Let me convince you…
The word ‘community’ may mean slightly different things to different people. It may instil dread in a lone-wolf type, or convey a sense of belonging to someone who needs a bit of extra support.
It means different things to me in different contexts, but we’re here to talk about OCR, so let’s discuss what it means to be part of the OCR community.
From the outside, we look like a bunch of loons, recapturing our youth by getting covered in mud and mooching around in fields like a herd of wizards in our Dry Robes. We get clarty footprints in service station entrances and smell like an ogre’s armpit when we’re queuing for a post race McDonalds.
From within, there are little satellite groups – the elites, the families, the have-a-go-heroes, the charity fun runners, the hen parties, those striving to push into the elite category, those recovering from injury or illness, the self-improvers, the absolutely batshit crazies, the crossfit warriors and the cross country runners that don’t quite realise what they’ve gotten into. Very rarely will you come across people with a nasty bone in their body.
I think this is pretty unusual as communities go. Of course there are the mildly mouldy apples that stomp around like a bulldog chewing a wasp until they notice a camera is nearby, but for the most part, the OCR community, strange as it is, is one of the most accommodating groups of people I have ever encountered.
If you’re thinking about getting in to OCR and dithering as to whether you’ll feel left out, left behind or left wondering what the hell is going on, I’d urge you to just switch your brain off and go for it. Someone will always help you over, under, across or around things. Someone will always applaud your little victories, and someone will always encourage you when your faith in yourself is failing.
It’s one of the few communities where, amongst the dim-witted ‘banter’, there is a lot of mutual respect between genders, as real men, it turns out, don’t feel emasculated by a 5 foot bugger-all girl lending them a hand to get out of a mud pit. Similarly, they’ll be on hand to give you a platonic push if you’re ever struggling. These blokes may seem a rare breed in day-to-day life, but they’re more concentrated in our sport, which makes for a far less stressful time of it.
Amongst the OCR community, I’ve found a lot of lovely pals of all ages and backgrounds, and I’m so much happier for it. I wish there was more that I could say to urge you to dip your toes into the muddy waters, but I assure you that whilst the water may not be warm, your reception will be.
Stop thinking. Do it.