OCR Norway

Iain Russel

Mari Weider

So, yet again I get to pick an awesome athlete. But this time we are going out of the borders. We are going to the UK. One of the most important things for me about OCR is the part of meeting new people, and some of them goes straight in to my heart. They become soulmates, and hopefully for a very very long time. We change as persons, gets new values and new perspectives. Iain is one of 5 people we meet during the Spartan trifecteweekend in Ashburnham last september. We talk almost everyday, exchange workoutexperiences, nutritionadvices, we cheer on eachother and of course compete a bit ;) I "fell in love" with Iain the moment we meet. He has a laughter that catches you imediatly, he is warm, funny, kind and including. He knows tonns of facts about training, both running and strength - and he shares gladly. I cannot wait to show him the slopes of Tryvann when he comes to run with us in Tough Viking in june ;)


Tell us a bit about yourself and your fitness background?

I’m 43 in September, a divorced father of 4 fantastic girls and work for HSBC Investment Bank as an IT Consultant looking after their IT infrastructure in London. My fitness background is rather extensive and started when I was 8 with Goju-ryu karate as a result of my father enrolling me in classes as a consequence of me being bullied hard at school. I also played soccer & golf extensively. From those humble beginnings I progressed to aikijujitsu when I was 12 which I discovered I had a natural talent for. I moved to London to study IT at University and continued my martial arts training in jujitsu where I was an assistant instructor, black belt and won several national competitions in my style. As life marched on and I met my ex-wife we started our family and I had to give up the commitment of teaching and became a student of several other martial arts studying under Bob Breen in Jeet Kune Do, Muay Thai, Panantukan (Dirty Boxing), Kick Boxing, Kalis Arnis & Grappling. After several years I moved job and couldn’t fit this in anymore and so started White Collar boxing training under the privileged tutelage of Robert McCracken (Carl Froch’s trainer). During my time at University I also became a qualified fitness instructor, personal trainer and nutritional consultant where I worked helping doctor referral patients regain, or acquire for the first time, mobility and a better quality of life. Studying and teaching Health and Fitness has been a huge part of my life.

How did you get into OCR and how was your first OCR experience?

I got into OCR in 2013 with a London South Spartan Sprint event with the gym I went to Bob Prowse. It was an amazing experience and a complete shock to my system. I finally found an activity that challenged me on every level and was also so much fun. The camaraderie that I witnessed in that event was different to anything else I had en- countered for a long time; everyone helped everyone no matter their ability or body shape and that was empowering to witness. Which event and obstacle has been the most challenging? The London South Spartan Super in 2015 at Ashburnham Place was my toughest event. I’m not a very strong swimmer so the lake swims were a massive psychological problem for me. I took a burpee penalty for that first one and then, angry at myself for being weak minded, took on the others which I hated. I was so scared. Completing those felt so good although I was in no mood to repeat them.

What has been your most memorable OCR moment?

My most memorable OCR moment has to be the friendships I made during the triple Spartan events at Ashburnham Place in 2015, 3 events in 7 days which were incredible and forged a bond between a band of strangers that is still very strong.

What has been the most challenging obstacle that you have faced?

Apart from the water obstacles at the Spartan Events it must be the rope climb after them. My technique was poor then and I tried for so long to climb it without success. What are your thoughts about the OCR community and sport? It is currently undergoing a metamorphosis as it matures. There is a split happening between the ‘Elite’ runners and the fun runners with attitudes and events beginning to further differentiate them. The quest to become a valid, recognised sport with championships has its positives and negatives as it creates further challenges to overcome. I feel that a middle ground is perfectly plausible and that all participants can be catered for, whatever their desire from an event. However, the one constant factor throughout is that the community itself is so very strong and has a real identity. The vast majority of Race Directors, participants and the exceptional marshals, all share a fantastic spirit and attitude that is utterly uplifting. Until you have experienced an event it’s hard to really convey how welcoming and helpful everyone is.

What are your tips for the first-timers, beginners?

I think beginners shouldn’t stress about where they place and instead concentrate on just enjoying the brilliant atmosphere of an event. It can be scary enough for them when they read about and get told of all the crazy obstacles that can be encountered. Each event is different and it pays to research the event you are considering for the first time. Choose one that has obstacles, man made or natural, that will test you physically or mentally but you will actually enjoy. If you enjoy that first one, as you gather experience and perhaps increase in boldness, then you can test yourself with more technically or physically demanding events. I run on my own but it may also help to choose an event which concentrates more on team work than individual ability where a bunch of work colleagues or friends can help each other around the course. That can deepen friendships and create great stories to share over food and drinks. Everyone loves to regale each other with stories of daring.

What events are you taking part in this year?

Here is my schedule for 2016 so far. I still have Spartan races to book.

- February 20th Freezeout OCR training camp

- March 12th The Mighty Deerstalker (10 mile night-time trail run)

- April 23rd Maverick Sussex Trail Run (16km)

- May 6th Rat Race Dirty Weekend (20 miles & 200 obstacles)

- June 4th Toughest Oslo (10km)

- June 12th Back 2 The Trenches The Big Push (24km Extreme Mud Run)

- August 13th Mudnificent 7 (7km+)

- August 14th BC Revolution Beast Invincible (3hr endurance OCR)

- September 3rd Man vs Mountain (23 miles over Mt Snowden)

- September 10th Maverick Kent Trail Run (13km)

- October 30th BC Revolution Beast Invincible (3hr endurance OCR)

- December 17th BC Revolution Beast Invincible (3hr endurance OCR)

How does your training regime look like?

I have chosen several major events to undertake this year so my training is structured around those events in 10 week cycles. After my events I will have an entire week off where I will only work on Animal Flow & swimming. My primary training is a combination of MovNat, Animal Flow and Primal Play under the tutelage of my good friend Darryl Edwards (aka The Fitness Explorer). These I will do every day for around 30-40 minutes in the morning before work. Once a week I will also do heavy deadlifts to keep my legs strong. My runs I do after work and prefer to do late at night after I have said goodnight to my children. It does mean that I sometimes don’t finish my runs until after 1am but I quite like the solitude at that time. One of my aims is to run at least 1000 miles this year and so I average around 35-45km a week of trail and hill runs. I also have 2-3 physio sessions a month where my physio works on my running mechanics and gives me exercises to combat any weakness she discovers in my movement chain. This is a crucial part of my regime as I have a stressful job as well as the intensity of my training.

What is your favourite piece of OCR kit and why?

It’s a fight between my Inov-8 X-Talon 190’s or my Skins A400 Gold compression gear. The 190’s offer me fantastic grip on all surfaces, drain water beautifully and are exceptionally light and minimalist whilst the Skins seem to improve my performance over distances >=10km.

What is your inspiration and motivation?

With regards to OCR I have met many people who are an inspiration to me. So many people embrace this activity for reasons that are aweinspiring. However, my four daughters are my true inspiration and motivation as I hate the prospect of being seen as the somewhat stereotypical image of the office working, over-weight dad who is too unfit to enjoy their company outside of watching TV with them. As I enter my 40’s I want them to see that fitness and fun can be pursued at any age, that the body and mind can learn to overcome obstacles both physical and mental with consistent, diligent training. Hopefully I will still be in good health when they have children and be able to take their children and run with them on their first OCR’s.

The future is what you make it after all.