A recent report from RunRepeat.com focuses on the different trends in obstacle course racing (OCR) and kids mud runs. The first thing we see in the report is that obstacle course racing participation had a staggering growth from 2010 to 2015. And then it has reached a plateau.
The market has become somewhat saturated.
For this reason, the organizers of big and small events are trying lots and varied strategies to increase their markets and to attract more people. To make the races accessible to a wider range of individuals they have added new challenging obstacles and even looked to create “specialty” races such as obstacle races for kids.
Some of the races are expanding worldwide, such as Canada and even into Europe. The new players in the mud run and obstacle racing industry are trying to make different and more diversified courses, so they distinguish themselves in the marketplace. Of course, a lot of race organizers are doing a combination of those. It’s interesting to note that OCR attracts younger participants in general. The average age of marathon runners is around 37, but for obstacle course racing it’s 30 years old.
And this is true for both men and women. For marathon running female participation peaks at 30. But male participation reaches it’s highest at 40. Not in OCR or family mud runs!
The age of peak in participation (30) is close to the age when people become parents, which is 27-28. So young parents can return to racing with their kids around the age of 33 since 5 years old is the lower participation limit.
We can speculate that the higher availability of kids’ races. And the inherited attractiveness of those races to children is prompting more and more parents to enter obstacle course races with their children. They can also include more extended family into the mix – like grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. So, parents have a unique opportunity to provide a wider range of activities for their children. Widen their horizons. Instill a love of movement and the outdoors. And of course, have fun. Get dirty. And get tired. Also, this is a way to share experiences with them, which are more valuable and more memorable than objects and gifts.
This is supported by the fact that short races have the highest growth of participation of all distances. This could be because kids’ races are by definition short. They usually span between 1 and 2 miles. And the focus is on the mud, the fun and the obstacles. Promoting values as helping, striving, pushing yourself, overcoming obstacles. And also helping the youngest participants to embrace a more active lifestyle.
Obstacle racing could really be a fantastic way to spend time with your family. Have fun. Move your bodies and share some laughs and selfies. OCR is giving young people a way to get out of their homes, embrace the great outdoors and connect to themselves as well to nature. It’s a way to broaden your horizons. And get away from the gym/treadmill stereotype for exercise.
It’s a different way to exercise, build strength and connect with other people as with yourself.
So next time you are standing at the start/ finish line or even climbing your next obstacle, look next to you and you might see your kids friends running right next to you!