I was recently asked why do I race? Why-do-I-race…I had never really thought of MY WHY. Surely I must have a why. I’ve seen other people talk about their why, and they always have some powerful story behind their why. I never felt there was a defining moment or reason why I race – I just have always really enjoyed it. But, when confronted with the question, and forced to think about it, I realized I am actually full of whys.
I race for me, I race for my health, I race to stay young, I race for my friends, I race for my team, I race for those who can’t race for themselves, I race for fun, I race to compete, I race to become a better version of myself, I race to live…and sometimes, I race for the medal and the free beer!
For me. I wasn’t always the healthiest of people, but from the first OCR I did, I was absolutely hooked. I wanted to race as much as I could, and that is exactly what I did and continue to do. I work hard to train for my races, and that has kept me healthy. Where I used to look at my age and think I was getting old, I now see it as just a number. I can say with all honesty that playing in the mud just about every weekend has kept me young.
For my friends and team. The advantage to being part of several different race teams is that we have a very large support system for each other. We come together when someone is in need. Sometimes that is out on the course, and sometimes that is in spirit. I have been part of many “guardian” heats to help people through a course. It is one of the most amazing, life-bonding experiences to spend up to 9+ hours on a course with someone that refuses to give up and gives everything in them to complete a race they weren’t sure they could do. When you leave the course, you are no longer just acquaintances or friends, you become family.
For those who can’t race for themselves. I have raced for people who are struggling to get through something and can’t be out on the course with us, I have raced for people that are no longer with us, and I have raced for people I have never met to help honor them. The OCR community really comes together in time of need, and we may not all know each other outside of social media, but we always come together to support each other.
For fun and to compete. There are times when I want to push myself, see what I can do when I really try and push my own personal limits. I have worked hard to accomplish certain goals I set for myself in the world of OCR. I have qualified and raced at Worlds, I have taken top age group awards and I have stepped on the podium for a few overall female awards. I am very proud of these achievements, but to be honest, there are not as many memories associated with these victories. The memories that stand out to me are spending 8 hours on a cold, rainy Spartan Beast course with a woman who was doing her last OCR and retiring, the memories of going out on a hot Fort Knox course with a legally blind teammate and his service dog Thor, and the memory of doing a second “fun” lap this year with a guy who struggled to finish one lap the year before.
Every race seems to have a different why for me, and sometimes, I may not even realize the why until after it is over. They are all unique, they inspire me and motivate me to keep going and keep living every single moment to its fullest… And, at the end of the day, I certainly do enjoy that medal and post-race free beer.