Surviving the Holidays with Non-OCR Family

Gruesome Injury

For many people, holidays are a joyous time of celebration with a loving, functional family. For those of us who don’t live on television, however, holidays are a time when any kind of unusual stimulus can trigger a round of, ahem, uniquely familial behavior. Wonderful as OCR may be, it’s also strange enough to be deeply triggering.

So for those who endure holidays with family with their teeth clenched so tight they could use them to cross the Platinum Rig, we offer this guide to make dealing with your relatives a bit easier.

SITUATION 1: Your mother is worried. Climbing, jumping, crawling, and running through the woods sound dangerous. Especially since she went online and found that twelve thousand people have gotten Ebola from mud. So you need to find something safer. (It’s only because she cares so much about you.)Mud Puddle or Lurking Horror?Strategy: Point out how dangerous seemingly innocuous activities can be. Use the tale of Jeff Dailey: Back in 1981, the 19-year-old set a high score in the video game Berzerk, entered his initials, and promptly died of a heart attack. Your caring mother doesn’t want that to happen to you, does she? (OK, the Dailey story’s probably not true, but don’t worry—judging the accuracy of a shocking story online isn’t your mother’s strong suit.)

SITUATION 2: Your father growls that it’s stupid to go gallivanting through the forest like some rainbow-flavored pixie when you could be doing something practical, like digging holes or plumbing.Princess Crystal Ivy SapphireStrategy: There’s no changing someone’s mind once he’s broken out the G word, so you might as well have fun making him even angrier. Explain that you’d love to both dig and plumb, but that Princess Crystal Ivy Sapphire has a real temper and she’ll beat you senseless with her magical spirit wand if you miss any more pixie meetings.

SITUATION 3: Your sister scoffs at hearing about the bruises, scratches, and general soreness from your most recent race. There’s no way it could be that hard if you can manage it. And after all, she ran most of that 5K that one time.
Gruesome InjuryStrategy: The obvious solution is to invite her to back up her words at the next race. But in the meantime, have some fun by working phrases like “rope burn,” “jagged teeth,” “embedded splinter,” “gluteal laceration,” “miracle whip,” or “inflamed coccyx” into your conversations at increasingly regular intervals. She should back off, stammering, before you’ve finished your pumpkin pie.

SITUATION 4: Your brother is appalled and recoils in disgust whenever you mention the mud, fire, ice, electricity, communal showers, or off-brand beer.
Moldy Petri DishStrategy: You could just say you don’t mind the mud and move on. But if you want to have some fun at your brother’s expense, point out that the FDA allows cranberry sauce to be 15% mold and enjoy the miscellaneous colors his face turns. (If you want him to eventually be able to eat again, you could let him know what that actually means. Your call.

SITUATION 5: Your oversupportive aunt absolutely loves that you’re doing obstacle course races. She’s so inspired by what you’re doing and its potential to, as she says, “heal the earth.” In fact, the committee of deities from the mish-mash of pantheons that serve as her personal spirit guides have appointed her to spontaneously compose a song in your honor. On her lute.Artemisia Gentileschi as a lute playerStrategy: Accept her accolades graciously for as long as you can. Once that point is reached—probably around the second verse of attempted but failed Tuvan throat singing—join in but steer the tune to something short, preferably by the Ramones. When that’s done, distract her with the miracle of snow or a flashing light or something shiny.

SITUATION 6: Your drunk uncle responds to your OCR stories loudly, incoherently, and with gestures so wild they threaten to send him hurtling through the front window.
The world's biggest Dixie CupThe solution: Too easy – just mention that most races give a free beer to finishers and watch his eyes perk up, momentarily, before going glassy and crossed again. (Your uncle didn’t notice that we’ve already made fun of OCR beer in this article. He’s drunk. Maybe you should get him some help for that, actually.)

One final note: None of these strategies will actually work; our family’s responses to obstacle course racing have nothing to do with OCR and everything to do with the fundamental nature of relationships that have been built over the decades. So the real strategy is to ignore everything they say and work on building converts at the kiddie table. Maybe even put together an impromptu post-turkey course in the backyard. You may not be able to convince your parents, but it’s always a good time to build a better future.

Greg Landgraf

Greg Landgraf is a Chicago writer who posts funny stuff about OCR, occasionally thoughtful stuff about OCR, and bloggish navel-gazing at

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