Thousands of obstacle course racers descended on London last weekend as the UK staged the OCR World Championships for the first time in the event’s five-year history.
During three days of intense competition, racers from 60 countries battled it out over courses of 3km and 15km, before teaming up with friends on Sunday for the relay.
We were the official footwear partner for the 2018 championships and proudly watched-on as racers of all ages used our STICKYGRIP shoes to master the demanding courses. The lightweight, fast-draining X-TALON 210 (‘the orange rockets’) were the shoe of choice amongst many of the elite athletes, with the X-TALON 230 also propelling racers to podium finishes.
A true test of grip
Banks of excited spectators lined the course as the action kicked off on Friday with the 3km sprint event. Setting off at one-minute intervals, waves of 10 racers tackled a course packed with 24 tough obstacles. Not only did obstacles such as ‘Platinum Rig’, ‘Skitch 2.0’ and ‘The inov-8 Ramp Wall’ test their speed and strength, but also tested their grip, both underfoot and within the hands.
Racers competed against the clock as they ran, crawled, clambered and swung their way around the course. Anyone failing to complete an obstacle had their starters’ wristband removed – and while they were allowed to carry on, their time did not count on the official results.
Fastest around the 3km route was defending champion Jonathan Albon (UK) in a time of 15:37, closely followed by Ryan Atkins (Canada) in 16:07 and Sergei Perelygin (Russia) in 16:20. Quickest women was another defending champion, Nicole Mericle (USA) in 19:54, with Rebecca Hammond (USA) just six seconds adrift in 20:00 and Lindsay Webster (Canada) third in 20:17.
As well as racers in the ‘Pro’ event, there were stacks of competitors in the ‘Age Group’ and ‘Journeyman’ categories, all of which were fiercely fought out by committed athletes from around the world.
Five of world’s top-7 wear X-TALON 210
Just 24 hours later, Saturday featured the blue-ribbon event of the championships – the 15km long race. With 100 gruelling obstacles to negotiate (that’s an obstacle every 0.15km), racers this time lined up for mass starts, with the ‘Pro Men’ going first, followed by the ‘Pro Women’ and then the other categories.
Rough and uneven underfoot conditions, coupled with areas of sticky mud, made it even tougher for racers as they charged over farmland and through wooded sections. And when 99 obstacles were completed, they all faced one last challenge – The inov-8 Ramp Wall, which at around 5m in height posed a big test for many weary bodies. The encouragement offered by the hordes of spectators surrounding the final obstacle, helped racers reach the finish line.
As he was in the 3km race, Jonathan Albon (UK) was again the fastest, clocking a time of 1:27:17. Hot on his heels was Sergei Silin (Russia) in 1:27:45 and Thibault Debusschere (Belgium) in 1:27:53. Thibault, as well as fourth-placed Albert Soley Castells (Spain), fifth-placed Nikolaj Dam (Denmark), sixth-placed Thomas Buyle (Belgium) and seventh-placed Ryan Atkins (Canada) all wore our X-TALON 210 shoes.
The women’s race was won by Lindsay Webster (Canada) in 1:51:56, with Ida Mathilde Steensgaard (Denmark) – wearing our X-TALON 230 shoes – taking silver in 1:52:56 and Karin Karlsson (Sweden) claiming bronze in 1:55:24.
inov-8 UK Marketing Manager Bruce Duncan said: “Having previously being held twice in both the USA and Canada, it was fantastic to see the OCR World Championships held in the UK for the first time.
“The weather was bright and sunny – which is very unlike October here in the UK – but also extremely cold for those racing in the early morning starts.
“As a brand we were delighted to see so many racers getting a grip of the course in inov-8 footwear. It was also great to engage with so many amongst the worldwide OCR community over the duration of three days. What struck me most was the electric atmosphere created and the incredible camaraderie. What a weekend!”
The event was hosted by Nuclear Races. Alton Sports, who stock inov-8 at their stores in southern England, were present throughout and sold lots of our shoes.
* All photos by James MacKeddie