Editor’s Note: This article originally ran Oct. 21, 2016 and the title has been trimmed. Due to the pandemic, we are tapping into our archives more for arts and sports. This section will return to its regular schedule when the crisis concludes with Alberta reaching Phase 3 of its relaunch.
By Mitch Goldenberg
Kyla Presley did not want to give up her black band.
Competing in the Obstacle Course Racing World Championships in Collingwood, Ont. last weekend, the Stony Plain native needed to complete each obstacle on the course to keep her black wristband and qualify for the podium.
Competing in the women’s masters category, Presley was cruising along the 3 km short course that was packed with 15 obstacles. She reached a challenge involving a series of verticals sticking up from the ground, and she had to will herself through the obstacle with her upper body strength.
She came within a foot of success the first two times she tried it, but on the third attempt, Presley dislocated her shoulder.
“It took me five minutes to put my shoulder back in, then I tried two more times,” she said. “My arms were jelly though, so I had to give up my band and keep going.”
Finishing the course after jamming her shoulder back in its socket speaks volumes to how far Presley will go to complete a challenge and reach her goal.
Bored of running
Presley took up road racing about six years ago and worked her way up to running a half marathon.
In 2013, she was compelled to give obstacle course racing a try and completed the Spartan “trifecta,” a 5 km sprint, a 14 km super and a 21 km beast race that involved a wide range of obstacles.
“It’s a run but with walls to climb, hurdles to jump, monkey bars to get through and lots of other things,” Presley described. “It takes lots of strength and endurance, I practice by attaching a rope to the bicycles of my two youngest kids and pulling them uphill while wearing weight vests and sand bags.”
Presley has now finished four straight trifectas and also began competing in Spartan’s “beast” race in 2015.
Spartan beast races consist of hiking up and down mountains for 50 km and 68 obstacles. She finished second in 2015 and third place this year with a time of nine hours and 39 minutes.
On top of the world
Presley qualified for the world championships by finishing first in the elite women’s division at this year’s Edmonton Spartan race.
Three of her training partners also ran that obstacle course race… her kids Aiden, Evan and Quinlan.
“We train in our backyard, we have pull-up bar between two trees, pipes dangling, a, slack line, a big giant rope to monkey hang and go from one end to the other,” Presley said. “The boys come and join me and that makes it fun. It’s like going to the park and playing on the equipment together. They are sometimes better than me, and that motivates me to try and push my comfort zone.”
Presley, a massage therapist and certified personal trainer on the side, says competing in the elite stream of obstacle course racing has become a passion.
“I like to see the challenge, beat it and keep doing better,” she said. “I train to run faster, stronger and do obstacles more efficiently. It’s fun, it’s like going out and playing. I push my body to the limit, see where my weaknesses are, build on that and conquer it the next time I’m out there.”
It took a long list of people to help Presley fly east to take on the challenge.
She says she would not have been able to compete without the help of the Monarch Exterior Center, Dentistry by Dekterov, Presley Mechanical, Ram Aluminum, Ram Welding and SOS Magazine as well as Les Pawlowich, Brenda Chevalier and Paul Twamley.
Presley conquered her fair share of obstacles during her first trip to Worlds. She left, though, with a chip on (and nearly without) her shoulder and a vow to keep that black wristband next year.
“I learned that sometimes my mind puts doubt in my head, and if there’s a doubt, I have to be stronger than that doubt to complete the obstacle,” she said. “Physically I know I can do it, but there’s an inner mental battle that I will conquer next time.”
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