I have watched it happen. OCR friends from elite to open, male and female, have been dropping out of the scene. It’s a minuscule drip, but just enough for me to notice. Not enough to be alarming, but enough to evoke my curiosity. So why would people leave one of the greatest sports on the planet? I asked (or they made it public) and it turns out that there are several reasons.
Who cares about quitters? Why does it even matter? It’s definitely not our biggest or even a moderate concern, but it matters because our community, like so many others has the tendency to suffer from a confirmation bias and we tend to live within our own little echo chamber. We only hear the opinions of those within our community – echoing back and forth the same thoughts to such an extent that we think everyone believes what we do. That’s not good for an industry, sport, community, hobby or any other term you want to use for obstacle racing. Furthermore, as Brett Stewart recently alluded to on Facebook and last year’s Running USA’s industry report indicates, growth and numbers of many endurance running sports including OCR, appear to have stalled in the U.S.
VERY IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: This little research study is not scientifically valid. These reasons are from 25 people that I know from all walks of the OCR life, so take it for what it’s worth – a short article to read, think about, and discuss. No more. No less.
8 Reasons with my Synopsis
Several people provided a combination of reasons of why they exited obstacle racing and with the exception of numbers 7 and 8, all were cited multiple times. Some might sting a little.
#8 A losing effort
As races became more difficult, the amount of time needed to train and still perform at an acceptable level became unreasonable.
#7 Tired of the drama
Too much arguing about burpees, mandatory obstacle completion, and cheating.
#6 Too many dollars
It started costing more than they wanted to spend.
#5 Narcissism abounds
Tired of the self-promotion. Social media feeds inundated with “inspirational” workout and training photos. Enough was enough.
#4 It was breaking me
The toll that training and racing puts on the body was just not worth it.
When obstacle racing became “big business”, the focus of the races and the people participating changed in a way that was no longer appealing.
Found other sports they liked better (specifically trail running).
#1 Tick tock goes the clock
Loved racing, but it was taking too much time away from family.
My take on this information. None of these reasons are really surprising. I was caught a little off guard by number five, but can easily recognize it. I know the people who have left the fold and they are good people. The reasons they gave were valid to them and that’s all that matters because they seem happy with their decision.