Are ALL Changes For the Better?
Controversy is a part of everyday life. Sometimes it leads to great conversations and new thinking. Sometimes it leads to resentment and frustration. The rule changes recently announced by BattleFrog Series (BF) concerning their BFX race seems to fall into the latter. It appears to have been a completely unnecessary change and may be yet another attempt at putting nails in it's own coffin at a time when people were just climbing back on board. There are a number of issues with the changes, both business related and philosophical. So let's start with the easy one….the effect on business, meaning racer participation.
Know Your Market
Are all your waves at every race full? Are you turning people away from events now? Are you able to charge full price for every racer? If not, why in the name of Odin would you want to do something that would even have the possibility of reducing attendance…or did this not occur to anyone. The feedback from the average racer, looking to move up a notch in challenge has been overwhelmingly bad! And remember, people “vote with their feet!”. For every comment, there are dozens who feel the same and just won't be considering your race.
Another consideration, BF offers only one race distance, the 8k. For anyone wanting to go up to a tougher challenge you have Elite and BFX. I don't think anyone wants the novice racers to start running Elite waves…but now with the rule changes many of these races will have no where to go. Well, nowhere to go apparently in BF now. I mean, tossing people from a race! That may actually be the worst idea I've ever heard from any race promoter in Obstacle Course Racing (OCR). But you know, those are business decisions….so let's move on to the other issues.
This was the battle cry a few years back and I still believe that is the only way to handle the competitive (meaning $$$$$ races). It's called Obstacle racing…you have to complete the obstacle. Period! If you can't do that, you can't win. The Obstacle Course Racing World Championship (OCRWC) and BF where both early supporters of this concept. So what happened? A penalty, however difficult, is not completing an obstacle!!! And what about the obstacles that don't have penalties because now BF will subjectively decide which obstacles are tough enough that people may not be able to do them. And how will THAT be fair?…seeing that everyone has different strengths and weaknesses.
Ohhh, they say, but now you're allowed to get help. Well, how nice. So now, since I generally run alone, I can either find someone to follow me around on the course and have nothing to do but help me through the obstacles I can't handle. Or wait out there for someone to pass by that's willing to help (and able to hoist a 225lb undersized silver-back gorilla up or over something??!!)
The real obscenity though in all these solutions offered to help keep me from being rudely escorted off the course, is that it isn't even necessary. The Elite and BFX races already had it's built in answer. We don't need a BFX Elite and Open, or any other Mr Wizard magic, because we already have it!!! It's called losing your band! Police the obstacles better and you reduce the possibility of cheating. And remember, the vast, vast majority of racers are out their to have fun! Paying to enjoy the course…and skip obstacles altogether if that's what they choose…it's their dime. No one asked you to like that…and I'm fairly certain they don't really care what you or anyone else thinks. Except for that little part about tossing them off the course…I think they do care about that part.
Know Your Market – No, Really.
BattleFrog is still one of my favorite races! I'm hoping these changes will be rethought and we can all go back to training and running and pushing ourselves just a bit further. And the OCR brain-trusts, across the board, need to get out of that insular core of OCR elite-only thinking and realize that it's the weekend warriors that support all these events and you better not lose them!! Everyone knows it takes years to build rapport and trust and minutes to crush it.
What do you think…
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