Paul Jones of New England Spahtens shares the #racelocal movement and Grand Prix for 2015:
New England is a great place to be, if you’re into obstacle course racing. On any given weekend, you can find obstacle course races going on somewhere in the six New England states – meaning that with very little effort, we can be challenging ourselves on a tricky, obstacle heavy 10k fixed course in VT like Shale Hill, or taking on a family friendly 5k OCR in MA – and when there aren’t any races, we have several training facilities that are dedicated, or heavily focused on OCR style training event, from Unleashed in RI to Train180 in NH.
It’s one of the reasons why the New England Spahtens has become one of the biggest and most diverse OCR communities you can find. We have members of our community that are elite level, race winning athletes – and members who are just hitting the trails for the first time in their lives – and have found that putting obstacles in their way makes it more fun.
We have a lot of locally owned and operated OCR events – and we’re proud of that!
So when we launched the #racelocal Grand Prix earlier this year, it had one goal – to promote that local OCR scene. Ignore Spartan Race, Tough Mudder and Warrior Dash – they had plenty of money to spend on marketing and self promotion, and had proven time and time again they weren’t that interested in working with other companies, or collaborating – we wanted to encourage people to come out to the local events – the races that were put on by small companies, once or twice a year, and the owner poured their heart and soul into a product that was high quality, well run and FUN – but was getting lost in the marketing blizzard that was The Big Three.
We successfully held a 6 month, 6 race Grand Prix in early 2014. Starting out in the dead of winter with Blizzard Blast and the endurance focused Polar Bear Challenge – we visited fan favorite FIT Challenge, fixed course Tuff Scramblers, the beach for BoldrDash and got chased down by zombies at Zombie Charge. We visited VT, MA, CT and RI, and gave prize money to the fast runners, and T Shirts and medals to everyone who completed a minimum of four of the six races.
It was a big hit – and it put the #racelocal campaign firmly into the community ethos, and the New England Spahtens now goes out of it’s way to promote local OCR events, gyms and fitness facilities and locally sourced products, like Wreck Bag and Juti Bar.
2015, we’re bringing #racelocal back. It’s going to cover a full calendar year, and have more participating races. We’re tying in local products and local training facilities. We’re incentivizing people to run more local OCRs with the chance to earn cool swag and medals, prize money on the line for points earned during the year, and a mileage award – sponsored by Wreck Bag – for the male and female participant who covers the most miles under the #racelocal umbrella. Each race in the series is New England owned and operated, each has held races that have proven to be fan favorites, and high quality – so you KNOW you’re running some of the best races in the region.
Quality local racing is the only way the OCR world can grow. Putting a grassroots effort behind them, and getting the entire community on board to do so is a huge part of that effort, and our way of trying to make that happen.
Editors Note: Tell us your thoughts about NES #racelocal series. Did you participate in it in 2014? We want to hear your thoughts about local races and creating local Grand Prix type series.