DURBAN – Crawling through mud, pulling hefty tyres and swinging on a rope.
That’s Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) which saw Durban husband-and-wife team Trish and Claude Eksteen walk away as the winners of the Toyota Warrior Series last weekend, which has been dubbed arguably the toughest obstacle course race in the world.
The Durban North couple won the series of eight races held through the year, which had close to 50 000 national and international competitors.
“KZN may be the smallest team, but we are the leading team in the country. The sport has grown so rapidly and in 2016 it was judged to be the largest participating sport in the world,” said Trish.
Obstacle Course Racing takes place over different distances with a number of obstacles in each race. It tests the competitors’ running, technical and strength abilities.
For example, in the Warrior Series, there were up to 35 obstacles in a 15km race, while in the world championships there were up to 50 obstacles in a 15km distance.
“One of the hardest I’ve done is a 1km pull with a tyre that weighs about 80kg. Obstacle Course Racing came from the Marine Corps training and it has now been changed into a sport. In the US, the Spartan Series is the leading OCR event in the world and it was started by an ex-marine. There’s a push for it to become an Olympic sport. It’s a sport which makes men feel powerful and women empowered,” said Trish.
She added that the Warrior Series included a 100m long pit of mud, which was her least favourite obstacle. Obstacles include monkey bars, ropes, parallel bars and nets to crawl, traverse, or climb through, up or over, as well as racing from one obstacle to the next.
Claude, who was a professional triathlete, said: “I enjoy the diversity and the challenge, although running is still the main component. In 2015, we came up with the concept of creating a training facility here in Durban. Our KZN Elite team now has 10 members and we have lots of members who come and train just to keep fit.”
The couple train at their Adventure Obstacle Training Centre, based in Durban North, six times a week. Also training with them is pastor Tom Basson.
Basson, who took second place in his age category at the OCR World Championships earlier this year, was also placed in the top 10 of the Warrior Series.
The Eksteens were placed in the top five in the Pro/Elite category at the world champs. The trio are all placed in the Black Ops Elite Division.
“The races are so tough that just competing in them is an accomplishment. It’s a badge of honour for anyone who has taken part. I find it is a case of the body, mind and soul working together,” Basson said.
According to the three, OCR races around the world are constantly evolving, including the Tough Mudder Series, where there are plans to have a 24-hour race filled with obstacles.
“That’s basically called hell,” said Trish.THE INDEPENDENT ON SATURDAY