The OCR Boys are an obstacle racing team that aims to inspire boys and help improve their fitness through obstacle course racing. We were recently introduced to one of their members, Flynn Stewart. Although only 12 years old, Flynn has been competing in obstacle racing at a high level for years. He has made a name for himself in the United Kingdom for being so good at such a young age; we had to ask him to join us on “10 Questions with…”
We even asked his father, Matthew Stewart, some questions about him.
We present to you “10 Questions with Flynn Stewart and some with his Dad.”
Your journey into OCR started young. How did you find the sport, and what do you remember about those early experiences?
My very first memory of OCR was when Dad would come home with these cool medals. It was challenging at first because I was only 4 and I had a few wobbles, but I really loved being outside. I do remember not liking the water obstacle at my very first OCR, Mini Military Mud Run……that has improved over time thankfully.
If you remember, what was, is that made you realize that you were good and that you had the ability to succeed?
When I first started, I was just having fun running around climbing over walls and jumping in and out of mud! It was my Dad that noticed that I was getting quicker and more confident. I have always been taught that it is your race results will tell you if you are are moving in the right direction. I suppose my first memory that all the hard work was working was in 2018 when I raced in the 10-13 age category at Junior Spartan at Sevenoaks aged 8 and came 5th. I remember my family, especially my Dad going nuts when I crossed the finish line. It was also the day I received my first OCR Boy race top……so it was a pretty special day all round.
I know you have a strong list of successes and podiums; what are your favorite three or four?
Junior Spartan Marston Lodge: 25th July 2021
I had waited a long time to race in my first ever Competitive Wave race after the cancellation of the 2020 season due to Covid 19. Marston Lodge is a venue I am very familiar with especially as I spend a lot of my time running up and down hills. It was important for three reasons: being my first ever Competitive Race win, who I had to beat to cross the finish line in first place and having my two younger teammates Aston and Jay Hearle going crackers as I came into the race village. That was such a buzz.
Nuclear Rookies Blast: 8th September 2018.
Nuclear Rookies has always been one of the first races on the calendar and I had been working my way up the leader board every year. I came 1st out 501 racers in the 4-8 age category and quite a few kids in the 9-14 age category. What I am most proud of is my time of 12:02 is the fastest ever single lap of Rookies, a record which still stands today.
Junior Spartan Marston Lodge: 14th July 2018
Straight after coming home first in the 7-9 age category race I went straight back out to run the course again to support my elder sister Milly, who was running the course with my older brother Dylan. Milly was born with Down Syndrome, so obstacle course races are quite a challenge especially as she is not a fan of mud, running or hills! I caught up with Dylan and Milly and we all finished the race together. So, on that day I finished first and last!
Junior Spartan Wales Competitive Wave: October 31st, 2021
My 4th Competitive Wave race of the year and my 3rd win meaning I had won the UK 10-11 age category for the year. I came over the line with 1 second lead after a sprint finish for the line. Coming home first in my category and the 12-14 age category topped a great season.
What is a typical school day for you?
Up at 6:30am to complete some pull up work as this is one area I am focusing on, walk 1.5m to school. When school finishes, I will walk home unless I have football or rugby training. Depending on what day of the week it is I will have after some sort of fitness training. After dinner I will complete 20 burpees in the quickest time possible something, I am doing all year as I first did in 2020
What else do you enjoy doing besides obstacle racing?
Like most 12 years I love my Xbox! I also support Liverpool Football Club. Training wise I keep my self pretty busy: I swim three times a week with Ware Swimming Club, play rugby for my school and have recently joined Hertford Rugby Club, I train with Hoddesdon Tri Club through the year with track training, running, open water swimming and bike training, I have weekly strength and conditioning classes with my next door neighbour who is into MMA and has a gym in his garden. I also train with Fordy Runs Junior Run Club every week and take part in 2km and 5km Park runs. OCR training wise I have weekly sessions with my PT Keith Lawrance. I am also part of the OCR Junior Development Programme which has also led to 1:1 session with Dave Peters from Rumble Fitness. I also have a rig in my garden to practise on.
Who have you met that has given you good advice, and what was it?
The best piece of advice I have been given was from my Dad when I was 5 years old. I had been signed up for the Junior Spartan. For whatever I reason I didn’t want to run, so I watched my brother. However, when Dylan was given his medal, I told Dad “Where is my medal?” However, Dad said you need to complete the race to get your medal………I wasn’t best pleased I can tell. However, it showed me at an early age if you want the rewards you must put the work in.
What advice do you have for kids that want to start and excel in obstacle racing?
Wow…… For those starting out, just go out and enjoy yourself. OCR is great fun and I love it. For those who want to improve then take it one step at a time. Each year we would add another level to my training, so I improve year on year. It has been a slow and steady upward curve but hard work and practise are the foundations of my training.
You are part of OCR Boys. Tell us about that team, how it has helped you, and how you pay it forward?
I have been part of the OCR Boys since its creation in 2018 and I love representing the team. There are 12 of us from US/Mexico, UAE, Canada and the United Kingdom. It is such a friendly team with some amazing OCR runners. As a team we are encouraged to work hard but also give back when we are at races. After running our race, we go back and run with the younger kids to support and encourage them. It is great fun and great to go back out on the course with no pressure. I had the pleasure of being encouraged and supported by Finley Greenleaf, from the UK when I first started Junior Spartan. He is the one junior athlete that I look up to and aspire to be like. He was great to me and would always go back out on the course and give runners hi-5’s. This year I have been supporting Jay Hearle who recently joined the OCR Boys. I ran with him at every Junior Spartan race and the improvement he made through the year was unbelievable. I also surprised him and his twin brother Aston at their local Junior Parkrun which was great fun and we also play Fortnite on my XBox.
What are your goals for 2022 and the future?
My focus is to qualify for the Junior Spartan World Championships in the Bahamas in August later this year. I am now in the 12-14 age category and have targets for this year and next year.
Future wise I am starting to think about stepping into adult races when I turn 14. Much will depend if my body is ready to handle the step up. There is no rush as I want to be doing this for years to come.
What would surprise us to learn about you?
I have a pair of red spectacles that are on the back of my OCR Boy race top. They represent my friend Hughie Pringle who sadly passed away. That way Hughie is always on my shoulders racing with me wherever I go.
QUESTIONS FOR DAD
How did Flynn tell you he wanted to get involved in OCR?
When he started wearing my race medals! We started out running together, Mini Military Mud Run was our first race as a family. As soon as we finished, he wanted to know when the next was!
How often did he race in 2021, and what were your highlights about his racing?
OCR wise he ran 11 times: 8 Junior Spartan races and Nuclear Rookies Blast, Nuclear Rookies Rush and Nuclear Rookie Pro Wave. My biggest highlight was watching Flynn support the younger runners at every race and his work with Jay, his younger teammate which makes me very proud. Result wise Marston Lodge was very special whilst Wales meant he was the best 10-11 Junior Spartan in the UK for 2021. That was very satisfying as I know how hard he works for everything he achieves.
What would like to see his future in the sport to be?
As long as he is happy running OCR then that will do for me. I will always support him in whatever he does.
How many countries have you taken to Flynn to for racing?
Outside of the UK we have only managed to race in one other country, Czech Republic at the end of last year. The Junior Spartan Competitive Series in Europe has been running a few more years than the UK. It was quite an experience for Flynn especially as the race started with a 1.2km uphill climb. That aside he came home 10th against the best racers in Europe on both days, running 3 minutes quicker on the Sunday. This year we are hoping to venture into Europe once again. Czech Republic is unfinished business for him, and the plan is to return in 2023 when he is 13 to have a serious crack at the podium.
Tell us how you feel while watching him race?
Very proud because I know how hard he works in training behind the scenes. Every podium, every win has been achieved the right way, the hard way because that is the only way he knows plus I do not have any race directors on speed dial. He is an honest racer, he has called a racer back when they took a wrong turn, he has stopped when a racer fell over and injured themselves and even waited for a runner when they were told to tie up their shoe laces which ultimately cost him the win. As part of the OCR Boys Flynn has signed a Code of Conduct and it is something, he is very proud of and lives by. Sadly, I am aware of other junior runners that do not follow such a code.
What is your best memory of Flynn’s racing?
Winning 17/18 races in 2019 was pretty special but my best memory came the same year when Flynn stepped up, aged 9 to race in the 10-14 Junior Spartan Open Wave at Marston Lodge and Aston Lodge winning both races but also faster than the winner of the Competitive Wave on both days. That was special for the young man.
Follow Flynn on Instagram: Flynn on Instagram