I am not going to assume that everyone reading this knows what the sternum checker is, so here are some photos. You’ll notice immediately that there is a wide variety of things called “sternum checker,” but this isn’t an op-ed about standardization of obstacles. Not yet anyways.
Spartan Race is a physical and mental challenge. It is also a test of one’s character. The rules of Spartan Race are tough, but clear. No outside assistance. No cutting distance. Attempt every obstacle. If you fail an obstacle, do 30 burpees. Fail the burpees? Resign from the race. These clearly stated rules make the completion of the race an intense challenge, and victory a true accomplishment. This is no “fun run,” this is a test of your overall fortitude, and you pay to endure it.
Getting a significant other or friend who’s new the Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) excited about a run is sometimes a hard process. Before you’ve done it, understanding just why you would pay someone to be subjected to the elements, mud, pain, bruises, cuts, exhaustion, and possible serious injury can be challenging, to say the least - as I am sure someone must have said, “You can lead a person to mud, but you can’t make ‘em race”.
Pro teamers race hard and inspire us all with their performances but what if their presence at an event meant much more to building a brand and making the race experience that much more memorable for those out there participating?
Recently, a training run provided some thought-provoking questions as my run took me past a local golf course. I’ve run this exact route hundreds of times over the years, but during this particular jaunt, it occurred to me how empty the parking lot seemed. At first, I wondered why a beautiful Saturday morning during the summer wouldn’t be their busiest time. Then suddenly I thought, “Yikes. Maybe this is their busiest time?” I was only about two miles into a ten-mile run, so for the next eight miles my mind twisted and turned over this question.
Race volunteers are an integral part of any race. I have heard stories from racers, when a volunteer made their day with an encouraging word when it was most needed. What about volunteers themselves? What is their experience like?
Recently, I've seen a couple of articles talking about OCR burnout; about how the thrill of running obstacle course races can wear thin and become such a drag that people leave the sport. This isn't about the "one and done" runners who try a Spartan Race or Tough Mudder, finish it, check it off their bucket list and move on. This article is aimed at those who were avid obstacle course runners; those who were bitten by the bug and obsessed about OCR, only to find that after 2-3 years their interest has waned.
n the past five years, we’ve seen OCR rise from the relative depths of obscurity to being featured on an upcoming primetime television series. Just like the UFC went from sponsors such as Mickey’s malt liquor and the Condom Depot to the likes of Bud Light and Reebok, most of the major OCR brands are now enjoying premium sponsorships and major media contracts.
I recently attended BattleFrog Kansas City and much to my surprise I saw a familiar face on the starting line. Team Cellucor Athlete Eric Jenkins the 100x+ Tough Mudder Century veteran was there standing next to me getting ready for his first BattleFrog. “Are you lost?” I said, “Shouldn’t you have a Tough Mudder this weekend?” He responded with a “No, I actually only have one Tough Mudder on my schedule this year....but I have seven BFX events.”
Obstacle Course Racing in North America was born just seven years ago. Exploding onto the sports and fitness scene in an unprecedented way. Becoming even more popular than marathons by 2014. This in itself was a huge change from the previous sports norms, and people are still writing epic volumes trying to explain why. So it really shouldn't come as any great surprise that Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) has been evolving continuously ever since.