People ask me all the time why I race, especially those that don’t understand or race themselves like my family.  I always say because I love it or it challenges me in new ways or is fun.  But there is another reason behind it and it goes a lot deeper than just “having fun”.

Growing up I never really felt like I fit in anywhere, I wasn’t popular in school, I was introverted and shy and didn’t have a lot of friends.  I had a few close friends in high school but never really fit in with the “in” crowd or any crowd.  After getting married and having kids I never fit into the “cool moms” groups but cherished the friendships I had, especially with my best friend who just happened to have a daughter the same age as mine (who are still besties too 13 years later).  I always felt out of place, like I was never really part of the group.  I don’t know if it was because I didn’t let people in or if it was because I was more of a home body and didn’t really like going out a lot which cost me a few friendships.

Even as a Personal Trainer I have never really fit in, I’m not a gym rat, I don’t do fitness competitions and I don’t focus on weight loss with my clients and training.  I have been fortunate to find a few fellow trainers in the industry that have the same values and philosophies as me and I love learning from them.

Then I started running obstacle course races and suddenly I was not only having fun and challenging myself but I found myself part of an amazing and accepting community.  It was like no other that I’d ever been a part of.  I was worried that I wouldn’t fit in because I wasn’t an elite racer and couldn’t even do a pull-up (gasp!).  But to my pleasant surprise even though people were competitive they weren’t cut throat and ready to win at any cost…they were instead competing with themselves and helping and encouraging people along the way.  At my first Spartan race I not only got boosts over walls and hands to pull me up hills from complete strangers but I got high fives and words of encouragement that usually came at a time when I was thinking “I can’t do this anymore” but the words “you got this girl” kept me going.

I started running these races with my best friend and it not only strengthened our friendship but gave us a reason to get out and go and do some things just us girls.  And now not only do we run together but we have expanded our group to include many more amazing women who run and share a mutual love for this sport.  I have made some amazing friends over the past 4 years and one of the best parts about this sport is not only racing together but training together too.

I finally feel like I fit in with a group.  We’re all so different but yet share something that bonds us together that no one else understands unless they have been on the course.  There are people of all ages, sizes, personalities, careers, etc.  It’s a sport where 40 does not mean you’re too old to race and you can keep running as long as you would like.  In a world of online interactions it feels amazing to get out and build relationships in person, and this is one sport where a FaceBook friend in a group really will be happy to meet you and will probably hug you when you meet them in person :).

The final piece to this reason why I race is that not only am I a part of an amazing community but so is my daughter.  I remember being 13, it was so hard and I struggled with my confidence and self esteem.  When my daughter races I see a spark light up inside of her, all those things she says she can’t do she suddenly does.  Not only that but being able to do races together brings us closer at a time when a lot of kids are pulling away from their parents.

And the online OCR community is also amazing – there are so many supportive groups and I’m proud to manage one of those groups – Ladies who obstacle course race.

There are so many reasons why I race but this is definitely one of the top reasons.  If you’re scared to run an obstacle course race because you feel like you’re not in good enough shape or can’t complete all the obstacles on your own, don’t be.  People will help and encourage you along the way, that’s what the OCR community is all about.

Have you made new friends running obstacle course races?

Happy Racing,

Jaclyn