Most people, when completing an obstacle, do not think about how it was made or who built it. Aaron and Dana of Race Ready Obstacles not only wondered about those questions but became one of the premier obstacle builders in the OCR Community.
They took a few minutes out of their schedule to join us on “10 Questions with…” Aaron and Dana Sabia of Race Ready Obstacles.
First off, how did you get introduced to the sport of obstacle racing, and when did you say…” I can make obstacles”?
We ran our first OCR, a Spartan Sprint, in the summer of 2016. Dana saw an advertisement that the race was about an hour from our house, and it looked fun. That was the only race we did that year. The next year we signed up for more OCR races that were around our are, and that’s when I started making obstacles in our backyard to train on. Dana would post our backyard family workouts on social media, and people would always ask, “Who built your rig?” and “Where did you get the Twister?” Then in the summer of 2019, a friend asked if I could build her a backyard rig. Immediately after I built hers, her friends started reaching out to me, wanting their own rig. She even had complete strangers stop by her house and knock on her door to ask who built the rig for her. It was right after building that first rig that we started Race Ready Obstacles. At first, Twisters and Spears were the only things I made, with Twisters usually being part of what people would want on the backyard rigs I was building for people around the Chicago area. A few months later, a fellow OCR friend that owns a tool and die shop suggested we make grips in which he could cut my logo into the metal using his waterjet. When I first saw a prototype of my logo cut out of the metal, I remember thinking how cool it looked compared to just slapping a sticker on it. So then, we started making grips, and that’s when we began shipping OCR toys all over the country.
What was the first complete obstacle that you ever built?
The very first complete obstacle I made was an 8FT wall. Next was Monkey Bars, Olympus Wall, and Twister, which I combined into one big training rig in our backyard. As far as the first obstacle I built for other people; it was Twister.
To date, what has been the favorite obstacle that you have built, and which one are you most proud of? I have a few favorites, but if I had to pick one, I’d go with an obstacle called Tilt-A-Kilt. It’s a signature obstacle I built for a race around the Chicago area called Highlander Assault. It’s a rig that starts with a trapeze bar that goes into two sections of tilting monkey bars, then two rings, and then the bell. I had a lot of racers tell me how much they enjoyed that obstacle, and that always makes me happy.
Through constructing obstacles, what have you learned about obstacle racing in terms of people and their desire to improve?
People like a challenge. They may not be able to do it the first time or even the second time. It might take them thirty times. But when they get it for the first time, they are so pumped up! And then, when they can get it all the time, they are looking for something new to challenge them. That’s what I love about the sport and what I do. I get to constantly innovate and come up with new things to challenge people.
It seems like you are all over the map; which events have you worked on in the past? Frontline OCR, Highlander Assault, and Abominable Snow Race I will typically always be working at since each of those are around the Chicago area. Other events I’ve helped build for are City Challenge (New York), Indian Mud Run (Ohio), OCRWC (Vermont), and then this year I’ll be building for Mythic Race (Missouri) and Battle of the Lions (Kansas, Oklahoma, Dallas)
When you aren’t at a race or working, what do you do to relax and have fun?
Ummmmmm. Not much in the way of relaxing currently. Being we’re still just a two-person team; we work constantly. But thankfully, we love what we do. Although, when we do have the time, we enjoy going hiking and biking with our kiddos, reading and playing scrabble. Usually, during holidays, we’ll get together with Aaron’s parents, who live about a mile from us, and play team Scrabble, them against us. So much fun. So much trash-talking. Always good times.
You have a very good balance mentally, and your disposition is always positive. How do you maintain that positive balance?
Dana is my positive balance. I have always been a bit of a pessimist. But, combined? We balance each other, and it’s what makes us such a great team. There are a lot of people that couldn’t work with their significant others, but this whole journey to where we are now was started so that we could work together. So, to us, we are living the dream.
What are your plans for the rest of 2022?
We’re planning on taking a four-month vacation starting tomorrow… Just kidding. Now that we are in the race season, life has gotten WAY busier. I will be bouncing around building and race directing around the country. Combine that with fabricating grips and coming up with new things to make for people and races, and for the foreseeable future, we are going to be busy as can be. The positive side of being that busy is that we do as much of it as possible as a family. This isn’t just the Aaron and Dana show. The kiddos are involved as well.
What advice do you have for people in terms of starting a business in obstacle racing and being an entrepreneur in general?
Owning your own business is work. A ridiculous amount of work. It honestly sucks some days. It’s not like we wake up in the morning, grab a cup of coffee, head off to the job and work for 8.5 hours and come home, and the workday is over. It’s non-stop. It’s stressful in a lot of ways. And yet, at the same time, when you find something you love, it is fulfilling. There are some days we can work 16 hours and still need to work another 27 to get enough done because we are behind on stuff. It can be exhausting. That being said, we wouldn’t trade it for the world. We get to work together in a business that supports not only a sport that we love but people that we love.
Husband and wife. The floor is open for you to answer this; what about you do we not know and tell us what you would like us to know?
Hmm. We share so much of who we are and what we do on social media (Instagram mostly); everything from things we do as a family, work stuff, both of which are OCR related, and our faith. And while we are most certainly a business that builds and sells obstacles and other OCR training equipment, it’s never been just about the obstacles. It’s about helping people. Sometimes we do that by building a grip that someone has been struggling with on a course, or walking someone through how to set up grip attachments to their ceiling joists via a video call, or stopping to give a fellow racer that you see having cramps some of our pickle juice shots. Sometimes it’s seeing that person standing alone in the festival area at a race, and walking up and talking to them to make them feel welcome and that they belong. Everything that we do is about helping people and building up a community in the way that we best know how, which happens to be through OCR.
Check out Race Ready Obstacles: https://racereadyobstacles.com/
See Previous 10 Questions: 10 Questions with Dave Claxton