Greg Avierinos

How did you feel about today’s course?

I found the running quite tough, but [I felt really good] over the obstacles. The beginning of the race tested my legs, but I managed to stay with the top guys and pass some of them when they reached breaking point on the obstacles.

How were you introduced to Obstacle Course Racing (OCR)?

I have always loved extreme sports and started with adventure racing [at] 12 years old. When I saw the Warrior Race on Facebook, I immediately thought it would be something new and exciting to try out, which I did when I entered Black Ops in 2013.

What elements attracted you to this sport specifically?

It is an awesome event with like-minded people who are all out to have fun with their friends in the mud. You never know what to expect in OCR because the distance, venue and obstacles are constantly changing to challenge you. There is always an element of excitement in training for the unknown.

When did you start competing in the elite category?

I have been doing elite since I started with the Warrior Race. I enjoy how competitive it is and [I] like challenging myself to see how much punishment I am able to endure. It allows me to see just how much I am capable of doing.

How do you train to get your body physically prepared to compete at the level that you do?

I will generally train [for] about two to three hours a day during the week, depending on what my coach, Jean-Pierre Nortje, has in mind. I do strength training at home with my racing partner, Jaco Lourens. I also incorporate a lot of running and cycling in over the weekend to get cross-training in. The strength training is very similar to a CrossFit session, consisting of weight training, body weight training (especially exercises that require good grip strength like hanging from ropes and monkey bars) and more functional training like lifting sandbags and flipping or dragging tyres.

How do you cope with the pressure of such intense competition?

The more you compete, the more you are able to deal with the pressure. I try to stay focused and run my own race, without focusing on who is behind or before me, knowing that anything can happen in the obstacles that lie ahead.

What are your hopes for the rest of the year?

I have quite a few big races planned toward the end of the year. In October there are three World Championship events in the USA, and also the Warrior National Championships. Placing well in these races would be awesome!

Michelle Meyer

How did you find today’s race?

I feel pretty good about it! The toughest part of the race was the running for me, but the obstacles were my strong point. I pushed through all the tough sections, and there was no option of giving up.

How were you introduced to OCR?

I did a trail run for the first time in August 2012 and I loved it! I began to search for more runs and came across the Tough Muddler (a big international OCR) and the idea of climbing ropes, crawling through mud and under barbed wire, and swinging across a dam excited me. Not long after that, Warrior Race announced the date of their first race and it was right here in Gauteng, so I got my brothers to enter with me.

What encouraged you to pursue OCR on such a competitive level?

At my first 2014 Black Ops elite race I kind of stumbled onto the podium. They called out my name before prize giving and told me that I had placed third. I was so thrilled with the idea of being one of the top ladies and wanted to continue to stand next to the women I admired since the races began.

The obstacles are the same for men and women on the course and both elite categories do not permit assistance. Did this intimidate you?

I think it motivated me even more! Growing up with two older, stronger and bigger brothers always had me wanting to be able to do what they could do. Women are so much stronger than they realise and the Warrior Race allows you to see what you are physically and mentally capable of. There are ladies that are currently placing in the top 20 positions overall and are only getting better, so I think that the guys could even start to sweat with the way these women are crossing the finish line right behind them.

How do you train to get your body physically conditioned to endure such an event?

After high school I started to gym with my brothers and began to get comfortable in the weights section – a place [where] us girls don’t think that we belong, but we do! I mostly gym every evening and still do weight training, targeting certain muscle groups, together with running, doing hill and speed sessions as often as I can. I do krav maga twice a week, it helps to fuel my “warrior soul”. Over the weekends I try enter running races whenever there is an event. I recently started cycling to incorporate as cross-training, but I love working on my upper body strength to get me through tougher obstacles.

What are your hopes for the rest of the year?

I hope to achieve another podium position before the end of 2015. I am competing in the OCR World Championships taking place in the USA in October, so I am hoping a podium position might happen there! It thrills me just to be able to compete with the best ladies in the country. At the end of the day competing in the Warrior Race is about having fun and bettering yourself.

Photo: Carli-Ann Furno

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