2018 USAOCR National Championships Coming to San Diego in December

Press Release

2018 US NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS OF OBSTACLE COURSE RACING COMING TO SAN DIEGO

SAN DIEGO, CA, July 3rd – USA Obstacle Course Racing (USAOCR) is excited to announce the 2018 US National Championships of Obstacle Course Racing from December 1-2. It will be held at the Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center, an Official U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Training Site.
This race is open to the public with athletes of all backgrounds and experiences invited to participate in the Elite Men’s and Women’s, Age Group, Open or Para-Athlete Divisions.

Qualifying athletes who have competed at an elite level at popular OCR branded events such as Spartan Race, Tough Mudder, Warrior Dash, Savage Race and the like will be invited to compete in the elite divisions of each event. The event will feature both a Standard Distance (6-9 miles, 18+ obstacles) and an International Distance (3-4 miles, 12+ obstacles) race open to all participants. The event will also include a spectator friendly, Track Distance race (1200 meter, 3-lap, 10+ obstacle course) only open to the Elites athletes.

We are excited to invite world-class obstacle and multi-sport athletes to compete in our national championship. Our partnership with the City of Chula Vista and the Elite Athlete Training Center is a perfect fit exposing our athletes to an official US Olympic Training site and the realm of future opportunities in this emerging sport.” States Jamie Monroe, Vice Chair of USA Obstacle Course Racing and event organizer.

The top 5 athletes in the elite division races will become members of Team USA and will have the opportunity to represent the United States in International Obstacle Course Racing Championship events in 2019.

This event is hosted by USAOCR- the National Governing Body for obstacle sports, disciplines and events in the United States of America. This race helps USA Obstacle Course Racing meet requirements specified by World OCR, the Fédération Internationale de Sports d’Obstacles (FISO) to qualify athletes for future international competitions and to meet World OCR requirements as specified by the International Olympic Committee and the International Paralympic Committee.

OCR’s explosive growth has resulted in elite divisions and athletes traveling extensively to obstacle events across the country. This event represents our second US National Championships and has been under development for over a year. Our championship events are designed to showcase and honor the sport and its athletes” stated USAOCR executive director and Olympian Rob Stull.

Athletes can register at http://usaocrchamps.org or for more information please email info@usaocrchamps.org. General admission tickets will also be available for spectators to cheer on their athletes throughout the weekend at the Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center.

About USAOCR
USA Obstacle Course Racing (USAOCR) is the National Governing Body for obstacle sports, disciplines and events in the United States of America. A member-based nonprofit that exists to represent the needs of the sport through athlete member representation and engagement whose mission is to promote Obstacle Course Racing and its related sports and disciplines throughout the United States, to lead the sport of OCR, and meet governance requirements as specified by the United States Olympic Committee and World OCR, the Fédération Internationale de Sports d’Obstacles. For more information visit https://usaocr.org/.

About Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center
The Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center (CVTC), a U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Training Site, covers 155 acres of state-of-the-art sports venues for training, competition, and events. It originally opened in 1995 as a U.S. Olympic Training Center, a gift to the United States Olympic Committee from the San Diego National Sports Training Foundation. In 2017, ownership of the Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center was transferred to the City of Chula Vista and the facility is now operated by Elite Athlete Services. For more information, visit https://trainatchulavista.com/.

Contact at USA Obstacle Course Racing:
• Jamie Monroe- Vice Chair- Jamie.Monroe@usaocr.org

US National Championships of Obstacle Course Racing


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A lengthy interview with Jamie Monroe, vice chair for USAOCR.

The organization knows as USAOCR is putting on a national championship event in December in Chula Vista, California.

We do go over a good bit of “How we got here” on today’s episode, however, here is some additional reading/listening either before or after you listen today for further context.

March 2017 – Podcast with Tim Sinnett, the media contact at USAOCR at the time.

May 2017 – Article by McCauley Kraker recapping the first ever US National Championships put on by USAOCR in Miami.

April 2018 – Article about USOCR and it’s parent, WORLD OCR. (formerly known as IOSF).

 

Todays Podcast is sponsored by:

Wetsuit Wearhouse – Save 15% using coupon code ORM15 on all purchases.

Show Notes:

USAOCRChamps.org – Learn more about this event and register here.

AOCRA – “Adrians” organization that has nothing to do with USAOCR. (In case you were confused)

Listen using the player below or the iTunes/Stitcher links at the top of this page. 

OCR bureaucracy: why this is a good thing, and why you should care

In the past few months, two organizations that hope to help govern the sport of OCR have been rebranded and, more important, taken major steps to becoming forces to help advance OCR from its current status as an exciting, competitive pastime to the level of an internationally recognized sport. Their activities have the potential to improve OCR for everyone from elite athletes to people trying out their first mom-and-pop local race. Even if you have no interest in elite athletes, the actions of these organizations will make the sport better for everyone.

Who They Are

At the top of the pile is World OCR, formerly known as the IOSF. As per their website: “World OCR, the Fédération Internationale de Sports d’Obstacles (FISO) is the world governing body and sole competent authority for obstacle sports and related disciplines. We are an independent association composed of national member federations worldwide.”

Let’s break that down: they are the world governing body. What does that mean? They are the OCR equivalent of  FINA  for swimming, the ITU for triathlon, or the IAAF for track and field. These organizations set the rules for competition. They organize world championships. They determine who goes to the Olympics every four years. Some of them are powerful, wealthy organizations,(hello, FIFA !). Others, not so much.  One thing they all have in common is that they exist to advocate for their sport and to support the athletes who take part.

What does this have to do with you?

More than you might think. If you’ve ever done a triathlon, the rules of competition are set, generally speaking, by the people at the ITU. Safety standards that allow race organizers to get insurance also trickle down from the ITU. Even more common sports feel the effect of the international governing bodies; if you ran a marathon lately and noticed that it was a Boston-qualifier, that means that the course was certified according to standards that the BAA, USATF and the IAAF all came up with and approved.

I spoke with Ian Adamson, the President of World OCR, and he explained that World OCR will make OCR “safer, cheaper, and fairer” (maybe not as inspirational as “Citius, Altius, Fortius”, but we’ll take it). The safety part includes working with the ASTM process of establishing standards, including the requirements for obstacle construction and the need for medical personnel at events. Safer events can make for cheaper events: our sport is riskier than most, and insurance is a big expense for race organizers. Safety standards reduce risk, which makes insurers happy, which means they can charge less, which makes races more affordable. Setting up rules that can be applied to all races and that are widely understood mean that races can be fairer. Something that applies to all three would be the implementation of WADA anti-doping standards. Doping is both a safety consideration (it’s banned because it’s not safe) and a fairness concern (doping athletes can get an unfair advantage), and the application of the same standards across all races can make things cheaper when elite athletes are getting tested.

World OCR is “composed of national member federations worldwide.” This takes us to the next level, the recently re-branded USAOCR (not to be confused with AOCRA ). So far, their activities have been fairly quiet, which is not to say that they are not being active. What most OCR fans will remember was their event last year in Miami, which was tacked on to a local Spartan Race. What I learned from Jamie Monroe, USAOCR Co-Chair, was that this event was put together rather quickly in order to determine who would represent the US at an upcoming international OCR competition, an event that ended up being canceled.

USA Obstacle Course Racing

In the meantime, USAOCR is working hard to get launched towards bigger and better things. I am reminded of the early days of OCR, when events were put together based on few resources, a lot of volunteer labor and good will, and with plans to create something bigger. USAOCR is still working on a revenue model, one that might look something like the way USAT operates. If you register for a local triathlon, you are probably asked if you are a USAT member. If you are not a member, you are either invited to join or required to pay for a one-day membership. Either way, the membership covers your insurance for the race. Again, going back to the safety element, USAT sanctions events, which means that the insurance side of things is taken care of through the national governing body’s bureaucracy.

Other goals for USAOCR include the development of a ranking system for OCR athletes across the US. This requires paying software developers, and given USAOCR’s shoestring budget, this isn’t happening yet. Since AOCRA has also stated this as a goal, it seems that some cooperation is in order here. USAOCR also wants to set up a way of determining who gets to represent the US in international competition. For now, it is not in the position to host events on its own where champions could be crowned, and for the future, it appears that this would take place at events that other race organizers host and which are branded by USAOCR as national championships.

Why FISO?

Why the French name for World OCR? It’s not officially called Fédération Internationale de Sports d’Obstacles just to sound classier. And why is it headquartered in Switzerland, a country not especially known for its OCR heritage? This leads to the million-dollar question: what about the Olympics? I hadn’t mentioned getting OCR into the Olympics until now, because that’s the first thing people bring up when the subject of governing bodies comes up, and it shouldn’t be, at least not yet.

The name is French because the IOC is headquartered in Switzerland, which makes it the natural home for the governing body of a sport that aspires, someday, to be part of the Olympic Games. And while that is a goal, it can’t be the stated goal for a number of years. The IOC has hurdles and milestones that have to be passed before a sport can even be considered for a spot at the Games. These include the less glamorous tasks that World OCR is going through right now: getting federations set up in countries around the world, having conferences and other more paperwork-related activities. They don’t make for dramatic Instagram posts, but they are necessary all the same.

A more tangible part of the process is setting up world competitions, and the first such event will be the Shardana World Team Challenge on April 14 USAOCR is sending four athletes to represent the US, and I hope to hear more about their experiences when they get back. If you are asking yourself “But what about the OCRWC?” you would not be alone. For now, World OCR’s position is that this event is part of a racing brand, in the same way that Spartan’s World Championship or World’s Toughest Mudder are branded events. In the future, cooperation between OCRWC and World OCR might help both organizations achieve their goals

No one likes to cheer on bureaucracy, but I would argue that it is sometimes necessary, and not even a necessary evil. An example: OCR had its first doping scandal last year when Ryan Woods tested positive for a banned substance after the OCRWC. The question arose whether he would be banned from other OCR events, and he spent some nervous days waiting for phone calls from Spartan and Tough Mudder HQ’s. He was not alone in saying that if only we had a governing body to consult about questions like this, we all could have had some certainty about his ability to race in the upcoming season. USAOCR and World OCR exist to fill that gap. Elite racers should be pushing for these organizations to thrive, and fans of the sport should be rooting for them, too.

A look back at the first USA OCR National Championships

Take a look at the start line pictures from your local mud run, or “obstacle race.”

Unlike a 5k or marathon line-up showcasing emaciated, linear body types, these photos are usually more of “type-A” line-up. Your OCR start-line is dominated by big arms, distended abs, tattoos, and spandex, lots and lots of spandex. You’d be forgiven in dismissing this strange collection, this burning man/cross-fit baby, as being nothing more than a fad that takes itself a bit too seriously.

But look closely and you might see, sandwiched between heavily tattooed Cross-fitters in checkered board shorts, juiced out powerlifters, and hobbyjoggers with dad-bods, a glimpse of one or two thin, serious-looking runners rocking short shorts and bright invov8 shoes. You’d be remiss if you thought they were nothing more than a marathoner trying something new.

No, these are the first of the professional athletes of this new sport, battling week in and out on the muddy for chicken-scratch prizes and sponsorship, much like the Steve Scotts or Prefontaine’s of track and field’s early post-amateur years.


Despite its lack of experience as opposed to other sports with Olympic dreams (the sport, in the US at least, has been around just under 10 years) obstacle racing has serious Olympic aspirations. This past weekend some of the top athletes in the OCR world met up in Miami to compete over a 3 mile course. At stake were spots on America’s newly-announced Pan-American team, which will spend the coming year racing exhibition races in North and South america before heading down to the Pan-am games.

While the aforementioned weekend-warrior crowd might pay OCR’s bills, it was the runners who were the focus on this special course. It is these same runners who are instigating an identity crisis in a sport attempting to be both commercial and Olympic in its aspirations, ideas that time and time again have proven to be mutually exclusive.

While participation numbers may be down as a whole since, say, 2010, the mainstream popularity of obstacle racing has exploded in recent years. Tough Mudder and Spartan Race have defied their fringe labels to become household names, benefiting from renewed interest in natural, gymnastic-like movements thanks to the explosion of Crossfit and shows like the ratings-dominating American Ninja Warrior.

NBC, NBC sports, ESPN, and CBS have all begun to devote substantial airtime to their own specific versions of the obstacle race. Even Netflix (Ultimate Beastmaster) and CMT (Broken Skull Ranch) are cashing in on the obstacle/mud-run movement. Sponsors the likes of Panasonic and Reebok have jumped into the fray, marketing action cameras and sport-specific shoes (with built in drainage and extra grip for obstacles like rope climbs) to the mostly middle-aged, upper-middle class participants who shell big bucks for a few miles of mud and object carries on a weekly basis (A typical Spartan race entry costs around $125). Jeep, Coors light, Subway, and others have highlighted the sport in their TV spots.


But why mess around with the massive headaches of properly planning and executing a race when the potential of TV money lies waiting? Battlefrog, previously one of the biggest competitors to Spartan Race, and one with a large, passionate fan base, had a similar thought. They disbanded their race series, fired their staff, and are attempting to jump to ESPN or other networks with a televised racing series.

In this streaming age ESPN is seeing its lowest ratings ever and even dropped 1.5 million subscribers in 2016, according to adage.com. Yet the show has been reviewed well and BattleFrog seems to have no intentions of returning to the original fanbase that made it a household name. 

They say once a rapper uses your name in a song you’ve made it, and in late 2015 Pittsburgh rapper Mac Miller dropped the first known OCR-related line in his song “Brand Name” :

“American-ninja to these obstacles, no stopping me…” (Things go downhill quickly from there with euphemisms to ladies of the night and services but you get the point)

I think its safe to say OCR has officially become more than a fad; it has established itself as a concrete societal mainstay. So it’s here, but what’s its identity? Is it a cash cow, a grassroots movement, a professional runner’s sport, or some combination of the three?


Back to that Miami starting line. For an event with as much buzz surrounding it as this, the photos told a different story. The participant #’s were slim, the obstacles borrowed from other sports (Spartan has decided to use biathlon’s lazer pistol as its featured penalty-inducing obstacle), and the athletes fast, fit, runners competing on a fast, flat course where the more traditional cross-fit body-types didn’t stand a chance.


This was labeled a “short-course” by Spartan, and it was shorter than usual, at least by OCR standards, with a sub 30-minute completion time.

But that’s not a “short-course” by any other sport’s standards; after all, the longest track and field event, the 10km, takes around 27 minutes to complete. From an aerobic standpoint, the same athlete who wins an 11-minute running race will, with proper training, be the best in a 2 hr race, and this is often the case, with Ryan Atkins, Hunter McIntyre, Amelia Boone, and other endurance mainstays winning events no matter the course. Spartan attempts to change this by introducing heavy obstacles to even out the playing field, but it could be argued that when events attempt to even out a playing field, the opposite as actually being done.

Fast-forward 30 minutes and Mark Batres crossed the line in first for the males, followed by former Spartan World Champion Robert Killian and upcoming speedster Mike Ferguson. An upland, California native, Batres boasts prs of 13:44 in the 5k and sub-30 minutes in the 10km.

Obstacles can be learned; aerobic capacity can not. If the sport continues this way we may be seeing a field of Kenyans sweeping podiums 5 years from now. 

And Batre’s prize for being crowned the first USA OCR champ and Pan-American team member on the most-hyped weekend of the year? A meager $300.

Throw in a flight from Cali, rental car, hotel, and race entry, Mark likely left in the red (disregarding sponsors, and any unmentioned payouts of course).

So we’re seeing progress on the corporate side of the sport, but we’re not seeing much of a trickle down to the athletes themselves.

But that will change. 

Although optimists were saying the same about track and field some 40 years ago…

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USAOCR with Tim Sinnett

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Tim Sinnett USAOCR

On today’s show we talk with Tim Sinnett. You may know Tim as The Race Sherpa and/or as husband of OCR athlete Rose Wetzel. He recently became a member of the media committee for USAOCR.  On this episode, we attempt to answer (among other things) what USAOCR is, what this first event in Miami is all about, how OCR may get into the olympics, and how you can get involved.
Todays Podcast is sponsored by:

Obstacle Guard – Code ORM gets you 10% off all orders in the U.S.

Show Notes:

Race Sherpa OCR – Facebook page.

Sports Illustrated article – Referenced in this podcast.

USAOCR.org – Homepage and how you can you can run for a seat on the Board of Directors.

Listen using the player below or the iTunes/Stitcher links at the top of this page.