Top-ranked, professional OCR-star Faye Stenning is the latest newcomer to the renowned Rehband Ambassadors. Faye’s gregarious nature and tenacity shine through as we dig deeper into her background. This unique story includes insight on her quick transition from being in a corporate world to a pro-athlete.
To begin with, obstacle course racing can be described as a sport where the competitors travel on foot while overcoming various challenges in the form of obstacles. Faye explains that instead of running on a flat road or a field, the races are usually very mountainous. You run over rocks, mountainous terrain, and very well might find yourself at a water crossing! The obstacles are everything from the more simple wall climbs, crawling under something, and then there are strength based obstacles:
“So you’re pulling a heavy weight up and down or you’re carrying buckets of sandbags. Then they have some more technical and ninja-style obstacles such as monkey bars, grip strength obstacles, rigs, ropes that you’re climbing up.” Faye says.
She also explains that raw strength is important and since OCR includes many different parts, the training is very diverse and fun:
“Every day you wake up and it’s like your body is going to be put through something it wasn’t put through the day before.”
Some of the races takes her up to 3 hours:
“It’s very endurance-based so you have to have a good enduro engine but you also have to have a strong upper body.”
Growing up in Calgary, Canada, Faye humbly describes that her life was quite traditional in the sense that she went to high school, university, and ran track and cross-country for extracurricular activities. In her early twenties however, she got quite burnt out and exhausted from running. Revealing that she, at the time, needed something different and thus took a break from running and to hit the gym. Circuit training and CrossFit®-style classes were on the agenda.
“I did that for a couple years and then one day I just missed being outside in nature, running.”
Faye started running again but kept up the gym work:
“Like a small endurance athlete, people are always so surprised about how much I can lift and do in the gym.”
The actual OCR-entry happened later in life by chance. Her boyfriend at the time talked her into doing a low-key local obstacle course race one weekend just for some fun and exercise. Faye ended up beating everyone in her first race. Unlike other stories you might have heard about athletes being seriously hooked the first time trying a sport, this wasn’t quite the case with Faye:
“I was like, this is silly, there’s no competition. It felt good to win but it wasn’t quite the level of competition that I wanted.”
After the first race they both entered more races on the weekends and started to travel together to various races in the States. Little did she know that she would turn professional a few years later:
“It was more about the trip than it was about competing. At that point we just kind of wanted to travel and see some places we’d never seen before and we thought, hey why not do something healthy and fun and push ourselves while we’re there”.
The racing went very well during the year and she competed in her first Spartan race during 2013:
“I had success in the States and I was starting to beat some people that I later found out were on this Pro-Team which I then knew nothing about.”
In 2016 she received a call to be on the Spartan Pro-Team. At the time she had a corporate job at a big oil and gas company and realized that she would need to do more races than her vacation time would allow for:
“I didn’t have enough vacation time from work to make this all happen so I asked my job. And this was like crazy because it’s not usually something you go in and out of. I talked to all these managers who basically requested that I took a leave of absence for four months while I go obstacle course racing. They didn’t even know what it was, they were like “what”?”
She successfully managed to get her leave of absence to try out going pro. This leap of faith resulted in a very good season of racing, winning prize money, and being approached by sponsors. Eventually she quit her previous job after crunching the numbers:
“So I haven’t been back there, I love not working at a desk.”
Curious in learning more about how Faye trains and what her future goals are? Stay tuned for the next article which covers her training regimen, mental tricks, and even more about the OCR-community.
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