Over the past year, the sport of OCR has seen its share of shake-ups; Tough Mudder had some financial hiccups that led to event changes as well as a CEO replacement, Warrior Dash closed up shop and Spartan Race acquired some of WD's assets in a “partnership” deal (see Epic Reunion below), and we've probably enjoyed the last Gladiator Rock ‘N Run as the team has moved onto other projects. While Warrior Dash's end came as a bit of a shock, much of what we're seeing now with event participation throughout the sport of OCR is evidence of the sport maturing and shifting away from the massive boom we saw in 2015 towards a flatter growth where events will consolidate, grow at a slower rate, or phase out altogether. We've seen similar patterns with nearly any athletic endeavor including triathlon, road racing, rollerblading, snowboarding, adventure racing, UFC, and especially training regimens from Nautilus gyms to Crossfit boxes. After a huge boom and mass participation from newcomers and bucket-listers, participation numbers come back down to realistic levels as most of the one-and-done athletes have moved on to new, shiny objects.
What's New – Stadium Blitz
In recent weeks, we've also seen some diversification and growth in the sport with news that Rob Gronkowski, the 5-time Pro Bowler and owner of three Superbowl rings, has jumped into the world of obstacle course racing with Stadium Blitz (stadiumblitz.com) a points-based 15-obstacle event broken into the categories of Race, Hustle, and Blitz.
“Racers will face three levels of obstacles, each increasing in difficulty but intermixed throughout the course. A racer who completes an obstacle is rewarded with points—the harder the obstacle, the bigger the point potential. Racers are awarded 2000 points for crossing the finish line in under 40 minutes. Every second under 40 minutes garnishes additional points!”
RACE obstacles consist of five obstacles that are designed to challenge participants of all athletic abilities, each worth 100 points. You can collect 500 points by completing all of the RACE obstacles. The completion of RACE obstacles is required.
HUSTLE obstacles consist of five obstacles that are intermediate level. These are optional obstacles, each worth 200 points. If you complete the RACE and HUSTLE obstacles, you can collect up to 1500 points.
BLITZ obstacles consist of five optional obstacles that are designed for participants of elite athletic abilities, each worth 300 points. If you complete the BLITZ you can score an additional 1,500 points.
New Addition from Cool Events
Cool Events, the company responsible for Terrain Race introduced Muddy Dash, a 2 or 3 mile (note, the website says both 2 and 3 miles) event that looks to be a throw-back to the “good ‘ol days” of mud runs without any (or limited, their site doesn't make it clear) obstacles and just tons of mud. (muddydash.com)
“Muddy Dash is not your average mud run! Get ready for up to 3 Miles of messy mayhem. You and your friends/family can expect to run, walk, crawl, wade, slip, slide, and scream with excitement as Muddy Dash gets you fabulously filthy. Our course will offer you about a dozen ways to get dirty and at the end you can slide your way clean. Muddy Dash is where you can act like a kid and even bring your kid to this all-ages event. The best way to throw your cares away is to throw them in the mud.”
Coming to North America – HYROX
New to USA in 2019 and kicking off in Miami on October 19, HYROX more closely resembles a CrossFit Open than an Obstacle race with 8k of running and 8 workouts. It has the potential of creating some buzz in OCR with the obvious crossovers and potentially picking up from where an event like CMC left off. (hyrox.com)
“HYROX – The Fitness Competition For Every Body
Join one of the HYROX Events and find your next challenge in 8k Running and 8 Workouts. Be part of the Fitness Competition and compete in one of the cities in Europe or the US!”
Spartan & Warrior Dash “Epic Reunion”
Today marked the first mass communication with Spartan distributing registration information on their “new” Warrior Dash event, and while details are limited to: “We will be rallying Warriors from near and far for an epic reunion in 2020, which will be announced shortly” the result is of the communication shows Spartan is serious about bringing Warrior Dash into the fold while still retaining WD's iconic name and branding while employing the message of “Warrior On”.
Rugged Races Acquires Hot Chocolate Series
Rugged Races, the parent company of Rugged Maniac, announced last week it has acquired RAM Racing and its entire portfolio of events, including the Allstate Hot Chocolate 15K/5K series. RAM Racing was responsible for the popular Hot Chocolate 15K/5K series that brings 200,000 runners to the streets nationwide. The remainder of RAM Racing’s portfolio consists of the Heartbreakers Half Marathon in Portland, OR and nine other races in the Chicago area, including the popular Soldier Field 10 Miler and the Run Mag Mile 10K/5K.
“We are thrilled to add the RAM Racing portfolio to our family of premier endurance events,” said Brad Scudder, Senior Vice President of Rugged Races. “By filling the colder months in our annual race calendar with the crown jewel of winter running – the Allstate Hot Chocolate 15K/5K Series – runners of all fitness levels can now enjoy one of our races every week of the year.”
Where Does That Leave Us?
As the sport of obstacle course racing continues to mature, we'll see more events changing hands or vacating the space altogether, merging with other events, and new variations of the sport pop-up. The core of the sport will always be the participants, and as long as there are events being offered that excite and challenge participants we're sure to see the sport continue to exist and even grow in new avenues.