Helping Out A New Race Director

We at Obstacle Racing Media attempt to help new race directors whenever possible, on this one, we are asking for your help.

Today we talked with Benjamin Combs of Chaos Rush. The Chaos Rush website was launched just a few days ago, and was brought to ORM’s attention. We got a call from someone who had some doubts and asked us to look into it.  We were happy to oblige and made a phone call to the race director.

In recent weeks, we have already posted a few articles on how to spot red flags when it comes to avoiding new races. This race appears to have some of those flags.

  • Nationwide series of events scheduled ? Check.
  • No photos of obstacles or anything tangible. Check.
  • Dates listed but no actual venues? Check.
  • Will take your money now anyway for any of these promised events? Check.

We suggested to them they start smaller, prove themselves and then expand. Mr Combs disagreed. When we asked him if he was aware of races with much larger name recognition closing down for low registration numbers, he said that he was “well aware”.  We asked how many racers they were expecting, he said he’d like to get close to 4,000 people.

When we asked him how he planned to produce that many quality events week after week next year, he said that Chaos Rush had a crew of “about 150 people” ready to work as independent contractors. When we asked where these people came from, he told us “mostly friends”.

success-and-failure-sign-e1288836579720We also pointed out that, so far, only the Big 3 (Tough Mudder, Spartan Race and Warrior Dash) have pulled of a schedule like the one Chaos Rush is proposing. We then suggested that TM, Spartan, and WD can do that because they have had a 3 year head start along millions and millions in infrastructure and marketing behind them. That did not seem to phase Mr. Combs.

He told us “people are bored of the same old races” and Chaos Rush will have “different obstacles” that are going to bring people out en mass.

Forever the optimists for what OCR can be, we ask that you let Chaos Rush know your thoughts. Since he did not want to listen to us over here at ORM, perhaps you, the OCR community can speak here and make a difference. Maybe, together, we can turn a potential disaster into a success.

Matt B. Davis

is the host of the Obstacle Racing Media Podcast and the author of "Down and Dirty-The Essential Training Guide for Obstacle Races and Mud Runs". He is also the only (known) #wafflehouseelite obstacle racer.

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  1. From the race’s FAQ:

    “See unlike other mud runs that tell you how challenging they are, but fall short on the man scale; Chaos Rush actually delivers.”

    What the fuck is a “man scale”? Do women have a separate scale, probably measured in kitchens and pregnancies?

    1. “measured in kitchens and pregnancies”….I spit my drink out laughing.

      Where have I heard that “this race is unlike the others” before? Hmmm…

  2. I explored the site a bit and found some of the wording condescending and some confusing.
    Telling us “well too bad” in regards to photos of obstacles? I am sorry but I doubt that you will have 5k worth of obstacles that are 100% unheard of. Post some photos of the more basic obstacles that every course seems to have like walls, over under through, etc.
    My favorite is the “This is not a race, this is a run” piece, but its timed, and thats only because we want to give out more stuff, so you might want to train. This sounds like a race to me, you have your elite runners who want to push and train hard, and you have your weekend warriors who are just out to finish. Nothing wrong with that, if it is timed and their are prizes, its a race.
    Don’t insinuate that you are more challenging than many of the obstacle course races out there and in then tell us that you are making it accessible to all fitness levels. You can’t be both.
    I am interested to see where this goes.

  3. Mr. Combs, I love your drive and your commitment to want to bring something “new” to the table. As racers we are always looking for the “Next Big Race”. I would definitely heed the advice given to you already by starting small and then expanding yearly as your entries and sponsorship’s increase. Nothing wrong with shooting for the stars, just make sure you have enough fuel to get there.

  4. I completely agree with ORM. You test the waters with one target location. I’m a professional OCR photographer who has worked with many race promoters and marketing staff. You can’t get ahead of yourself. I know a permanent obstacle course with lodging that should’ve had much higher numbers than 120 runners but that’s all they had in their first year. Word of mouth will spread and the next year will be better but they have the advantage of first being a resort and secondly running an OCR.

    Getting married to an idea and defending it by shutting down any other feedback is just going to create a lot of stress later when the event doesn’t live up to the expectations.

  5. “Maybe, together, we can turn a potential disaster into a success.”
    This about this (the last line of the article) as advice to you, the consumer. Heed the red flags. Avoid a disaster and succefully hold on to your money.

  6. They are also using direct payment with Paypal, Not actually using a well known platform like Active. So you cant even use Active’s Race Insurance on this event.. which has had no events and no venues nor does it have any photos. Atleast some of the smaller guys build their course first and do a promo video.

    i like paypal, but this smells pretty sketchy.

    The site looks rushed, You have a nationwide event setup yet parts of your site are “coming soon” It regurgitates every one liner on every other event site. I will not be signing up for this.

  7. There’s no chance I will even consider registering for this race until it has successfully hosted a quarter of its scheduled events and received positive feedback from reputable OCR review sites, based off of all the red flags and the directors obvious delusional and stubborn mindset. It’s as simple as that.

  8. How do they expect to get registrations by providing nothing more than empty promises? No obstacle pictures, no past races, nothing tangible. This actually seems like not a real race at all, but maybe ORM’s example of what NOT to do if you’re just starting out?

  9. Nope. Big bag of nope. Got burned by Ruckus and I’m loathe to go trough it again. I’ll watch this one from afar, especially after reading that the “about 150 people” are “mostly friends.”

    I’ll keep my eyes open for the first reviews in late April if the Texas events actually happen.

  10. I’ve been in this game for about 4 years now, and I’ve seen my fair share of mud runs, both high quality and low quality. While it may not be the case 100% of the time, the quality of the website tends to echo the quality of the event. It comes down to making a top-notch all-around product. If the race organizers couldn’t care enough to spend $500 to have someone design their website (that most of their registrations, advertising, and therefore the entire face of their company is filtered through), then what’s to say they will care enough to make the race come to fruition?

    My guess? Flop.

  11. Reason #426 why there needs to be a “standard” for events… I’m not sure about a “governing body” just yet – but a multi-race association is a very good idea or we’ll see many more Squish Sqwash-es.

  12. Nothing like just jumping into the deep end. Yeah, it all looks and sounds somewhat jv, and those are typically quickly weeded out. I am always happy for an event in MN, but am certainly not registering when there is not one locked on race location in their whole event list. I will play the hopeful optimist and stay excited to run one of these in 2015.

  13. If I had a nickel for every race that boasted “new” obstacles, asks if your “courageous/brave/tough/strong” enough and touts their “outrageous/legendary/off the hook” after party, I’d have about $2.50 right now.

    I am most concerned that there are no confirmed venues. That seems like a big step one.

    And really, brag about your obstacles and don’t have photos? Bad juju right there.

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