Many of you know her as the Service Manager and the smile you see at the OCR World Championships. Rachelanne Gladden is much more than the name on an email. She is well-rounded and always has a smile on her face. She is always a shining star for the OCR Community. She has been with Adventurey since 2014 and has seen the sport grow and change on two continents. We obviously had questions for her, and therefore, she is the next to join us for “10 Questions with…”
How did you find OCR, and what brought you into the sport?
I started back when my boot camp coach wanted us to all do a Spartan Race together back in 2012, and I was introduced to a few people from the Weeple Army and Team SISU in California while I was training for it. I thought it would be a fun thing to try, and next thing I knew, I was in love with the atmosphere and the community! I wanted to get more involved, so I volunteered to help in any way I could which lead me to becoming much more involved in the local teams and event organizations.
I know you have been with Adventurey since 2014. Tell us how you got involved at the beginning.
I met Adrian at an event, and originally applied for the Sponsorship/Partnerships Director position he was looking to fill at the time, which luckily fell into the hands of the FAR more capable Sandra Sawyer! I was under-qualified for that job, but Adrian luckily saw something different in me, and started to have me do bits and bobs to help out on an administrative level. When his business partner left to pursue other avenues, he asked if I would be willing to work full time for him and pick up the athlete correspondence and race affiliate centered work that needed doing, and I very gratefully and happily dove in! Adrian gives massive weight to loyalty and hard work and in return would all but literally take a bullet for those who are willing to dig in with him. One of the best leaps into the unknown I have ever taken for sure.
We all see a weekend of competition and fun. What goes into the planning of the OCR World Championships? Tell us about the behind-the-scenes work you do.
It is a genuinely successful event if all anyone sees is the competition and fun – that is very much the goal! I cannot take any credit whatsoever for what goes on out on the course, our boots-on-the-ground crew is second to none, and I am constantly in awe of what they accomplish. My job is to keep the athletes informed, answering all and any questions up to the event, sorting the registration process issues for them, getting them their visa invitations, and helping them through the qualification process. New athletes need more guidance, and it is my job to make sure they feel ready to hit the ground running, prepared as possible. I also am the liaison for our qualifying races globally, and communicate with them to help get them more visibility and help them bring their country’s athletes over for our event by getting them qualified. On race week, I handle the registration area, and help with any onsite last minute questions and needs. People get panicky when unexpected monkey wrenches get thrown at them during race weekend (and they so invariably do), so my number one goal is to assuage any concerns and help solve any issues that come up to try to make their weekend as fluid and positively memorable as possible!
What is the best part of the OCR World Championships for you?
No big surprise here, it is 100% the people for me. Seeing them come together, some for the first time since the year prior, or longer, and band together as one. Country pride is wonderful, and inevitable at such an event, but walls are broken down at the OCRWC, people are just PEOPLE there. The emotion in the event village is palpable, and everyone is touched by it. The incredible accomplishment people experience crossing the finish line is almost second to the spirit of the mere force of being there. As an organizer, I take it all in, and get very much caught up in it all.
When not planning our championships, how often are you racing and training?
As much as I love OCR, I do not participate in races anywhere near as often as I would like! I do a bit of slow happy running, but my daily workouts are CrossFit, which I love both for the fitness and the community (yes, there is a pattern here) and I have started doing aerial hoop this year, which I am a bit obsessed with now. It feels like flying!
If you had one OCR wish, what would it be?
That the sport will continue to thrive, and grow and be independent, exciting and inventive. You know – no big ask 🙂
What do you see as the differences in OCR in the USA and Europe?
It depends on the country! It is difficult at this particular time, as many races have had to take a step back and shake themselves off to see what the future can offer for them, but it will be amazing to see it build itself back up again. OCR in certain areas, such a Spain and Italy, and Latin America are beginning to genuinely flourish again, and the athletes are incredibly grateful to be diving back into the sport. America is taking a bit longer to get back on its feet, but I do not have a single doubt it will find its way. The sport itself has kept to its roots a bit more in the USA, where as in Europe a lot of the races have been veering towards more agility based obstacles, some finding a fantastic balance between the two vibes. That is something we enjoy balancing, giving our athletes as much of a global full-feel experience.
What do you enjoy doing for fun and relaxation? How do you balance it all?
CrossFit and aerial hoop are a big part of my physical and mental balancing act, and I love both exploring the world with my wonderful partner, or staying at home working on our home renovations. My work means a lot to me and it takes a very high place on my importance scale (which is made a lot easier when you love your job), but I have found it easier to balance these last few years, and know that tunnel vision is not healthy for anyone. Living in the UK has opened up a lot of doors for me by way of adventures and while I am a homebody by nature, pushing myself to get out and do all the things generally ends in being very happy I did.
What is the one thing you would like to accomplish for yourself?
I have been working a lot on my brain weasels this last year, on finding my best “HELL YES” and “no thank you” life balance. That has meant finding a lot of honesty within myself and acknowledging my past mistakes and making sure I do not repeat history with them. Being happy with who I am and not needing to be everything to everyone is a huge journey, and I work on that a little every day. I look forward to the day that it comes fully organically and does not require quite so many personal check-ins, but I am REALLY proud of the work I am doing with that.
Tell us something about you that we do not know?
Previous to this, I worked in talent management and entertainment. I was an executive assistant at Warner Brothers, and worked in both casting, and as the assistant to several managers of Hollywood actors, most notably, I had the absolute joy of working with the late James Gandolfini for years, starting from right before he was a household name. I think that job prepared me more than anything on how to do my current job, and learning that kindness, patience, a sense of humour, not being afraid of hard work and authentically knowing your stuff will get you pretty damn far. My life has taken a LOT of twists and turns, and I would not trade a single one of them for the lessons they have taught me. I will be a student of life to my last breath!
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