BOCRA Interview with Phillipe Levy.

Dive into an exclusive interview with Phillipe Levy from the Belgian Obstacle Racing Federation (BOCRA), as he candidly shares his experiences.
Despite promises of support in resources and funding, he reveals how BOCRA felt abandoned by its parent organization, World Obstacle, led by Ian Adamson.

In this revealing discussion, Phillipe unpacks the challenges faced before, during, and after the inaugural World Obstacle Championship held in Genk from September 14-17, 2023.

Gain insight into the behind-the-scenes story of this groundbreaking event and the hurdles encountered along the way.

We have reached out to Ian Adamson of World Obstacle to get his rebuttal and will bring that to you as soon as possible.

Below is the email that Ronny Hoffenboom sent out to athletes on December 20, 2023

Recap first official world OCR championship FISO UIPM Belgium 2023

First of all, we the organization of WC23, would like to thank you for your presence at the World Championships in Belgium.

You as athlete, champion, federation member, trainer , marshal or technical official We received massively your reactions, mails, messages and we thank you for this.

And for this reason we send you this mail. To thank you for your presence, but especially to reflect on this great weekend.

Many have questions or comments about the organization, about the course of the race or about the financial aspect.

Why haven’t podium prizes been shared yet , why still no official TO has been paid? What has been promised, by whom and how?

Therefore, we owe you an explanation, because everyone who participated is entitled to the explanation of this.

I wrote this story in English which is not my native language as well as 90% of you . It’s not about the writing, it’s about the content.

The beginning.

After the plans of Sochi Russia in 2018/2019 ( COVID19) and Moscow 2022, there were plans with Costa Rica 2023.

Costa Rica , for this beautiful country with great people, 2023 came a little too early as the organization of the first ever official World Championship.

Therefore, a solution was sought for a region that had a little more feeling and a little more experience with our sport. Central Europe is a nice start, and Belgium could be a host country.

The entire organization is in the hands of World Obstacle led by president Ian Adamson, elaborated by the competition committee and technical delegation , head TOs, head PARA …

Myself, Ronny Hofenboom , took the decision to seek a solution as vice president of the competition committee.

From my position within the organization and with the necessary experience in Europe it is an obvious choice to start on my own soil.

World obstacle has no VAT number, no bank account number and thus no mandate, so there must be a solution to organize an event. That solution can only be found by using a host country.

Belgium and its national federation BOCRA acts as host country and provides local support , permits , applications , grants , and local solutions for volunteers and accommodation.

Unlike another intercontinental championships where a host country bears the full organization and final responsibility ( LOI) this falls into the hands of World Obstacle.

This means that signatures on contracts can only be placed by the board of WO. Important decisions and responsibilities fall to the board of WO. And of course the expected profit goes to WO, with a fee on registrations for the local federation as an effort and their commitment.

PROMO and announcements

Many times there was local signal to announce this event, and keep repeating it.

Time after time, week after week, month after month but without much result. The city of Genk asked up to 5 times to be allowed to use photo and video material. Without result.

Costa Rica 2024 is announced every week and that is how it should be.

The registration platform

A solution was sought and quickly found at My Next Match. This forum has proven functional in the sport in the past and in addition, there is a great possibility to accommodate through this platform all federations worldwide, all athletes, all organizations directly related to WO , world series. There is also a possibility to set up a global ranking system through this system. If each participant pays a small fee ( not determined nor decided) both MNM and WO can generate income from which it can work and further build the organization of the world federation and further develop the sport .

Many of you questioned the WADA file, why so difficult, why spend so much time on questions. 90% of the participants are age-group . Is there no distinction in elite here? This was massively considered unnecessary or too complex.

The medical file also caused many questions.

Is this mandatory for everyone?

If so, from what age? Do adaptive athletes require an additional file?

Does this have to be done every year ? With a sports doctor or a regular doctor? With a test or just at check-ups?

This was unclearly worked out and many of you rightly had a comment on this.

The course and the obstacles

In agreement and consultation with WO and BOCRA, a perfect location was sought locally. For the obstacles a combination of permanent suppliers ( TOROZ Poland, Urban Sky Holland) and local suppliers Klimber BELGIUM and GOLAZO as supplier logistics was chosen.

For the 100m, WO chose Hannibal’s Crossing.

Laser shooting came from ECO AIMS from Finland which has already proven itself as a loyal partner of UIPM.

A conscious decision was also made to involve Spartan to strengthen cooperation. To build a bridge between these two globally big organizations. Despite the fact that Spartan has NO race in Belgium it was chosen to build some Spartan obstacles.

The president’s quote:
Spartan must be present, they are our partner and all contact is through me only!

The competition directors

A race of the highest level deserves only a leadership of the highest level. So the competition committee was expanded to include some experienced people from different countries. Philippines, Italy, Hungary, UK…….

In case of discussion, sufficient members of the race committee are present .

The president’s quote:
” I decide what can happen, the reason is because I am the president!”. The volunteer staff

Marshal and TOs

Nayibe Statia, head of TOs FISO decided in consultation with the Competition Committee for a nice compensation for all TOs level 3.

50€ daily allowance, breakfast and coffee, lunch and drinks,

For a commitment of at least 2 days also a night allowance of max 50€.

A nice initiative because without TOs no race.

The president’s quote:

marshals and TOs should not be paid, but provide meals, transport shirt, etc. after all they are volunteers!

The medals.

Beautiful medals were ordered but due to miscommunication the ribbon was printed with COR instead of OCR,

Sufficient podium medals were provided for all groups and for all ages. Due to miscommunication, some had to hand their medals back after ceremony to be immediately handed back to another athlete. After the event, there were still 2 boxes of podium medals in the race office. A few were sent back to the other side of the world on BOCRA’s own initiative but not all podium athletes will ever see their precious metal again. The cost of sending them is 5x the value of the metal.

The rulebook

Keep it simple, that was the message months in advance. Long discussions were held about small details with great impact. Decisions were made and changed again. This could have been done more clearly and quickly.

The accounts.

All income comes in through MNM only, this amount must be estimated to fund a full event.

This means that there MUST be a clear financial plan in advance .

To put on a wonderful event you need money, a lot of money. Therefore, it was decided (later) to allow more than the proposed 5 athletes per category. To give more chance to equal athletes, and to cover the expenses.

World Obstacle has no money, no account, no VAT number. So the organization was obliged to find a local solution An account number was opened in the name of WC23 for which 2 members of BOCRA were made responsible. In and out. Paying people, placing orders and making appointments. 100% transparency .

The European federation

The European federation has never received a single penny from all its European championships.

2 X Holand, Denmark , Poland, Italy and not Hungary either.
Never was there a financial agreement which is bizarre to say the least.

But for the World Championships money is miraculously handed out. Not for Asian federations, not for African or South American federations.

Yet another decision of World Obstacle without consulting BOCRA, or yet another proof of the right of decision

Change of plans.

More people had to be invited, people from far, stays had to be paid for.

Buses for federations had to be ordered which were never paid .

Suppliers who allow free obstacles to be used yet have very high expenses, people flown over to set them up and take them down. Contracts that are not fulfilled, equipment that was not delivered must be looked elsewhere. Somewhere else it has to be rented, transportation arranged, extra people, extra costs, extra loss.

Promised weekly payments are not forthcoming, money is lost due to exchange rate of US dollars to Euro, and on top of that has to be settled after a fee that is not fixed in advance.

Hannibal’s Crossing

According to contract, this obstacle provider provides not only the obstacles , but also for the mats for safety. These were not present so the organization was obliged to rent mats from a local provider. Dirty and damaged mats were subsequently charged along with the rental fee. Hannibal’s Crossing is avoiding responsibility here.

The president’s quote:

” now the problem is local, a solution must be reached”

The announcers

The best event requires the best announcers. Stuart and Brian are the best people in this business, alongside Spartan hero Kevin .

Brian is willing to volunteer to support the sport and this young organization, which immediately makes him my personal hero.

Stuart still demands a fee which is understandable, but we have to cut back so I kindly decline him.

The president’s quote:
Both of them will get a 1300€ compensation because they are the best and they deserve it!

Investment in a future

Every organization knows that organizing a first edition is often not profitable .

Equipment was purchased to be used for several years. TO’ vests, national flags, staff clothing, bells,….

These materials are not just charged for 1 event .

The major consequence is loss instead of profit

When it appears that there are suddenly far more expenses than income and bills cannot be paid, there is a massive look in the direction of those making the disbursements.

Responsibilities are dismissed or shifted. People demand their earned pennies, suppliers expect invoices to be paid.

Some even send extra invoices for expenses, unexpected costs, alleged damages deemed unproven, unfounded and unexpected.

World Obstacle distances itself completely and refers only to the so-called local organization.

Any new organization can make mistakes and that is normal as long as you learn the lessons from it for a next edition and above all take responsibility to solve it

This small federation has existed since 2017 and has been successful with its athletes. There is a small amount of money over the years, saved by organizing a national league and negotiating with local sponsors.

These self-earned financial resources serve to support athletes, develop the sport domestically, reimburse its own marshals at races, and most importantly support youth toward a great future in the sport.

This federation is now given the impossible task of filling the giant financial well with an empty bank account. Lawyers and receivers must now decide in court the further fate of this federation .Years and thousands of hours of volunteer work will now be completely lost due to wrong decisions and misjudgments.

With this letter, I do not want to attack anyone personally nor offend anyone. People make mistakes and that’s OK. Transparency is the key to a great comunity

Ronny Hofenboom

Event Director WC23 Belgium
EX vice president competitions committee World Obstacle President Luxembourg Obstacle Sports Association

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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