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Charles Franzke about X-Warrior’s Natural Obstacle Race

In mid-May, things really get going again with the inaugural event of Molveno, when sports enthusiasts from half of Europe arrive for the X-Warrior Naturall Obstacle Race. After the very successful inaugural events in Molveno in the past years, two more races are scheduled for 2022: 1x in Arosa, Switzerland, and 1x in Stuben am Arlberg, Austria. The expectations are high and the organizers were able to win the German OCR Pro Runner Charles Franzke as so-called Supervisor: Course & Obstacles. This was reason enough for us to talk with Charles in depth about OCR and Molveno / X-Warrior.

Hello Charles and thank you for your time. Even though most sports-mad OCR athletes in Germany and neighbouring countries know you, perhaps you would like to introduce yourself briefly in 2-3 sentences?

I have been a passionate OCR athlete since 2012. As a former swimmer and biathlete, the sport is part of my blood. In the last few years, I have participated in over 100 OCRs and achieved more than 60 podiums. Professionally, I am an insurance broker at Allianz. Since October last year I have been running my own agency. On the side, I coach athletes of all level of ambitions and hold motivational workshops for companies.

You‘ve been responsible at X-Warrior course design in previous years. Can you tell us how you got to be involved in a new OCR format right from day 1?

I clearly remember the first call very well. I was on the way to the Herbacin Challenge in Iceland with Joey Kelley, driving a fat Land Rover when my phone rang. In a very interesting conversation I got explained what X-Warrior race should mean. A Nature Obstacle Race in the Alps sounded very exciting. It also gave me the opportunity to share my experiences matured from more than 100 OCR races.

How would you describe the DNA of X-Warrior? What makes it special from all the other events – whether regional or international?

The backdrops of the races are breathtaking. The event itself is very family-like, you won’t find a standardised race at X-Warrior. It’s a back-to-nature concept, using the landscape to create interesting courses and incorporate obstacles in an almost natural way. We do the best to inegrate the local environment, working closely with authorities in a very very cooperative way, making a lot of things possible for us that might not be possible otherwise. We do not build any scaffolding obstacles made of steel or metal, no artificial sceneries are created. We go “back to nature”, a lot of wood, a lot of hemp, use waterfalls, river courses, a lot of single trails, climbs, and much more. With each new event, it depends a lot on whether and how you can read the topography.

We were really excited to be actively involved in Molveno last year. What are your plans and goals for the X-Warrior in 2022?

We are working intensively on the course and with the new races in Arosa and Stuben am Arlberg. In 2022, will be added 6-8 obstacles (various rigs, a Tyrolean traverse, as well as a triple wall, slippery wall and of course many hanging obstacles). As in Molveno, it is important to us to create “unique obstacles”, e.g. in Molveno, the obstacle ‘THE PYRAMID’ or Europe’s longest TARZAN SWING, in Arosa the AROSA TOWER and the BEAR CRAWL, in Stuben THE BIG CHICK, a monster chicken ladder over a section of a stream and, related to the theme, the HEAVY SNOWBOARD PULL – and in Stuben, a phenomenal WATERFALL obstacle. The courses are optimised in terms of running dynamics and all obstacles are strategically positioned on the course.

Officially you are part of the crew as “Supervisor: Course & Obstacles”. What exactly does your job look like and how far in advance does the work start for you?

The work starts directly after the event. Feedback is collected and immediately implemented as an opportunity for development. I try to use my knowledge to design the course so that it is a nice challenge for every athlete, no matter if beginner or obstacle pro, and at the same time they can enjoy the impressive landscape of Molveno. I actively support them in word and deed, check the routes and, most recently, also develop the appropriate obstacles.

Silly question, do you participate in the races to be at the very top?

Of course I participate, but I’m not competing because I know courses and the obstacles very well. But if you want to get to know the courses and obstacles, on Fridays before the race weekends I do a personal course inspection including tips and tricks as a mini training camp. And if you feel like having a short training you can also meet me in the race destination the week before the race date. As part of the team, I will be there to help prepare everything and hopefully put the fine tuning on things for a real top quality OCR event for everyone and for top-class athletes.

Thank you for your time, we can’t wait! Good luck to you and your family and see you soon at the start in Molveno!

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