Only in one stretch of this race, do runners have the advantage. Another part of the race belongs to those with strong arms and a strong grip. In the third part, having good core strength might give you the edge. When professional Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) athlete Ashwin Ramdas describes his sport, he gives the impression that there isn’t much one can do to guarantee victory, and therein lies its appeal.
“There is always a surprise element to OCR,” he says. That is what sets this racing format apart from something like a triathlon, which, although gruelling, allows for set expectations and a set training regimen — swim, cycle, race. In OCR, explains Ashwin, you might have to carry weights in one race, climb up a hill in another, crawl under nets in a third. “You never know what obstacles a race might have,” he says at the launch of Killermeter, an intensive one-kilometre OCR in Chennai.
True to its name, Killermeter will consist of at least 15 obstacles on a kilometre-long stretch of the beach at Covelong Point. There are two difficulty levels: ‘Contenders’ is the tougher, competitive one, for professional athletes, sportspersons, surfers, crossfitters and the like. ‘Tribe’ is the somewhat easier version, meant for those who want to just try out this format, have fun, or help each other complete the race as a group.
But that isn’t the only difference between the two. The Contenders category has points, which will be added to athletes’ Wild Warrior Series count. “The top three male and female athletes from the series get to represent India at the Asian OCR championships,” says Vikram Menon, OCR athlete and co-founder of Wild Warrior. He can make this promise since his outfit boasts affiliation to World OCR, as well as to Indian Federation of Adventure Sports and Racing.
Meet the team
The raison d’etre of Wild Warrior is to build an invested community around OCR in the country. Vikram and his co-founders — former tennis player Somdev Devvarman, Arun Karthik, who has a background in events execution, and Varun Gunaseelan — are doing just that, by organising races in Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Coimbatore. Vikram and Arun have been certified by World OCR, and the latter has sports events like ISL and the Chennai Open to his credit.
Varun, on the other hand, is an avid mountaineer. With the summits of all seven of the world’s major peaks under his belt, he is hardly an alien to taxing fitness regimens. What brings Somdev into the fold is his love for OCR.
“We have done triathlons in Chennai, a 5K in Bengaluru, and a triathlon in Nepal last year, at the foothills of the Annapurna,” Somdev informs us. These are just a few of the 15 racing events that Wild Warrior has organised in the past year. “We also look into other aspects like children’s fitness, and races in schools and college campuses. But Obstacle Course Races are at the heart of who we are,” he says.
“We want to be taken as a sport seriously. There are more than 10 million people doing obstacle course races,” he adds, “The cool thing about obstacle course racing is that it is for everyone, regardless of what fitness level you are at. What makes it more cool for me, is that it is an experience you won’t forget. It’s fun to do with a group of friends, and it’s also fun to do by yourself, if that is more your space.”