With an industry as small and new as obstacle racing, mud runs and all that make up the OCR industry, things change quickly and with a blink of an eye a race can appear or disappear. We as a community and industry have seen many changes since 2009 when the first obstacle races started to surface in the United States. In 2014, the industry saw events like Spartan Race, Tough Mudder and Warrior Dash mature, grow and continue to establish themselves as leaders in the marketplace.
Two other companies made a huge impact on the entire industry and it will never be the same because of them. Those two companies are the OCR World Championships and BattleFrog Race Series.
BattleFrog Race Series
Starting with BattleFrog Race Series, while looking at their registration numbers they aren't hitting the numbers of some of the "Big Three" but their impact from the initial race was felt quickly. They recruited the legendary Hobie Call in the planning stages to help come up with the elite racers rules and talk through some of the obstacles. With the help of Call and other industry professionals, BattleFrog was the first regular race series to implement "must complete" courses and not just obstacles for the elite racers. (Call has since gone back to racing.) They threw out the idea that you could just be a fast runner and good at penalties and still win a race.
Since the initial race, not many complaints have been heard about BattleFrog within the industry. They were the first company to truly push to make the obstacles first and foremost in their races.
As well they work to ensure that natural terrain is maximized at each venue creating very different courses from race-to-race. With bigger prizes and the creation of their own pro-team for 2015, BattleFrog is looking to take on the whole industry and shake it up again.
BattleFrog Race Series will forever be remembered as the first to ensure the obstacles took front and center in the elite races pushing the industry as a whole to continue to progress.
OCR World Championships
The OCR World Championships was arguably the most important moment in the OCR industry this year. While the race was technically announced in 2013, it was 2014 when it took off and the industry truly saw something completely new. Adrian Bijanada is a visionary, and his vision is of a united sport. He battled the big companies to make his dream of an independent championship race a reality.
While many might have forgotten, Bijanada moved the OCR World Championships to a different weekend to ensure it didn't conflict with another race series championship. He worked with the vast OCR companies from around the globe to make a qualification system (the first announced qualification system in OCR history for a championship race). He worked with companies around the globe to bring them together for a one-weekend event. He faced opposition every step of the way from race organizations and naysayers.
But on race weekend Bijanada and a crew consisting of mostly friends who volunteered their time, as well as a handful of industry professionals and the team at Mud, Guts and Glory brought together an industry. With several race companies (including BattleFrog) bringing in their own obstacles to add to the championship course and an international field of athletes, a dream came true.
On that weekend the OCR industry changed, an industry that has been build on rivalry among companies and sometimes bitter fighting, were united in one cause. The community has started to see the ripple effect from that weekend with new rules and changes to some of the "Big 3", more cooperation among smaller races and more people willing to branch out to the different brands.
The industry has to thank both BattleFrog Race Series and OCR World Championships for forever changing the OCR landscape and as we move into 2015 their influence is all around. Check out all our Movers and Shakers of 2014?