I had the distinct pleasure of spending some time with Christopher Reese; we were both in Killington, Vermont as I went for my third Ultra Beast this past September. He is someone I have long been familiar with. He was on Broken Skull Challenge and was one of our first OCRAddict racer profile submissions as we began the adventure that is OCRAddict.com. Over two years have gone by, and this was the first time I had a chance to really talk to the man behind those glimpses.
OCR for many, if not most of us, is a story of transformation. That transformation can be emotional, physical, and even spiritual because of the physical and mental challenges we place on ourselves. The massive diversity of humanity we intertwine with ensures that none of us are the same. As I reflect on my conversation with Stormfury, he is a perfect framing of the amazing abilities of this sport and its athletes because of the growth and healing it holds for those willing to give it their all in one form or another.
His story begins in Northwest Pennsylvania. Early on he found himself with people who encouraged him to be the worst version of himself instead of the best version. It led him to make choices that would place him in situations none of us would want to be in. He was forced to face demons before he had lived enough to have earned them while hurting those whom truly cared for him; ultimately having an external intervention to remove himself from the environment. All that being said, I do not think he’d change any of it. It made him who he is today, inspiring those around him. Being able to help youth across the country to learn from his mistakes by making positive adaptions to their environments instead of taking easy escapes.
Ultimately Chris has persevered where others failed by finding positive and healthy substitutions to his lifestyle to empower his growth. He placed his energy into fitness and training to release his energy into something productive instead of destructive. That would lead him to move to something public instead of isolated. In 2010 he discovered Obstacle Course Racing, courtesy of his brother, and tackled his first Tough Mudder. He still remembers that first conversion with OCRAddict. In that moment, he knew he was no longer the same athlete that walked onto the course. The passion grew in him as he became closer to the great hearts of our community. In 2014, he competed in the Broken Skull Challenge which is where I first ‘met him’ via the television screen.
We talked about what he looked for in equipment and clothing that he utilized on the course. He remarked how Marena (formally Athletics8 or A8) has helped improve his performance. The Elite line of compression has helped him avoided cramps and have greater endurance compared to his previous benchmarks. We reminisced about some very cold races where we both witnessed athletes break down mid-stride and medically DNF. To him, the gear is comfortable and has an almost custom-tailored feel, leading him to believe that was the difference in staying strong when others go into pure shock during cold water submersions and quickly recover in-race to return to pace.
For training and recovery, the importance of compression has been evident in maintaining an aggressive twice-a-day training schedule. This gives Chris the ability to move past his previous limits and rebuild quicker to be ready to go and do it again. Beyond that, Chris spoke about Marena’s care for the athletes. Long before he joined the team, the staff was always there to help him make the right choice. Since officially joining the team, the family, like loyalty, and top-of-the-industry quality has reminded him of the goals he aims to reach. Be sure to say hi to Chris at your next Spartan Race and follow his journey on Instagram at Stormfury Elite.