More than Mud - Romney "Shea" Johnson
More than Mud is an article and interview series dedicated to documenting the incredible characters and stories that we come across in the world of OCR and outdoor adventure and endurance racing events. They range from everyday heroes to extreme athletes but all have unique and engaging stories to tell.
How Did You Get Into OCR Racing?
I was in jail for the third time in two years, I knew I had to change something. I was reading a men's fitness magazine and came across an article about OCR races, specifically Warrior Dashes, Spartans and Tough Mudders. I decided that that was what I wanted to do. I found out they had a race here in Indiana at Perfect North Slopes - Mudstash, so I started training. It was all new to me, I could only do HIIT, so I did that while I was in jail. When I got out, I competed in the Mudstash and met a guy named Travis. He introduced me to the Crazy Mudder Muckers, and I started communicating with them, and got more involved.
How do you describe what you do to people outside of the OCR community? (and why you do it)
Overcome obstacles. Its a parallel of what you do in everyday life. By overcoming the obstacles on the course, it helps to overcome the obstacles in my life. I do it to prove to myself that I can, that I am strong. The harder the obstacle, the greater the reward. Proving to yourself that you can do anything you put your mind to. Another reward of OCR is watching other people overcome the obstacles and fears, the mental and the physical ones. The looks on their faces is just as rewarding.
What's been your most interesting or memorable moment in your OCR career so far?
My most memorable moment in my OCR career would have to be at the 2015 OCR World Championship at King's Domain. It was just my 6th race, having qualified at Battle Frog on the very same course 2 months before. It was freezing cold, and after crossing the Little Miami River at the 2nd mile of the 10 mile race, and completing several other water obstacles along the way, the water slide at the end finished me off. Hypothermia had set in and I had to wait in line to complete one of the final obstacles. I was wrapped in thermal foil and could not get warm. I had no dexterity in my fingers and it was a grip strength obstacle - Skull Valley. I waited for 20 minutes trying to get warm, and finally my girlfriend gave me the sweatshirt she had. Literally 3-4 minutes later, and I was able to complete the obstacle. My girlfriend, sons, and a few of my CMM friends were there to cheer me on to the finish line.
What personal challenges has OCR has helped you overcome?
Before I started doing OCR, I was a drug addict and a smoker, I ate horribly and drank 2-3 liters of Sun Drop a day. I was constantly in and out of jail and prison. OCR has helped me turn my life around. The last time in jail, I knew I had to make a change. OCR has given me something healthy and positive to strive for. Having to be in physical shape to compete has made me very aware of what I am putting into my body, so I try to make sure I only put good things in it.
What's something about you that others might find surprising?
Some people would find it surprising that at the age of 19, I got involved in ministry and went to two years of bible college. I helped start a large church in Alabama.
What are your thoughts on the current state and future of OCR?
I think that right now, its gotten to where a lot of people are being exposed to it. But there are still a lot of people that don't really know what OCR is. I think that once OCR gets more exposure, it will begin to blow up. I can see OCR being, if not an Olympic event, it will be X-Games event due to the extreme sports theme.
Photos courtesy of Spartan Race, Warrior Dash, and BattleFrog Series
For free OCR training tips, get this powerful free OCR Guide: Warrior Strong - How Elite Athletes Become Resilient to Injury in Obstacle Course Racing
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