The Rise of the Obstacle Course Race

Spartan Race, Tough Mudder, and Warrior Dash—the ‘holy trinity’ of obstacle course races (OCR). These races and those that have followed, were once on the fringe of running society, but are now beginning to overtake traditional road races in popularity. In fact, according to Running USA’s 2014 State of the Sport, Will Dean, founder of the Tough Mudder Series predicted that more people would be competing in OCRs and mud runs than in traditional marathons and half-marathons. And in 2013 they did, drawing an estimated 4 million participants and surpassing the 2.5 million finishers of both the half-marathon and marathon combined.

The Future

In October, the second Obstacle Course Racing World Championships (OCRWC), was held in Cincinnati and drew nearly 2,000 competitors from over 25 countries, making it one of the most diverse races in OCR history. To compete, each athlete submitted a qualifying result (usually a top-three finish) from an event organized by one of almost 40 different Obstacle Course Racing circuits. And speaking of athletes… Spartan Race co-founder and CEO Joe De Sena recently told USA TODAY Sports he wants to see obstacle course racing as an Olympic sport by the 2024 Summer Games. Think that’s far reaching? Just keep in mind that in the 1960s, jogging was viewed as a fad that might kill you. Tell us what you think of obstacle course racing in the comments!

Photo Credit: OCR World Championships

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