You did it, you qualified for the North American Obstacle Course Racing Championships! Just like when runners qualify for the Boston Marathon, it becomes almost obligatory to go. After all, you never know how busy you will be next year or how well you will perform. It is time to seize the moment and go to arguably the best race in the Western Hemisphere, the North American OCR Championships. However, this may involve an international flight or a long-distance drive, which is the first major obstacle…traveling to the race. Here are five things you need to know about heading to the NorAm:
I’ve heard flights are the cheapest 50 days before you fly. I haven’t done the math or analysis, but other people have. Book your flights or plan your epic road trip so you make it to NorAm. Most people fly into either Albany, NY or Boston, MA. Check your specific airport to figure out which one is most cost/time effective. Most of my friends said Boston was cheaper when they looked. OCR World Championships is in London this year, so you won’t be able to drive to that if you live in the western hemisphere, making this the lower cost alternative to the #athletesfirst experience that the race is known for.
You can stay off site in nearby Dover, Vermont or you can stay onsite in Stratton (book here). As someone who has stayed both on and off site at Adventurey championship events, I highly encourage staying onsite. The ability to wake up and walk to the start line without worrying about driving, traffic or parking is awesome. Staying onsite removes one more variable from arriving at the start line at the desired time. Plus, after the race you can shower immediately and walk back out to socialize, enjoying the rest of your day. One of the things that make the NorAm an amazing experience is the people. Nothing is as good as spending time with other people just like you that are obsessed with OCR. You are going to want to maximize this time and staying onsite provides that. I also encourage booking a big room and splitting the cost with friends. It makes it cheaper and creates a better pre/post-race experience.
For those that went to Blue Mountain Canada for OCR World Championships, you’ll remember the village at the base of the mountain. Tons of food options, coffee, shops and more. Stratton has a village too, but it is about a ¼ of the size. Still an awesome venue but I would plan for breakfast elsewhere. If you are staying offsite stop at a place on the way to the mountain. If you are staying onsite, I would buy some breakfast supplies and cook for yourself in the kitchens provided in some of the rooms (another reason to stay onsite). I did manage to eat at a different restaurant for every meal while I was there but after four days, I think I had tried each place once.
I’m just going to be blunt. Go get a passport. The race is held in Stratton, Vermont in the USA, so those traveling from Canada, Puerto Rico, Mexico or anywhere else outside the USA will need one. If you are coming from within the USA, you want one also for another good reason: you are going to want to go to OCR World Championships in London, England two months later in October. You won’t have time to get a passport between the two events so get one now because after the NorAm, you’re going to need it.
If you can take the extra time off from work, I recommend adding a couple more days after the race to enjoy visiting some tourist destinations. Whether that means stopping on your long road trip drive or specifically spending an extra night or two in Boston. Boston has some great sites like Freedom Trail, Faneuil Hall, Bunker Hill or Paul Revere’s House if you are history buff. If you are more of an alcohol/sports fan check out Fenway Park (they do tours when there are no games), Cheers or the Boston nightlife.
That’s it for five things you need to know about NorAm travel. Next article we will cover the more important topic of the race itself. After all, that is the reason we are going to Stratton in the first place. So get your climbing legs ready…we are going to the top and I’m going to give you the rundown.
Evan Perperis, NSCA-CPT, is an athlete on the Conquer The Gauntlet Pro Team and author of three books on Obstacle Course Racing. Included in his 39 podium finishes is a 2nd place Pro Coed Team at the 2018 North American OCR Championships and 1st Place Team at 2018 World’s Toughest Mudder. Find more of his content at www.teamstrengthspeed.com.