Pro Athletes Are Crucial To The Sport of OCR, And Here's Why...

by Ryan Bowyer

Over the past six months, I’ve had the awesome opportunity to serve as one of #TeamMudGear Open Call Athletes. It has been an awesome experience, as I’ve been able to talk about OCR, MudGear, and the crazy sport we do with countless people. Perhaps, though, the best part about the experience has been my ability to connect with some of our sport’s elite athletes on an almost daily basis through my affiliation with the MudGear Pro Team.

With the OCR’s World Championship Season (Spartan Race’s World Championship and the Independent OCR Championship) quickly approaching, I think that it is an appropriate time to discuss what an Open Athlete can learn from paying close attention to the greats of our sport. They are the best in the business for a reason, and I think that they are critically important to the sport. Let’s talk about a couple reasons that this may be the case.I ran cross country in college, and I still haven’t quite been able to translate my speed on a track or a cross country course into super successful OCR performances. With a 5K personal best under 16:30, I imagine that I’m towards the top 5% of all athletes in the sport on pure 5K speed, but I rarely finish in the 20-25% of Elite Heat racers. 

Professional Athletes Can Give Insights into Their Workout Routine

I ran cross country in college, and I still haven’t quite been able to translate my speed on a track or a cross country course into super successful OCR performances. With a 5K personal best under 16:30, I imagine that I’m towards the top 5% of all athletes in the sport on pure 5K speed, but I rarely finish in the 20-25% of Elite Heat racers.

I think a large part of that is that I haven’t quite diversified my training enough yet. I’m a runner - I’m not an athlete yet, and I think that being a well-rounded athlete is something that is necessary to be successful in this sport.

That’s where professional athletes come in. There are fantastic examples of people on the MudGear Pro Team that share workouts, talk about what they are doing day in and day out, and that’s been incredibly helpful to me. Some of the names on the MudGear Pro Team include Robert Killian, K.K. Stewart-Paul, Brakken Krakker, Janet Barry, and Laura Lunardi, to name a few. These athletes are bad ass in every way, and it’s been incredibly helpful to see what they are doing and incorporate many of their training techniques into my own training. They are the best for a reason, and it’s often because of their insane work ethic and training quirks.


Professional Athletes Give Us Something To Aspire To

Earlier in the year, I was speaking Malko Thrasher prior to the start of the Elite Heat at the Southeast Showdown Asheville Super. David Magida had previously been speaking with Malko and Malko introduced me to David. Specifically, Malko asked if I knew David. Of course, with David recently appearing on the Spartan Race Ultimate Team Challenge and his presence in the sport, I knew of David, but had never had the opportunity to meet him personally. This type of connection is awesome. 

Further, through this opportunity, I’ve been able to connect with Robert Killian, Janet Barry, K.K. Paul, and Brakken Krakker. These are athletes that I aspire to be like, and having the opportunity to meet them, connect over MudGear, and chat about OCR is incredible.  I think we all want to be successful. It doesn’t matter whether it is in OCR, our careers, our home life, or any other area of our life. The qualities that these athletes possess and what makes them the best are qualities that each of us possess and should strive to embody on a daily basis. If we do it on the athletic field - awesome. However, if we do it in our personal lives, that’s probably even better. These athletes show us qualities every day that we should attempt to embody ourselves.

Professional Athletes Gives the Sport Credibility 

These professional athletes give our sport the credibility it deserves. I think that there are few sports out there that require the athleticism, the primal, animalistic drive that OCR requires. While I don’t know if it’ll ever be an Olympic sport as Joe De Sena seeks, I sure know that it should be if half of the sports in the Winter Olympics continue to be.

Professional Athletes Are Personable and Approachable

One of the best things about OCR is that our professional athletes love interacting with us. They understand that while they’re critically important in giving our sport credibility, they understand that the open heat athlete, or the aspiring elite athlete, gives our sport longevity. Without you (us!), the sport that they love can’t exist.

An incredibly positive recent trend has been that these athletes are staying in the festival area longer, chatting with athletes, and even going back out onto the course after they have finished to encourage athletes to keep going.

If you see an elite athlete, feel free to say hello. Based on my own personal experience, they’re absolutely excited to meet and interact with each and every person who say’s “hello!” 

At the end of the day, our professional athletes’ visibility makes the experience better for everyone. And that’s awesome.

Professional Athletes Gives A Reason to Watch Important Races

With the Championship Series quickly approaching, the rise of the professional OCR athlete has give us a reason to care about these races where we might not otherwise.

It’s a fascinating story line when you think about whether Ryan Atkins will continue his dominance or whether someone like MudGear Pro Robert Killian can repeat, whether Hunter McIntyre can have a repeat performance like he did in Asheville, or whether someone else can come away victorious.

The recent TV airings of Spartan Races has also captured so much attention. These stories are so interesting, and stories is what ultimately makes sports fun and entertaining. 

I know that I will be glued to twitter, instagram, and Facebook the weekend of the championship as I’ll be seeking to know everything that’s going on. It’s a truly exciting time in the OCR world, and I can’t wait for this championship season.

Final Thoughts

I’ve had an amazing experience with MudGear thus far and you have the opportunity to do so, too! Be on the lookout in November for open applications for the 2017 MudGear Team. You can sign up for alerts by visiting and signing up for the MudGear Insider Alerts by entering your email at the bottom of the page. There, not only will you be able to know when the Team application comes out, but you’ll also get information about Mud Gear such as new products, industry news, and other exciting updates.


About Ryan Bowyer

Ryan is an OCR fanatic living in Conway, South Carolina. Ryan races in the Spartan Race Elite Heats before running with his wife, Amanda, in the open heats at every event they do and he recently completed 30 miles (6 laps) at BFX Charlotte. When he’s not racing or training, Ryan works for Coastal Carolina University in the Dean of Students Office.


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