NORTH LEWISBURG – Some individuals spend years or even an entire lifetime trying to overcome life’s unexpected obstacles, while others like North Lewisburg native Gavin Coleman seek out obstacles that test one’s physical and mental toughness.
A 2012 graduate of Triad High School, Coleman is part of a section of the population which partakes in the extreme sport sport of obstacle course racing (OCR) in which competitors tackle head-on obstacles like scaling 8-foot walls, jumping over fire pits, crawling under barbed wire and pulling a 70-pound cement-filled cinder block up the side of a hill.
So why have millions of people throughout the world taken part in OCR at some point in time throughout the past decade?
For Coleman, it’s the personal challenge the sport provides.
“These races can push you to your absolute limit both physically and mentally if you’re willing to let yourself go that far,” he said. “You learn a lot about yourself on the course and what you’re truly capable of accomplishing if you have the ability to endure.”
Coleman’s involvement in the sport began three years ago after seeing pictures and reading about Spartan Race – one of the sport’s most popular and well-known racing series – on the Internet.
“I thought, man, that really looks like it would be a lot of fun,” he recalled. “So, I talked a few friends into trying it with me, and we signed up for our first event. After that first Spartan Race in Palmerton, Pennsylvania, I instantly just fell in love with the sport.”
Ever since that first race in 2014, Coleman has dedicated himself to the sport, and his accolades speak for themselves. Having competed in over 30 events, Coleman has earned multiple top three finishes in his age group and multiple top 20 overall finishes.
His success has also resulted in sponsorships from the following companies who cater to athletes like Coleman: RSP Nutrition, Organic Fuel, Oral I.V. and HYLETE.
Reaching the sport’s pinnacle
To date this year, Coleman said he has tripled the amount of races he has competed in compared to the 2014 and 2015 OCR seasons, and he expects to increase his race participation even more in 2017.
The 2016 season, however, is far from over as Coleman has plans to show the world he can compete with the best of the best.
This past June, Coleman entered his first-ever Savage Race, which just happened to be held in nearby Zanesfield on Mad River Mountain. The race, which featured 25 obstacles stretched along five miles of trails of varying elevations, turned out to be one he soon won’t forget as his top 10 finish in his age group landed him a spot in the upcoming Obstacle Course Racing World Championships (OCRWC) to be held Oct. 14-16 at Blue Mountain Resort in Ontario, Canada.
“I will be competing for my age group in the 15k course and the pro division of the 3k short course,” Coleman said. “I will also be running in the team course challenge for fun as part of the MIT Tough Team.”
While qualifying for the OCRWC is an achievement in itself, Coleman is far from satisfied. Instead of bringing back souvenirs from Blue Mountain to remember the trip for years to come, he has his sights set on returning from Canada with some OCRWC hardware in hand.
“I have trained countless hours, logged hundreds of miles, and pushed through numerous extremely tough courses,” Coleman said. “I am not going to Canada with the intention of losing.”
When Coleman isn’t working his full-time job as manager of MC Sports in Marysville, he can either be found training for his next event or helping others get into shape as a part-time certified fitness trainer.
Up until recently, Coleman was heading up a boot camp-style fitness class at Pulse Fitness Urbana, 407 W. Court St., known as “The Gauntlet.”
“It focuses primarily on core/cardio circuit training to promote functional strength,” he said. “I have also been known to throw in some OCR-inspired workouts to keep things fun and interesting.”
A few months back, however, Coleman decided to take some time off in order to focus on OCR. His desire is to get back to instructing the class later this year.
“I am hoping to return after this OCR season if they’ll have me,” he said.
Joshua Keeran may be reached at 937-652-1331 (ext. 1774) or on Twitter @UDCKeeran.