We first spoke to Jay earlier this year while he was preparing for Worlds Toughest Mudder, he approached us about getting a special custom branded dryrobe produced. Fair to say it took a bit of work on his part and good will on the part of Tough Mudder to make it happen. Andrea Libretti at dryrobeUSA HQ suggested we reached out to Jay and dryrobe's Eva Metcalfe caught up with him to hear his story.
Jay and Sean at World's Toughest Mudder 2016
You can't fail to work at dryrobe and hear a lot about OCR. In my short time here I've seen so many inspiring stories but this one stood out. I interviewed Jay Mazza about his journey from his first OCR experience, to competing in the brutal 24 hour long race that is World’s Toughest Mudder.
As someone who has never competed in an obstacle race course, I have always been curious as to what it is that draws people to these hardcore and challenging events. After getting a background on these races from doing social media at dryrobe, I thought I had a good understanding of why people compete; to improve their endurance and overcome intense obstacles. After talking to Jay and hearing about his experiences, I learnt about the less talked about emotional journey.
Custom branded dryrobe
Jay’s first OCR race was a Tough Mudder event in Philadelphia in 2015, he had signed up to the race determined to complete it after an injury had caused him to miss the previous year’s opportunity to race. He had signed up without really knowing what he was in for and he had also decided to run the race alone without any support. He described sitting there at the beginning of the race feeling unsure and nervous about what was to come. By this point he met another competitor called Chris, the first person he had spoken to at the event, whose welcoming words made Jay feel more at ease.
During the interview Jay told me he had not prepared for the race, and that it was a total shock to face the 8 ft high wall between the warm up and start line. Most of us know the feeling, when faced with a challenge, of being in the wrong place. This is exactly the feeling Jay described to me, surrounded by athletes and feeling as if he was not meant to be there.
With the support of Chris and other competitors, Jay made it over the wall and before the race began Sean Corvelle gave a speech that changed Jay’s entire perspective. Seeing how complete strangers were taking their time to encourage people and how competitors were ready to help rather than run ahead, the overwhelming feeling of inspiration took over. With the feeling of being in exactly the right place, he completed the race, accompanied by a father and son duo. Having spoken with many competitors, the sense of family was starting to resonate with him, and it was when he found a note on his car from Chris who he met at the beginning of the race, he knew that there was something about these races that makes you feel like you belong there.
Jay and Sean at World's Toughest Mudder 2016
After learning about Jay’s first OCR experience I jumped straight onto the topic of World’s Toughest Mudder. Anyone and everyone who hears about 24 hours of running an obstacle course knows that it would be a hell of a challenge, which Jay confirmed when he described his experience. He told me about some of the obstacles he had completed, and the sense of enlightenment you get afterwards, it gives you a confidence and belief in yourself that's hard to come across. After only a year of doing OCR Jay completed 50 miles, 200 obstacles in 20 hours and 58 minutes (Insane!).
“Nobody is better than your best, but your best will make you better and that makes us all better"
So what have I learnt? The more I speak to people, the more I see how OCR communities are like families. It’s not about one person, and at the same time it’s about every person. Everyone at a race has their own struggle, their own story, and completing these insane obstacles is almost like a metaphor. You look at the 8 ft wall and think how the hell am I ever going to get over this, but then you look to your side and you see someone standing next to you, and you help each other out and before you know it you’re over the wall. The camaraderie at obstacle course races is so honest and humble, the stories you hear and the things that can be achieved when surrounded by like minded people really show how powerful the sense of community is at the races.
Jay and fellow competitors at Worlds Toughest Mudder 2016- Photo by Jennifer Carmine
We would like to give a big congratulations to Jay as he just announced that he has been named an ambassador for Tough Mudder! We look forward to all the things he is going to achieve. He's an inspirational man, and I can confirm that I am looking to enter an OCR race here in the UK after meeting him.
Jay’s daughter in her custom dryrobe at WTM during the sunrise