Since the beginning of obstacle racing has been more like a chain of islands than a unified sport, each company working independently trying to grab as much of the market as possible. This side of our sport has been chronicled over and over again but this article is not about the infighting or which company is trying to outdo another. This article looks at what is happening at the grassroots level of the sport and how companies are in the beginning stages of working together creating an #OCRUNITED Series across the country.
The whole movement of #OCRUNITED started with one man and one idea, that man was Adrian Bijanada and the idea was OCR World Championships. At this point most in the obstacle racing world would agree that the OCR World Championships was a success and the first independent world championship event in the sport of OCR. It drew in participants from over a dozen countries, 40% of the field was from outside the US, and Bijanada faced obstacles along the way that would have had many quit early on. Bijanada was the first to open his doors to the community, he invited race series from across the country and world to set up their obstacles at OCR World Championships, with this one gesture he unknowingly kicked the door open for a new era in obstacle racing. The age of collaboration has begun.
As soon as the OCR World Championships had concluded the wheels were turning for more than a few race directors and organizers. A small group headed by ABF Mud Run's Chad Mason came together and talked about continuing this collaborative effort outside of just one event.
From Mason, “A few weeks after OCRWC I called Adrian [Bijanada] and asked if he would mind me taking the ball and running with what he started. After reaching out to a few event directors I have had the privilege of working with in the past, I asked them if they would like to join up and work together in 2015.”
They came together under the the banner of #OCRUNITED to create a new series and group of races. The aim is to elevate obstacle racing at the grassroots level, work together, share information, and make OCR a sport for more than just the diehards. What does this mean for the racer? Because races working together sounds great in nature but what do the racers see out of this?
- Scheduling – With races working together they are sitting down and scheduling out events that make sense for the consumer and offering their races on different weekends.
- Better Obstacles – the idea of sharing marque obstacles was new at OCR World Championships. #OCRUNITED continues that trend bringing obstacles to each others races and allowing for higher quality obstacles in general.
- Volunteers – the #OCRUNITED group is committed to helping ensure that the best volunteers are at each race.
- Medals – Our sport loves medals and with these companies working together they are able to get better pricing on medals which means better medals for you and I to hang on our shelves.
- Training Opportunities – Many of the races in this group are also permanent obstacle courses which offers participants a place to not only race but also to train and then travel as a group to races, building on the community part of #OCRUNITED
While #OCRUNITED is not the first series to bring together races at the grassroots level, the New England Spahtens lead the way with the #RaceLocal Series now in its second year. However, #OCRUNITED is the first to take the idea of grassroots collaboration to a national level. The group is looking to have quality small races from all over the country be part of this movement and has been in talks with races around the US. They are working with sponsorship deals that would range over the entire series to help both race directors and racers with better brand exposure. The group is not looking to govern the sport, and not looking to tell the racer what obstacles are ok or not. They are not trying to take down the Big Three but instead work together to fill the void after the National and International series leave town and continue to bolster the growth of the sport in their communities. #OCRUNITED is creating a table, one which all the companies have a place and have a voice to make the sport better for us all. The door has been opened and the first stages of collaboration on a large scale.
This year will be a proving ground for the #OCRUNITED Series but if the 2014 OCR World Championships was any indication of what can happen the future looks bright for not only the smaller race companies but also for the racers as well. The group is actively seeking more and more races to join the movement and grow #OCRUNITED for the community as a whole. It's a step to getting more people into obstacle racing and making a season that makes sense for all those involved.
Are you an event director looking to join #OCRUNITED? Please email Chad@abfmudrun.com for further information.
What do you think about the #OCRUNITED Series?
What do you think will help grow the sport – the Big Guys or the Grassroots Races?
Share your thoughts with us!