She approached Tip of the Spear, cradling her arm with a look of pain on her face.  Fifteen seconds later that look changed to one of bitter defeat. Pent up emotion flowed through the tears at the realization she had come this far, but ultimately would be losing her band.

Ten minutes later cheers erupted as a lad from the United Kingdom finished a long battle at Skull Valley.  He hobbled toward the final obstacle, arms raised in celebratory pose.  

Meanwhile, two shivering bodies huddled under foil blankets by the fire pit trying to ward off hypothermia.  Teammates with worried looks attended their every need and others around them voiced concern and encouragement.

Across the expansive spectator area at King’s Domain, family, friends, and peers witnessed triumph, despair, cursing, celebration, frustration, fatigue, and victory.  The emotions were seen, felt, and heard by all, regardless of nationality, language, or talent level. A race this meaningful to the OCR community evokes heightened responses by athlete and spectator alike.  Not only could you see the nervous energy, you could feel it.

This race is the pinnacle of OCR – triumph and defeat, experienced as deeply by the crowd as by the racers themselves.  On this day in which I was sidelined with a shoulder injury, I played the role of spectator and cheerleader.  It was a different perspective, but one of surprising fulfillment as I watched old and new friends cross the finish line with smiles of relief spreading from cheek to cheek.  I am once again reminded that obstacle racing fulfills longings that ‘regular’ life fails to deliver and today I watched it all unfold on the grandest stage in OCR.