Falling out of Love – My OCR Rant

Should I write this, shouldn’t I write this? Meh, I’m bored so here is my two pennies for what they are worth… for a while now I’ve been feeling less and less love for my favourite hobby, and it seems I may not be the only one.

To start with, one of the reasons I love OCR is how friendly it is (was?), and for someone like me who can be shy and awkward when meeting new people it’s been lovely, the amount of support I got from relative strangers back in 2014 when I was fundraising was both amazing and humbling, but all I seem to see on social media now is bickering and moaning. I long ago unfollowed the OCR groups I’m a member of, as I got fed up of it clogging up my news feed, but I dip in now and again to see what’s going on, and over the past few months, on several groups, in amongst the “what watch/shoes/socks should I buy” posts and the “this isn’t OCR but…” posts it all seems to be doom and gloom and arguments, moaning about races “I signed up three years ago and now I don’t fancy it and I can’t believe I’m not entitled to a refund 1 day before the race, its an outrage” Moaning about the cost of a race – well it is next week and prices do go up, that’s pretty standard!

Worst of all though are the seemingly personal attacks against groups of people, I’m talking about the “people who skip any obstacles should burn in a pit of hell and get out of my way” posts, the “Why don’t you just do a road run if you don’t want to climb a rope” posts, the “They shouldn’t get a medal as they missed the last monkey bar, I’d be EMBARRASSED to take it if it were me…” posts. What a load of rubbish, you are not a failure if you can’t climb a rope, you are a hero for trying anyway! Now I’m not talking about blatant cheating here, running past things for a better time, but I have a whole long list of things I can’t do, does this mean I shouldn’t go at all? I can’t climb a rope, but I will try every single time, I can’t do the monkey bars, but I am  perfecting a “swing and drop” technique and will happily take any penalty then dished out to me. Does this mean I should be excluded from the other 5, 10, 15km of the race and just put on my road trainers? I could go on with a list of things I can’t do, but you know what I can do? I can get over a high wall, if I get some help, despite a sometimes crippling fear of heights, I have found I can do a rope traverse, I can crawl, I can do a cargo net, even if its wobbly and I’m nearly crying when I finally get to the bottom, I can swim, I can wade, I can carry, I can run, I can haul my substantial ass out of endless muddy ditches with a smile on my face! And yet, despite all my cans, there are people out there who can make you feel like you have no place there at all, and it has felt lately the emphasis is strongly about what people can’t do rather than what they can.

In the midst of all this came some announcements about the UK championships and suddenly its world war 3 in the OCR world, as far as I can see it goes like this: announcement, arguments, counter arguments, new announcements, more arguments, and repeat! Now I have found myself agreeing with some comments from one side, and other comments from the other, and I’m staying firmly on the fence, personally I don’t care about qualifying but I understand that people do, I think that healthy debate can be helpful and move things forward, but what’s been awful is the increasingly personal attacks by some people. Now I’m a big girl perfectly capable of scrolling on past the posts I don’t want to read without getting my knickers in a twist, but this has been pretty hard to miss! It’s sucking the fun right out, and I’ve also seen a lot of statues echoing that sentiment so I don’t think it’s just me. Chill out people, this is an expensive hobby if you are not enjoying it, it’s supposed to be FUN! What I have also seen is that the reasoned arguments are actually listened to and acted upon, but before this can be done (things can take time) there is an awful lot of mud slinging first (poor pun intended).

So along with all this are some more personal things all muddled up in there, some small fitness niggles, one big personal drama, more small niggles and I’ve been left feeling unfit with self confidence at an all time low, so I go to a race to try and build myself back up but I have a bit of a mixed experience (not down to the race itself which if I think about without an emotional head on, was really rather good). First I was completely snubbed by someone who was a friend of mine (not a random “we are facebook friends” friend, someone I’ve run with in the past), then I made the fatal mistake of picking a race where I would be running by myself, rather than signing up with others, on the positive side though I ended up near enough to a couple of people I know that although running alone I had a lot of support where I needed it (on the high walls namely) and when it came to getting down off a high obstacle in the event village I was encouraged by some other people I know who hadn’t gone out to run yet, and who’s support vaguely pierced the fog of my mini panic attack enough to help me get down. So the friendliness I mentioned at the start is still there, but I feel it’s being masked by moaning, I’ve even seen arguments break out on social media over the price of a f-ing burger!!

With all of this and other bits I’ve forgotten (I had a whole lot of ranty rants to include on here in my head as I stomped off to training last night half way through writing this, but by the time I was done sweating it all out and laughing I was feeling quite blissed out, got to love an endorphin, and now I can’t remember what I wanted to moan about, and this is good) I have decided to give OCR a miss for a few months, I’m going to road and trail run instead (and yes I did choose JD as one of my trail runs, which could be argued falls under the OCR umbrella, but I love JD events, so sue me!). I will really miss some of the people I probably won’t see for a long time now, the ones who look genuinely pleased to see me as they come at me with a big hug when I turn up at a race, but I’m done feeling dejected because I can only get half-way across the monkey bars, wondering what it is I’ve done to upset someone enough to block me and cut me out without any explanation, feeling unhappy running alone which didn’t used to bother me much, worrying how I’ll manage and weather there are people silently (on not so silently) judging me when I can’t. I’ve already said, it’s an expensive hobby if you are not enjoying it (especially when you recklessly quit your job and are living off your rapidly dwindling savings) so, I’m out! Maybe not forever, maybe not for long, or maybe to never again swing on a rope, right now, I just don’t know! So there it is, there’s my rant, well done for getting to the end of it, much love to the people who love and support me, here’s to the future and to my hope that this is just a break, not a permanent split.