M+A Contributor Ryan Josti caught up with Adrian Bijanada, president of the OCR World Championships to see if the OCRWC is ready and to get some more info on what participants can expect out of next month’s inaugural event.
We’re less than a month away from the sport’s Inaugural Independent Championship. You’ve got a big name to live up to. Overall, what’s the consensus at OCRWC? Are you guys ready?
We are feeling really, really good! There’s a vision in my head of what I want this event to look like and we’re almost there. At this point, I think most of the heavy work is done, but there’s still some polishing and tweaking that we’re focusing on. But from here on out it’s goose bumps every morning in anticipation of race day.
Any hiccups? Any problems have you guys encountered, that you might not have originally foreseen and how have you guys dealt with them?
Hiccups? Absolutely. But to be totally honest, most of them have been self-imposed. I don’t think there’s been a single day where we haven’t had a new idea or concept that we need to vet. In fact, just a month ago we had one of our biggest ideas yet, something that changes the entire event. I can’t go into extreme detail without giving it all away, but if we are able to execute this concept it would be a FIRST for Obstacle Course Racing and also make this one of the most spectator friendly events in the history of the sport.
How about a little hint??
Hmmmm. Well, by my count these course adjustments will allow spectators to watch their athletes take on over a dozen serious obstacles, from one central location and without having to stray far from the start and finish. Add in to that a big “crowd management” surprise that we’ve borrowed from another industry and I think we have the best spectator experience imaginable.
Race details, everyone wants them, so can we get range as to how many obstacles an athlete will encounter on the roughly eight miles you’ve mapped out?
We are still on track for around 35, but I do want to stress that it’s not necessarily the number of obstacles on the course, but rather the quality of them. I want athletes bragging about what they tackled out there and then dragging friends and family back out onto the course to show them what they had to conquer in order to reach the finish line.
You’re doing something very new, you’re having other organizations showcase their own obstacles on your course. What organizations have stepped up thus far and can you tell us what obstacles they’ve added to your course?
A bunch and more on the way. Athletes will have to tackle BoneFrog’s Normandy, BattleFrogs Tip of the Spear, ABF Mud Run’s inverted walls, and hopefully more.
We’ve all seen the posts about athletes traveling to come and compete in this inaugural event. can we get count of how many countries are represented thus far?
I would say nearly a dozen countries as of right now which makes up nearly 40% of our field, which would leave US Registrations taking up the remaining 60%. This is unheard of in OCR (or most other sports) and something we’re quite proud of. I think we’ll definitely see some surprises when it comes to who’s atop the podium at the end of the day.
Can you tell us how many competitors we have in the elite and age divisions?
That’s staying under wraps, but will tell you that we are not, nor have we ever, made this about stuffing tens of thousands of athletes on a course. That’s not what this is about. This is an exclusive event, for which the most dedicated athletes in the sport had to work their butt off to qualify for and it’s an important aspect of the event.
We’re also approaching our self-imposed registration cap which we’ve put in place to make sure the actual race experience is worthy of a World Championship. We’ve fielded dozens of requests from people suggesting that we have an open wave and to be honest, something like that might make sense from a short term fiscal perspective, but then we’re risking the integrity of the event due to lines and bottlenecks. We’re in this for the long haul and not to make a quick buck. So that integrity, along with the athlete experience, is paramount.
What did you think of the Spartan Race Championship? Do you expect the OCRWC to be similar?
Wow, what an incredible race to watch unfold! How about those international athletes! Spartan always puts on great events and this was definitely one of them. As for similarities to ours I’m not sure, but we hope to hold just as great a race. What I can say is that I do believe the Vermont Beast emphasized the need for an independent championship, one that is unaffiliated with any other race series and most importantly, one that draws from all the DIFFERENT races out there.
Moving away from the race specifics and going big picture, with all the talk of Obstacle Course Racing becoming an Olympic sport at some-point in the future. How do you feel OCRWC would fit into that picture?
Tough question. We’re building this thing for two reasons: one – because we thought the focus should be on the athletes and not a brand, and two – to help advance the sport. If being in the Olympics helps the sport grow and reach more people then great. But at the same time, we need to be careful not to lose that “edge” which makes obstacle course racing so great. Part of the draw is that you just never know what you is just around the corner or what you will encounter next. That’s pretty special and I would hate to see that go away.
Can’t attend the OCR World Championships but still want to follow it? You can find real time updates from the event here.
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