The story behind Strong Viking
Jan, CEO/Founder of Strong Viking tells the story behind Strong Viking.
The adventure starts in 2011, while climbing the Kilimanjaro I had some time to reflect on my life. At that time I was the owner of two Fitness and Crossfit clubs and life was good. Still I felt like there was something missing. I needed a new challenge in my life, but I wasn’t sure about what it should be. I decided I wanted to build something up from scratch, something completely new and with a worldwide potential. I was working on different plans till a friend hinted me about obstacle runs in 2012. I was immediately enthusiastic about this idea; my whole life I have been working in sports, I used to be in the military and I have tried almost all extreme sports.
I started to explore obstacle running and how to create something unique in this sport. You can only improve something when you know how it originated. Experiencing the communal feeling was one of the focus points. This feeling was very recognizable for me. Whether you climb a mountain, go skydiving or participate in a military mission, the joint mission gives a great communal feeling. Like thousands of years ago this feeling consist of faith, security and friendships. I was searching for who or what fits best with this concept and ended up with the Vikings. I described Vikings like Strong, Tough, Adventurous and Brothers; the perfect ingredients for an obstacle run! (And of course the Vikings were this strong, because they already participated in Strong Viking😉.) This resulted in a clear, unique and truth based concept I could work with.
With Strong Viking in the back of my mind I started to gather more information about Vikings. I tried to use as many parts of the real life of Vikings and implement them in the Strong Viking concept. A Viking king speaking to his men became the base of the Strong Viking pledge. Before Vikings could storm a castle they needed to climb over a big wall. This became the high start wall and the Storm the Castle. Vikings carried shields and hammers, why not use these as load carry? When Vikings entered Walhalla they needed to conqueror some big steps, these became our Walhalla Steps. Even the Varjagen and Berserker medal/opener and also our new Medals For Life are based on the stories about Vikings. Next to that it was very important for me that there would be obstacles that are a complete physical or mental challenge.
In 2013 my dream became reality! Thursday before the first edition I couldn’t catch my sleep due to the healthy nerves. At 05:00am I ran the course, which became a tradition. For five years I did a pre-run at every edition and next to that I have conquered an Iron Viking.
But the best thing ever is running the Edition itself and to experience the vibe and all the reactions of participants. Next to that it is amazing to be able to run the Strong Viking Family Edition with my wife, daughter and soon also Jan Junior. The Strong Viking Ultra is still on my bucket list!
I also find it important that the sport of obstacle racing keeps developing as the competitive sport OCR (obstacle course racing). In 2015 I started the initiative for the OCR EC 2016. Unfortunately things didn’t really work out and in 2017 we founded our own OCR Series and the World Finals. My goals for OCR is to develop as a sport where all fitness and mental qualities are being tested. Of course it is important to create exposure via OCR to make the heroes of this sport an idol for our future generations.
What started with an idea in my head in 2012 has become reality thanks to the Strong Viking team and all our participants. I have the greatest respect for all effort and commitment of the Strong Viking team and I am very grateful to all of them! Next to that I am very grateful for all our participants, not only for taking part in Strong Viking, but also for giving us feedback. This feedback is crucial for the further development of Strong Viking. We have the honour to spend our days helping people to improve their physical and mental health and make them sweat with a smile. To end at the finish with welcoming all finishers to our Strong Viking family!
Thank you for reading and see you at one of our editions, OORAH!