My daughter is an OCR kid.  At 14, she has spent more than half of her life hearing about, watching, and participating in obstacle races. Even so, she joined me in Stratton, VT for the 2018 North American Obstacle Course Racing Championships (NorAm) and had an OCR experience of a lifetime. It was a bonding experience for us, but it was also much more.  Three days at an event like this affords an opportunity for depth and discussion and teachable moments and is one of those experiences that I believe will play a role in shaping her perspectives of life, people, and herself for years to come. The number of things that I can do to teach these 6 things below is minimal.

  1. The pursuit of adventure and excellence and goodness is interesting. If there was one statement I heard multiple times over, it was this one:  “I thought I would be bored being around and listening to adults (ie, old people) all weekend, but I wasn’t.  It was so much fun! The conversations were so much more interesting than what I’m used to.”
  2. Success is not defined by cloning the popular crowd. Obstacle racers have style…a style not dictated and driven by fashion marketers (that’s obvious).  It’s an individual style that holds no specific allegiance to brand, color, or coordination for that matter. She noted that people dressed in many different ways, but somehow everyone still belonged. There’s no specific “look” necessary to fit in. With that, there comes a freedom to be who you want to be without judgment. An important lesson for a young teenager about to enter high school.
  3. [Insert the obligatory “Watching people struggle and persevere until they finally overcome” comment here.] Apparently, by force of international law every OCR-related blog post must reference the OCR-as-life metaphor. Now that I’ve checked that off, I can address the less-cliched aspects.
  4. To pull an event like NorAm off, it requires good people who work hard and treat others the right way. Time after time she was exposed to just that.  I hope it sank in.
  5. At the Friday night For Those Who Would OCR Humanitarian Award presentation, she sat at the head table with adults who had given of themselves to help others. The diversity of selflessness and humility around those acts of kindness was incredible and the table conversation and the winner’s speech was unmatchable. No amount of father-to-daughter lectures will have the power of her exposure to people like this.
  6. OCR stars are special, but they’re not “special.” How great is it when your daughter can see the brightest female star in the sport as a real human being who cares for others! On Friday, Kaitlyn watched Lindsay Webster win the short course championship and later that evening dined with Lindsay as she was recognized by For Those Who Would for her mission trip to India to work with orphanages. The real impact came on Saturday morning. Less than 20 minutes before the pro female 15K championship, Lindsay’s pre-race warmup crossed path with our training run. Lindsay PAUSED HER VERY IMPORTANT RUN to not only acknowledge Kaitlyn, but come over and tell her that she was a good athlete and really fast. Then she proceeded to win her second championship of the weekend. Success comes in many forms.  Success with grace, humility, and encouragement for others is the best of all.