How Obstacle Course Racing Is Making a Comeback

Impediment course racing was the stamina-sports activities juggernaut of previous ten years. That arrived to a bruising halt with COVID-19. Immediately after a missing calendar year, obstacle course racing is selecting by itself back again up.



“Last calendar year could not have been any even worse for us,” states Joe De Sena, CEO and founder of Spartan, the major OCR company in an industry of weekend-warrior brands like Tough Mudder, Rugged Maniac, Savage Race, Bonefrog and Conquer the Gauntlet. “We bring folks together—in forty five countries now. In 2020, we quickly weren’t permitted to do that. We have been completely shut down.”

By previous June, De Sena was pressured to cancel Spartan’s remaining functions and furlough 3-quarters of his staff members of five hundred. Smaller corporations have been in even harder condition.

Female competitor in Spartan Race
Feminine competitor in Spartan Race Courtesy Picture

“COVID-19 is crushing the industry,” Tough Mudder CEO Kyle McLaughlin mentioned previous summer time in a press launch from the Stamina Sports Coalition, which warned that with no even further assistance from Congress, more than eighty percent of an industry that accounts for fifty,000 jogging, triathlon, biking, and obstacle course functions in the United States each and every calendar year would stop to exist.

OCR developed from boot camp–inspired races that examination physical boundaries with no marathon monotony, and ’80s-era Tough Man soreness-fests in England. Spartan’s earliest races have been fringe affairs held on De Sena’s Vermont farm, but rapidly grew to encompass hundreds of entry-level 5K and all-day functions at big outdoor venues all around the planet.

Hit with a pandemic that does not acquire kindly to mobs of pumped, confront-painted, battle-crying rivals piling together to force previous their convenience zones, OCR’s greatest problem still is reemerging for battle in 2021—with 2020 hindsight.


“I consider figures purposefully will be down awhile, and little by little but surely as the planet will get back again to typical we’ll be viewing a steady recovery of the OCR industry,” states Matt B. Davis, founder of Impediment Racing Media and an inveterate racer with more than 200 obstacle course functions below his belt. “We will not be viewing individuals mass commences of 300 folks. Wave dimensions are heading to be more compact and socially distanced. But it’s an outdoor celebration, which we know is considerably safer than anything indoors, like for illustration, grocery searching. We know folks are prepared for real races to get heading again—not individuals virtual ones we’ve been dwelling via in 2020.”

Playing dirty: Following a grim season, OCR athletes, who compete solo and as teams, want a do-over.
Taking part in filthy: Next a grim year, OCR athletes, who compete solo and as teams, want a do-more than. Courtesy Picture

More than 70 Spartan and Tough Mudder functions in the United States are scheduled for 2021—including the legendary 24-hour World’s Hardest Mudder (Nov. 13–14, Laughlin, NV) and various Stadion-branded functions held at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., Citi Discipline in New York Metropolis, AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX, and Notre Dame Stadium in Indiana, between other folks.

Rugged Maniac, which calls its 5K obstacle classes “recess for developed-ups—except our playground has a 3-tale waterslide and a fireplace jump,” is back again with a 2021 roster of 30 functions throughout the United States and Canada. Savage Race, specializing in six-milers and a 3-mile “Blitz” stuffed with some of the more ingenious obstacles in the company, is back again with more than a dozen functions on the East Coast and in the Midwest. Bonefrog, billed as “the world’s only Navy SEAL Impediment Study course Race,” ideas to operate ten functions this calendar year.

Competition can count on new protocols, like temperature tests, decreased crowd dimensions (by up to 70 percent), devoted lanes, touch-point sanitization, and not a lot put up-race partying.

“I’m the eternal optimist, but I believe as the planet opens up, functions like ours are in which folks will go to ultimately get out of the cage,” states De Sena. “They’re heading to migrate outdoor, finding filthy, and executing all the issues they have not been capable to do. So we’re heading for it. We gotta make this function.”

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