More than Mud - Brad Van Dolah

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?

After completing my college basketball career I really took an interest in fitness and lifting weights in particular.  For a few years I became the stereotypical "gym bro."  After awhile I started to miss the competitiveness that comes along with sport so I started looking into ways that incorporated my interest in fitness but also would get me out of the gym and doing something competitive.  I also had some significant back injuries that made me re-evaluate my training strategy.  

After researching I found Spartan Race and signed up for my first Spartan Sprint.  After that I was hooked.  It reignited the spark to push my physical limits and also to explore other aspects of fitness that I wasn't as focused on. This in turn made me a better overall athlete and trainer.  I think overall it's the atmosphere that I enjoy the most and the fact that people come together from different backgrounds to support one another and go through something that creates a sense of community.


What's been your most interesting or memorable moment in your OCR career so far?

My most memorable moment so far is the Spartan Sprint in Calgary in 2015.  The race took place in August and the weather leading up to the race was awesome; hot and sunny, so naturally I thought the race conditions were going to be ideal.  Nothing could've been farther from the truth.  The morning of the race an epic storm rolled through just as I was slated to start.  The rain, wind and cold lasted during the entire race.  It rained so hard that the descending hills became so slick that all the competitors were sliding down them like waterslides.  This was one of the most brutal and challenging moments in my athletic career but I think the thing that makes it most memorable is that this is the fundamental embodiment of what OCR is; pushing you out of your comfort zone and challenging you to conquer something that you've never done.  


What's the best training or racing advice you've ever received?

I do a lot of reading and listening to OCR podcasts.  So I'm constantly looking at ways to improve my performance.  I think that the best training advice I've heard is that in order to compete in OCR you need to be a well rounded athlete.  It's not always the strongest person or best runner that wins a race.  So in order to be competitive you need to have a solid foundation in strength, endurance and mental toughness.  Training all aspects of this is going to help you achieve any goals that you may have.

What inspires you?

I think that what inspires me the most, especially about OCR is not only accomplishing thing that I've never thought possible but also helping others and watching them overcome their challenges.  This is the main reason I became a fitness trainer and why I started Van Dolah Fitness.Utilizing OCR as the platform with which to draw people out and become more active has been a large part of my success as a fitness trainer.  Also, being able to watch OCR pro's compete at such a high level inspires me to continue to build upon what I've already accomplished and continue to push myself to become a better OCR athlete, trainer and mentor to those wishing to participate.


Any race stats you'd like to share? Any goals for this year?

I have three races scheduled for this year.  I am participating in a Mud, Sweat & Tears; a Battlefrog and a Spartan Beast. My goal is to complete every obstacle in each race.  In the past there are a few that have had me snake bitten, so I'd like to finish each race without penalties.

Another goal is to continue to build the OCR community in my hometown through continuing education and the ongoing development of  I truly do feel that OCR is a great way to get people off the couch and live a more fulfilling life and I want to continue to promote this as much as I can.


What's something about you that others might find surprising?

I think a surprising fact about me and another reason I decided to leave the gym bro lifestyle behind and become a more well rounded athlete was the multiple back surgeries I've had to repair herniations in all my lumbar discs.  Other than the scar I have fully recovered and am more fit than prior to all the surgeries.  I thank Crossfit and OCR (and my wife) for changing my perspective on fitness and giving me the tools to overcome the injuries.


What are your thoughts on the current state and future of OCR?

I think that OCR is starting to show that we are entering a new era of fitness.  I believe that people are looking to get out of the standard cookie-cutter gym lifestyle and challenge themselves.  OCR does just that.  It provides an experience that not only addresses fitness goals but also helps people to overcome challenges which can translate to other aspects of life as well.


Photos courtesy of Spartan Race

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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