We have just seen the loss of another OCR brand in Warrior Dash, there are so many questions and so many thoughts on what happened and what this will mean for the sport. Many folks have run one or more of these races in the 10 years that Warrior Dash was in existence. I was asked earlier this week what Warrior Dash has really done for the sport. I don’t think many people realize what they have done to help shape this sport into what it is today.
Warrior Dash held its first race on July 18, 2009 in Illinois and had 2,000 competitors. For a race brand’s first ever race those are some amazing numbers. In 2010 Warrior Dash expanded its races holding 11 races and bringing 150,000 competitors to their races. In 2014 Warrior Dash was the first race brand to hold a World Championship in Pulaski, TN. This race had a purse of $100,000 to the winners. Of the Top Male and Top Female winners there were some huge names in there. Names Such as Hobie Call, Chad Moat, Brakken Krakker, John Yatsko and Rose Wetzel. From 2009 till 2019 Warrior Dash has had over 3.5 million people come out to run these races. There was once a time when the big three of OCR was Spartan, Tough Mudder and Warrior Dash. Warrior Dash wasn’t some small brand and it was there as one of the first major OCR brands.
Back to the question I was asked, Warrior Dash open waves and charity waves have always been about going out having some fun and getting muddy. It was a beginner OCR and had a motto of Everyone who starts will finish. For many folks who are still racing OCR this is or most likely was one of your first few races as it’s a “beginner OCR”. This series really bit people with the bug of falling in love with this sport. These races have started to get people to push themselves to be not only a better racer but a better person health wise. Warrior Dash was one of the original brands and helped to pave the way for the explosion of growth when it comes to this sport. They were here before Spartan, Savage Race, Tough Mudder all of which are the Big 3 in this sport now. Warrior Dash was one of the pioneers.
One thing that Warrior Dash always did better than any other brand was its festival area. It truly was a festival, between all the people hanging out with chairs, music blasting, people dancing, playing cornhole, obstacle challenges, sponsor tents, merchandise tents, the awesome beer garden and the food (especially the smoked turkey legs)!!! You may read that and think yeah well other brands have a lot of that stuff also. It was the atmosphere of the festival that made the event even better. The beer area was like an actual beer garden with barrel pub tables and pub chairs, pub style tables, 5-6 different beers on tap for finishers. The festival was always alive and genuinely an awesome time. I have yet to go to a race yet to where the festival area is anywhere close to that. I can only hope that one of the brands realizes how much fun and how much people enjoyed Warrior Dash’s festival area and step up theirs.
There is no denying that Warrior Dash obviously did some things wrong, if they didn’t, they wouldn’t have been in the situation they were. I will say that the brands coming in and offering free races is an amazing thing to see the community come together and help everyone out, who was out of a race. My concern is that there are so many people out there who were signed up for a race, could this possibly hurt other brands that are being generous? There are a ton of costs that go into putting on event, can some of these smaller brands financially afford to take a hit like that? Could this hand of generosity come back to hurt them? Will this be the status quo going forward in the industry when a brand closes? What does this truly mean for this industry and sport? Robb McCoy the owner of F.I.T Challenge said, “Warrior Dash closing up shop is not good for the OCR industry.” We need to support not just the big brands but the small local brands as well. There are a handful of local OCR events that truly offer a quality product and have started to gather their own following – Indian Mud Run and F.I.T Challenge are the two biggest that come to mind.
No matter what the answers to these questions ends up being, this is truly an important time within this sport and industry. I feel this brand helped to change and build the sport much more than so many people know. Thanks for 10 years Warrior Dash, you guys will be missed.