made it his full responsibility to be mentally and physically fit for his family. All of his hard work and transformation helped him build a joint business, The Fitness Doctor and Warrior Fitness. Colin wants people to realize that setting physical goals and reaching them can also help you find your peace of mind. “OCR is an awesome way to be active, test your-self, and have fun”, says Colin.
CURRENT TRAINING PLAN
Colin is currently preparing for this year’s OCR World Championships. He has already registered for both short and long courses in the elite masters heats with a six day a week training plan. When Colin first landed in New Zealand again in 2005 he weighed 160 pounds (73kg). Within two years of taking his medication, Colin reached nearly 220 pounds (100kg). In July of 2014, after graduating as a personal trainer, he was able to get down to about 198 pounds and by the time of his first OCR in 2015 he weighed in at 174 pounds (79kg). Currently, Colin weighs in at 163 pounds (74kg) with about a 14% body fat index. Most importantly…his mental health has been renewed through his transformation process.
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