OCR—your Spartan Races, Tough Mudders, Warrior Dashes, et al—is still in its tender years, particularly when compared to Modern Pentathlon, which proudly traces its roots to the 18th Olympiad in 708 B.C.
Joe DeSena, the creator of the Spartan Race series, has been pushing for formal acceptance of Obstacal Course Racing as a legit sport for a number of years now. A couple of weeks ago, a huge step in the legitamacy of the sport happened. The Modern Pentathalon, which is an Olympic event with a very long history as a core sport of the Olympics, has arguably a much smaller pool of athletes than Obstacle Course Racing.
According to SI, this is a fact that is acknowledged by the governing body of Modern Pentathlon – the UIPM, or Union Internationale de Pentathlon Moderne. As a way to showcase OCR, the UIPM held a special demonstartion OCR event at the conclusion of the February 25th World Cup competition in Pomona, California where volunteer athletes completed a short obstacle course.
Dr. Klaus Schormann, the president of the UIPM, described the demonstration race as a logical evolution
of “our beloved Olympic Sport of Modern Pentathlon,” and “forms part of a confident application by UIPM for the Mixed Relay to be added to the programme of the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020.”
So, it sure seems like something is in the works for the Olympics. Then a big announcement a couple of weeks later on March 8th from the International Obstacle Sports Federation who announced that:
1) USA Obstacle Course Racing (USAOCR), has been recognized as the national governing body for obstacle sports and related disciplines in the United States,” and 2) the first OCR US National Championship (international distance) sanctioned by OSF will be none other than the April 30 Spartan Race at Amelia Earhart Park in Hialeah, Fla.
Based on figures provided by the newly created USOCR, USA Obstacle Course Racing, OCR is the No. 1 mass participation sport in the world with more participants than marathons, half marathons and triathlons combined. That’s pretty impressive figures and not surprising if you have ever been to one of the bigger events.
2020 Olympics could get interesting quick.