Why we need USOCR


Opinion Article:

This morning we broke the news about the newly formed USOCR in the post, First Sanctioning Body for OCR Launches since then we and other media outlets have heard comments across the board regarding the announcement. The reactions have been mixed to say the least, some applauding saying “finally” while others have reservations and say “not my sport”.  It is no secret that at Dirt in Your Skirt we have been for a sanctioning body for a long time, in April 2013 I finally penned ideas I had been discussing since 2011 in private conversations, the post Time for an Official Governing Body is and continues to be our stance.


Even before the new year again stated the importance of where the sport needs to go into 2014, A New Year A New Day  championing for the unification of the event companies and participants in order to be a legitimate sport in the eyes of our peers. Shortly after I wrote my initial article about the need for a governing body the folks at USOCR contacted me. Yes, I have seen this coming for months. I was hesitant at first as many of you surely are. I worried this would be another company just trying to make a buck in a sea of opportunists we saw in 2013. Between those trying to make a buck, and smaller events going belly up, I think we are all a little jaded as 2014 begins. A level of skepticism is good, however in this case my opinion has been swayed and am a strong proponent for what USOCR is trying to accomplish.


Having spoken with them several times and for hours at length I can safely say, these guys have done their research. This organization has been in the planning and developing stages for over a year and a half, and the number one goal is safety – yours and mine. Speaking with the CEO of USOCR he is number one interested in making sure races are safe for you and I and more importantly insurable. Having some insider knowledge of how a couple organizations are insured I know that without a sanctioning body a few years from now even the big three may be uninsurable without some sort of sanctioning body in place. No insurance equals no sport.


The media would like to make the sport out to be extremely deadly and extremely dangerous based on recent articles from the Huffington Post, Outside Magazine and several other fitness outlets. Those of us in the sport know these extreme cases are rare but the industry as a whole has no data to back up any claims. USOCR wants to unify the sport so that those numbers exist and we as a sport can defend ourselves from the media madness. It also wants to help quantify how safe or dangerous those obstacles really are, is the 3-foot wall safer than the 8-foot wall? We have no way of telling without proper data, everything else is speculation, insurers don’t like speculation, further more they  don’t insure events based on assumptions.



That is the question of the day from many skeptical racers. USOCR is building their business model very similar to USA Triathlon. This little video does a pretty good job explaining what USA Triathlon does and what USOCR aims to accomplish. In addition  USOCR is attempting to help make sure we (the athletes) more protected at races, our membership would include some additional liability coverage for sanctioned events. As the sport continues to grow having someone looking out for us will be crucial.


In multiple conversation USOCR reassured me they are not here to be Big Brother, but instead want to be an organization that brings together the race organizers. Have a governing board eventually made up of the heads of different race organizations, get them at the table together. Many are arguing that this will fail as it’s some random organization making huge claims. After participating and watching this sport for 5 years there is no doubt in my mind that it HAS to be an outside company to bring all the players to the table. I have watched the Mud Run Wars for years now and am convinced that it will take a mediator to bring everyone together. USOCR is offering to be that mediator. They have the backing of an insurance company which is willing to take a chance on this new endeavor and support existing and new races as they emerge, something other companies are starting or are already stepping away from.


It still sounds like Big Brother many will say. Having a sanctioned event will completely be up to the organization. Look again at USA Triathlon there are sanctioned and unsanctioned triathlons. Those that are sanctioned you know have certain standards, those that aren’t might be awesome but it can also be a risk that they aren’t. After multiple conversations nowhere has anyone at USOCR said they want to put a limit on obstacles or stop new ones from being created, instead they would like to have the data to be able to tell insurers the level of risk associated with each obstacle. This is not watering down the sport, not trying to spoil creativity, or make obstacles lame; it is trying to make sure we have a sport for the future. USOCR are not saying that the element of surprise needs to leave the sport, but instead it is putting our safety first and asking the companies have solid plans incase something goes wrong.


When it comes down to it, if we want the sport of OCR for 5, 10 or 15 years into the future we will need some sort of sanctioning body. For those wanting to see this in the Olympics we need an agnostic organization looking over us, Australia already has one in place, isn’t it time we get our act together in the United States so we can all enjoy OCR for years to come.


I posted this photo today as a good reminder that sometimes we need to change our views in order to progress. USOCR is the face of progress and it’s time for us to stop “not in my sport” and start to think about do we want a sport in the future.  I once heard from a Native American “progress is the enemy of tradition and tradition the enemy of progress” this my friends is where we find ourselves today the lawlessness of OCR brought us in but now as it’s grown we need to keep the wild spirit but control the chaos.



What are your thoughts?

Margaret Schlachter

About Margaret Schlachter

Margaret Schlachter is Founder of She has been part of the OCR Community since 2010. When not working on the next article she can be found running from race-to-race. She is Editor-in-Chief of She authored the book Obstacle Race Training.
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  1. Pingback: Answers to 10 USOCR Sanctioning Questions | On My Way To Sparta

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