We all know some big-name athletes in the sport of OCR. However, there are so many athletes out there who work extremely hard day in and day out and simply aren't quite as well known. We started this series, "Awesome Athletes In OCR" to highlight some great athletes in our sport! We hope you enjoy learning a bit about them, just like we have!
Without further ado, Lillie Elkin!
How long have you been participating in Obstacle Course Racing, and how many races have you done in competitive waves?
I’ve been competing in OCR since 2017! My first race was in May of that year, and after that one race I was absolutely hooked. I have ran in 36 competitive waves, which have been a mix of Age Group and Elite. Since November of 2019 I have been fully competing in the Elite wave.
Of every race you’ve ever completed, which was your favorite and why?
This one is so difficult! I have had so many amazing races, and each carry their own wonderful memories with them. But if I had to choose, I would say it was probably the Spartan Ultra in Aspen, CO last year. My boyfriend and I ran it together so we could encourage each other and have that experience, plus it was my first Ultra and I was nervous about the distance. The whole venue was just gorgeous, and it was a very cool opportunity to be able to do that race with someone so special to me.
If you HAD to lose a race to another athlete, who would you be MOST OKAY losing to?
There are so many accomplished and fierce fellow athletes out there, I know everyone works so hard for the spot they get. If I lose to someone, I know it’s because they put in more time and effort to prepare for the event, and they just wanted it more. So technically, anyone in this sport I would be okay losing to, that way I know I need to work harder! But coming in just behind Lindsay Webster would be pretty amazing. To be able to say I was battling it out with one of the top athletes in the sport would be mind blowing.
Q4: What does a typical week of OCR training look like for you?
It’s not very precise right now. I’m trying to figure out an ongoing injury I’ve had with my foot, and with races being out the training hasn’t been very specific. However, when I do get back to preparing for races again and I’m all healed, I’m thinking the training schedule will look a little something like this:
Monday-Plyo/HIIT training w/ core
Tuesday-60-90 min easy run
Wednesday-Speed drills (hill repeats, sprints, tempo run) w/ core
Thursday-45 min easy run or 60 min bike ride
Friday-Strength day w/ core
Saturday-2 hr+ long run
Sunday-Rest day w/ yoga/mobility
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If someone gave you a stick of dynamite and told you that you were allowed to destroy your SECOND most hated obstacle at any race, which would you blow up?
Ooooh I would probably have to say The Box in Spartan Racing. That sucker is usually placed in the race when you’re already drained of energy, and it requires a certain technique to get over, which I haven’t entirely figured out yet.
What area of the USA do you call home?
Billings, MT at the moment! It’s on the South Eastern side of the state, more plains and plateaus than mountains.
Have you ever crossed the finish line at a race and felt as though you did everything as well as you possibly could have based on your current abilities?
Most definitely! I’ve had a couple races like this, but I would say the one that sticks out the most is Spartan World Champs Tahoe 2019. Anyone that was there will tell you those were absolutely brutal conditions to race in. When I crossed that finish line, I was absolutely drained. Not only did it test my physical limits, but it was probably the race that has tested my mental limits the most so far.
You’re starting a team to run a Relay Spartan Beast (that would be awesome...they should make those). The maximum team size is 3 athletes. Which two athletes are you trying to recruit for your team, and why?
If it’s co-ed racing, I would probably say Jonny Lunalima and Robert Killian. Both those guys are really good at longer distances and technical terrain, which Beasts usually have a lot of. If I’m only allowed females, I would say Rebecca Hammond and Lindsay Webster or Nicole Mericle. Those women are incredible at Beast distance, and all are very obstacle proficient.
For an OCR athlete, there is always some area of fitness (strength, speed, endurance, mobility, etc.) that can be improved on, and there are always areas of strength. What would you say is your biggest strength in OCR currently?
I would say anything that requires powerful movements. For example, tire flips, heavy carries, sprints to the finish line (if necessary). I’ve always had a very solid build in my legs and glutes, which probably came from my history as a softball player!
You get a phone call from a number you don’t know. You answer the phone. On the other end, the person tells you that you’ve been named CEO of an OCR company. In your mind, you’re hoping that the company you are CEO of now, is:
Probably the OCR brand. They have a huge global impact as far as the sport is concerned, and the obstacles they present to the community are just insane!
What is the most important thing (or top few important things) that you’ve learned from OCR training and racing so far?
Number one lesson would definitely be that REST and RECOVERY matter so much more than we realize. You can’t really do much if you break your own body. I’ve also really come to learn the power of your mindset. If you’re in a race thinking that you’ve already lost in the middle of it, then yes, you’re most likely gonna lose. Negative thoughts are toxic and create nothing but bad vibes. But if you think positively and hang on to that “what if” when competing and push yourself to claim the top spot, you have a much better chance of hitting podium. Positivity is so powerful when it comes to life in general, but in sports it is everything.
What one location on earth would you NEVER do an OCR at?
Probably the cold, uninhabitable portion of Russia. I just imagine that I would be miserable the whole time!
Be honest, do you stretch and foam roll regularly?
I try to after every workout! That doesn’t always happen, but it is one of the many little things that I’m trying to get better at.
If all OCRs changed their format so that only 1 competitive athlete ran the entire course at a time (the winners being determined by fastest time of completion), would you still participate even though you wouldn’t be racing directly against other athletes at the same time?
I most likely would, yes! It wouldn’t be as much fun if I couldn’t race alongside anyone, and I feel like the competitive spirit in a lot of us would diminish without having fellow athletes to push us, but it would still be worth it.
In 2 years, where do you see yourself in the sport of OCR?
I’m hoping in two years I’m on the Spartan Pro Team, and be able to at least partially support myself financially through sponsorship and prize money.
The hardest race you ever did was? Why?
It was probably the Spartan Sacramento Super in November 2017. My nutrition was off, I felt so terrible, and had very disappointing results for myself personally. It definitely was a disheartening race for me. But I learned from it and came back better!
Be honest, have you ever gone back and gotten a second or third FitAid at the finish line at a Spartan Race?
I don’t think I have, but if I ever have, it’s because my dad asked for one! XD
Your top three favorite obstacles from any OCR company are:
I really love Stairway to Sparta, Inverted Wall, and Multirig, all from Spartan Racing. I haven’t done any other OCR races besides Spartan, but I’m hoping to branch out soon!
Finally, will you cry with joy when you’re able to attend a NORMAL race again?
I feel like there might be legitimate tears going on when I am able to race again. This community is so amazing and I have definitely missed it this year.
THANK YOU so much to Lillie for sharing her answers and thoughts and experiences with us, and all those reading this! If you're looking for another awesome OCR athlete to follow on Instagram, you can find Lillie at the following handle: @lillieelkin_spartanocr
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