UCC will soon boast the first obstacle course racing team in U.S. community college history, a sport that can be viewed as one of the most challenging and difficult.

Obstacle course racing is comparable to military training. Practice doesn’t necessarily mean working on specific skills like shooting or ball handling in other sports, but instead, athletes train the entire body to prepare for any obstacle. Those include climbing cargo nets, crawling under barbed wire, crawling through PVC pipes, running a quarter mile while carrying a cinder block and more. The most common analogy to OCR is American Ninja Warrior.

Although OCR is a taxing and exhausting sport, it’s also seen as one of the most rewarding, self-motivating and mental-strengthening sports.

“No other sport will make you stronger mentally and physically than OCR,” coach Andrea Bowden explained. “OCR builds you as an athlete like no other sport, and at the same time builds us as partners in a race like no other sport.”

Coach Bowden has been a fitness trainer for more than 30 years and previously ran a successful small group training gym in Bandon. She is new to coaching OCR but has participated in 10 different obstacle course races and finished in first place in at least five of those races. She is Spartan Small Group Exercise and Spartan Obstacle Specialist certified. Spartan is the only recognized certification to specifically train OCR.

“I think the hardest thing about OCR is the mental game of telling yourself to keep going when your body wants to quit,” obstacle course team member William Turner said. “There’s always going to be winners and losers, but the real battle is inside your head, and that’s why I find OCR rewarding,” Turner continued. “It’s me versus my perceived limits.”

For now, UCC’s OCR team is participating in light training and getting to know one another before competitive training begins in August. UCC plans to host an OCR event this fall, and the team will also compete in the “Race the Inferno” event September 23 in Salem, Oregon.

The Riverhawks are also scheduled for the Physical Training Championship in Chemeketa this October, but the PTC is not as much of an obstacle course race as a friendly competition to see where UCC stands against other community colleges.

UCC also plans to compete in two obstacle course races in spring 2018.

Right now, the RiverHawks have four people on the unofficial roster, and UCC is looking for males or females interested in joining the team.

“OCR has given me confidence in ways beyond my dreams,” Bowden said. “OCR took an insecure, depressed, skin-and-bones woman and made her into a conqueror,” Bowden continued. “It has changed my life, and I want everyone else to experience the same amazing life transformation I did.”