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We spoke to Dita Kotoulova, a member of the Nuclear Races Team, about her experience at the Obstacle Course Racing World Championships in Ohio this year!
I got into OCR in 2014 after my friend suggested that we enter a local race called Nuclear Rush. I was quite fit, at the time, as I was into sports, especially mountain biking, but I had never run more than 3 miles in my life until the Nuclear Rush 12K in 2014. It was just a fun race for us but I loved it.
I am very competitive and naturally quite strongly built for a woman and I was looking for a sport that would challenge me. When I found OCR I fell in love with it straight away, so I started to run and train more. I then entered other races in that year and I got top 10 finishes in each race. In September 2014, I was lucky enough to join the Nuclear Races Team, which completely changed my life. I have focused on training and racing even more and by the beginning of this year I had started to win races and get podium finishes only.
I qualified for the World Championships at the beginning of this year, at the “Winter Nuts Challenge” and, of course, like most, I really wanted to go. The OCR World Championships were held in Cincinnati, Ohio. Of course the journey there and back was always going to be expensive. At the time I couldn’t afford it. I wasn’t focussing on training towards that at all. Instead I had the UK Championships on my mind, which was to be held on our home ground Nuclear Races, Essex.
However, I made a last minute decision and with help from the team I booked my flights to USA! I was so excited about going regardless the fact I knew I wasn’t really ready for it yet, but I thought the experience would be great and I could benefit from it for next year’s World Championships.
My journey there didn’t start very smoothly at all. When I got to the airport I wasn’t able to board the plane because my name was misspelt and I had to buy another flight ticket there and then.
From that point everything went well. After the transfer flight via Florida my friend was waiting for me at the airport in Cincinnati. My bag made it too! On Friday, the day before the race all competitors had to register, pick up race numbers, timing chips and wristbands and I also managed to have a quick look at some of the obstacles and course. One of the rules was to complete all the obstacles. Competitors could attempt the obstacles, as many times as they liked but if they were not able to complete it successfully they would have to give up their wristband. I didn’t really care that much about my time as I knew I wouldn’t be able to compete, yet, against the world’s top runners but I really wanted to complete all the obstacles.
On the race morning, we all had to be at the event village for 7 am. It was dark, the grass was frozen, so I knew it would be a very cold race, which will affect grip strength – the crucial element in obstacle course racing. I wasn’t feeling my best either. I felt very tired as I was struggling with the jet lag having arrived only 3 days before the race. My stomach was quite upset too, possible due to slightly different diet, water etc. But I was going to give my all to make my Nuclear Races Team proud.
The race was very tough, not a runners course at all, very hilly and many streams to cross. My running wasn’t great at all as my stomach was really hurting me but that didn’t stop me from completing all the obstacles. When I was almost at the end of the course, which ended up being 14,5K long, and had last few obstacles to complete, I was tired and my grip strength was getting weaker. However, I managed to complete even the last obstacles and cross the finish line in 3 hours with my wristband on and as 19th female and 2nd from UK. I was so happy with the result considering all the struggles I had along the way. I made my family, the team, and myself proud and that’s all what mattered!
I have still so much to work on to improve, but my focus and determination is to be up there with the top OCR athletes in the world.
Anyone can get into OCR; it is such a great sport! You don’t need to be competitive like me! But if you are and want to get better, all you need is determination and willpower! ‘Where there’s a will, there’s a way!’
A huge well done to Dita from all at SportsCover Direct on her success in OCR! Dita was covered by our sports travel insurance specifically designed for OCR races which can be purchased here.