DC Triathlon Club

Michelle Thorne on Obstacle Course Races

December, 2020

How did you get into spartan races?

I got into OCR (Obstacle Course Races) 5 years ago when I agreed to do a Tough Mudder… and little did I know I was the only woman on my team. It was quite the SHOCKING experience, literally! I swore I would never do the Electric Shock Therapy obstacle ever again. Hahaha
I also realized I wasn’t as strong as I thought when I didn’t make it across the monkey bars and struggled with a couple other obstacles. Completely covered in mud and tired from 10 miles of running and obstacles, I was HOOKED and wanted to another shot to redeem myself.
The next year, I completed my first Spartan race- the sprint (3-5 miles, 30 obstacles) in southern Maryland. I completed a Trifecta 2018, Spartan’s version of the big kahuna…

What’s your favorite part?

My favorite part of OCRs is the variety of challenges mixed with running and if you can’t complete an obstacle in Spartan, you have to do burpees! Of course, you want to complete a “CLEAN” race to avoid those.

What’s the hardest part?

The hardest part of specifically Spartan races that’s in every race is the Spear Throw. It gets the most failures (aka burpee penalty) of all the obstacles. I have a practice spear/hay bail at home which has helped me. I also hate to be wet and COLD so that’s always a mental obstacle I have to overcome, especially before the race.

Does it help with triathlons?

Since competing in OCRs, I have greatly improved my strength and agility, especially upper body and grip strength which is key in OCRs and any strength work you do is an asset when it comes to competing in most sports, like triathlon. Because triathlon is an endurance sport, your body still needs that strength component to protect your core and even for bone health and mobility as we get older.

Along with my progression into OCRs and strength training, I am now pursuing my SCSC- Strength & Conditioning Specialist Certification. I believe I’ve become a more well-rounded athlete as well.

Any advice for someone that would like to try?

There are OCRs all over the country so you can sign up for a local race or travel to a destination, just like triathlon. The difference with OCRs is you can choose to do with friends and usually can help each other OR, my preference, you can choose to enter a competitive bracket which does not allow assistance.