Dirt in your skirt blog

The Future of OCR???

Posted on April 22, 2014 by Margaret Schlachter

Recently Mud Run Guide published an article called, OCR-lympics. This article (well worth the read) details sort of what is happening behind the scenes of the sport. It comes on the heals of an Outside Magazine article that Tough Mudder will indeed be sued over the incident in Virginia over a year ago – article Tough Mudder Sued. This is the highest profile case in the sport at the moment but not the only one out there in the courts system.


We all have been drawn to OCR for our own reasons. I was drawn to it for the lawless factor and the fact it was so outside the norm in 2010 it felt new, fresh and different. Truly it was all of those things, we did whatever and races were fighting to be the most badass. Some of the obstacles in hindsight were probably more dangerous than they should have been, but we all liked it that way. Danger in life was thrilling and exhilarating. BUT, some events and some obstacles were probably disasters waiting to happen, and quietly they did in 2012 and more vocally in 2013. Those who know the sport saw the changes coming, and time to shift gears as the sport moved from a couple thousand misfits running around to now millions globally enjoying this new sport. Change had to happen and we are seeing it now.


Going back to the Mud Run Guide article. It is apparent something is going to happen and happen before the end of the year. Each of the three organizations offer a good addition and much needed in the industry. I personally have been the most deeply involved with USOCR and think they truly want whats best for the sport domestically. The other two are looking internationally. I think ultimately these organizations should work together and can create a better sport for us all.


My personal background is Alpine Ski Racing, a (on paper) high risk sport. Over the years the sport has undergone an overhaul with safety as the key concern. Myself as the racer didn’t see much changes (other than more and more safety netting each year) but as a coach and helping produce races we had a lot of changes (all that ultimately have helped the sport and saved lives). Within the sport of alpine skiing (not high school they have different rules) a racer is part of 2 – 3 organizations. You start at the State Level (I was part of VARA – Vermont Alpine Race Association my entire life), National Level USSA  (United States Ski and Snowboard Association), and the International Level FIS (Federation Internationale de Ski or International Ski Federation). Depending on the level of the event we put on or I raced in I needed to hold memberships at different levels.


To break down the confusing ski world a little more. Every racer at all levels needs to hold a state level and national level membership. Once athletes reach an older age (teenager) and they want to race for international points (and ultimately World Cup) they must be a member of FIS to race FIS races. This FIS membership to me looks much like the Spartan IORF (or the other IORF) – an international body that oversees globally. But should one organization be driving the boat is the question? Will a Spartan driven organization be best for the overall sport of OCR?


Going back to skiing, USSA and State Organizations – I do not personally think at this point we need a state level organization, however that day may come. But we definitely need someone looking over the US and the US specifically. This is where USOCR is positioned perfectly. They are looking out for the medium to small guys and are looking out for safety. Which is greatly needed.


The way I see the future is similar to Ski Racing. I see us having an international body with an international points ranking system. For those that want to “go to the olympics” or compete at an international world cup level they would focus on these internationally sanctioned events. However the carryover which we see in skiing is even if you race a FIS race, you also get USSA points for that race (if the race is run in the USA). So those going for the top level would also be members of their countries domestic organizations. Australia already has a great domestic system.
Example – Deanna Blegg spends most of her year racing in Australia racing both internationally sanctioned and nationally sanctioned races then comes to the USA to race a couple “internationally sanctioned races” the points she earns here would also count towards her international ranking but not towards her Australian national ranking. She would be racing in the US as an international racer and would not need to be a member of our national system.


For the rest of the people who race a couple races a year in the USA and are interested in more than just the Big Three race series this is where USOCR is perfect. USOCR can have their own domestic race point series and work with the international body. It isn’t really two separate race series as much as it’s just say an international Spartan sanctioned race versus a domestic one. Basically, it will only effect the race organizers not us the participants.


This blog post to most will probably be very confusing and I apologize in advance to have confused people. I personally spent a decade coaching in a high risk sport with a lot of oversight and have seen for years the need and a plan to help unify the sport. My opinions are my own and are drawn for over 20 years in the ski industry as a competitor, coach, and administrator. I coached at national and international events and have been part of races in both the USA and Canada. BUT at the end of the day these three Mud Run Guide detailed can have places in the industry and serve different but similar roles. My only hope it however it shakes out it’s not just one company bullying the entire industry because OCR is more than just the BIG THREE and that’s something for us all to remember.


Other Articles of Interest:

Hobie Call’s Vision for the Sport

April 1, 2013 – Time for a Governing Body

Dirt in Your Skirt Industry Call to Action in January