Some of our climbers aren’t just trying to get up rocks…
Based not too far away, from up North a bit, we’ve been welcoming Obstacle Course Racers Kevin Dent and Louanna Clark to the wall recently to help them with their obstacle course training to compete in the OCR World Championships on Saturday 12th October.
We wanted to find out a bit more about this (you might think crazy) pair who think nothing of (usually) getting caked in mud every weekend for their sport. Q’s & A’s have been edited (slightly) for ease of reading.
Kevin did his first Obstacle Course Race (OCR) only 1 year ago…
(Kevin) I did Rat Race (20 miles, 220 obstacles) as my first OCR, and yeah got hooked on it. And because the Spartan World Finals are going to be in the UK for the last time this year so I thought lets try and qualify for it.
We’ve been going (to the venue) every weekend because they do a training session. So you can go down there and have a go at the obstacles. But for the world final they’ll change it up and the World’s OCR will bring in their own rigs too. Last year they surprised everyone with a 20ft vertical wall.
Louanna, this is your first time coming here (the climbing wall), when did you start doing OCR?
Yeah I did my first Spartan earlier this year and qualified (for the OCR World Championships). I didn’t really mean to! Just qualified by the skin of my teeth in the Open category and 5th in my age group.
Which event did you (Kevin) have to do to qualify?
Oblivion. That broke me. That was really hard work (Louanna – It broke me watching you!). The idea was to try and qualify through this event, but I’d never run 45km before ever (in case you’re wondering that’s 28.13 miles).
Plus 594 obstacles. And you had to complete every single obstacle or you failed. Game Over. I did it in 9 hrs. 3x 15km laps. So when I came into the pits (after each lap) I could have given up there and then. That was the hardest thing. Mentally you had to talk yourself into going back out again.
By the third lap I got complete and utter arm pump. My grip had gone and I was chicken winging everything! I’ve never run anything like that, that was complete and utter depletion. It’s the most obstacles that’s ever been in any OCR event.
The obstacles at Oblivion are so grip centric. It’s ridiculous. Everything is hanging rigs, or spiralling rigs. So you’re shifting your weight from one arm to the next hence coming in (to the climbing wall to train).
Bouldering and climbing is just going to be perfect (training) for it. Bouldering probably more so. The stretching and getting used to being off-centre. For silly things like the Z-Wall (OCR rig – small traverse wall) – so many OCR people end up doing burpees (OCR penalty) off that.
We did a rig last night me and my mate John (ring into a bar, down to a ring, to a bar) and I was trying to instill in him the 3 points of contact, keeping close to the rig to use less energy. A lot of the rigs are only a foot off the ground and we’re not allowed to touch the floor or it’s a fail.
What do you want to get from coming to the climbing wall?
(Kevin) Grip strength, core and flexibility. It’s just so good all round. The top OCR athletes reckon that bouldering and running are the core exercises for OCR. You’ve got your grip, you’ve got your stretching, and being able to see a line. You learn that from climbing. When I run to a rig now I slow down and figure out where I’m going to go. It’ll help loads.
On everyone’s adversary, pull-ups…
(Louanna) I’m on a weight gain plan at the moment. Before I started training I was only 7st 2lbs and quite poorly, and now I’m 8st 9lbs. So as I’m getting stronger my weight is getting bigger so I’m always so close to doing a pull-up. I can do it if my shoulders are already engaged but I’d want to do them from a dead-hang too. I just can’t transition through the muscle groups yet. I will do a pull up!
(Kevin) As soon as we both do pull-ups on the bar we’re going to get a fingerboard above the door. And that’ll work the forearms more. That’s the one thing I notice more than anything that burns out.
So what other training do you do other than getting to the climbing wall?
(Louanna) We do running as well (Kevin) and luckily up at Ancaster we can go to an OCR training park. The land owner lets us use it. It’s about half the size of your car park here (at the climbing wall). It’s full of obstacles and we change the rigs up every week but it’s not open to the public right now. We’ve got 3 more obstacles to go in over the next 6 months and we really want to push it to get it open for the public next year.
So you’ve both qualified for the OCR World’s in October, what’s the plan?
(Kevin) We’ve entered the 15km race, (Louanna – we’re both better at longer distance running). Take my time on the obstacles because we can’t afford to come off the obstacles. I can make up the time on the run. I thought I was a pretty average runner before but now I’ve realised I can make up the time.
(Louanna) I’m just getting into my head that you don’t have to touch every point on an obstacle.
(Kevin) And that’s what I’m saying, you start to learn that line from climbing. There may be 70 holds in front of you but you don’t have to use all of them. CLimbing teaches you that.
Massive thanks to these two for taking time out to chat to us
While they might not be pumping up a 7a, or trying to get a cam to stick in the grit, you can easily see the similarities between OCR and climbing when it comes to the physical and mental discipline.
We might be, hopefully organising a trip with Kevin to Atcaster and the training ground they have there. If anyone is interested please ping us a message and we’ll get the numbers together in 2020 to go and have a go and Kevin can really test your climbing fitness and agility on some of the OCR rigs!
Happy climbing everyone and we are wishing tonnes of GOOD LUCK to Kevin and Louanna for their race next week!