Safety Standards Heading to Obstacle Course Racing?

Terrain-Race-Chicago-Cargo-After

“I know I signed a waiver, but this is still safe, right?”

I expect I am not the only person who has gone to a race, seen an obstacle and wondered how safe it really is. Was it something that looked like it had been assembled hastily, or was it something sturdy that is cleverly designed to look like it is less stable than it really is? The whole point of the sport is to get people outside of their comfort zones, but no one wants a race to end with a trip to the emergency room – not the racers, not the race directors, and certainly not the organizations that are trying to build the sport up.

Another question I find myself asking at races is “How can this obstacle possibly be insurable?” Unfortunately, as a lawyer I tend to see far too much of the world through the lenses of liability and litigation. As the sport of OCR has grown from practically nothing to a major industry in less than a decade, more participants and more dollars being spent has meant that more lawyers have gotten involved, often with the effect of making things less fun for everyone. Sorry about that.

Nevertheless, it is in the best interest of everyone involved to keep the risks of OCR in check, and to make sure that the sport challenges us, and even sometimes scares us, but that it doesn’t hurt us (at least not too much). This is why races are coming together around the idea of implementing safety standards.

For most organized events, there are industry standards about what preparations must take place to make sure the event is safe enough for everyone to enjoy and to make sure that in the event something goes wrong, the problems can be addressed quickly. Some of these precautions we take for granted: the lifeguard at the swimming pool. Others we may not even notice: your garden variety 5K will have lots of safety measures in place, even though most racers will never be aware of, say, the medical staff hanging back ready to react if someone gets hurt.

Sometimes these safety measures are put in place because local laws require them – the health code that mandates testing the water quality of a swimming pool, or a building code that requires enough fire exits for a concert venue. For other events, it can be an insurance company that mandates how much safety planning has to occur before a policy gets issued (those medics at the 5K). The regulations and insurance policies have all been developed over decades of trial and error, and people in those industries know what to expect. The organizer of the local triathlon will know that the insurance carrier requires so many water safety staff per 100 racers or medical personnel with radios every so many miles on the run course.

OCR is brand new, and therefore decades behind in developing standards that race organizers and the companies that insure their events can rely on. To make up for lost time, a number of the largest race companies approached ASTM International to put together safety guidelines. ASTM is a non-profit that brings an industry’s constituents together to agree to safety standards. These standards turn into guidelines that insurance companies and government agencies can then turn to when issuing policies, granting permits and drafting regulations, though ASTM itself goes to great lengths to make sure that they play no part in that role, in order to maintain their independence. For more on how ASTM is involved in recreational safety, you might watch this helpful cartoon.

How do the standards come to be? Interested parties are invited to draft standards. The drafts are circulated to the committee of people who have volunteered to assemble the standards, and ASTM facilitates the process. The committee then asks for comments. Based on those comments, they tweak the rules, lather, rinse, and repeat until a consensus is reached. ASTM then publishes the rules, putting them out in the world for the industry to rely on. The drafters meet twice a year, and at least very five years the rules are reviewed to make sure they work in the way the drafters hoped. Any unintended consequences get ironed out, and any previously unforeseen needs are addressed.

What does it mean for race organizers? Once the standards are agreed to, insurance companies can require that races comply with the standards in order to have policies issued. This may sound intimidating, but practically speaking it can benefit both sides. Insurance companies want to avoid risk. When they can minimize risk by requiring the insured races to implement features that will minimize potential harm, they can charge the races less for those policies.

Tough Mudder Block Ness

How deep is that water?

It’s not easy to make an explanation of insurance policies entertaining, but I’ll try with some made-up examples: if a race has water crossings on the course, that makes it more expensive to insure, because when you put people near water, there is a risk they will drown. The standards might say that, if the water is no deeper than three feet and the crossing is less than twenty feet, at least one safety monitor must be present to make sure the racers do not trip and accidentally drown (you can drown in as little as six inches of water! Lawyers worry about this!). However, if a water crossing is more than three feet deep, then the organizers need to have, say, two safety monitors at the crossing, one equipped with some kind of buoyancy life-saving device. This means getting more staff and more equipment and paying a higher premium for the riskier crossing on the course. At the same time, the race that has the shallower water crossing will pay a smaller premium, because the standards show that the crossing is less risky. The standards give the insurance companies something to work with, a technique to determine which races are bigger risks and which are smaller risks. This benefits the race organizers because, without the standards, the insurance companies would have simply categorized both races as equally risky, and they would have charged higher rates accordingly.

How do races try to work with their insurance carriers? They approach ASTM. Here’s a statement the Big Three issued:

“Spartan Race, Tough Mudder, and Warrior Dash are currently working together with other interested stakeholders in ASTM International, a globally recognized standards developer, to help formulate obstacle course racing industry standards. As industry leaders, we recognize the need to harmonize standards and provide guidelines to existing and new event producers to ensure that the industry continues to make participant safety a top priority. We invite and encourage other OCR producers, operators and safety leaders to help with this process. Anyone interested can contact ASTM International F24 Staff Manager Katerina Koperna at kkoperna@astm.org.”

When I learned that the main drivers behind the move to implement standards were the big three races, I was worried that they would draft the standards in such a way as to make it difficult for other operators to enter the market. While the big races have been great for getting OCR into the mainstream, the early days of the industry showed that the companies behind them were willing to play a little dirty (poaching race venues, etc.), and I thought the standards could discriminate against the mom-and-pop races, as well as new races that help keep innovation alive. ASTM is aware of this risk, and they told me: “having a standards development process in place is helpful to entrepreneurs and small businesses that want a seat at the table.  Our process is open to them, and anyone can submit what are called ‘negative’ votes that must be addressed before the standard is published.” The standards can help these smaller races, not only by making insurance easier to come by, but also in providing guidance in how to create a safe obstacle course. As new races popped up all over the country, the wheel got reinvented over and over again as course designers tried to figure out how to build safe course, not always successfully. If a new course designer can rely on published standards, he can build an obstacle he knows is safe. Trial and error isn’t always the best way to design an obstacle, especially when error can lead to a trip to the hospital. Finally, if a small operator doesn’t have the ability to design and build a course that meets with basic safety standards, maybe that operator shouldn’t be in the business of organizing obstacle course races.

muddy-red-deer

Defying certain death on the monkey bars

What does this mean for racers? For starters, it means safer obstacles. We all want to feel like we cheated death by pulling ourselves across the monkey bars. We don’t want to go to the hospital after an A-frame collapses . It can also mean lower race fees, if lower insurance costs get passed along to the racers. It can mean that new races aren’t as much of a gamble, as their organizers can rely on the standards as guidelines for safe obstacle construction. I worry that it might lead to some cookie-cutter standardization of obstacles, but that is something that can happen even in the absence of published standards.

The process of drafting the standards is long. What does it mean for the sport today? It means that you should get involved. Anyone can send the committee suggestions: ASTM values openness as part of the process, and the more people who get involved, the better the end product will be. An ASTM spokesman told me about the father of a hockey player who was concerned about his hockey-playing son’s safety and got involved in drafting the new standards for neck guards. People who work first hand with any product are going to understand the pros and cons even better, and this is why I would suggest that racers get involved. Elite racers, who are hoping to make a living on these courses, have even more reason to get involved, not just to offer their personal expertise, but to have an influence on making their workplace – the obstacles – a safe place.

No one wants to remove all the risk from OCR, and these standards will not prevent the cuts and scrapes that show up as pictures on social media every Monday. The standards will not prevent some more serious injuries either. While the races keep very quiet about this data, anecdotal evidence suggests that the biggest cause of race injuries is when racers take bad landings off 8- and 12-foot walls. Racers get so involved in how they are going to get to the top of the wall that they ignore the importance of a soft landing, and twisted ankles are one of the main reasons racers need medical attention. Risk and the perception of overcoming risk are at the heart of the sport – otherwise we would all be running 10Ks every weekend, right? Keeping that risk at an acceptable level, by implementing industry standards, is a good thing for us all.

Tacoma Mud Run Fire Jump

Will fire jumps still be OK? Get involved and find out.

 

Here’s ASTM’s press release on the subject:
Proposed ASTM International Standard Will Support Land-Based Obstacle Courses

ASTM International’s committee on amusement rides and devices, and its subcommittee on adventure attractions are developing a standard that will provide guidelines for building and operating obstacle racing courses. Anyone interested in helping develop this standard is welcome to join and get involved.

The obstacle course racing community has grown significantly in recent years. Designers, owners, builders, and operators could benefit from this proposed standard, currently known as the work item: “New Practice for Design, Construction, Operation, Inspection, Safety, and Maintenance of Land-Based Pedestrian Obstacle Courses” (WK54714).

The scope of this proposed standard also includes removing obvious hazardous conditions by logically applying existing standards and model codes.  Also according to its scope, this standard will not address attractions such as ropes courses or zip lines, nor will it purport to address all of the safety concerns associated with the standard’s use. (It will be the responsibility of the user of the standard to establish appropriate safety and health practices prior to use.)

This animated video shows other examples of ASTM International standards that help support safety of recreational activities.

ASTM Committee F24 on Amusement Rides and Devices Next Meeting: October 11-14, 2017, Scottsdale, Arizona, USA

Media Inquiries: Dan Bergels, tel +1.610.832.9602; dbergels@astm.org

ASTM Staff Contact: Katerina Koperna, tel. +1.610.832.9728; kkoperna@astm.org

Release #10282

March 22, 2017

Norm Koch Leaves Spartan Race

Norm Koch Spartan Race

Norm Koch has been a familiar face at Spartan Race since 2012. Many of us encountered him at the first ever Spartan Ultra Beast in Killington, VT. in September of that year. Back then, he was one of the only full time race directors at Spartan. He was known to design courses that tested athletes in ways that surpassed their limits. He is a visionary in the realm of obstacle course design and execution.

Participants developed a love, hate relationship with his particular style of torture.  In turn they birthed the battle cry , “EFF NORM!” This infamous cry became the racers mantra and echoed through courses (and Facebook) around the country.

His Spartan journey began as an early participant (and finisher) of the now defunct Death Races. He soon began working for Joe, and grew shortly thereafter into an iconic race director. He informed me yesterday that he is leaving Spartan Race.

These are his words:

So its finally happening, I will not be representing Spartan moving forward. My opinions and ideas are mine and mine alone. Muhahahah

I would like to thank most of the Spartan Staff for the opportunity to work with everyone on the team. We have had some good times. I will miss the build crews and a few of the office people. The best has been meeting all the volunteers and competitors. It’s been so cool to find so many like-minded people.

I do love seeing everyone at races no matter what the race series is. I am looking forward to being more supportive of OCR community.

• I would say I’m leaving Spartan, not OCR.

• My ideas and Spartan have changed, I feel an inability to make the changes that I wanted to due to the size of the company

• Everyone knows I’m proud of being part of Spartan since the early days and help shaped its growth over the years.

• I love Spartan and it will always be a part of me, literally my calf tattoo is representative of my Death Race participation – The good old days.

• This is not me leaving the sport moreover me looking to do something new.

• I would love to do something like designing courses for existing series and working with their brands to offer signature courses,

Starting a new series where I have complete creative control over the process is my goal. Any investors feel free to hit me up…. hahahaha.

Tough Mudder Introduces New Prizes And “The Holy Grail”

This morning, Tough Mudder announced some details around their competitive series, including new info about Tougher Mudder series, some updates around World’s Toughest Mudder, and they introduced “The Holy Grail”.

Here are some highlights from the press release and the new Tough Mudder competitive series homepage:

  • First woman individual to get 100 miles at WTM earns $50,000.
  • First male individual to get 110 miles at WTM earns $50,000.
  • Most cumulative miles earns $10,000 for top male and female at end of Toughest series.
  • $5,000 bonus at Toughest for first male and female to reach 50 miles at each event.
  • The Holy Grail – An actual grail plus additional swag for completing a Tougher, Toughest, and World’s Toughest within the calendar year of 2017.

We have a call with TMHQ on Thursday to get additional details so stay tuned.

TOUGH MUDDER TO DEBUT “TOUGHER MUDDER” COMPETITVE EVENT SERIES

CBS Sports Network and CBS Sports to Televise Toughest Mudder and World’s Toughest Mudder Events

Active Lifestyle Brand to Offer More Than $350,000 in Prize Money in 2017

NEW YORK, NY (March 7, 2017) – Tough Mudder Inc., will debut its newest competitive event series, Tougher Mudder, at events worldwide beginning in New Orleans on March 18th. The next evolution of the company’s event series, Tougher Mudder is a competitive start wave that will be held at every Tough Mudder Weekend in 2017, and the top three male and female winners will be awarded prize money. Tough Mudder, the leading active lifestyle brand, will be offering more than $350,000 in prize money across its suite of competitive event series in 2017.

At World’s Toughest Mudder 2017, the culminating event of the Tough Mudder event season, $170,000 will be awarded during the grueling 24-hour endurance competition, which is being held at Lake Las Vegas on Nov. 11-12. The Toughest Mudder series, six global, eight-hour, overnight competitive races, will bestow more than $100,000 in prize money during its inaugural season.

Tough Mudder, Inc. is also launching Tough Mudder 5K in Nashville on August 12 to meet the growing demand of metropolitan people who are attracted to mud runs, as well as to serve as an entry point to obstacle challenges. The 3.1-mile event will provide an accessible yet rewarding challenge for city dwellers and will feature more than 10 signature Tough Mudder obstacles, excluding the more extreme elements, like ice and electricity found in the 10-12 mile event.

For the first time ever, CBS Sports Network will televise six regional qualifying events, with programming beginning in June. Tough Mudder will bring all the action to viewers across broadcast, cable and digital platforms, including CBSSports.com and the CBS Sports app. CBS Sports Network’s coverage will bring viewers behind-the-scenes providing a first-hand experience as participants train and compete on the road to being crowned World’s Toughest Mudder. World’s Toughest Mudder culminates with a broadcast on CBS in December.

“Tough Mudder is thrilled to debut three new event series in 2017 – Tougher Mudder, Toughest Mudder and Tough Mudder 5K,” said Will Dean, CEO and Co-founder of Tough Mudder, Inc. “We remain dedicated to innovation and the development of new products and entry points that enable millions of people around the world to be part of Mudder Nation, furthering our position as a global leader in the active lifestyle and endurance sports categories.”

The competitive event series prizing is as follows:
• World’s Toughest Mudder – Competitors are eligible for more than $170,000 in total prize money. Individuals can win bonus prizes of $50,000 by being the first female who completes 100 miles or male who completes 110 miles during the 24-hour race.

• Toughest Mudder – With over $100,000 up for grabs in 2017, more than $17,000 will go to the top five male and female finishers, including bonus prizing of $5,000 for the first male and female to reach 50 miles at each event.

An additional $10,000 will be bestowed to the top male and female finishers with the most miles at the end of the Toughest Mudder events season, Participants will be ranked, and the qualifying ranking, a minimum of 25 miles completed at Toughest Mudder, enables individuals to qualify for the “Contender Category” at World’s Toughest Mudder and be eligible for additional prizing.

• Tougher Mudder – $1,700 in prize money will be awarded at each event for top male and female finishers, totaling nearly $70,000 for the year.
The new competitive event series and enhanced prizing expands Tough Mudder, Inc.’s global footprint as an industry leader. It demonstrates the company’s commitment towards innovation with its newest offering for the fast-growing active lifestyle and endurance sports communities, encouraging team-building and facilitating World’s Toughest Mudder training.
World’s Toughest Mudder 2016 set industry records, drawing 3.6 million views with more than 3.5 million minutes of coverage consumed across Tough Mudder digital platforms by fans in more than 200 countries tuning in. Tough Mudder’s proprietary live stream drew nearly 1 million views and more than 439,000 unique viewers on Tough Mudder digital platforms including mobile devices, computers, and OTT devices, and Tough Mudder’s Facebook Live steam garnered more than 2.6 Million views with an organic reach of 14.2 Million

For more information on Tough Mudder and to see the 2017 schedule of events, visit toughmudder.com. Join the conversation on social by following Tough Mudder on Twitter at @ToughMudder, on Instagram @Tough_Mudder, on Facebook at facebook.com/toughmudder on Snapchat at Tough.Mudder and on YouTube at YouTube.com/ToughMudder.
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About Tough Mudder, Inc.:
Founded in 2010 with the launch of the Tough Mudder Full event series of 10-12 mile obstacle courses, Tough Mudder Inc. has since grown to become a leading active lifestyle company and leader in sports video content creation and distribution. The brand includes: Mini Mudder, a 1-mile obstacle course designed for kids ages 7-12; Tough Mudder 5K, an accessible yet rewarding challenge packing signature Tough Mudder obstacles into a 3.1-mile course; Tough Mudder Half, an obstacle course challenge bringing the thrills of Tough Mudder to a 5-mile course; Tough Mudder, a competitive start wave that takes place during all Tough Mudder Weekends; Toughest Mudder, an eight-hour, overnight competition series; and World’s Toughest Mudder, a gruelling 24-hour endurance competition. The brand also encompasses an extremely vibrant engaging social and digital community and serves as a destination for fitness, nutrition and wellness content delivered across multiple platforms. The Tough Mudder family of brands and online community is united by a commitment to promoting courage, personal accomplishment and teamwork through unconventional, life-changing experiences. With more than 2.5 million participants globally to date, Tough Mudder Inc. will host more than 130 events worldwide in 2017 in nearly a dozen countries, including Asia, Australia and more through its partnerships with IMG, Seroja and Sports Media and Entertainment 360 (SME360). More than 20 of the world’s leading brands are sponsorship and content distribution partners, including Merrell, Jeep, Kingstone Press, Vega, Olympus, For Goodness Shakes, Bosch, Snapchat, Live Stream, Sky Sports, ESPN Media Distribution, The CW and CBS Sports. To join the conversation, follow Tough Mudder on Facebook at facebook.com/toughmudder, on Twitter @ToughMudder, and on Instagram @Tough_Mudder.

Media Contacts:

Angela Alfano
(703) 447-5629
Angela.Alfano@ToughMudder.com

Jodi Kovacs
(732) 597-2094
Jodi.Kovacs@ToughMudder.com

Ethan Metelenis
(917) 882-9038
Ethan.Metelenis@ToughMudder.com

Robert Zimmerman
(917) 543-1046

Rob@zimstrategies.com

 

 

DeSena Responds To Podium Controversy

Spartan Podium

We heard from Joe DeSena late yesterday in regards to the recent Spartan Race podium rule changes. Here is what he sent us.

I’m here in Tokyo and find myself wanting to write my friends directly. I haven’t read anything online, but a few people in our organization have said, “Wow, I can’t believe what some people are writing about the new Spartan podium rules.” Even though I never read these ridiculous things, I believe all press is good. 

I realize that I need to offer clarity to everyone who’s confused, frustrated, or simply impacted. I apologize for not contacting each of you directly, but in the interest of time—and because I want to be completely open about this—I thought this email was a better choice of communication. 

So, feel free to share this message. Or not. And also always know that the world has my email address should they want to talk to me.

There’s an old adage: “Before you criticize a person, walk a mile in his or her shoes.” This saying was first coined by the Cherokee tribe of Native Americans as “Don’t judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes.”

Henry Ford also said, “If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from that person’s angle as well as from your own.”

In other words, when you understand what drives another person’s perspective, you’re not only likely to have a complete view of the subject but are likely to regard the other person’s viewpoint with greater empathy. 

That’s what I’m doing now. I’m walking in the shoes of the elites: What’s the issue with the rule Spartan has put forth and how does it negatively impact the elite athletes we’ve helped develop over the past 7 years? I suspect they’re concerned that if they have to take a photo on our podium in standard Spartan gear, it will hurt their chances of earning sponsorship dollars. I suspect they also believe that being told what to wear is not American. 

These are valid concerns. I realize now that I should have fully explained this rule, along with the reasons for it, before we released it. I take complete responsibility and hope this message helps create clarity around these changes.

Here’s why we are putting this rule in effect: We believe obstacle racing is a sport. We also believe that for it to be recognized globally as a sport—not only by the elites, but by civilians, military, and the Olympic Committee itself—we need to start acting like a sport. 

This is not just an opinion. I have been working for 6-plus years trying to get us recognized by the Olympics, so that we can be included in the Games. I have had countless meetings with individuals who know what it requires, and several who are involved in decisions like this.  

The common themes in all these conversations: professionalism and consistency—in everything from how our elites dress to the branding of our events. To that end, it’s vital to the brand and our sponsors that we not allow our podium to be hijacked.

Your turn: Walk in Spartan management’s shoes for a minute. Imagine how taken aback we are when an elite quickly rips off his shirt to slip into one from another brand in front of our NBC cameras? Or how we feel when we get a call from one of our sponsors, which help finance 200 races in 30 countries annually, berating us. Lets be clear- there is NO Spartan Race without these sponsors. Luckily, we are Spartans. We move past it and don’t get upset. You can forgive in one minute or carry anger for a lifetime, that said- not everyone is like us.

The bottom line is this: We all want this to become a legitimately recognized sport, with participation and spectator rates as high as the other major sports. Together, we can continue to grow Spartan and make the world a healthier place along the way. We are well positioned to take that next step. Professionalism and consistency is a small price to pay. 

In fact, from my perspective, it is logical, and helps us all win. I hope this email will help you begin to see it in much the same way. Stay tuned for more updates. 

Joe- your friend in good times and bad.

Joe@spartan.com

We’d love to know your thoughts on Joe’s statements. Please comment below and let us know.

*Photo credit: Trek and Run

New Spartan Rules : Yancy Culp Speaks Out

Editor’s note : Yancy Culp is arguably the most prolific trainer in OCR these days. Through Yancy Camp, his training programs and stable of trainers (which includes Matt Novakovich, Ryan Kent, Rose Wetzel, and April Dee), have become one the leading resources for hundreds of athletes in our sport. The following are his views regarding the recent Spartan Rule announcement. This announcement includes changes which state Spartan Gear must be worn on the podium at all Spartan Races. We’ll include a link to his website at the bottom of his article.

Since the rules changes were shared around on Facebook I’ve been able to talk to a lot of people through phone calls, text messages, social messaging, and email. I have great appreciation for both sides of this discussion. I fully support a company’s right to outline rules and conduct as they see fit. I also understand the top level athletes showing concern when levels of control are put in place. It’s a great discussion to have early on in a sports infancy. Spartan has performed far beyond and accomplished more than most of us could have ever thought possible for our sport of OCR in a short period of time. I’m one of the biggest supporters of Spartan and the entire OCR racing community. The racing experiences they have provided for us over the past 5+ years has been nothing short of amazing. Many like to say, “the sport is so young”, “we’re not there yet”, “we’ll never be big like other sports”, etc. Try and find another sport that had as much success as OCR during the first few years of existence. I’m willing to bet you can’t find one. Basketball started out with a group shooting homemade balls in to a bushel basket. They weren’t as far along as OCR was five years in. I think it’s safe to say Basketball has made it to the big time. I could go on for days providing other examples.

We’ve moved very fast and Spartan has done an exceptional job keeping their foot on the gas. Because of great organizations/leagues, employees, sponsors, television networks, fans, and high performance athletes, there are sports that aren’t on the excitement scale of OCR who have had a crazy level of success while generating billions of dollars.

One problem that comes up when topics like this surface is the fact that some get extreme with their rhetoric vs trying to understand the topic from both sides. People will lash out with rhetoric that serves little to no purpose while a graciously direct conversation can go on in the middle and things can get accomplished.

Spartan has to operate under a budget watching P&L’s, EBITDA numbers, etc. and at the end of quarters and annually, they have to show success and profit. The television networks have to do the same thing. The high level athletes who have brought a lot to the sport and have been a big part of the success also have to operate under a budget. Most organizations in the sport of OCR have aligned their races in a way to create high level competition and OCR is a sport. Without the top level athletes you have a televised event. With the top level athletes you have an edge of your seat viewing experience that’s a full blown race! If you watched the NBC and CBS televised races on Christmas Day 2016 you saw how the networks spent a lot of time showing the audience top level athletes going toe to toe out on course. The viewers start following the top level athletes and all successful sports have top level athletes creating edge of your seat excitement. We love it and we always will!

The sport has top level athletes grooming their work schedules and teaming with sponsors in a way that allows them as much time at possible to train and race. There are also athletes who are earning enough money with the sport to train and race full time. Some of the athletes in both categories are accomplishing this because of support from the race organizations they align with and they receive additional sources of revenue from other sponsors. Because of the high level athletes who dedicate a huge amount of time annually training, the sport has worked its way in to a situation where the athletes are arguably being considered some of it not the best athletes on the planet. We are also a sport now where top level athletes from other sports can’t waltz in and knock off our top level athletes.

Podium Shot

Up to this point, Spartan and other OCR organizations have allowed athletes to use their bodies and garments to market their sponsors, which as Spartan recently said, has played a key role in the development of the sport. In my opinion, this has been a very smart move on their part and I hope rules and conduct continue to allow this to take place in a way where the athletes can continue using their body and garments to support their sponsors. A very large majority of the top level athletes are in agreement. There are great examples where this has been very successful and there are examples where athletes have been overly controlled. Golf is an example many don’t think about. When you watch golf on television you’ll see almost every golfer wearing different hats, visors, shirts, using different clubs, balls, golf bags, etc. There is definitely a level of control in place with golf but the athletes have the freedom to promote their sponsors. Golf is performance based. Prize winnings can be very high if you perform well and sponsorships can be huge. Like most other sports, when you watch golf on television, the top golfers get the majority of the air time. They get to show off their sponsors and a healthy amount of money is earned. There are other sports models that have had similar success where the athletes make a very nice living. In other successful sports there are strong league minimums where the lowest paid athletes are paid very well and the highest performing athletes earn huge annual salaries. In most if not all the cases listed above, all the people involved in making the sport great are making a good living off the sport. Both models can work very well. The Track and Field/Athletics comparison is brought up a lot in the world of OCR conversations. This is in large part because the majority of top level athletes in the sport make very little money and the athletes consider the model unfair. Their bodies and garments they wear are also heavily controlled which doesn’t create a situation where outside sponsors want to give them any attention and create partnerships. I personally know that a vast majority of top level athletes in the sport of OCR do not want a model that would ever look like track and field.

My next point may ruffle some feathers but I think it’s important to bring up. Imagine if you were a top level athlete in your sport and the organization/league/federation was involved in very large sponsorship deals and you were paid very little to no income. Imagine being controlled to the point to where outside sponsors weren’t interested in teaming with you because you had very little ability to market their brand during competitions, on podiums, etc. Imagine being that high level athlete and being the lowest paid individual in the ranks of all involved in making the sport what it is. In the world of Track & Field, this is the case.

We are knee deep in an awesome time in our sports history where Spartan Race along with NBC and a lot of top level athletes are creating amazing viewing experiences. We’re moving in to the 5th year of NBC televised Spartan events. It has been successful! Without a level of success, there’s no way NBC could continue putting together a budget to come back each year. Private business just doesn’t work that way. Now we have Tough Mudder partnering with CBS and they will have seven televised races in 2017 which follow up the successful World’s Toughest Mudder race that aired on Christmas Day. The top level athletes have been a huge part of the success. Many top level athletes rely on outside sponsors to help supplement their ability to train and race full time or as much as possible. When Spartan launched the latest rule changes, it was presented in a way that the majority of top level athletes didn’t know about the changes until after they were already posted. Most can probably understand why the top level athletes would be alarmed when they saw the new rules being posted around social media by individuals who found them on the website. The rules stated you are required to wear the Spartan issued headband for the entire race and purposely discarding headband during the course of the event will be subject to DQ & In order to be eligible for awards racers agree to wear a Spartan branded finisher shirt or other shirt of Spartan’s choosing for any award ceremony and promotional photos. It also discussed consent to WADA drug testing which is a rule I’m confident the majority of the top level athletes are excited about.

I think most, including myself, understand why Spartan and other organizations need to have some level of control in place to ensure corporate sponsors are happy and for other reasons. I also think it’s important for people to understand why most top level athletes don’t want their bodies and garments controlled at a level that would inhibit their ability to promote their sponsors. There is common ground here for sure.

Yancy and Morgan

I’ll close with something that I feel can be a game changer in a world where there seems to be a lack of civility often times when processes, issues, challenges, and decisions are being made. No matter if you’re knee deep in the middle of what’s happening, or on the outside looking in, avoiding snap extreme decisions with your actions and words can go a long way in helping promote graciously direct dialogue and actions which is where great things get accomplished. Avoiding the extremes on both side will almost always put you and everyone involved in a better situation.

Much love to everyone involved in making the past 5-6 years an amazing experience for us all. From Austin Texas, here’s to an awesome year of training and racing.

2.3.17 Update to this article – A conversation with Joe Di from Spartan Race.

 

Learn more about Yancy Camp here:

Yancy Camp

OCRWC Announces US Championship

This morning, Adrian Bijanada and the OCRWC announced a United States Championship to take place Labor Day weekend in Texas. Keeping with the #ocrunited theme of the World Championships, The U.S. only version already has several races on board including Savage, Green Beret Challenge, BoneFrog Challenge, Warrior Dash, Terrain Racing, Conquer the Gauntlet, and more. These races will all be qualifiers for this new Championship. They will all, in theory, be donating obstacles for the actual race this Fall as well.

The complete press release will follow at the bottom of the page.

But first…Some quick Q and A With Adrian Bijanada

ORM: Is this event being produced with your partners from OCRWC?

AB: Yup, 365 Sports will be one of the partners helping to bring this to life.

ORM: Is this event open only to US Citizens?

AB: We are following the same path as similar competitions like US Track and Field. You must be a U.S. Citizen or a something called a “U.S. National”. A “National” is someone who has lived here for at least 3 years and has the ability to represent the United States in other competitions.

ORM: Will there be a journeyman category?

AB: No, because there is currently no qualification for the Open divisions.

ORM: So, to clarify, anyone can sign up for the Open (Non-Pro) division?

ABFor the inaugural year, and presently, there is no qualification for the Open divisions.

ORM: What about prize money? Will it be for all divisions?

AB: Cash prizes are definite for the Pro, we are currently determining the feasibility for age groups (Open division) prize money.

ORM: Can we expect maybe a U.K. version of OCRWC? Or perhaps a European version?

AB: We currently have no plans for additional events beyond this and the OCRWC

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

UNITED STATES OBSTACLE COURSE RACING CHAMPIONSHIPS TO TAKE PLACE IN TEXAS ON LABOR DAY WEEKEND

New York, NY, January 12, 2017 – Adventurey LLC, organizers of the independent Obstacle Course Racing World Championships, announced today the launch of the first United States Obstacle Course Racing Championships (USOCRC) to be held on Labor Day weekend, September 2 & 3, at Y.O. Ranch Headquarters, Mountain Home, Texas.

The two day event will consist of a 3k short course competition on Saturday, September 2, followed by a 15k long course championship on Sunday, September 3. Both distances will feature a Pro Division for qualified athletes as well as Open Divisions for Age Group competitors. Qualifying criteria will be available at http://USOCRChamps.com in the coming days. Additionally, qualifying spots for the 2017 OCR World Championships will be awarded for top Pro and Age Group division finishers.

“The sport of obstacle course racing continues grow at an amazing pace with the support of many like-minded companies and individuals looking to take it to the next level,” said Adventurey CEO Adrian Bijanada. “With enthusiastic community support, strong partnerships, and a deep bench of professionals willing to work together for the betterment of the sport, the U.S. Obstacle Course Racing Championships is poised to be another incredible experience for obstacle course racers from all over the country.”

In an effort to serve the growing community, the 2017 USOCRC will feature obstacles from many United States-based partners, including: Green Beret Challenge, Savage Race, BoneFrog Challenge, Warrior Dash, Terrain Racing, Conquer the Gauntlet, Indian Mud Run and more. Additional details will be available shortly on http://USOCRChamps.com.

About Adventurey, LLC

Founded in 2013, Adventurey, LLC is a New York City based company whose holdings include eCommerce, Event Production, and Marketing companies specialized in the endurance sports industry.

Media inquiries may be sent to HQ@USOCRChamps.com.