Recently, I was asked why I didn't participate in the SoCal Warrior Dash a couple of weeks ago as I have for the past consecutive years. My response was that of silence. I shrugged my shoulders and carried on with my day. The truth is I know why I didn't participate, but I couldn't bring myself to admit the reason until now. As an Obstacle Course Racer Enthusiasts, I was baffled by my reasoning.
Have I outgrown Warrior Dash?
Am I an OCR snob?
Even more disturbing is the realization that more and more traditional Mud Runs are becoming in Disconnect from The OCR Community.
The last time I participated in Warrior Dash was at the inaugural Warrior Dash World Championships. I was extremely excited after qualifying. You see back in 2008 or 2009 The Warrior Dash was my first Mud Run. Grant you I wasn't the fastest guy out there, but the adrenaline rush was worth its weight in gold. I remember being out on the course and imagining myself being in a sport or competition. I thought to myself, “ Wouldn't it be awesome if something like this was a sport or competition like the Olympics ?” Years later you can imagine the smile on my face when the first Warrior Dash World Championships and OCR World Championships was announced. If I've lost you ( The Reader ) bear with me till the end, I promise there's a point to my rambling.
Since The Warrior Dash World Championships, I became disappointed with the brand because of the cumulative inconsistencies with how Red Frog has been managing the events. Or so I thought. Maybe it's the growth of Obstacle Course Racing as an Industry that has ruined my perception of Warrior Dash. Has The OCR Community outgrown the traditional Mud Run; therefore, manifesting a Disconnect from the Masses.
Has the focus on the increased “Competitiveness” in The Sport of OCR derailed Traditional Mud Runs?
At the WDWC, most participants in the open waves that I spoke to didn't even know there was a Championship going on. They didn't even know the meaning of OCR.
Are mud runs part of the OCR Community?
And who are “The OCR Community?”
Or did they miss the OCR United bus? Now before everyone goes jumping at me with daggers, just hear me out. It's my opinion after all.
Warrior Dash used to be a two-day event, at least for SoCal. They used to have cool Obstacles, and there was attention to detail. There were a unique means of creating not only a memorable race experience for the racers but also a post race experience worth staying for. I remember once there was warrior's head formed by sand at the finish line that you had to crawl over. There were speakers throughout the course playing music. There used to be age group awards and best costume contests. Best beard contest. The Festival post race was excellent; they used to have live bands. There was even for a short time an Iron Warrior Dash ( With more challenging obstacles than a regular Warrior Dash) and an Urban Warrior Dash. Does anyone remember those? They are not even having a Championship this year. And as of late I heard that the iconic turkey legs are gone. Perhaps all the changes are necessary for the longevity of the brand for it to survive. Changes are inevitable, especially if they want to continue to draw race dollars from what has now become a competitive industry.
Warrior Dash is not the only brand in disconnect with the OCR Community. Down and Dirty Obstacle Race Series has also been affected by the OCR competitive market. In 2014, Down and Dirty ( formerly known as The Merrell Down and Dirty Mud Run ) changed its name omitting “ Mud Run,” and replaced it with the words “ Obstacle Race,” to latch itself to the OCR Community. However, merely changing its name and not upgrading Obstacles has not been in its favor. Cutbacks on pre-scheduled race dates and even losing their Title Sponsor “ Merrell Outdoor Footwear,” as a result. Note ( Merrell has since launched a partnership with Tough Mudder and will reveal a Tough Mudder specific shoe in the Spring 2016). As the growing trend for “Harder is Better,” race brands such as BattleFrog and Savage Race are filling the demand for obstacle racers hungry to take on more demanding obstacles.
What does this mean for the Traditional Mud Runs?
Has The OCR Community abandoned them in the dust to relic in the market as fun runs?
The future of the Mud Run is obscure. As Spartan Race, Tough Mudder, BattleFrog, and Terrain Race continue to expand providing harder and more challenging courses; will there be enough race dollars left in the market to trickle down to the traditional Mud Runs? Is this the Sign of the Times that the OCR Community has shifted the demand of the Industry? Only time will tell. One thing is certain; Change is Inevitable.
Disclaimer: The viewpoints expressed by the authors do not necessarily reflect the opinions, viewpoints and official policies of Mud Run Guide LLC, or their staff. The comments posted on this Website are solely the opinions of the posters.