UPDATE 2/19/16: M+A is now part of the Mud Run Guide family, and while we’ll be updating this list to reflect 2016 in 8 months, we’ve added a “2016 Things to Watch” for those playing along at home. Also, it’s fair to do a little housekeeping to the below results to highlight some of the highs and lows of 2015.
Please Note: this list is in no particular order, and I lack the desire to make it alphabetical. I chose to mark some individuals as “no.” make of that what you will. – Brett
There are thousands of people working hard every day to deliver and revolutionize the obstacle race experience and industry. We’d like to give a shout out to those that come to mind who are currently making things happen. These are people you may or may not have heard of but are definitely leaving their mark on the sport.
Joe De Sena
Joe De Sena founded the Spartan Race, the industry leader among obstacle races. In 2015, more than 100 races will be held in over a dozen countries. Spartan also sponsors several elite athletes, supporting those serious about earning a living from obstacle racing.
2016 Things to Watch: Joe moved to Asia, Spartan Race added Spartan X, Agoge. IORF continues as an effort to bring OCR to the Olympics.
Will Dean is CEO & co-founder of Tough Mudder, the leader in obstacle endurance challenges. Tough Mudder has won several awards, including ranking 65th among the Inc. 500 list, top 5 on Crain’s Fast 50 list, and Outside Magazines “Best Places to Work.” More than 50 events will be held in 2015.
2016 Things to Watch: Tough Mudder launched Tough Mudder Half, and are putting a renewed effort into developing Mudderella. It looks like Urban Tough Mudder is on the back burner for 2016 as of now.
Jason McCarthy is Founder/CEO of GORUCK, an event series that organizes team-building challenges and promotes rucking. Developed to form a bridge between Special Forces and civilians, GORUCK holds
hundreds (thousands?) of events each year.
2016 Things to Watch: GORUCK is off to another great start, with the addition of their “Kill That 5k” event, they should bridge the gap between those who haven’t rucked yet
Leopoldo Fernández Pujals (aka “Leo”)
Leo Fernandez is the billionaire angel investor of the Battlefrog series. Fernandez is is a key supporter of Battlefrog’s aggressive growth plans in 2015 and beyond. His son Carlos Centurion is listed as the CEO / Chairman in corporate filings.
UPDATE: Carlos was interim CEO while Ramiro Mendoza was completing a contractual obligation with another company. Ramiro has been BattleFrog Series’ CEO since July ’15.
2016 Things to Watch: With 44 events on the calendar in 2016, including a 24 hour BFX event in Miami, a championship, and at least 2 TV shows, BFS looks to make a huge impact on the sport of OCR in 2016.
Adrian created the first successful OCR specific gear website aptly titled OCRGear.com. Adrian has gone on to create the well received OCR World Championships, the first event to introduce drug testing and more importantly bring athletes and companies from all over the world together #OCRunited
2016 Things to Watch: 2015 OCRWC cemented their reputation as a world-class event with competitors from 23 (or more) countries all over the globe. 2016 OCRWC moves to Blue Mountain, Toronto with an ambitious plan hosting the first-ever short course championships on friday (3k distance), a Standard distance (6-9 miles) on Saturday, and a Team Event on Sunday.
Sam is CEO and cofounder of Savage Race. Savage Race has been delivering well received race events to the masses relatively under the radar but might have trouble staying unnoticed as it quite possibly could be the first real contender to the big three (Spartan Race, Tough Mudder and Warrior Dash).
2016 Things to Watch: I promised Sam I’d say “Keep. Kicking. Ass.”
CEO of VAVI, Inc producer of the WIPEOUT RUN which brings obstacles from the hit TV show WIPEOUT to the masses.
2016 Things to Watch: It looks like WIPEOUTRUN! has run its course, and we may be seeing more R.O.C.-branded races appearing around the USA later this summer.
Mark Barber is the Managing Director of Battlefrog Series, the OCR series poised to take claim the place of the 4th (if not 3rd) largest race series in the U.S. At least a dozen events are planned in 2015. Prior to BattleFrog Mark was a cofounder, The Hooyah!, a Navy SEAL themed and partnered race that tried to get off the ground. One can assume Mark played a big part in connecting the dots of BattleFrog’s current organizational structure.
NOTE: Mark is no longer with BattleFrog Series
Rina Quistadio is co-chair of the Obstacle Course Racing Association of Australia, a non-profit organization that supports the growth of obstacle racing down under. She developed the world’s first bipartisan event competitive league qualifying system for inclusion in the OCR World Championships.
2016 Things to Watch: Rin is awesome. We predict that she will continue to stay awesome. Many of us look forward to seeing your new OCRWC tattoo at Worlds in Toronto this year.
Cai Denny is the founder and publisher of OCR Europe, an online lifestyle and news magazine devoted to virtually all things obstacle racing, including Europe’s only race directory.
2016 Things to Watch: OCR Europe continues to grow with Cai at the helm.
Along with Brad Scudder, Rob Dickens founded the Rugged Maniac, one of the most successful obstacle racing series. Rugged Maniac features a higher ratio of obstacles in comparison with other 5k series and attracted investment from Mark Cuban last year on Shark Tank.
NOTE: Is Rugged Maniac one of the “Big Three?” We debated that on Mud Run Guide last year.
2016 Things to Watch: Rugged Maniac continues to draw larger audiences year over year, a trend that is somewhat inconsistent with many other events their size. With the recent addition of Boston Triathlon, Brad and Rob are committed to endurance athletics, look for more to come from this dynamic duo.
Michael Epstein is co-founder of Down & Dirty Obstacle Race, a veteran OCR series with a strong following. Originally branded under shoemaker Merrell, the series is now presented by Subaru.
Sean Rogers is co-founder and VP of Sales of Civilian Military Combine, a series that combines obstacle racing with CrossFit-type challenges.
UPDATE: Sean is no longer with CMC, which is set to re-launch summer 2016
Dan “Nitro” Clark is founder and race developer of Gladiator Rock n Run, one of the top OCRs in the country, voted Best Small Race 2014 by Mud Run Guide readers.
“We won’t be expanding next year. It’s better for me to be small and great. Larger is not better for us. I’d rather be able to deliver a good race and be intimately involved. With our structure and set up right now – it’s not possible to do that with a larger schedule.” – Dan Clark read entire article
As VP of Brand for Tough Mudder, Patterson is responsible for maintaining the Tough Mudder brand and orchestrating marketing efforts. With his leadership, T.M. has appread on LIVE with Kelly and Michael, Fox Business, NBC Today Show, and ABC Nightline. Patterson is also a registered attorney in NY state.
2016 Things to Watch: Since leaving Tough Mudder, Alex has developed an extreme adventure company, ThrillShark. One of ThrillShark’s offerings is Task Force Zero, which is an exciting take on a small group adventure similar to The Amazing Race.
Arguably the first face of obstacle racing, Hobie Call is a multiple obstacle course race winner and strong advocate of the sport. He’s won multiple Spartan and Superhero Scramble events as well as the 2013 Spartan Race World Championship. Call has raised the awareness of obstacle racing as a competitive sport and the visibility of race series, including Spartan, Battlefrog, Superhero Scramble, Atlas Race, and the former Extreme Nation.
2016 Things to Watch: Hobie has had an interesting path through the OCR world after his amazing breakthrough with Spartan Race; unfortunately several of the events he’s aligned with have been plagued by organizational issues and have either cleaned house (BattleFrog Series in 2015) or have gone out of business (SHS, Atlas, Extreme Nation). In 2015, Hobie unofficially “retired” from full-time obstacle racing to focus more on making a living and raising his family. He then proceeded to show up at Spartan Race World Championship and Warrior Dash Championship… so we’re expecting to see him at least a few times on the OCR scene this year.
Bert Kuntz, formerly a renowned cadre (instructor) for GORUCK, went on to create Med Training Group. Kuntz is both feared and loved for his ability to dish out the “Good Living” and his passion for maintaining the “standards” when it comes to Selection.
Norm Koch is a well-known Spartan course developer and designer. As the brains behind course design for Spartan races, including the annual World Championship event, if you struggle with any Spartan OCR, thank and curse Norm.
2016 Things to Watch: Norm is still very much Norm. #EFFNORM
Johnny Waite is a Death Race veteran, director of international quality control for Spartan Race, and founder of Life Adventure Company.
CEO & President of Stewart Media Ventures, Brett Stewart has also recently developed OCR Warrior, the world’s first obstacle racing reality competition show (if you don’t count American Ninja Warrior). He is also the co-founder of Mud Run Guide, a leading online resource for mud runs, obstacle races, and similar adventures.
2016 Things to Watch: I’m up to my nose in the Mud + Adventure relaunch, so leave me alone.
The founder of Mud and Adventure, Paul Buijs was the first to compile a directory of all obstacle race and extreme endurance events happening across the globe. M+A has grown into the internet’s leading obstacle race resource with the most comprehensive race calendar dedicated to mud runs and obstacle races.
2016 Things to Watch: After Mud Run Guide acquired M+A from Paul, he shaved his head and moved to Istanbul. Actually, Paul has been developing a new race directory called FitEvents, while continuing to be an occasional contributor to M+A.
Matt B. Davis
As the founder of Obstacle Racing Media, Matt Davis maintains the most extensive source of obstacle racing and mud run industry news. ORM’s website, social media, and podcast have a significant following. The podcast has more than 100 episodes and counting.
2016 Things to Watch: Matt (or MBD) announced earlier this year that he will be working on an OCR event in Malaysia later on this year.
Death race winner and elite obstacle athlete, Joe Decker also hosts a number of obstacle racing events with The Suck series. He’s also founder and operator of Gut Check Fitness.
Paul Jones is the head organizer of New England Spahtens, a regional OCR group with more than 3,500 Facebook members. Jones works with race directors for all local and national race series bringing an event to New England to co-ordinate the NE Spahten participation, discounts and cross promotion.
Kevin Jones is the founder of Crazy Mudder Muckers, an OCR group with more than 1,500 members. Crazymuddermuckers.com also lists events, discount codes, and obstacle racing groups nationwide by region.
Billy Wilson “Mr. Mouse”
Thanks to Mr. Mouse, we can enjoy the amazing sport of obstacle racing. Bill Wilson organizes the event that inspired the modern obstacle race with his original Tough Guy challenge, first held in 1987. Tough Guy continues to attract a significant following in the UK.
2016 Things to Watch: Who the %^&* knows? With Billy, that’s how it is.
Alex Nicholas is an elite obstacle race athlete, Spartan Race points leader, and owner of the EPIC Hybrid Training Center chain of gyms in New York City (and now, Providence Rhode Island), where obstacle athletes can train and be a part of the EPIC Training Team for OCR events. Through Alex’s training numerous athletes have been introduced to the sport and even ascended high into the elite rankings. Alex has also been tapped to consult for the International Obstacle Racing Federation and the first ever Spartan Gym in conjunction with 1 Hotels.
2016 Things to Watch: Alex has opened an EPIC gym in Miami and soon to open one in Los Angeles. He continues to be a badass!
Founder & CEO of Playout, Eddie Kovel revolutionized the way we can work out and train. Playout is a card game that makes exercise fun with an unlimited combination of bodyweight exercises (no equipment required). An obstacle race training edition is also available.
Margaret Schlachter is founder and developer of Dirt In Your Skirt and Editor-in-Chief of MudRunGuide.com as well as host of Obstacle and Adventure Weekly. Schlachter is also the author of “Obstacle Race Training
How to Beat Any Course, Compete Like a Champion and Change Your Life.”
2016 Things to Watch: M continues to be the go-to resource for all things OCR, WTM, FyA, and all-around awesomeness.
A Navy SEAL, Brian Carney developed Bone Frog Challenge, a well-respected 9-12 mile obstacle challenge with more than 30 obstacles.
2016 Things to Watch: Bone Frog Challenge has expanded from 2 to 5 events in 2016, with a BFC Championship at Berkshire East in the fall as well as a first-ever event in conjunction with The Borgata Casion & Resort in Atlantic City.
Rob & Jill Butler
Rob and Jill Butler own and operate Shale Hill Adventure Farm, a year-round obstacle race training center in VT. Each year, they host the Polar Bear Challenge, a 7-mile winter obstacle event. They consult with several venues on the creation of permanent obstacle sites.
2016 Things to Watch: Shale Hill is on the market for sale, and Rob continues to expand Sinergy Products’ distinctive obstacle/training product line.
Josue Stephens is the director of Fuego y Agua Events, which includes Fuego y Agua Survival Race, the annual sustainable obstacle event in Nicaragua known for being among the world’s toughest multi hour events.
Scott Keneally authored the first expose on obstacle racing in “Outside” magazine. As investigative journalist, Keneally is also the director of “Rise of the Sufferfests,” a highly hyped and anticipated forthcoming documentary on the history and sociology of obstacle racing.
Pete Rees is founder of Mudstacle, an independent news, reviews and community website for mud runs, obstacle courses and endurance races focused on the UK.
Damion Trombley is the founder and CEO of Mud Run Fun, a site with an obstacle race and mud run finder, racing tips, discount codes, and giveaways. Mud Run Fun’s Facebook community has a strong and active following and is known for it’s vibrant team participation at events throughout Florida and into the South East.
As CEO of Sweatworks, Mohammed Iqbal provides timing, scoring, photos and other technology solutions for numerous OCR companies. If you did an event in the past three years, you were probably timed, scored or photgraphed with technology created by SweatWorks.
A unversity professor at Fitchburg State University in Masssachusetts, Jeff Godin is also one of the developers of the Spartan Coaching program.
Erin Beresini is author of “Off Course,” the first-ever print book on the emergence of obstacle racing, including the scandals, lawsuits, and major players.
Anthony Matesi is the driving force behind the Spartan blog and magazine. He is also at the helm of the Spartan Hurricane Heat.
2016 Things to Watch: Tony continues as head of Spartan’s Hurricane Heat, HH12HR, and also adds Agoge 48-hour (winter) or 60-hour (summer) event that builds physical, tactical, mental, and team-based strength through training, testing, and evaluation. Tony was also a competitor on American Ninja Warrior in ’15, advancing all the way to the Las Vegas finals.
An elite athlete and Spartan Pro Team member, Andi Hardy helps lead the Spartan 300 Workout Tour which introduces and prepares thousands of soon to be participants for the sport of obstacle racing.
Winner of the 2014 Spartan World Championship, the first ever OCR World Championship, and Tough Guy 2015. Jon Albon represents British racers worldwide!
UPDATE: In 2015, Jon repeated as winner of OCR World Championships.
Garfield Griffiths has founded and put on multiple mud runs, including The Fearless Challenge and Mud Mingle. His role as race director was instrumental in BatteFrog’s well received debut and first year’s growth. He’s a frequently sought after consultant to race organizers and now works in race operations for Savage Race and the OCR World Championships.
2016 Things to Watch: Garfield is now General Manager of CMC, Civilian Military Combine, who will be announcing their 2016 schedule soon.
Jeff Suffolk is the president of Human Movement Management, an event production company that hosts several mass participatory events, including Dirty Girl and The Zombie Run.
2016 Things to Watch: In 2015, HMM was acquired by POWDR, one of the nation’s leading lifestyle and mountain sports companies. HMM’s team of event experts look to bring new, innovative events to POWDR resorts nationwide in 2016 and beyond.
Noted elsewhere as one of the 50 most influential people in fitness, Ben a triathlete and well known trainer is introducing people to obstacle racing through the Obstacle Dominator podcast which he cohosts with Hunter McIntyre
You can blame Yancy for seeing all those Beet Elite tattoos in pictures of your favorite top competitors. He is the OCR team manager for team Beet Elite (a product we think actually works) and trains some of the best in the sport – like Isaiah Vidal.
Carl created Obstacle Race Magazine, the only OCR specific print magazine that is still standing – without backing from huge publishing companies. He is also behind Muddy Kit, an online gear retailer, several marquee events in the UK and the sport’s first expo.
Joe Di Stefano
Joe is the director of Spartan Training at Spartan Race. He leads the SGX training program and offers Spartan training to the masses through an ever growing network of Spartan Group X certified coaches.
Nice to place faces to names. I’m interested in an article about the rising number of obstacle course parks/gyms if anyone’s willing to tackle that.
Great list! Big fan of Yancy Culp since I started his Camp. WoW the whooping I am getting lol. Really seeing a difference though!