As we prepare to usher in a new year this evening it’s time to look forward to the new year and it’s time for a new day. The obstacle racing industry is now going into it’s 5th season, it’s a sport whether most like it or not. The sport is growing up and evolving as we look around many racers have come into the mix and many racers have already had their fill and left. However it is undeniable the OCR as a whole has been unlike any other athletic pursuit in the history of sport. It’s rise from humble beginnings regarding by most to be 2009 and 2010 when the big three hit the scene in the United States. Today it is a global industry, with established series in other countries and expansion on the global market.
In 2013 we saw within the US the first signs of an industry of the future. Large races with big pockets are and will continue to grow for the next couple of years. The media had become more and more interested in highlighting the good, bad, and down right ugly of the sport. Many have made predictions of the future including myself (Time for an Official Governing Body). 2013 I spent most of the year spectating and watching the industry evolve. We saw the demise of several of the middle players in the market as the small and big guys continued to thrive (something we will continue to see in 2014). People have come to expect a certain level of excellence at races now and just throwing a few half-ass obstacles together will no longer pass as a legitimate event.
Looking ahead at 2014, the sport is maturing, out of infancy and into it’s adolescence, more and more people will continue to race whether it be recreationally on weekends, several times a year or at the competitive level. The interest is not waning and if you look at the number of media outlets continuing to jump onto the “Mud Run Phenomenon” you will see it’s still only growing.
As the sport continues to grow-up and find it’s foot holding in the American sports landscape there is one thing us as racers need to do, stop fighting. It’s time for us to acknowledge the industry as a whole. The days of us vs. them is over. In order for the industry to continue to grow cross pollination of athletes to different event companies must happen. To say “I am a Spartan” or “I am a Tough Mudder” that’s over folks. It’s time for us to all say “I am an OCR racer”. I am not saying don’t have your favorite event, but it’s time to stop fighting within our own ranks. Frankly it’s juvenile and we have moved on from that stage in the game.
Sponsors are looking at the sport now, media is looking at the sport now, competition among the entities is good in the way it continues to push innovation and make the events better and better, bickering is not. There is room in the industry for all the events at all levels, ranting about which is better, harder, tougher, more badass, at the end of the day is stupid. In 2014 we need to come out of the closet and admit it’s ok to like several races. I remember this past year a friend got dressed and realized she had on a Spartan headband and Tough Mudder sweatshirt, and it got a lot of attention. At the end WHO CARES, they are just events and races. We are just playing around in the mud after all people!
For 2014, I vow to try to end my own biases for different race series and go into this next year caring more about the quality of the race than the company attached to it. Join me this year in making the pledge to call yourself an “OCR athlete” instead of tying yourself to only one company, we can be an Tough Warrior Superhero Spartan and be proud of it.