In what is still an industry in it’s infancy, things move really fast. 3 years ago in OCR feels like an eternity. So let’s review what has happened in just the 12 months since we published that article.
The Death Race as we knew it with Joe and Andy at the helm, died.
BattleFrog announced 44 races in North American in 2016.
BattleFrog televised the first short course obstacle race on ESPN.
Warrior Dash put on their 2nd World Championship. (It turned out to be their last.)
Tough Mudder put on an urban event.
Tough Mudder announced a “kindler, gentler” half distance Mudder for 2016.
OCRWC announced a move to Canada and multiple course distances for next year’s event.
and most recently…
Spartan and NBC filmed a big budget OCR reality show.
Where does all of this leave us, 6 years into this thing called OCR?
About once a month, you can still find “mainstream media” articles that don’t understand the basic differences in the large OCR companies and only focus on the bad news of our industry. The comments from the general public on those articles read from confused to downright mean.
In many ways, even the rest of the fitness and running communities (whom I would hope would embrace us) still don’t know what to do with OCR.
Are we the future of physical activity? Are we an annoyance and a cramp to their sales? Should they jump in and try to “cash in” or ride the storm and hope everyone eventually goes back to 5ks?
This brings me back to the original question from a year ago. Should we add one to The Big Three?
When we wrote that article last year, many thought BattleFrog were being given too much credit, too early. Many OCR junkies let it be known that lots of media buzz and big cash payouts should not put BattleFrog ahead of several more experienced OCR companies in the race for the Big Four namely;
Savage Race: Used by many as an example of how to do things right, Savage has never tried to bite off more than it can chew. They’ve been around since 2011, and only add a city or two, tops, per year to their schedule. The races are profitable with consistent attendance numbers, and in March, they stepped up the early morning heat. With the help of Garfield Griffiths, they created Savage Pro heats which includes mandatory obstacle completion and cash prizes at every event. This got the “best kept secret in OCR”, a lot more press. So now, should they be considered part of the lead pack?
Rugged Maniac: Another race that has been consistently bringing in participants since their inception in 2010. They got a nice boost in cash from Mark Cuban thanks to an appearance on Shark Tank in 2014. The changes made from that new partnership have been well received. In 2016, they are going to be in 23 markets, including the West Coast and Canada. So is Rugged Number 4?
Down and Dirty: What many still call “The Merrell”, even though they no longer have the shoe company as title sponsor, D&D has been around since 2010. They’ve been in the same 10-12 cities every year and many look forward to their return. They had some hiccups this year eliminating timing and awards mid season. Rumor has it, they are bringing both awards and timing back for first heats in 2016. If they do, should they be a contender for solid 4th?
One trend that seems to be going mostly unnoticed. Warrior Dash is shrinking.
At the their peak in 2012, Warrior Dash produced a whopping 65 event days. Many weekends were 2 day events with 10,000 plus participants. 2013 saw that number drop to 39 event days. In 2014, Warrior Dash produced a similar 38 event days and they put on their first World Championship. 2015 shrunk slightly to 34 event days. Next year’s schedule has only 23 event days and the 100k cash grab they created is gone.
There are countless mom and pops whose wildest fantasies consist of 20 plus event days with 4,000 to 6,000 participants in every city. However, for “The World’s Largest Mud Party”, it’s a very different story. Warrior Dash’s parent company, Red Frog, is not going anywhere. They are an event company that produces massive festivals, and have created their own food and beverage, logistics, and ticket sales divisions along the way. The question is will they keep producing Warrior Dashes, or will Red Frog keep putting on less and less events, and then quietly put it to rest?
We at ORM, never pretend to see into the future. Like you, we take in what’s out there, and make the best decisions we can with the most current, and every changing information. We are as hopeful (and confused) as we have ever been.
Happy Holidays everyone, sound off in the comments as always.