When I think of the epicenter of Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) progress, I naturally imagine someplace in the United States since that is where Spartan World Championship and World’s Toughest Mudder have always been, as well as the first two OCR World Championships. (I’ve actually written an article on the Mecca of OCR if you want to know more). What I don’t think of is a small country in the Middle East called Lebanon, but they have made two huge leaps in the sport that is unmatched (as far as I know) anywhere else in the world.
Live TV Coverage:
Last year we all sat and waited as Spartan refined their NBC Sports Series and produced each episode. Likewise, Tough Mudder worked with CBS to create the Toughest Mudder series for television, both were aired weeks after the actual race. In 2017, the same year, my Strength & Speed podcast cohost and Conquer The Gauntlet Pro Teammate Brenna Calvert and I traveled to Lebanon for the Hannibal Race….which was broadcast LIVE! That’s right, they had a three-hour block of time on LBCI (Lebanese Broadcasting Cooperation International), a Lebanese based channel that is primarily broadcast internationally.
It was borderline surreal coming back from a race and having the hotel clerk say “I just saw you on TV, you did great!” and then tell me my placement. Because of this coverage, when we talked to other people that day and the following day, you didn’t have to go through the “I did an obstacle race. It’s like ninja warrior, but with easier obstacles and more running” speech. Instead, it was “I did Hannibal Race”, which they responded with “Cool. I watched part of it on TV yesterday.”
Workout TV Show:
One of the owners of the race, Amine Dib, not only helps organize, run and MC the event but he’s also a fitness celebrity. He now runs two live segments as part of the television show Alive on MTV Lebanon (Murr Television…not the music channel), that air twice each week (once on Monday and once on Wednesday) for 20 minutes per segment.
The first segment is called Technology, where Amine speaks about the relationship between technology and fitness as well as the latest advances to help you the athlete. The segment provides great information for both the person looking to lose weight by tracking their FitBit all the way up to the Elite athlete looking to push their lactate threshold and VO2max.
The second segment and the most popular one is called Get Fit and is a live training show where Amine motivates, educates and trains people to be the best version of themselves. The show provides an immediate guide for people to get off the couch and start exercising. As he says at the end of the show “Get fit. Stay Fit.”
This provides instant access to a large base of viewers exposing them to fitness and hopefully bringing them into the sport of Obstacle Course Racing. Should we expect a Tough Mudder Will Dean or Spartan Joe DeSena show coming soon?
While Lebanon may not have the largest population or biggest OCR scene, Hannibal Race is currently the only race series operating in Lebanon and also the only OCR World Championships qualifying event, they have managed to break ground where no one else has.
Back in 2015, when I first met Amine he was already talking about opening a gym as a co-owner. The gym opened later in 2016 called Tactical Fitness and had a second branch open in December 2017 in a different location in Beirut. Now, Tough Mudder is opening Boot Camp gyms nationwide in the US. Perhaps we should pay attention to what the smaller companies are doing as well as the big companies to get a glimpse at the future of our sport.
The smaller companies are often more flexible and agile allowing them to put ideas into action without any bureaucracy standing in their way. Will we see more groundbreaking moves from smaller companies like the Hannibal Race in the future? Only time will tell, but I find following what other countries and races are doing fascinating.
Hannibal Race Website: http://www.pumahannibalrace.com/
Hannibal Race Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hannibalrace/
Hannibal Race Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hannibalwarrior/
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