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.
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.
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.
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!