A COUPLE OF WORLD CHAMPS: GOING OCR WITH RYAN AND LINDSAY ATKINS
We first caught up with Ryan Atkins when he and two friends traversed the Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario — in the dead of winter — for eleven straight days. With a sled packed full of UnTapped, that’s an excursion that fits right up his alley, but not actually his main line of work. Ryan is a professional athlete in one of the fastest growing sports on the planet, Obstacle Course Racing or OCR, — he’s a 5x World’s Toughest Mudder champion and OCR World Champion.
The equally fearsome other half of OCR’s speediest and ever-smiling couple is Lindsay Webster Atkins. Lindsay is one of the best OCR athletes in the world, an OCR World Champion, and the two of them have been on an absolute tear already this year. Let’s catch up with Ryan and Lindsay before they’re off to the races again.
The basics about Lindsay:
- Age: 28
- Residence: Caledon, Ontario
- Years competing: Since childhood ! But as a pro athlete, I’m going on year 4.
- Specialties: Baking! Vegetable growing, cross-country skiing and mountain biking/running
- Instagram: LindsayDawnWebster
- Twitter: LindsayDWebster
- Facebook: LindsayWebsterOCR
The basics about Ryan:
- Age: 30
- Residence: Caledon, Ontario
- Years competing: Also since childhood ! But as a pro athlete, 5 years.
- Specialties: Wood working, trail building, rock climbing, eating Lindsay’s baking.
- Instagram: RyanAtkinsDiet
- Strava: Ryan Atkins
- Facebook: Atkins.Ryan
Travel is certainly part of the game as OCR athletes; you two seem to be on the top step of a podium in a new location every week! Where have your travels taken you for races so far this season and where are you off to next?
Lindsay: So far this year, we’ve been to Seattle, Whistler, New York, Los Angeles, Michigan, Illinois and Virginia. Soon we’ll be off to Utah, Lake Tahoe, and London!
Plus prior to that you spent time in Nepal if we’re not mistaken. Tell us about what you were doing there.
Lindsay: I went to India prior to Nepal, to do some missionary work. I worked with an orphanage there to put on a race and help with both the children and work around the orphanage. Afterwards, I flew to Nepal and met up with Ryan and another friend.
Lindsay teaching OCR at an orphanage in India.
Ryan: We then hiked to Everest Base camp. It was such a cool experience and a great way to get in some early season base miles.
The view from 17,000 feet above sea level.
Keeping track of you two on social media shows some amazing adventures regardless of the season. There’s mountain biking, rock climbing, ice climbing, trail running, plus great photos with your big, beautiful malamute, and plenty more. Are there ever days that training is a drag or is every day a new adventure?
Ryan: Yes! We love the fact that training for OCR can take a variety of venues. We like mixing it up with lots of different outdoors sports. Ice and rock climbing are great ways to train your grip strength and running, hiking and biking are great to build cardio.
Our Malamute’s name is Suunto. He definitely prefers the cold weather, but he still gets out on adventures with us in the summer.
Suunto and Lindsay in northern New York.
Lindsay: Usually we are excited to start every new day, but sometimes training on the same trails or doing 20 intervals up the same climb can get monotonous. We like to remind ourselves about how lucky we are to be outside and pushing ourselves to be our best. Usually this gets us out of any rut, but if it persists, an espresso shot, or better yet a Coffee UnTapped packets gets us out the door!
Admittedly, our founders’ background lie closer to cycling and skiing. What was each of your entry’s into the sport of OCR and how’d you discover your knack for it?
Ryan: Lindsay grew up downhill skiing, then cross-country skiing. She was a young phenom and then switched to running in college. She and I met through mountain biking and then I convinced her to do an OCR race. It was actually Spartan World champs down the road from you in Killington, Vermont. Oh man, the race was brutal, but she was hooked.
Ryan: I grew up playing hockey and football. I grew to love mountain biking by age 12, but then in high school I excelled in football player, rugby, and wrestling. I also found out about Mountain and Trials Unicycling, fell into that big time and won a bunch of world championships in that sport. Eventually, I went back to mountain biking and racing. I was part of the Canadian Espoir (under-23) development team in World Cup level events. Next came running, ultra running, and OCR. I found that I had a knack for OCR and pursued my calling with full-force.
Ryan and Lindsay recently dropped in on an 8 hour team relay MTB race… and won.
When you’re in the frigid conditions of the Algonquin, UnTapped was up to the task of fueling the adventure with both the packets and waffles along for the trip. So what’s the go to nutrition strategy to fuel an OCR or something as over the top as World’s Toughest Mudder, a 24 hour full-gas event?
Ryan: The simplicity of Maple UnTapped is amazing. We find that we can eat them for hours without the associated stomach cramps we get from traditional gels. In an 8 or 24 hour race, each hour we’ll generally down one packet. We start with plain maple and transition to Coffee UnTapped after the mid-way point for an extra boost. These are lapped races, so we’re traditionalists in a sense so we tend towards Maple Waffles. We have one of those every second or third lap for some more sustenance. They’re so tasty! We could eat UnTapped all day and never get tired of them.
You’ve each found some success here in our backyard, beautiful Vermont. What are your highlights in the Green Mountain State?
Lindsay: I finished 4th at Spartan World Championships in Killington, Vermont in 2014 and Ryan placed 2nd. Ryan also ran the northern 70 miles of the long trail as a training run before his first victory at the 24 hour event, Worlds Toughest Mudder. Plus in 2016, Ryan won the Winter Death Race, in Pittsfield, Vermont.
You two are a pair of crushers. It’s awesome to see you hammer out on course and then high five, hug, and bring two of the biggest smiles to the podium together. How motivating is it to have a partner in crime for this line of work?
Lindsay: Having a partner out there on course is amazing. Usually Ryan goes out to find me on course after he finishes his own race and cheers me on.
Ryan: What’s even better is having someone there, going through similar training and experiencing the same highs and lows. This allows us to train at our fullest and be the best racers we can!
Love it! Congrats on everything you’ve achieved so far and thanks for taking the time.