Al­bon was fast when he started rac­ing – but to take the crown at the 2014 World Ob­sta­cle Course Rac­ing Cham­pi­onship, he needed more than run­ning

Men's Fitness - - Up Your Game -

‘M‘My first event was a Tough Guy race in 2010,’ says 25-year-old Jon Al­bon. His mo­tive wasn’t to be­come a cham­pion. ‘It just sounded like a bit of fun be­cause it wasn’t a stan­dard run­ning race – you needed to jump over and crawl un­der stuff. I saw it as a test of how tough I was. I started quite a way back, but I man­aged to make up a few places in that first race.’ It was clear, though, that just be­ing a good run­ner wasn't enough. ‘I did very well in the run­ning,’ says the Nor­way-based English­man. ‘But I got re­ally cold and slowed down by the ob­sta­cles.’ Al­bon fin­ished 76th. His next race was the far less com­pet­i­tive Wolf Run, which he won fairly eas­ily, go­ing on to win sev­eral more races. When he started out, he says, ‘you could just run and win. But the sport has be­come a lot more com­pet­i­tive since then.’ He knew he needed to up his game if he wanted to stay out in front. Al­bon was happy with his speed – which he kept up with run­ning and cy­cling – but knew his grip strength was let­ting him down. ‘I added boul­der­ing ses­sions to my train­ing,’ he says. ‘Go­ing climb­ing made a mas­sive dif­fer­ence to my races. Peo­ple think you need strength to get over the ob­sta­cles, but it’s the strength in your fin­gers that will go first.’

And while Al­bon’s foot speed was good, he re­alised that the style of run­ning in ob­sta­cle races is dif­fer­ent to the steady pace found in 10Ks or marathons. ‘Ori­en­teer­ing is a sim­i­lar type of run­ning,’ says Al­bon. ‘The stop­start na­ture of hav­ing to run through woods and slow­ing to look at your map lends it­self to ob­sta­cle rac­ing.’

The change in prepa­ra­tion paid off. Al­bon won ev­ery sin­gle ob­sta­cle course race he en­tered in 2014, be­com­ing OCR World Cham­pion and Spar­tan World Cham­pion in the process. This year? More of the same. Time to get even tougher.

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