Wrapped snugly in my embarrassingly floral dressing gown with a recently washed and disgruntled dog wrapped around my shoulders, I am feeling pretty comfortable, in the physical sense, anyway. What is rather uncomfortably occupying my mind is the day I have had. My day isn’t really a patch on what the racers went through.
The facts, figures and completion stats from today’s UK OCR Championship will no doubt circulate over the coming days, but suffice to say, they aren’t great, and certainly not reflective of the hard work and talent that we have seen competitors display over the past season.
Now, I’m not going to sit here and speculate on who is to blame for the 0% obstacle completion rate for all female racers. What is to blame, however, is a stubborn neglect to research and better understand the capabilities and needs of our racers. I know we’ve had ‘enquiries’ behind closed doors, but it’s clear that nothing has changed, but do you know what else hasn’t changed? The fact that we are RIGHT HERE and you can ask us what we think, want and need.
Talent is abundant in UK sportswomen, and should be fostered and celebrated, but today I saw it laid to waste so needlessly. When did OCR become about cutting down an entire field of competitors?
The gender gap is closing in OCR, but we still need to encourage more women into the sport, if only to give our best female racers something to run against. One of the most common phrases I hear from newcomers to OCR is ‘I can’t’ – and whilst that makes me sad, it changes pretty quickly with training and reassurance. Watching some of the top female racers IN THE WORLD fail to complete this course with their bands intact is not going to empower and inspire girls to stay in competitive OCR, let alone get into it. And those ladies aren’t finishing the race with a wry smile, stating their need to get training more; they are finishing despondent and demoralised.
This is not representative of what ladies in OCR are capable of, and to embarrass them on a nationwide stage is to tell them that you don’t care if we turn up or not.
I am elated for those that surpassed their expectations today – there were some that took a lot of solace in the fact that they completed obstacles they had not yet seen before, or the fact that they avoided hypothermia, or just enjoyed what was, for the most part, a lovely trail run. Before this takes a turn for the completely negative, I want all of you who competed, failed, fell, didn’t succeed in the way you anticipated or DNF’d today, that the rules governing this race outcome do not do you justice, and a disappointing result doesn’t reflect your ability. Don’t let somebody else’s bad decisions make you feel incapable of getting back out there. And certainly don’t listen to idle Facebook chatter implying that you aren’t good enough. Have a mope, by all means, but please, please, when you have recovered, get your trainers back on, and keep doing what you (used to?) love. You are better than today.