A rainy, cold, and muddy day normally keeps people inside their warm cozy houses, but over 300 athletes instead headed to Waldo on Saturday to take on an obstacle course in the cold muck.
The Obstacle Course Race Overload event course consisted of over 30 obstacles, including hurdles, low jump, rope climb, death crawl, monkey bars, and more. A nonprofit organization, More Heart Than Scars, sponsored the event.
“We do these obstacle courses as a stepping stone for people not only with physical disabilities but with mental disabilities,” said Aaron Franck, who was in charge of putting together the event. “Obstacle course racing allows people to be challenged. It allows them the opportunity to not only be challenged but to also have the resource of family.”
The obstacle course featured multiple races throughout the day. This included the Women’s Elite and the Men’s elite. These were the main races that were timed and were competitive races. The men and women had to complete all obstacles in order to have any points awarded to the Florida Championship Series between Hildervat OCR, Swamp Battle OCR, and OCR Overload. The other race was an open wave race where anyone could race and skip obstacles that they did not want to do. However, some participants in the Elite races were not able to complete the course due to the weather.
“I just could not finish because I’m just cold, shaking and absolutely freezing,” Ashley Samples, 35, said.
One of the last obstacles proved to be the most challenging for Samples and other participants in the elite races. The obstacle was a steel rig setup, akin to gigantic monkey bars, that once the athlete completed, advanced on to a “ninja wall.” The problem that most athletes faced was their bodies tightening and locking into place due to the rain and cold temperatures. That caused them to slip off the bars and fall onto the cold wet mud below them.
Still, those who competed on any part of the course showed courage and strength in the face of the elements and after a year when competitive events largely disappeared.
“People have been gone from obstacle course racing for so long due to COVID, so this was a very welcome event, “said Desiree Rincon, one of the participants who became a volunteer for the event. “People really wanted to get back into the mud and get as much racing as possible to make up for last year.”
Rincon was one of many participants who traveled from outside Waldo to come to the event. Some participants were from as far away as Tampa, Orlando, Puerto Rico, Indianapolis, or Canada.
Participants from the More Hearts Than Scars organization proved among the most inspiring; they have faced many challenges in their lives such as domestic abuse, PTSD, war, depression, addictions, and other battles. Saturday’s challenges were designed for participants to help each other out.
“We are in the business of saving lives,” said Joey McGlamory, president of the Georgia chapter of More Heart Than Scars. “Our obstacle course races are meant to empower our athletes that come out and feel as if they’re a part of something….from the start line to the finish line, it’s a great way for them to get back out into the real world.”