On a cold, dark, wet morning in February of 2011, far from home, while horribly under-dressed and with a fractured foot in the mountain trails of Southern California, I raced my first Spartan Race. It became part of an experience that would ultimately change the course of my life dramatically and would result in a full-time job at Spartan HQ for over two years.
When I took the job at Spartan, everyone said I was crazy. It was crazy to join a new company with this “obstacle racing” events that were still considered “mud runs” for “weekend warriors.” There couldn’t possibly be a future in that. Spartan HQ was so unlike anything I had known – we were a small shop with limited resources. Most of us were some kind of athlete or adventurer, and we shared a vision that Spartan could change lives. And it does. I’ve seen it. It’s undeniable and it hasn’t slowed down since I left the industry.
When I started at Spartan we had less than 30,000 FB fans and when I left that number was well over 3 million. The growth was staggering. I still can’t go more than a day or so without seeing new pictures on fresh courses from Spartan to Tough Mudder and beyond. These races are defining a culture and a time in history and it continues to trot the globe.
This sport has grown and I don’t just mean in size or popularity. In fact, perhaps the size has peaked… but the growth and development has far surpassed what I ever thought was possible. Here we are at an age when athletes are sponsored by big name companies and featured in national commercials and rigs are trademarked as intellectual property. Athletes of all abilities are traveling the globe to participate in the best of the best courses now infamous for their difficulty and creativity courtesy of the world’s greatest course directors. With this evolved age of OCR there is a need to continue to evolve with and for the athletes and participants.
That evolution breeds new opportunities and obligations for those who serve the OCR community. How we choose next steps could define the levels of greatness and success this industry can achieve. Who will take those first steps? Where will they lead?