Sports in general is filled with symbols depicting determination, speed, power, honor, victory, pride, etc. as teams and brands use images to weave subtle meanings into the minds of the public. Obstacle racing is no different and OCR companies take full advantage of social media to send visual messages that become iconic symbols of the brand.
To the public and perhaps many OCR participants, Spartan Race & BattleFrog are merely different brands of the same sport. A bunch of obstacles, lots of running, some mud, timing chips, and finisher medals. Same thing. Different names. However, those more closely involved with the sport recognize the dissimilarities in philosophy and branding from arguably two of the best races in the country. While there are numerous symbols across the sport, 2 in particular from Spartan Race and BattleFrog have made their way across the Interwebs and provide a fascinating study of contrast: Spartan Race’s “Wall of Valor” filled with signatures of racers who finish one of their events and BattleFrog’s newly-revealed “Wall of Lost Souls” that contain bands cut from participants who have failed an obstacle. Intentional or not, both of these symbols speak volumes about their events and their brands. To me there are both obvious and subtle meanings behind the images above. Even so, symbols are not always perceived the same universally and may send different messages to different people. What do these symbols mean to you? What do they represent and what role does each of their messages play in the shaping of the sport? While my opinion on the matter really isn’t all that important, I would love to hear your thoughts.
P.S. I realize I am just a dork for finding stuff like this interesting.
OnMyWayToSparta is not your typical OCR blog. Most of the articles here take a different approach to examining the sport and people of obstacle racing. You can find more like this by following OnMyToSparta on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
Bone Frog Challenge does something similar. They have a wall that is usually placed somewhere on the course or in the event area and it is the Bone Frog Memorial Wall. Everybody can go up to the wall and write a name of a fallen soldier to honor their sacrifices made to the United States of America.
That’s pretty cool….and a symbol of Bonefrog’s brand.
I guess it sort of depends on the mindset of the runner. The Wall of Valor idea is pretty awesome, perhaps giving people a goal and a feeling of accomplishment to be able to chalk their name on that thing.
The Battlefrog one is more a warning or a sarcastic “memorial” – some people might take it amusingly, but those who are more driven or less humorous might not take it that way. I suppose I prefer the Spartan one.
I noticed the “passing through the fire” thing at the end of the Spartan Race.