Battle Corps

Meet the Battle Corps. Selected from throngs of highly competitive entries, our team stands proud and strong in representing our beliefs and values.

Their mission (with their teammates’ support and motivation):

to spread the word at races and events throughout the area that life really is better when battled.

Their code:

Be honorable
Be committed
Be motivated
Never settle
Never surrender
Never leave a man behind

We welcome the Battle Corps into our proud family of awesomeness.

Christopher Balven, 32

Wentzville, MO

What does Life’s Better When Battled mean to you?
In my opinion, balance does not exist. To find true happiness and passion in life you have to attack it every day. Have courage when others fear, stay true when others falter, and remain strong when others quit. You have choices every day, make the choice to go to battle and be better than you were yesterday!
Most embarrassing race moment or mistake:
This has to be the OCR World Championships in 2015. I was having a fantastic race, about 3 miles into the 9 mile course, when I crossed a timing mat and did not hear the beep that you normally hear as it registers you crossing. I looked down and realized I never put my timing chip on before the race. Who forgets their timing chip in a World Championship race!? I finished the race and crossed the line with my band, but no official time. Never again will I forget to put a timing chip on before a race.
What tips do you have someone training for obstacle course racing?
First and foremost, you have to run consistently so you can build up that skill. Most races are 80-90% running, with some more obstacle dense than others. With that said, you need to train with a purpose. Don’t just “Go to the gym”, train with an intent to improve the things you need to work on. Typically, the most beneficial exercises will be pull-ups, dragging or pushing a sled, strengthening the core and doing hill work. Just be sure to listen to your body, and rest when you need to.
What makes you love OCR?
The friends that I have made. These races have become like family reunions for me, and I look forward to them more and more as time goes on. Make no mistake, I love to compete and this is my sport of choice, but some of the people most important to me are those I race with, train with and take care of each other. When you find your tribe, it makes you happier in the rest of your life as well.

Kevin Reiseck, 45

Worden, IL

What does “Life’s Better When Battled” mean to you?
In obstacle racing you are faced with challenges (obstacles) that you have to overcome either individually or with the help of others. The same is true in life. We all face different challenges (obstacles) every day and it is through this adversity that our lives are made better. So battle through your challenges and you will be better for it.
Most embarrassing race moment or mistake:
A few years ago I was running a course and found myself in front of a truck. So I climbed over the hood of the truck and went on to finish the race. After the race, I spoke with others and asked them if they climbed over the truck? None of them had faced “the truck obstacle” as I had. I realized I went off course and added the new obstacle. I found out later, that I damaged the truck, but the persons insurance paid for the repairs…oops!
What tips would you give someone training for an obstacle course race?
I would give the beginner obstacle racer two quick tips. Start trail running and work on your grip strength.
What makes you love OCR?
What I love the most about OCR are the people. It is a family atmosphere and they will always welcome you with open arms. I also love that everyone can compete at the highest level of the sport alongside the best in the world. At the Obstacle Course Racing World Championships everyone from the professional, to the age group, to the journeyman competitors all compete on the same course. No other sport can compare.

Ryan Steele, 29

Wentzville, MO

What does Life’s Better When Battled mean to you?
“Life’s Better When Battled” to me means that anything worth having isn’t going to be handed to you. If you want something, you’re going to have to work for it.

Most embarrassing race moment or mistake:
My most embarrassing race moment came after a race. I had traveled to Utah to complete a Spartan Beast in Salt Lake. This was my first beast (I think) and first time racing at a ski resort, and it was July, and my wave started at noon…Needless to say I got very dehydrated during race. I pushed through and
did finish but post race I drank too much fluid to quickly and ended up projectile vomiting from the back seat of a friends SUV all the way to the windshield and maybe on one of my teammates as well…Sorry Chris.

What tips do you have someone training for obstacle course racing?
Every venue and every race has a different set of skills required but some of the most common things to work on for any obstacle course race would be: trail running, hills, grip strength, and monkey bars. Luckily most of that stuff is available in public parks.

What makes you love OCR?
I love OCR because it gives me something to train for and push myself for. I get to compete against myself and get better. Additionally, I get to spend a lot of time training/traveling/racing with some great teammates/friends.

Megan Berg, 32

St. Charles, MO

What does Life’s Better When Battled mean to you?
You gain strength through the moments in life where you didn’t think you could overcome something. You become who you are today because of what you went through yesterday. Everything happens for a reason and through every storm comes a lesson learned.

Most embarrassing race moment or mistake:
During an obstacle race, I was attempting the 20 foot warped wall with a 15 pound weight vest on. I was struggling to reach the end of the rope and I kept sliding down the wall. I stopped sliding down on my hands because they were burning. So I had to turn around and slide on my butt. I had no clue that I had ripped a large hole in the back of the shorts and I had been at this obstacle for almost an hour. My team wasn’t sure how to tell me. I had to finish the race with a huge hole in my shorts. Luckily, I had matching underwear.

What tips do you have someone training for obstacle course racing?
Train with or connect with people who are where you want to be. If you want to run faster then run with faster people. If you want to get stronger, then train with people who are stronger. Push yourself farther than you think you can go. Work on your weaknesses more than strengths. Make training fun and don’t take yourself too seriously.

What makes you love OCR?
I love the challenge. I love that this sport has helped me set goals and push myself farther than I ever have physically. I love the break from the work week. I love the community. I have made some great friends through OCR. My training sessions with teammates have become my favorite type of happy hour. Finishing an obstacle race gives me a huge sense of accomplishment. Every obstacle I overcome, makes me even prouder of who I am. I love being involved in a sport that helps drive people. I love watching other people’s success as well.

Kelly Dzierzynski, 39

Peru, IL

What does Life’s Better When Battled mean to you?
Life’s better when battled means that you should always fight for what you believe in. Never let anyone tell you no you can’t do that or you are not good enough. Never settle for average or just being ok. Be your authentic self. That means fighting hard every day for that belief in yourself. Fighting every day to
reach your true potential, above all it’s about being relentless.

Most embarrassing race moment or mistake:
I don’t have any super embarrassing moments at races. I have made plenty of mistakes with fueling and clothing when I first started racing though.

What tips do you have someone training for obstacle course racing?
For beginners its making sure you have good aerobic base. That means you need to be able to run consistently every week and slowly build up your mileage. For the more seasoned OCR athlete it’s all about your ability to switch between your aerobic and anaerobic systems or the ability to go from running fast to doing a technical or strength based obstacle without taking a break. Also running form is
crucial to the beginner as well as experienced athlete. Training for strength requires a good base as well for beginners. Basic exercises like pull ups, push-ups, squats and deadlifts go along way . Experienced racers should do all the basics and should mimic what you might see at a race. The most important is
overhead grip strength and the ability to control your body when it’s swinging in the air.

What makes you love OCR?
Simply put it’s the people . The OCR community is filled with the most enthusiastic, uplifting, supportive, driven, and relentless people I have ever met. I have participated in a lot of competitive sports but this is the first where people truly are team players. The sense of belonging and having peoples back is demonstrated time and time again at races and at training days. It simply fills my heart with joy when I meet a fellow OCR athlete, I know that they will get me, and help me out when I need it the most.

Nan Allen, 45

Lake St. Louis, MO

What does Life’s Better When Battled mean to you?
To challenge yourself daily out of your comfort zone. Each day is full of decisions, when your decision is stay in your comfort zone, you do not challenge yourself. When you do not challenge yourself, you really do not know what you are capable of. When you do not know what you are capable of, you settle. Never settle, challenge yourself, you will be happy you did!!

Most embarrassing race moment or mistake:
Showing up to the San Diego Marathon a half hour late. We thought it started at 07:00 and the gun went off at 06:30. It’s always good to sprint a mile to the starting line before running 26.2. 🙂

What tips do you have someone training for obstacle course racing?
I often get asked how to train for an OCR. Most of the people that ask do not run or workout. I explain that OCR includes some running mileage, as well as obstacles that will require some upper body strength. I tell people that they if they have never run, to start a couch to 5K run program, if they are currently a
runner, they should incorporate running some trails. For upper body strength, I suggest to the newbies to start with push-ups. The more seasoned runner who already works out, I suggest grip strength exercises.

What makes you love OCR?
Because it challenges me more than any sport I have ever competed in. I have always been a runner, but the sport of OCR incorporates and challenges me with strength, endurance, mind, and environment. I have never felt a greater sense of accomplishment then when I crossed the finish line of my first OCR
World Championships. And to this day, at the end of every OCR I compete in, the words “Life’s Better When Battled” has a real true meaning…my personal challenge for the day is complete.

Scott Wierzycki, 38

Belleville, IL

What does Life’s Better When Battled mean to you?
It means that you should not settle with where you are at now. You need to reach beyond your comfort level and strive to become a better you.

Most embarrassing race moment or mistake:
There have been plenty of moment's on the course. I think the one that sticks out is the laceration I received on my forehead after standing up too soon while going under a bridge. 16 staples later I’ve got a nice battle scar as a reminder.

What tips do you have someone training for obstacle course racing?
If you’re looking to improve you need to be consistent with your training. You also need to train smart, which may not always mean training harder. There are books with OCR specific training programs or coaches\programs available to help if needed. There are also plenty of people within the OCR community (like the Battle Corps) that are always willing to answer questions.

What makes you love OCR?
The OCR community is a tight-knit group unlike any other. Everybody is very supportive and encouraging of each other from the open wavers all the way up to the elite racers. It’s great to be able to travel to races throughout the Midwest and even up to Canada and see the familiar faces of the OCR community. The
other great thing would be the challenges that are presented on the courses. It’s great to push your body and see what you’re truly capable of doing.

Leah Hensley, 35

Marietta, GA

What does Life’s Better When Battled mean to you?
“Life’s Better When Battled” to me, simply put means “no shortcuts.” We value and appreciate things more when we work for them and aren’t simply handed things. We need to be constantly working in life to better our circumstances, surroundings, and abilities.  Battling through adversity and challenges makes the rewards and achievements that much greater.

Most embarrassing race moment or mistake:
My biggest race mistake was horsing around on obstacles the night before the OCRWC race in 2015. Athletes that arrived early on Friday were allowed to “test” obstacles. Knowing there was a new-to-me obstacle there open, I decided to try it! Needless to say, this did not go well and I ended up severely spraining and causing 2 stress fractures in my ankle THE NIGHT BEFORE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS! I
still completed the race the next morning, but it was anything but what I had hoped or trained so hard for.

What tips do you have someone training for obstacle course racing?
The biggest tip for OCR training I can give is to be diverse. Be sure to encompass all types of training into your routine. Running, grip work, strength, aerobic endurance…. OCR athletes in my opinion are some of the most well-rounded athletes out there and cannot just focus on one aspect and expect to be
good overall.

What makes you love OCR?
There are so many reasons I love OCR! From the physical standpoint, I love doing it!  I love the training, pushing my body, overcoming fears, and accomplishing things I never thought possible.  From a social aspect, I have met some lifelong friends and people I consider family through the sport.  OCR is a close community and I have met friends across the world through it.  OCR has allowed me to find my “tribe”. My group of passionate, dedicated, hard working people with positive attitudes and drive. There are so many people in this sport that inspire and motivate me on a daily basis that I cannot imagine how empty my life would be without it.

Jason Rulo, 39

Ballwin, MO

What does Life’s Better When Battled mean to you?
To me, “Life’s better when battled” means that you never truly know how great you can become until you’ve faced true adversity.

Most embarrassing race moment or mistake:
My most embarrassing race moment would have to be at Summer Splash in 2015 at The Battlegrounds. Given the fact that it was at our home course, you would think I would be able to avoid making a wrong turn right? Well you’d be wrong. I went left instead of right and that mistake added about a half mile to my 5k. This was enough to cost me at least one place in the race.

What tips do you have someone training for obstacle course racing?
If someone were to ask me about how to prepare for an obstacle race I would tell them the following: “Get comfortable being uncomfortable. Get out of the gym and exercise outdoors. Rain, heat, cold. Train in it all and get dirty while doing it. Run technical trails in your area and mix strength workouts then include pull ups, core and lots of grip work. In addition, make sure to strength train legs too even if that mean doing a lot of stairs.”

What makes you love OCR?
The reason I fell in love with OCR is the people. I love the challenge of racing and getting out there and getting after it but there is still nothing like being at an event and seeing the good in people. This the the only sport I’ve been around where competitors cheer each other on like teammates and sacrifice their
own race to physically help total strangers just because they are in need. The ultimate competition is to beat the course and that is not lost in OCR.

Battling In Memory Of

Christina Fader, 45

Moscow Mills, Mo.
Special education teacher for Special School district
Three words that describe Christina: Reactive, adaptive, and self-aware.
Hobbies: Four kids that keep her busy playing sports.
Training Tip: She enjoys hiking, biking and running to get in shape.
Pre-Race Meal: Carbs up two days before the race by enjoying pasta.
What does “Life’s Better When Battled” mean to you? I’ve had many challenges in my life. I’ve lived with pain, surgery, and told I would not run again. Yet, here I am, living a life of adventure (I’m committed to running a half marathon in every state, and I’ve already done 17) … and I love the battle! No, I need the battle. It is who I am.