"Back in Black (and yellow)!"
The season is back! Trainings are back! The WhatsApp Group is back! Romance is back! Stranger Things is back! Yo-yo's are back! Bash is back... (OK, not really, but wouldn’t that be awesome!) I may be getting a little overexcited here, but it is safe to say that the long hot summer is officially over and OCR Nation are back in full force, ready to run, jump and swing into a new OCR season!
The 2019/2020 season is sure to be the biggest and best yet, with so many things to look forward to. This will be your monthly rundown of all things OCR Nation for the month of September!
30 August - Yas Mall Run
The season was back under way with the the Yas Mall Run and OCR Nation were chomping at the bit to get going. This race involved running laps of a 2.5k circuit in the Yas Mall, Abu Dhabi, each time circling back past the hundreds of screaming supporters, before circling back through the looping arms of the shopping mall. It is a surreal experience to be running as fast as you can through a mall and not doing so because you are trying to beat the crowds to the latest cut price TV or fabulous shoe deal on Black Friday!
While it was still just a little too hot to be racing outside, this gave the team a great opportunity to knock the dust off and get back into race mode. It was also a chance to see how the summer training had paid off. For some people, the arrival of the Dubai summer means training becomes things like interval training (quick runs between the car and apartment building avoiding the insane temperatures outside), long easy runs (exploring Hyrule in Zelda - The Breath of the Wild) and strength training (which involved being able to stand outside in the heat for longer than 30 seconds!), but for OCR Nation, the summer had involved international races, early morning ruck runs, long sessions in the cool air of the gym getting ourselves ready for the new year of races.
OCR Nation was quick to get off the mark with podiums in all 3 of the races (2.5k, 5k and 10k). Our 2.5k specialist Mohammed Alhawi came 3rd overall in the 2.5k race, Shamma came 2nd in her age group in the 5k and the man who needs no introduction, the hot stepper himself, Mo Balooshi took 3rd overall in the very competitive 10k race.
7 September - OCR Nation's Spartan SGX at Sands Fitness
OCR Nation is always at the forefront of the OCR world and we were incredibly proud to present the first ever Spartan SGX training programme in the Middle East. Spartan SGX (Spartan Group eXercise) is a training regime which focuses on the core fundamental skills required to excel in obstacle course racing. It covers areas such as grip strength, upper body strength, cardio and proper nutrition.
Our 4 week training course was devised by our very own Spartan SGX qualified coach Dave who put together 2 programmes, one for athletes who were new to OCR and one for experienced athletes who were looking to take their skills and race performance to the next level.
Dave was supported by our team of coaches with Luville, Johren, Sarah, Mo and Paddy who worked their socks off to ensure the course was a huge success. We had over 50 attendees over the 4 week programme, with the athletes seeing massive improvements in just a few sessions. The coaches broke down OCR into its basic elements and taught the athletes skills such as proper bucket carry technique, spear throwing, sandbag carries and rope climbing.
OCR Nation was supported by the team at Sands Fitness, the CrossFit box in Sports City, Dubai, who provided their fantastic facilities and enabled the team to provide athletes with a space to continue their training despite the oppressive heat.
Athletes were able to celebrate their success by being the first people in the Middle East to receive a Spartan SGX finisher medal and the first people ever to receive an official OCR Nation OCR Training finisher medal. Watch this space for future training programs we have planned!
13 September - Medal Madness Weekend!
Sharjah Road Run
The first official road run of the season took place in Sharjah with races of 2.5k, 5k and 10k. The team had to be up before the sun and but after such a long wait for an outdoor race, you we were up before our alarms (OK, not really, maybe 1 snooze, but you get the gist!). This race took us onto the roads in Sharjah and ran alongside the beautiful building of the Sharjah University City Hall. A fantastic setting for the race and it was the beginning of a weekend which provided more bling than a rap music video. Medals were falling from the sky as OCR Nation seemed to be on every podium the race had to offer!
The 2.5.k race
Matt Ortner took 1st in his age category;
Sara Alolama finished 1st overall in the race;
Hannah Ortner took 2nd in her age category;
Hadeel finished 2nd in her age category; and
Taima finished 3rd in her age category.
The 5k Race
More medals for:
2 of our members shared a podium with Kyra Ortner and Johren coming 2nd and 3rd overall respectively;
Samer took 2nd place in his age category;
Lana got her first ever podium (in her first ever road race!) finishing 2nd in her age category;
Coach for our Saturday evening track running sessions Abdelali Bouazzaoui finished 1st overall!; and
Paddy grabbed a medal by coming 3rd in his age category.
The 10k Race
This race was extra special for OCR Nation. 2 members who have been working very hard to improve their fitness after only starting racing very recently won their first ever podiums.
The day was not done however, because while this group of OCR Nation faithful worked hard in Sharjah, there we had deployed another part of the team to take over the Abu Dhabi Mall run.
Abu Dhabi Mall Run
The team continues to grow and we are now able to takeover multiple races in two cities, on the same day! This group of OCR Nation members went to the Abu Dhabi mall ru hunting for more PBs and podiums! The Abu Dhabi team has been on fire recently, with trainings happening multiple times per week, from track sessions with Abdelali Bouazzaoui, bike sessions on the Yas circuit and evening running sessions during the week. This hard work has been paying off as even more podiums were won by the Abu Dhabi team.
It was another 2.5k podium for Mo Alhawi as he took 1st overall, sharing the podium with Mo who took 2nd overall in the race. Maryam continued her run of podiums and took 1st overall in her age category. There was also a podium for one of our newest members, Dominik, who is preparing for competing in the Spartan Kids World Championships in December. OCR Nation are all behind Dominik and wish him all the best in his training and for the competition!
This weekend was still not over, with one of our international members chipping in with a medal of their own. French member and one man bulldozer Max competed in the Spartan Paris race. Max had a very successful run in the UAE when he came over for a few months, competing in various races around the country. His success has continued, managing to finish 7th overall in a very competitive race and he also managed to complete his 2nd Trifecta for the year!
Ice Warrior Challenge
Ice Warrior Challenge is an OCR event unlike any other. It is held in the world famous ski slope, in the Mall of the Emirates, Dubai. The race involves making it over monkey bars, wading through ice cold water and hiking up and down the biggest indoor ski slope in the Middle East. Our members Haythem and Meryem both crushed the course, somehow managing to smile despite the insanely low temperatures! This is a special race, taking place just once per year and it will probably take until next race for them both to warm back up! Congrats to both for completing the race!
Ice Warrior Challenge also offers an elite race option, with some of the best OCR athletes in the region taking on this unique course. Our absolute powerhouse champ Jess Towl (you've probably seen her on a podium near you), managed to finish as the first overall female. An incredible effort and the whole of OCR Nation shouts their congratulations to her!
This weekend was still not done! The day also offered a race called the Urban Ultra, which involved trail runs of various differences in Wadi Showka. This race was another particularly special one for OCR Nation. Paul Kerr has been training hard, transforming himself over the past 2 1/2 years. This journey culminated in Paul grabbing his first podium in 20 years. OCR Nation is beyond proud of Paul and all his hard work paying off!
27 September - Another Weekend of Medal Madness!
The month was drawing to a close but OCR Nation were far from done in adding to our medal collection. This weekend offered up multiple difference races and plenty of opportunities for podiums. A big group of OCR Nation faithful once again braved the early morning to make the trip to Ajman. It was yet another successful trip as the team fought through the heat to stand atop the podiums.
We had Johren and Lana sharing the podium in the 5k race, finishing as the 1st and 2nd overall females. Our champ Mo Mira (you will remember him from the top of the podium in the Spartan Middle East Championships in February) grabbing 2nd overall in the men's 10k race.
We also had multiple age group podiums for the team. We had a very special podium for Maryam Alsuwaidi, who took 1st in her age category. Maryam has been working incredibly hard, attending the OCR Nation Spartan SGX course and training for races, and this was a big moment for her! We are more than proud and look forward to her continued success!
Rahila took another podium place, getting a gold medal for coming 1st in her age group in the 5k. There were also medals for Taima and Hadeel who came 2nd and 3rd in their respective age categories for the 2.5k race. Seeing these two on podiums be becoming a regular occurrence! Not to be outdone, Mo Al Balooshi grabbed himself a gold medal for finishing 1st overall in the 10k. The team capped off the medal haul with Abeer finishing 3rd in his age group for the 5k and Medhi sharing the podium with Balooshi for coming 2nd in his age group for the 10k. Congratulations to everyone for finishing the month strong and bringing home more bling for OCR Nation!
Desert Road Run
While all the excitement was happening in Ajman, Lore was at the Rugby 7s group taking part in the Desert Road Run. She has also been working hard this summer, taking part in Balooshi's early morning run club on Kite Beach and that work has clearly paid off. She was able to take 1st in her age group at the race and bring home a trophy to add to the collection!
Abu Dhabi Run
Not to be outdone, the Abu Dhabi Crew also took to the Abu Dhabi Mall Run and Meryam made it 2 for 2 in the mall runs this month, once again finishing 1st in her age group!
The World's Toughest Race!
This was really a huge month back for the Nation. But there was one race which stood out above all others. This race was taking place in Fiji and involved some of the most elite racers from all over the world. This event is part of a new TV show which is to feature on Amazon TV in 2020, presented by Bear Grylls! The race is know as an adventure race, which can include everything from rock climbing, to rafting, to navigating fast flowing rapids and a myriad of other incredibly tough challenges in order to stand victorious.
The race included hugely fearsome competitors such as Rea Kolbl and Ryan Atkins, both very well known names in the OCR world. But more importantly, the race included our very own, champion and founder of OCR Nation, Ivana Kolaric. To even be considered for participation in this race, you had to be one of the elite racers in the world and Ivana is jus that. After being injured not long ago, she has grafted and worked back to full fitness, trained in a huge number of new skills to get ready. The outcome of the race is a closely guarded secret until the event is screened on Amazon TV next year. For now, OCR Nation can only voice their pride, awe and adulation for Ivana and her team for taking part in this incredible event! You will just have to check back here to see the results of the race next year!
What a month.....and the season has only just begun! Check back here next month for a rundown of the month of October!
OCR Nation Members of the Month
OCR Nation is going to shine the spotlight on one male member and one female member each month, crowning them Members of the Month! These people embody the values of OCR Nation as they are hard working, humble and determined to improve. They have shown all month that they are shining examples of an OCR Nation athlete!
Both Members of the Month will be presented with a FREE OCR Nation Training Top from in the new seasons style!
OCR Nation Member of the Month - Male - Paul Kerr
We have already touched on the incredible transformation that Paul has undergone in the past couple of years, but it bears repeating. His success has come from years of hard work, sacrifice, smiles and laughter. In the SGX Level 2 sessions he was always at the front of the group, pushing those around him, helping them achieve more than they thought they could, but also doing it all with a smile and a positive attitude. He is an example that you get out exactly what you put in and that you can always change your situation if you put your mind to it. We were proud to see him take his first podium in years and know his next one is just around the corner!
OCR Nation Member of the Month - Female - Ranim Al Halaky
Ranim has come on leaps and bounds since running her first OCR event a few months ago. While Ranim was already training hard in HIIT sessions and boxing, she has worked hard on her running, is regularly bouldering and was one of the top performers in the Level 1 SGX sessions. Her hard work paid off as she won her first podium in the Ajman run on 13 September. Congratulations to Ranim!
Look out next month for the next two winners. Push yourself, race hard, train hard, and next time, it could be you!