|Posted by Strength & Speed on July 1, 2021 at 4:55 PM|
Who is the world champion of Obstacle Course Racing (OCR)? Well, that’s not really a good question. It is like asking “Who is the world champion of running?” Are we talking 100m dash, 5k, marathon, 4x400m, steeple chase or another distance? Are we talking the last Olympic gold medalist or the last IAAF (International Amateur Athletic Federation) World Finals?
Using the same logic for sports like swimming and running, here’s a breakdown of who can call themselves a “world champion”.
1. Different Distances: Just as in running, swimming, cycling, triathlon and all other endurance sports, there are multiple world champions based on different distances. In OCR for the OCR World Championships (for each gender) we have a 100m champion, 3k champion and 15k champion. This doesn’t count the team champions (discussed later). For Spartan there is the Beast length champion and Ultra-World Champion. Typically Spartan refers to the Best length champion as “the Spartan World Champion” and adds caveats to other event’s champions like “the Spartan Ultra-World Champion”.
2. Different Brands: Over the year’s different brands in the OCR world have held different world championships. Brands like Spartan Race, Warrior Dash, Tough Mudder (World’s Toughest Mudder) and OCR World Championships have all claimed a “world championship title”. Interestingly enough, BattleFrog Championship wasn’t labeled a world championship, just championship or series championship. The point is that multiple brands crown their own world champions. So can anyone with a brand crown a world champion? Technically yes, but similar to the value of money (which isn’t backed by gold or something tangible), people generally need to agree that it is a world championship event.
3. Team Events: What about team events do those count? Yes. Spartan has a team world championship event, OCRWC has an all-male team race, all-female team race and coed team race. World’s Toughest Mudder had a team event (four man until 2016 and two man 2017-2018), two man relay (2019-current) and four man relay (2017-current). Similar to Spartan saying “Spartan World Champion” and “Spartan Ultra-World Champion”, for the most accuracy if you are a team world champion you should probably add the caveat of team in there if you are referring to yourself or someone else that is a “team world champion”.
4. Age Group World Champions: Just like team, if you win your age group at a world champion event, you are technically a world champion too, as long as you add in that caveat “age group” before world champion.
What’s my point? My point is many people can claim the title of a OCR world champion. Some may be thinking why should I even care? Just like with “What Makes a Race” article, it is about being transparent and honest with people and/or potential sponsors.
Are we cheapening the word? Not all world championship titles are on equal level of prestige. Age group world championship wins are not as prestigious as overall world championship wins. Team world championship wins are not as valuable as individual world championship wins. Finally, some distances are more prestigious than others. I would argue the same logic applies to Olympic medals with individual golds being more prestigious than team golds. Just like in running people care more about the 100m and the marathon than the 200m and the 1500m.
When we hear the words world champion, our bias comes into play and who in our sport comes to mind. Check back next we as we explore you inherent biases and how it relates who you picture when you hear the words OCR and world champion in the same sentence.