We’re back with a new Team OCR Beast highlight, where we’ll be focusing on athletes that are putting the extra work in, and seeing the results!
Zander has been working with us for just over a year. If you’ve ever met Zander, (or seen him on Instagram @z_kean) you’ll agree that he’s a big dude. He’s tall, and built, and it’s no surprise that obstacles like the sandbag carry, and hercules hoist are what he considers his strengths. But what IS surprising, is how fast the big man has gotten over the last 14 months.
Zander’s initial running assessment translated to about a 6:44 mile time. Just the other day, his coach had him do a 1 mile time trial, and he ran a 5:40! He’s seen incredible gains all across the board his he’s been on the Run with Purpose program. We wanted to highlight Zander for his recent achievements, and get to know a bit more about him and his journey.
What is your background in fitness / athletics?
Growing up, I was one of those kids who was always playing a team sport in every season. I was never a star or the best athlete, but always loved being part of a team and the competition. I played baseball from tee ball all the way through high school, basketball almost as long, and soccer, lacrosse and football for a while as well. In high school I played first base and along the offensive and defensive line, so needless to say there wasn’t a whole lot of running involved – before OCR, the longest “run” I did was an annual four mile run at the summer camp I went to growing up… and needless to say I didn’t actually run the whole thing. Anyway, after high school I stayed generally active through college and after, but aside from some intramural leagues there wasn’t much structure or competition to it – I mostly lifted and went for the occasional random jog. Fortunately, about two years ago I caught the OCR bug and everything changed.
Tell us about your first OCR experience.
My first OCR was in early 2016, but I actually heard about the sport well before that. Up until about three or four years ago, my parents lived in Amesbury, Massachusetts about five minutes away from Amesbury Sports Park, which used to be a regular venue for Spartan and other race series. So the growing sport of OCR was in the news pretty regularly back then. In 2013 or 2014, I got a first-hand account from a friend who ran a Tough Mudder – and even though 10 miles seemed absurd at the time, it piqued my interest that much more. With my work schedule at the time I didn’t have an opportunity to actually race for another couple of years, but that changed a couple years later and I signed up for a Warrior Dash in February of 2016. I remember crossing the finish line covered in mud and amazed that I was able to run the full 5k, and after my shoulders stopped hurting a few days later I immediately started looking for more races. I ended up running a Savage Race about a month later, three or four more races that fall and I was hooked.
What one memorable race will always stick out in your mind?
Without a doubt, it’s the 2017 OCR World Championships 15K in Blue Mountain, Ontario. The incredible atmosphere at the resort that hosted the race weekend aside, the course itself was a mix of mud, mountain climbs, spitting rain, mud, difficult obstacles, heavy carries up mountain climbs, and more mud. I lost my band about halfway through the race, grinded through five slick, muddy treks up those slopes and was on the course for more than three and a half hours. But the feeling of coming back into the festival area, completing Floating Walls, pulling myself over the finishing wall and sprinting across the finish line is something I’ll never forget. Crushing a giant tub of poutine and trading war stories with OCR Beast teammates later that night only added to the experience. I’ve got a whole lot of awesome races ahead of me, but OCRWC is going to stay at the top a long time.
What has your experience been training with OCR Beast?
It’s been incredible. I started training with OCR Beast at the start of 2017 – shortly after finding out that my result at a Savage Race a few months prior qualified me for OCR World Championships later that year. To be honest, I didn’t know the first thing about running for the first 27 years of my life, and having a coach who’s able to build out a great training program and provide guidance about all aspects of training and racing has allowed me to make huge strides. It’s been 15 months and sometimes I feel like I’m still getting started in this, but the results speak for themselves – and I’m not just saying that because I PR’d my mile time by over 40 seconds this past week. Plus, being part of the OCR Beast team is a huge bonus. Though we’re spread all the way from Canada and New England to down here in Florida and even overseas, we’ve got a great community feel that hits the right balance of competitive and supportive. Having a group that keeps each other motivated – both when we meet up at races or on something like Instagram – makes everything that much more fun.
What are your goals for 2018?
I’ve got a few goals for 2018, both surrounding general performance and specific events:
First, I want to consistently be competitive in my age group – either in the new Age Group category at Spartan events or in the Elite wave at Savage Race, Bone Frog or other series. Continuing to improve both my running capacity and obstacle proficiency will go a long way toward making that jump from 6th – 10th in my age group to a “podium” spot.
Second, I have my eyes set on keeping my band at the North American OCR Championships and OCR World Championships. I ran both the 3k and 15k at the USOCR Champs and OCRWC last year, and came home bandless from both events. Needless to say, there’s some unfinished business out there.
Lastly, I want to get out of my comfort zone and dip my toes in “going long.” I tend to perform best at races in the 6-8 mile range, and haven’t done an event longer than a Spartan Beast or a half marathon. I’m aiming for a long race at some point this summer – either a Toughest Mudder (8 hours) or a trail marathon depending on how my schedule works out.
Ok… now for the lightning round:
Favorite obstacle race series / distance?
Savage Race for sure. 6-7 miles is a great distance and their obstacles strike that balance of interesting and challenging.
Favorite obstacle (any series)?
Floating Walls from Indian Mud Run and OCRWC. We’ve all seen a traverse wall, but having that wall move while you’re suspended in mid-air going higher and higher is something else.
What do you consider your strength when it comes to OCR?
Definitely heavy carries and other pure strength-based obstacles. I’m a pretty big dude (6’4″, 195), so I’m usually able to power through and pass a few people on any long sandbag or bucket carry.
Something you do in your free time that isn’t OCR / training related?
Well, to most people OCR is what I do in my free time! But really, I majored in Broadcast Journalism in college (University of Miami) and I do play-by-play and PA announcing for local teams here in Jacksonville.
What type of run shows up on your schedule that you’re like “hell yeah, can’t wait for Wednesday’s workout”?
Tempo Runs, without a doubt. Something about putting down a sustained intense effort (and having my coach up the ante every week) really speaks to me.
Anything else you want to mention?
I’m super thankful to have the opportunity to be featured for the Athlete Highlight! Joining OCR Beast has honestly been life-changing, and I’d definitely encourage anyone looking to take their training and racing game to the next level to make the leap and give it a shot.
Follow Zander on Instagram: @z_kean
Learn more about Run with Purpose coaching here.