This week’s guest blog on “The Rise of the Obstacle Course Racing Industry” comes from the sports marketing agency, weasel.
Weasel helps sports and entertainment brands gain actionable insights and harness the power of sponsorship to drive business growth.
The Rise of the Obstacle Course Racing Industry
Obstacle Course Racing (or OCR under its jazzy acronym; causes all kinds of SEO havoc when you google it…) has been voted ‘The Current Fastest Growing Sport in the World’ .
With social media exploding by people like Tough Murder and Spartan Race, it seems we can barely go a week when no one encourages us to ‘test our limits’ or ‘get dirty’.
mileage or mark while running on the road
In January this year, Sky Sports Mix – the channel’s extreme sports arm – announced its plans to air this year’s World’s Toughest Murders. For the first time on UK television, spectators will be able to follow all the action as competitors battle it out in a 24-hour extreme endurance race.
And across the pond, the Spartans have created the International Obstacle Racing Federation – in the same way as sanctioning bodies for traditional sports such as track and field, running and gymnastics – in efforts to get obstacle course racing into the Olympics by the 2024 Summer. Promotion game.
choosing the right running gear
But how far has the OCR industry come so far and what are the reasons behind it?
After a phenomenal rise in popularity, spread from the US to the UK – and revenue that attracted dozens of start-ups to the non-traditional endurance sport category – progress has been slow and many smaller chains have folded.
Major players – notably Tough Murder, Spartan Race and US’ Warrior Dash, are increasingly focusing their attention on collecting big-name sponsorships in relevant regions to ensure strong brand recognition and expanded revenue streams.
Take Merrell, who is not only the title sponsor of TM, but they now have a range of footwear designed specifically for hurdles – proving that these guys are the game changers in the industry for OCR. How seriously are you taking the game?
multi disciplined game
So what still drives the rush of sign-ups for these endurance events year after year?
There’s a current vibe towards back-to-basic fitness in the UK, from Virgin Active’s ZUU Fitness to mimic animal movements to outdoor training offered by folks like British Military Fitness.
We are becoming more inclined towards the ‘anti-gym’, who are more drawn to the elemental and outlandish; Anything to Keep Off the Mirror-Facing Indoor Treadmill…
Then there is the elitism of running and marathon endurance events that have kept people from taking up the challenge – OCR encourages teamwork and camaraderie; You’re not alone in having this kind of ‘race,’ so it gives contestants big time to net and speak to the audience who would have refused an ongoing event. It is far more audience friendly; Who doesn’t love to see their near and dear ones fall in the mud…
As we creep towards spring (hurry already) the UK OCR race calendar with April firmly on the horizon and with more partnerships in the pipeline than ever before, it will be a big one to watch for the year ahead.
most physically demanding sports
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