I’m not sure I could’ve written a more vague title for this post. But I think it’s worth noting here that everyone has that moment that challenges them in a new or different way.
For me, that moment happened three times in my first run at Savage Race.
Before you ask how there were three “moments” when I should be talking about only one, allow me to elaborate.
I have two very longstanding fears. The first and less significant is swimming underwater. Even at 32 years old, I’ve never liked doing it. And my interest in swimming at all has been hindered because I’m the one guy who didn’t want to play Marco Polo because I didn’t want to count to ten with my head underwater.
Well, in Savage Race, I had to face this fear three times. The first was in an obstacle called Shrivelled Richard, where racers had to jump into a container of very cold water (my guess was around 40 degrees when I hit it before 11am) and swim under a barrier to get to the other side. It was the very first obstacle of the day, and probably the easiest to get geared up for. I managed to pull it off. The third was Thor’s Grundle, a quick dip in some trenches of waist-deep water under a couple barricades. This one, while short and simple, was not as easy to prep myself for. But again, I pushed through it.
You may have noticed I skipped the second. Well, before I get to it, I have to tackle the other and far more significant fear I’ve had: acrophobia, or the fear of heights. As I got set to take on Davy Jones’ Locker, a 15 or 20-foot drop into a pool of water, I told myself that I could do it as I climbed to the top of the platform. It wasn’t until I got up there that I realized I was not ready for this obstacle. I stood frozen in the corner. I wanted nothing to do with the edge. Others asked if they could go around me and I let them. A few even asked if I was okay, offering to let me go before them. It must’ve been 10 or 15 minutes before I finally stepped up. A short countdown and I stood there while the rest of the line went. The Savage team member shouted, “You got this! Go! Go!” I didn’t so much jump as much as dropped. In the short time I’ve done OCR’s, I have never been more terrified of doing an obstacle.
Part of this experience of doing mud runs is tackling many of these long-lasting fears and anxieties. It is never something you look forward to. It is always difficult and scary. But every time, it must be faced. If you’ve entered obstacle racing for this same reason, you will look this fear in the eye, whatever it is. And honestly, there is little to prepare yourself for it. All you can hope for is to push that fear a little further back. I think I did that. But I’ve still got a way to go. So, my one little piece of advice is this: when you come to that moment, don’t freeze up like I did. Stand up and face it. You’ll push it back further when you do.