Julia Deng - GREENWOOD, Ind. (WISH) - Athletes representing more than 30 countries will wear jerseys designed and manufactured by a central Indiana sportswear company during the 2017 Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) World Championships, beginning Friday in Ontario.
LegendBorne was founded in 2013 and introduced their durable competition gear as obstacle course racing first exploded in popularity, company CEO David Bryant said.
The all-terrain endurance races feature various physical challenges including carrying heavy objects, crawling under barbed wire, jumping over flames, scaling walls, running through mud and crossing bodies of water. The obstacle courses are designed to test both physical and mental strength.
"More than anything, team obstacle course racing is about inclusion," Bryant explained. "It's beautiful to see so many competitors helping each other out to get past the obstacles."
He recalled seeing his 8-year-old son reaching out to grasp a teammate's hand and help him complete a challenge during a children's race.
"No one told him to do that," Bryant said, beaming with pride. "That's just the teamwork mentality that obstacle course racing is all about."
Michael Bacon, a LegendBorne ambassador and fellow obstacle course racer, explained the survival instincts that kick in when competitors face pain, exhaustion and potential defeat.
"You start thinking, 'I can't climb that wall but I can maneuver under that barbed wire,'" he said. "'I need help getting over that obstacle but I helped five people get over this one.'"
Bryant and Bacon - both veterans - compared obstacle course racing to military training and said their own appreciation of teamwork stemmed from their Army experience.
"Here's a fun version of the intensity with events for any age [and] any ability," Bryant said of the competitive sport.
He hopes to introduce more Hoosiers to obstacle course racing by manufacturing LegendBorne jerseys locally and encouraging friends, relatives and company employees and interns to participate in races.
Bryant vividly remembers his first race and his initial disbelief that anyone could have fun teetering on the edge of total physical collapse. It was at that event that he noticed competitors wearing makeshift team t-shirts as well as standard running gear - clothes that were easily shredded during the challenges.
He soon found himself embracing the newly born team sport as an athlete and a designer, founding LegendBorne with his brother.
Four years later, with days left until the 2017 OCR World Championships, more than 900 jerseys and patterns cover every available surface at LegendBorne's Greenwood office and sewing room, awaiting shipment to athletes worldwide.
"Seeing people from dozens of countries wearing our jerseys is going to be crazy," said Bryant. "It's unreal."
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