My Thoughts on Warrior Dash

My First Warrior Dash, February 2016
Finishing my first competitive wave at Warrior Dash, February 2017

Like everyone else, I was blown away when I saw the news that Warrior Dash was folding. As many reported, it was the first race to really break ground on the mainstream OCR community with its many national events. It was a great introduction to the sport. And it’s a shock that after 10 years, it is now closing down. The news of several other races, including Tough Mudder, Spartan, and others, stepping up to fill the void is a great sign of the community that exists in OCR. Yes, these companies are competitors, but more than that, they are allies in a single common good: getting people to get off the couch, get on the course, get muddy, and have a good time doing it.

While everyone has their take, I find myself in a position of being on both sides of the coin.

Memories I’ll Miss

Warrior Dash was not my first race, but I know it was for many. I ran Warrior Dash four times in the last four years in Florida, with the last three being a part of the competitive course. The first year I ran it with a friend and her friends, the largest group at the time that I’ve run with. Although I was the veteran of the group, many of them have never done a race like this before, and Warrior Dash was a perfect chance to get their feet wet (or muddy) in the sport.

Our Group’s Fire Jump, February 2016

It’s hard not to look at photos like this and smile. It was such a fun day despite being unusually cold in Florida. At the end, we all stood proudly dirty with our medals around our necks and ready to grab a beer.

This also provided a milestone moment for OCR Club at the school where I teach. We took our largest group to date to volunteer there (12 students and two adults). Two young men finished the course in about 35 minutes, solidifying for me that they could be the next big names in OCR if they start their training now.

OCR Club at Warrior Dash, February 2019

This is a hard race to say goodbye to. But, as I said before, I see both sides of the coin.

Seeing This Coming

When I saw the new obstacles coming to Warrior Dash for its 10th year, I was stoked. Especially with a large group of students (many of whom hadn’t run a race like this before), it was exciting to watch them get excited about the event. But then, race day came, and for me, it was really more of the same. Many of the new obstacles were not on the course (or at least not the 5K distance; maybe the 10K had new ones). And since I had run this course three years prior, I felt many of the obstacles were the same. In fact, in Florida, the event was at the same venue and we followed virtually the same path.

If we’ve seen anything from the OCR industry, the other big names like Spartan and Tough Mudder are constantly trying to find ways to push boundaries with their obstacles or their challenges. Perhaps Warrior Dash was banking on being the race specifically for beginners. But I remember hearing that a business usually needs about 70% repeat business the maintain itself. And if this business focused only on beginners…

A couple of days after the event this past year, I went to the event’s Facebook page, and it seemed like every other comment left was from someone upset with the event. 10 years in and it’s the same old thing. In OCR, it’s important to evolve, and it seemed like Warrior Dash was evolving a little slower than everyone else was.

Final Thoughts

Yes, I am sad to see Warrior Dash go, but it may have been inevitable. Maybe the way the business was run wasn’t conducive for growth in the new world of OCR. Perhaps people lost interest. Or perhaps it was more of a “all good things must come to an end” situations. No matter what, Warrior Dash was a fun event, and it will leave a hole in the OCR world. But, if there’s one thing I’ve learned about this industry, there’s always another race ready to come in to the fray.

Horns up, everyone! Raise ’em up for Warrior Dash!

Spartan Race Vs. World’s Toughest Mudder – Who Told It Better?

On Christmas Day of 2016, a historic event occurred for obstacle course racing. Two end-of-season events for two of the biggest names in OCR were featured as one-hour specials on major broadcast networks. The early afternoon was graced by a special on World’s Toughest Mudder on CBS, while a special on the Spartan Race World Championship was shown on NBC. Both of them featured major names in OCR, like Ryan Atkins and Robert Killian. Both of them were all about the premier compeition. So when these two titans of OCR have their signature events highlighted on the same day, it’s hard for one to ignore the obvious question: Who told it better?

Let’s start with World’s Toughest Mudder on CBS. Viewing this special was more about the people who participate in the event than anything else. There was less talk about the obstacles or the technical aspect of competing in WTM. They featured those competing for the coveted $10,000 prize and those who were shooting for a place in the 100-Mile Club. But it wasn’t just about the hardcore competitors. It was also about those who decided their best needed to be pushed forward. The man with a prosthetic leg who wanted to prove he could do the race. The woman who celebrated her first year free of cancer by shaving her head before taking on the course. This makes sense. Tough Mudder has always been about the people who do the races. This is why they really don’t push competitions during the year. Tough Mudder has never been considered a competition; it’s always been a challenge. So while it’s true the competitors were highly featured during the broadcast, it was definitely about more than just the competitors.

The Spartan Race World Championship on NBC seemed to abandon the formula that was used over the summer with the Spartan Team Challenge mini-series over the summer. The summer series was about the people; the World Championship was all about the sport. They focused more on the competition, even giving obstacle breakdowns and focusing on the elite athletes and big names (such as NFL great Randy Moss, who entered the Beast that weekend with the intent of finishing his Trifecta). Throw in a commentator and epic music and you’ve got a serious athetlic event happening here. This makes sense since even CEO and Founder Joe DeSena has spoken highly about the athletic prowess of the OCR sport. He’s talked about wanting to see Spartan Race in the Olympics one day. With that in mind, this broadcast already had the marks of a high-level sport when it came to sponsorships. Obviously, we know about Reebok, but there was also Marriott, Beet Elite, and more. (Before anyone says anything, yes, WTM had multiple sponsors too, but there were far less commercials for those sponsors during WTM’s broadcast versus Spartan Race’s.) Let’s also be fair: this is not a knock on having sponsorship. It’s a smart business move. It’s just an interesting note.

So, now comes the epic question…who told it better? Truthfully, and this might be the most anticlimatic response you could get, but I thought they both did it well. The world of OCR is made up of two very distinct worlds: the sport itself and the people who participate. Tough Mudder has always been about focusing on the people who participate because they want the diversity of the people to be clear. Spartan Race has been pushing hard (successfully) to advance the sport of obstacle course racing. Both of these names are the biggest names in the sport because they hit on the most important aspects of what makes OCR great. And it was incredibly exciting to see this sport highlighted on such a big stage on Christmas Day. Truly a great present for OCR enthusiasts all over!

3 Reasons Why an OCR is a Great New Year Resolution 

2016 is finally here, and we all know what that means: time to make those resolutions!

Of course, the running gag of resolutions is that you almost feel like you’re making the same one year after year after year. That gets you stuck in this seemingly never-ending rut. You may think there is no chance of achieving your resolution. But that’s not true! You’re probably just approaching it wrong. So, with that in mind, here are 3 reasons why running for an OCR is a great resolution. Continue reading

Warrior Dash Parking Fee: Good Idea or Kinda Messed Up?

It’s not often I get to add in a snap commentary on the fly, but I just saw this and decided to comment.

I just signed up for Warrior Dash as part of their Cyber Monday deal (which is pretty darn good if you ask me!) and I noticed something interesting when I went to check out: a 4-dollar parking fee. Now, I’ll be honest: my initial reaction is it wasn’t a big deal. Continue reading

Tough Mudder Introduces “Tough Mudder Half”

ToughMudder_orangeLet me start off that this is a bit of a commentary and it’s also very impromptu. So do forgive me.

I was noticing some memes being shared making jokes at the new “Tough Mudder Half” event. Basically, Tough Mudder created a new half-length version of their famous course. Five miles, about 12 obstacles (not including some of their signatures like Electroshock Therapy, Arctic Enema, and others), and its own signature headband (this one is white). Continue reading