This article was originally published in 2015 on the previous Obstacle Racers NZ site.
As the OCR community grows in New Zealand coming this April is the Wairua Warrior, an event organised by New Zealand’s first obstacle racing club – the Wairua Warriors. What is an obstacle racing club, what does an obstacle racing club do? We got in touch with Club President Greg Witika to find out more.
ORNZ: What can we expect at the Wairua Warrior? Any particularly difficult obstacles?
Greg: We’ve tried to use the natural terrain as much as possible using simple but effective variations of many well-known obstacles. It’s going to be a course that builds and when you think you’re out of the woods (literally and figuratively) it’s gonna bite! If I had to choose the toughest obstacle – it would have to be “Whitings Wipeout” which is a play on a tyre drag and the “Mud Mile” from Tough Mudder. However it’s only in the 12km course.
ORNZ: What was it like organising an obstacle race? Where there many challenges?
Greg: It’s tough because it’s the first for any of us in actually running any kind of race or event. We’re lucky because we have a great team and we’ve contracted Sport Tasman to help us out. The hardest thing especially being this time of year is getting people to commit and Nelson is notorious for leaving things to the last minute. We also have great sponsors and people who have donated time and resources. But unfortunately I think the toughest and most rewarding job is going to be putting it all together on the day.
ORNZ: The Wairua Warriors are New Zealand’s first obstacle racing club, what does an obstacle racing club do?
Greg: I guess because there is no real blueprint for an obstacle racing club, we are just doing what comes natural – at first it was all about Tough Mudder in Auckland, then we decided to do the Spartan Beast in Brisbane, then a few of us went onto the Spartan trifecta and it’s sort of accumulated from there. We were lucky to be contacted by Grant Jansen (who was originally born in Nelson) who is one of seven certified Spartan SGX Coaches in Australia. So we organised for him to fly back to Nelson to run a 2 day OCR workshop which was awesome!
This year a group are looking at the Spartan trifecta weekend in Hawaii during August and as a club we are concentrating on the Spartan Beast/Ultra in Melbourne during October. Each year as a club we try to concentrate on one event and that’s decided by a club vote.
I’m a big believer in if it feels like the right thing to do and it looks like the right thing to do, then find a way to do it and so far it seems to be working.
ORNZ: You also run Wairua Body Coaching Systems, what training do you offer and how can it benefit people wanting to get into obstacle racing?
Greg: At Wairua Body Coaching Systems, we are all about movement and mobility which is why OCR is a good fit. We offer a range of programmes from circuits, boxing, OCR, spin and flexibility. We are predominantly body weight based using suspension training, kettle bells, dead balls, ropes, cables…
ORNZ: Why do you think people are drawn to obstacle racing?
Greg: I think people are drawn to OCR because it’s exciting, it uses your body the way it should be used and it’s cost-effective to get into. Personally, I believe it feeds the inner child we all have and the obstacles relate to life, but are physical as opposed to emotional, and we feel so good when we accomplish things we never thought were possible. The final thing is the camaraderie that you find in all OCR races, and the Wairua Warrior will be no different.
ORNZ: Do you think the popularity of obstacle racing will continue to grow? Or will it eventually dissipate?
Greg: I believe OCR is only just starting to rise and it’s going to be around for a very long time. Mainly because anyone can do it, it has a fun element to it as well as a competitive element, and it’s addictive in a very positive way.