From the perspective of the casual outsider it would be easy to dismiss the OCR World Championships on October 25-26 as just another capitalist venture attempting to cash in on the sport’s popularity. However, having watched this event develop from the ground up, the OCRWC is clearly not “all about that money” nor is it “all about that bass”. It is about the racers, not about a brand nor about the company organizing it. That has been the guiding philosophy from inception and the organizers have stayed true to this. There are a number of reasons why the OCRWC is groundbreaking including the substantial international contingent, qualifying criteria, age group heats, team races, and the well thought-out rules and regulations. Margaret Schlachter discusses some of these in detail in her about.com article.
The combination of all those unique elements is substantial enough to establish the OCRWC as a landmark occurrence. However, those reasons alone are not what makes it monumental. I believe that the success of the OCR World Championships is crucial for the SPORT of obstacle racing. Notice that I didn’t say the OCR “Industry”. The sport and the industry are two different creatures, chained together in an uncomfortable fashion. This is the first big time championship race with a primary focus on the athletes and the sport — not a company brand. As consumers of race experiences, we need the companies to be successful, and because we live in a capitalist environment we should expect them to be looking out for their own business interests. As consumers we must support them in order to actually have a sport. As athletes, however, we need a “non-denominational” event that unites racers across the globe and across racing company allegiances. #OCRUnited has powerful meaning behind it. For the sport to flourish, racing companies need to start playing nice with each other. I am not the first to voice this opinion, but this is the first opportunity for that to happen. Several OCR companies have jumped on board, but not all of them. Obviously the industry leaders do not have the incentives to participate that smaller, emerging companies have. The athletes need to show that we support this concept regardless of which companies do or do not decide to give credence to an independent entity.
We compete in the sport of obstacle racing….not the sport of Tough Mudder, not the sport of Spartan Race, not the sport of Warrior Dash. Regardless of the outcome of the OCRWC, the obstacle racing industry will remain intact and the major players will go about business at usual. At stake though, is the worldwide recognition that we can and will forego company allegiances once a year to compete head-to-head in an independent race designed for the athletes. This is our opportunity to show the OCR industry that obstacle racing is our sport. #OCRUnited
If you haven’t registered yet, you still have time. You can use code “ForThose20” for 20% off registration. Every use of that code sends $10 to a new 501(c)3 charitable foundation that I helped establish.
Disclaimer: I have played a minor role on the OCRWC competition committee. That has given me insight to the race, but did not influence my reasons for writing this post.