Starting out as an adventure racer, Pretoria’s Greg Avierinos saw obstacle racing photos on Facebook three years ago that made him want to challenge himself in this new sport, and today he’s one of South Africa’s elite obstacle racers. – BY LAUREN VAN DER VYVER
Come October, Greg Avierinos will head over to Ohio in the USA for the Obstacle Racing World Champs, looking to do even better than the second place in his category at the 2014 World Champs. “I’m pretty competitive. Growing up on a farm in the east of Pretoria, I started racing quad bikes and did adventure racing when I was 12,” explains Greg, adding that competing in multi-day adventure races over 250km steeled his mind for the endurance and strength needed for obstacle racing. “I love suffering, in a way, because from my adventure racing, I’ve gained a tough mind to keep going. And while I’m new to the travel thing, it’s definitely exciting when you get to a new city – different weather, different altitude, trying different things.”
With a family obsessed with sports – his father did Expedition Africa in June while his sisters also took on Warrior after seeing Greg compete – fitness is an important feature of the 20-year-old sports science student’s lifestyle. His running and cycling formed his fitness base for his first Warrior race back in 2012, but his lack of upper body strength work made him miss a few obstacles on the way to the finish. So he decided to train still harder and focused on specific CrossFit workouts geared towards his preparation for obstacle racing, and the success soon followed.
However, the main contributing factor to Greg’s success in the sport has been his own backyard simulation training with friends. “My training deals with carrying poles, dragging tyres and working on the upper body,” says Greg. “I have a 180-metre loop at my house where we push tyres and sleds, and we have a jungle gym where we focus on rope climbs and bars.” Greg usually starts with a 1km warm-up lap and goes straight into tyres, runs another lap and then it’s log-carries. He ends up working on grip strength on the makeshift monkey bars, too. “The top guys can all do the obstacles, but your speed makes the difference, so with me doing a lot of multisport training, it makes me well-rounded. I work out three times a day, with longer rides and runs on weekends, and with speed and hills a few times a week.”
Having also cycled 11 days along the Freedom Trail as well as finished the 947 race on a unicycle in 2011, Greg reckons focusing on obstacle racing calms his need for adrenalin. “You have to train for a variety of things, because each race is unique and you never know what you’ll get.” And while he is excited about the growth of the sport here in SA, he’s also interested to take on the Spartan World Games after Worlds, with Warrior SA nationals also set for November. “It’s epic to see new events coming along – the Beast is coming, Spartan is on its way, and every weekend the current events see up to 9000 people!”