After the announcement from Obstacle Course Racing World Championships (OCRWC) regarding World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), I thought it would be a good idea to check back in and see what’s going on over at OCRWC. I received a dozen or so of OCR athlete submitted questions, and figured I’d put them to the founder, Adrian Bijanada himself…
Mud&Adventure: Big news for you guys this past week, with the addition of PED testing. That brought a lot of attention to your competition, are you guys seeing a spike in interest since the announcement in terms of serious professional competitors?
OCRWC: It’s definitely sparked some interest and raised a few eyebrows. The truth of the matter is that we think it’s a small but necessary step for obstacle course racing. Imagine if other races hopped on board and we had testing at multiple times during the year as opposed to just one day per year. There’s a huge opportunity here for races to work together to show the larger sporting community that we are serious about OCR as a sport.
Mud&Adventure: With the Announcement of World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) testing some people are concerned with regards to how they’ll be tested. Without giving out any information that could be used to undermine the test can you go into the process a little?
OCRWC: The test will be conducted by professionals but beyond I can’t comment on who or when that might occur without risking the integrity of the process. But athletes can rest assured that this will be done the right way, by professionals.
Mud&Adventure: Moving to more general questions: You having both sprint style and endurance competitions as qualifiers, with that being said you have covered a large spectrum of athlete types. How will your event cater to all the style and not just favor one?
OCRWC: That’s why we settled on a 8-mile course. We think it’s a good distance that can test both sprinters and the longer distance athletes.
We are also excited to announce our team competition format which we believe will be a first in obstacle racing. Part of the enjoyment of OCR is the camaraderie that comes from racing with friends, so we’ve devised a new format will allow for that while also stressing the importance of individual performance. Teams of 4 will compete in 2×2 relay format with the first half the team being required to complete their loop before the second half can begin theirs. Look for more details on this in a few days!
Mud&Adventure: Obstacles, there is a large clamor for OCR to move away from its current “Runner’s race” where obstacles aren’t hard enough or penalties not significant enough to impact those who aren’t as well rounded. Can we expect OCRWC to bump the bar up in terms of obstacle difficulty, frequency and penalties? Or will we see a very traditional style course?
OCRWC: This will definitely be an “obstacle heavy” course. Mud Guts and Glory already has a FANTASTIC foundation to build on for that matter and we intend to build on that to create something special. As for penalties, the purist side of me would love to see a strict “fail one and you’re done” approach, but obviously we don’t want a race where only 20% of the field finishes, so it’s something that will be decided once we have all of our obstacles finalized.
Mud&Adventure: So we’re still many months away, but we have seen the OCRWC announcements as people qualify, how are the numbers? Can we get a sense of we you are at this point in terms of participants in the different categories?
OCRWC: I can’t go into numbers, but we are definitely seeing a lot of interest in the elite division as well as men 40-49. We also had our first 50+ female registrant last week, which I’m THRILLED about. For me personally, THAT is where the excitement is.
Mud&Adventure: Participant cap, will we see announcements related to it as we approach it? Also how do you plan on dealing with those whom qualify after you’ve reached your limit as qualifying races will take place continuously up to your World Championship?
OCRWC: Definitely. We do have a cap, but we monitor each division very carefully. We will keep everyone in the loop via social media if that starts to become an issue. We also have contingent plans for a phasing or lottery system if needed.
Mud&Adventure: We’ve started to see more arena competitions in an effort to increase spectators of the sport. With the potential to increase revenue for events how is the OCRWC handling spectators and is that something you consider a priority? Or is your focus more on refining the event from a participant point of view?
OCRWC: This is a tough one. I think part of the appeal of a good OCR course that there’s a marrying of natural terrain with man-made obstacles. That can be tough to achieve that while having the entire race be spectator friendly, but it will be something we will strive for. In fact, we’ve been studying what Rev 3 Triathlon quite a bit as they’ve taken an inherently spectator unfriendly sport and made each race something the whole family can enjoy through technology, activities and atmosphere.
Mud&Adventure: You’ve managed to attract some sponsors within the OCR community. Are you actively seeking larger more mainstream sponsorships, partnerships, or affiliations such as Reebok and Spartan, or Under Armor and Tough Mudder?
OCRWC: I can’t comment on this just yet
Mud&Adventure: Are there any plans to expand beyond a single event organization? Such as holding state championships? Qualifiers of your own?
OCRWC: Definitely not. We have no interest in competing in what’s already out there. In fact, quite the opposite is true. Our event lives and breathes based on the success of the industry as a whole. If these other races falter, so do we. The more people we can push to compete in qualifying races, the better they do and the better we do. In many ways it’s a win-win for everyone playing in the sandbox.
Mud&Adventure: Have you received any communication from some of the bigger OCR events regarding your position to stand as the single and unifying world championship of the sport? If so what is there take on it? Positive? Negative? Supportive?
OCRWC: Virtually every race we’ve spoken with has been supportive. I think they appreciate our efforts and understand that this isn’t just a money grab, but something that benefit everyone involved…racers and races alike.
Mud&Adventure: The Tour de France coverage is a unique way to keep everyone in the loop. Pace cars (or ATVS in our case) could stay with the Leader, Chase group, and main group during the race, each with live feeds. Additionally a digital display on the bottom of the screen show relative position of racers/groups on the course. Could this be something you use to allow for spectator to have a virtual front row seat simply by having a set of TVs for everyone to view from?
OCRWC: YES! We are very actively working with partners to make something like this a reality. We’ll share more info on this front as soon as we can.
Mud&Adventure: A lot of news looks to be coming down the pipelines and the addition of WADA testing another stone added to the foundation that the team over at OCRWC seems to be building. We’ll keep in close contact with Adrian and his team as we get closer to what we all hope will become the true unified world championship for the sport we all love.
Thanks to everyone for their help and to those who submitted questions, a big thank you to Adrian for lending us some time. Feel free to check out the following links for more information: