Regular folks seem to think that OCR racing is kooky. Exactly! Isn’t that the very reason we do it? I’m not over looking the legitimate athletic prowess of many of those that participate and I’m well aware that the courses do offer legitimate tests of strength and endurance. People that do OCR already “get it” and there are many among us that take it very seriously incorporating workout routines focused on optimizing for OCR. That’s all well and good but I believe the real reason people are coming in ever increasing numbers is because it’s fun! Getting dirty with your friends is fun!
Sean Thomsen’s calves are tattooed with images foreign to the sports canvas just a handful of years ago.
The 35-year-old railroad worker from suburban Los Angeles sports the logos of each of those three major obstacle racing circuits, events ranging in distance from about 3 to 26 miles that have been taken on by millions over the last six years.
“It’s started a lot of conversations,” Thomsen says. “I don’t have to explain what they are as much these days. There’s a lot more brand recognition than when I got my first one 2½ years ago.”
He says people still think he’s crazy for running through mud, crawling under barbwire, traversing monkey bars and hurdling over walls — staples of obstacle course racing. His tattoos aren’t only a log for the races he’s completed but a marketing tool. Tough Mudder, for example, offers a free race for each tattoo.
But these races are not just for a small group of thrill seekers. Instead mud runs are going mainstream, with annual participation having surpassed that of traditional half and full marathons combined, according to statistics provided by the trade group Running USA.
“There are a lot of people in traditional road racing circles who saw this more as a fad than a trend,” Running USA CEO Rich Harshbarger says. “I think this industry is just grabbing hold right now.”