Hobie Call is no longer obstacle racing.
Let that sink in.
The man who, many reading this will attribute their start in OCR, is going back to work in the field of heating and air conditioning.
In a forthcoming story on the collapse of Atlas Race, Hobie tells Obstacle Racing Media about thousands of dollars that he is owed, and how this latest disappointment has led to his exit. He told us:
The last 3 1/2 years of making a living in the world of OCR has been quite a roller-coaster. Amazing highs, and high pressure lows….I’m actually excited to get my feet back on stable ground for a while. So thus starting tomorrow morning I am going back to HVAC.
So, to those in the world of OCR… Good morning, and in case I don’t see ya, good afternoon, good evening, and good night!
If Hobie didn’t inspire you to do your first OCR race, his image was still most likely one of the first that you saw.
You googled Spartan Race or Tough Mudder and started watching videos to see if you were ready to do this crazy thing called an obstacle race. Even though you hadn’t done a pull up since high-school, and you despised running, something drew you to check it out.
You saw different people, of all shapes and sizes going up ropes and under barbed wire.
You started to believe you could, maybe, actually do this.
Then you saw someone, a sinewy man in his 30s with no shirt and a shaved head. What was that guy doing!?
He was flying through these obstacles. He did stuff you’d never seen.
He rolled under that barbed wire faster than any human had ever crawled. He flipped over walls instead of climbing down them. He started climbing a rope and then about 3/4 of the way up, he in inverted his whole body and KICKED THE BELL!
You were fascinated, what’s this dude’s name!? His name is Hobie Call and he’s like the best there is at this thing.
Despite having so many fears about registering for your first race, you signed up anyway.
As the weeks passed, you were getting more and more excited about the race. You’ve been running a few miles every week and putting in a few extra workouts.
New Spartan videos kept coming out. This Hobie guy was still winning.
More time passes and you’ve made friends from work or the gym, and formed a team to take on this first race. Hobie – still number one.
Finally, race day is here. I can’t begin to tell you what happened next because you have the story of your first OCR. You loved (and sometimes hated) every second of it. You may tell that story over and over again.
The part you don’t necessarily tell every time is what happened in the festival area after your first race. You were going to buy a beer or a sandwich and you saw a few people gathered around someone.
As you got closer, you saw…was that?…it was. That’s Hobie Call.
You patiently waited your turn and sheepishly said hello. It turned out not only was he the best in the world in OCR, he was also humble, and gracious, and kind. You got your picture taken with him and immediately posted it on Facebook. (Well, as soon as you got signal you did).
Hobie would often spend the entire afternoon out in the festival area. He would shake every hand and take every picture. He would answer every question about nutrition, or shoes, or whatever else people asked him.
Many attribute the rapid growth of Spartan Race at least somewhat to the popularity of Hobie Call. Some have even gone on to compare Hobie and Spartan to Michael Jordan and Nike. Or more specifically to Michael Jordan and (Nike CEO) Phil Knight. In Hobie’s case, Spartan CEO, Joe De Sena.
That each one was less powerful on their own, but together, a global brand was born.
Things worked out really well for both Michael and Phil, but for Joe and Hobie, not so much.
Some other day, we can go through the questionable business decisions that Hobie made or didn’t make. We can talk about his journey from Spartan, to Extreme Nation to BattleFrog, and ultimately, Atlas Race.
Today, let’s celebrate Hobie for what he is. The most dominant obstacle racer who ever lived. The word dominate gets thrown around a lot in sports. However, for Hobie, there is not a more perfect word.
Just as time passing and poor decisions won’t change Tiger Woods dominating his sport for so many years or Arnold Schwarzenegger dominating his, Hobie was the first true champion of our sport, and nothing can change that.
The video below sums it up pretty well.
We’d love to hear from you. Comment and let us know about your encounters with Hobie or how he inspired you.
*Photos courtesy of Hobie Call, Spartan Race