MudGear Profiles in Badassary 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.
Meet "Optimus Joe" Paquette - an inspiring every day hero who has used obstacle racing to transform his life and support others in overcoming their own obstacles.
How did you get the nickname “Optimus Joe”?
I’m a big Transformers fan and of course love Optimus Prime. In addition, I always have an optimistic attitude on each race venue before the event - whether it is the weather, the terrain or obstacles.
So the wife (Kim) nicknamed me Optimus Joe and it fit! In return, I gave her the nickname ‘Mrs. Galvatron’ which naturally fits her as well! LOL
What is the favorite race experience you can remember?
Hawaii Trifecta weekend. The Beast was geared more toward trail running which is my strength which made the race fun. Also finding the strength to run the Super and Sprint the next day posed a great challenge! There was a great sense of community as well - as most of us started all 3 races together not to mention the scenery. My second favorite had to be BATTLEFROG Atlanta – challenging course with some different obstacles made the course fun and unique.
Who are you outside of racing, and what are you passionate about?
First and foremost a family man! I took my passion for OCR and got my family involved. Mrs. Galvatron is often my race partner and my boys have done several events with me as well. My sister got diagnosed with Stage 2 Breast Cancer so I took to fundraising for Breast Cancer organizations as well as St. Jude and of course run certain race events to do so like Warrior Dash. It gave me purpose to my passion and I am happy to report my sister is in full recovery and is now cancer free!
What makes you different from other athletes?
I am a weight lifter turned runner but still hold a 205 lbs. frame! Traditionally long distance runners are much leaner than me but I can go the distance at a decent pace. Consequently, OCR’s became a natural fit for me.
We notice you are into health foods with all the kiwi and fruit posts. Tell us about your diet and your philosophies on food.
I suffer from Crohn’s disease and before the diagnosis I ate very poorly. Once I changed my diet due to the disease, I noticed my energy level picked up and I performed better both in race events as well as the gym.
Do you practice specific obstacles before an OCR event?
HILLS! Hills with Burpees, hill sprints and hills with weight (often my 60 lbs. daughter on piggyback) therefore Bucket Brigade prep! I am in process of building a training course in the backyard which will have a rope climb, monkey bars, wall traverse, spear throw station, inverted wall plus tire flip area!
Do you have a ritual before or after an OCR event?
I do a huge carb load in the night before the event – often at Panera Bread or Noodles and Company. Ironically, after the race I drink a large fountain Coke which somehow gets my equilibrium back!
Where do you see the sport of OCR in 5 years? and.... Are there any changes or developments you are hoping to see?
I see a sustainable growth and longevity in the industry and those like Spartan and BATTLEFROG that challenge you physically and psychologically and offer a cool and unique culture associated with their event - will continue to be the biggest draws! As for developments, I think there is a need for unified safety organization that certifies the safety of each obstacle.
What's next for you - what are your goals in 2015?
I’m turning the majority of my racing from traditional racing like half marathons, marathons and ultras to 95% OCR! I was in conflict last year and this year on who I wanted to be and tried to do both, but in the end OCR won! This will allow me to focus my training and ultimately get to the podium! I would also like to get a Triple Trifecta with Spartan and try new events like Bone Frog Challenge and Savage.