Obstacle Racing Continuing to Gain Ground in Industry
21 Apr, 2015By: Mary Helen Sprecher
Shoe Manufacturers Attempting Foothold; Specialized Conference Offered
Obstacle racing continues to prove it’s capable of leaping challenges in a single bound as it strives for acceptance in the mainstream.
Several recent commercial developments illustrate just how far the sport has come. A recent article in SportsOne Source noted that traction shoe, Icebug USA, has announced the opening of its first official test center in North America at a permanent obstacle course racing facility, Shale Hill Adventure Farm in Benson, VT. Open to the public, the facilities at Shale Hill, owned by veteran Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) innovators Rob and Jill Butler, include expansive training and race courses along with the newly opened Icebug retail concept shop for consumers to test and purchase the brand’s latest innovations.
Icebug’s Shale Hill testing center will feature a full selection of the brand’s shoes designed for running and outdoor adventuring including designs specifically suited for OCR and trail running. Consumers who visit the facility will be able to test shoes free of charge and purchase footwear directly at the onsite retail concept shop housing Icebug’s complete collection of footwear and insoles.
Shale Hill will also act as one of Icebug’s U.S.-based training centers for its team of professional athletes including standout adventure racers, mountain climbers, obstacle course racers and triathletes. And effective immediately, Icebug is the official event sponsor of all Shale Hill events. (Icebug has plans to roll out more sites throughout the U.S. including a newly opened a center at Skinny Raven Sports, in Anchorage, Alaska).
Also working to gain a foothold in the market is Vibram FiveFingers, which announced the details of its continued long-term partnership with Warrior Dash, a leading obstacle race series, for 2015. According to the terms of the agreement, Vibram will be on-site at Warrior Dash events nationwide throughout 2015. The company will offer their Vibram Shoe Wash and Exchange, a mobile washing machine station that will provide Warriors a chance to clean the mud off of their shoes after completing the grueling race. Participants will have the opportunity to put a pair of Vibram 100 percent washable Vibram FiveFingers Spyridon MR shoes to the test on “The Battleground” through an on-site trial program. As part of the program, participants can wear a demo pair of Spyridon MR for their wave of the event (subject to availability).
Spectators will also be able to make the leap from the sidelines into the trenches with the purchase of a pair of the Vibram FiveFingers Spyridon MR (which stands for “Mud Run”) in 2015, which will qualify them to register free in a Warrior Dash race of their choice
To further legitimize its standing as a viable business, the sport has a focus at Running the Next Generation, a conference for planners of running events – with specific attention paid to new trends such as OCR, themed races and more. The meeting will be held at the Doubletree by Hilton Chicago - Magnificant Mile on Sunday and Monday, June 28 and 29, 2015.
The meeting is meant to address those who plan and implement races, including mud runs, fun runs, obstacle course races and traditional road races. Topics to be covered include marketing, event expansion, volunteer management, medical issues and more.