The 2015 BattleFrog College Championship: 6 Ways the Short Form Race will Change OCR

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When BattleFrog Series announced its inaugural college championship race, I immediately wondered if I could enroll at my alma mater as a “non-traditional” student and try out for next year’s event.

The Race Format:

BattleFrog Series crafted a short-form relay race of 400 meters with 20 obstacles pitted 16 universities with teams of 4 (two female, 2 male) against one another in single elimination combat for bragging rights and a cool $10,000 scholarship. The competition was fierce, but the sportsmanship and camaraderie inherent in the OCR world graced the screen as in so many local events. Students hailed from various sporting backgrounds, further illustrating that OCR is perhaps the most well-rounded sport, demanding several skill sets to remain viable as a contender.

BattleFrog conducted a smooth and enjoyable show which demonstrated, similar to the show OCR Warrior, the evolution and the adaptability of OCR in general.

Ways This Could Change OCR:

1) The Short-Form Race will Dominate Public Perception of OCR

Even 5k race events are difficult to televise, and spectators on-site during standard races can only observe athletes begin and finish the race (in most cases) from their vantage point. The short-form allows for a stadium option where fans could surround a field of play similar to other sports. This allows a greater draw from non-athletes, leading to a exponential growth in the spectator-to-athlete ratio, which segues into…

2) Race Series Drift Toward Professional Leagues and Competition

Even if a legacy race (the traditional long format) was televised more frequently, there are thousands of racers any given weekend and limited filming opportunities/resources spread over several miles of terrain. This means we’d only see the same top 5 athletes at most battle out the race. The short form relay race in a stadium would allow for a closed system of various distances and feature teams of the best in the sport. Several top athletes on display without the headache of a film crew covering 100’s of acres.

3) The Rise of the Professional (and better paid) OCR Athletes

You can’t throw a rock in the OCR social media world without hitting a race seeking sponsorship (yes, I’m one of them). OCR athletes from pros to weekend warriors love the sport, and if you are competent enough, why not monetize your efforts? Short form relay would greatly increase the earning potential for the elite among us by creating teams and leagues which recruit and pit these men against one another in an arena of hundreds or even thousands of paying spectators. People across the nation have already proven a market for obstacle combat in shows like American Ninja Warrior, OCR Warrior, the televised Spartan series, and now BattleFrog College Championships. This is the venue and opportunity that will propel elite athletes and sponsors.

4) Separation of Long-Form (Legacy) and Short-Form (Relay) Athletes

As OCR further evolves, many forms of the sport emerge. Such evolution in form eventually leads to specialization. One uses different training for a 5K obstacle race compared to Spartan Beast or World’s Toughest Mudder. If professional leagues developed and attracted elite athletes, a natural division in the evolutionary tree of OCR would produce athletes who train only for specific distances and formats. Legacy athletes might remain independent racers who make careers out of sponsorships while short-form relay teams operate similar to other professional sports teams which are televised and have a more mainstream appeal.

5) Obstacle Training Standardization

The natural extension of a professional sport is standardization, which includes common obstacles and a unifying organization. While niche events will surely thrive as local events, the national stage of OCR as a unified and regulated sport will develop standard obstacles for the short form relay, allowing professional athletes to train universally. Now if only we could bring all the uber personalities currently leading the world of OCR to a common table, we could possibly pull this off, but in this stage of early meteoric growth, we remain in a state of hot, dense entropy.

6) Increase in OCR Training Facilities

With standardization and the demarcation of OCR from fringe to mainstream, more people have discovered a love for the sport. Installations such as Shale Hill Adventure Farm in VT, OCR Unleashed in VA, or MROC Training in CA, are rising all across the nation which cater to a growing base of folks dedicated to OCR as competitors. A surge in serious contenders will only broaden the playing field and demand new avenues of approach to handle expansion of both the professional and “weekend warrior” base.

Takeaway from the First Annual BattleFrog Series College Championship:

I’m sure there are other ways such race formats will influence the world of OCR, or I could be completely off base. One this is certain: the gears of change are ever grinding and it’s up to us to ensure that OCR remains the sport we love, whatever its forms.

What are your thoughts on these developments? Where would you like to see the sport go in the future?


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