Jonathan Albon, 26, doesn’t have the most common background for endurance athlete. To say it in other words; he didn’t start running at age of ten but instead played roller hockey in England with his brother. He started playing in a local club when he was nine and ended up playing roller hockey on regional level and played once for Great Britain too. However in his twenties Jon quit roller hockey and needed something else to keep up his physical level. This is when he started to run.
Once there was a add about Muddy race in a newspaper asking ”Can you complete this?” Jon took this as a challenge and entried himself to this classic obstaclerace competition. They had to crawl on mud and dive in freezingly cold water. Jon completed the race with good time and what most important: enjoyd obstacle racing a lot. In fact he got crazy with it and the rest is history. Jonathan has won a punch of great titels. Last year he won OCR World Championships as well as the Spartan World Champion.
Crawling on mud, flying over different kind of obstacles, even diving and between all of this, running. What is this sport about?
Here is a small summary from Wikipedia for those whom obstacle racing is unknown sport:
Obstacle racing(OCR) is a sport in which a competitor, traveling on foot, must overcome various physical challenges that are in the form of obstacles. Mud and trail runs are combined and the races are designed to result in mental and physical collapse. Obstacles include, but are not limited to, climbing over walls, carrying heavy objects, traversing bodies of water, crawling under barbed wire, and jumping through fire. Many obstacles are similar to those used in military training, while others are unique to obstacle racing and are employed throughout the course to test endurance, strength, speed and, dexterity. Races vary in both distance and challenge level, combining trail running, road running, and cross country running
Sounds interesting. But Jon, why obstacle racing?
”It is one of the fastest growing sports in world at the moment. People have run half marathons, then marathons first on asfalt and then on trails. Now they are looking for something more extrem”, Jon says.
Jon himself did it other way round. He started with running just for fun, then compeeting in OCR and finally tried marathons too. His record time is 2:32. Last year he ran his first sky race: first running up to some mountain, then following ridge and in the end running down.
”This season I would like to do more sky races. Those are really challencing. Uphillraces are ok too but when you just run fast speed up, you skip all the fun. I am able to push myself really close to the limit, so when running just upphill, I have sometimes thought I’m not far away killing myself. On skyraces you can enjoy the views and tiny paths there up in the ridge and not just run with taste of blood in your mouth”, Jon lauhgs.
Last autumn Jonathan moved from London to Bergen because that’s where his norwegian girlfriend lives. Moving away from his earlier job gave Jon a nice opportunity to race as a professional for a while. During the winter Jon has trained a lot and taken a part for few competitions in Bahamas and Australia.
”As I do obstacleracing as my main task now, my girlfriend suggested me to have an off-season in autumn. I had few weeks of from normal training which gave me an opportunity to do what I really enjoy. So I ran 6 hours long trainings up in the mountains. Unfortunately running that much caused some problems for my shin and foot”
Because of the problems, Jon has to massage his foot with a tiny ball before and after every training and sometimes between them too. He is looking forward all the races this season and wants to be able to race them.
Jonathan started his season with a great victory in Dirty Dozen Race in England few weeks ago. Last weekend he raced in Malmö on Toughest race. Toughest are the biggest obstacle race series in Scandinavia. This summer Toughest will be organized in eight cities in Scandinavia with live broadcast time on national TVs. This means more sponsors, more prize money and more competitors from other sports too. However Jon is in a good shape, had a brilliant tactic and so he won the race in Malmö.
How does this all being a professional thing feel like for a guy who just wants to do what he enjoy doing?
”I enjoy what I do for now. There are a lot of new things to try and things to improve. Toughest races are nice challenge for this season and I want to do some sky races too. Maybe once I try orienteering too”, Jonathan grinns.
How does obstacle racer train? Which are the most important skills? More about these on next blog text, stay tuned!
Jon’s race blog: http://www.jonathanalbon.com/race-blog
Video about Jon: https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=1441199759513714