Wednesday, June 25, 2014

What's the Next Fitness Race Trend or Fad?

I'm not sure who, if anyone, knows the true chronology of multi-discipline/multi-sport races outside of the Olympic games, but I'm guessing guys like Bob Babbitt and Bart Yasso could give us the best background.

Without Bob and Bart's input, I venture to say triathlon and the Ironman race of 1978 ignited the concept of mass participant multi-sport/multi-discipline events.

Many events have come and gone. Babbitt started the first obstacle racing event with Muddy Buddy (now defunct), soon to be followed and copied by Tough Mudder, Spartan Race, Warrior Dash and a whole host of others.

Triathlons have continued to grow with no real change in format, distance or brand leaders. Consolidation and new event production companies have entered the industry, but Ironman has remained the clear brand leader with few challengers.

In the obstacle event world the has been no shortage of innovation and attempts to create new series in urban venues to ski resorts to farmer's fields. We've had the Oyster Adventure Series, City Chase, Urban Dare, and the Men's Health Urbanathlon.

It should be no surprise that when Dave Zinczenko took over and rebranded Men's Fitness Magazine to look identical to Men's Health that a Men's Fitness Magazine event platform would not be far behind. Don't look now but we now have the Men's Fitness Ultimate Athlete Games.

Where are we headed in this industry? With production costs escalating, safety concerns growing, permits to shut down urban streets more difficult to come by, and city services not subsidizing fees (New York Marathon Raises Entry Fee, Citing Police Costs) is the future of events in urban areas in question? Will we continue to see less populated suburban areas, ski resorts and controlled venues (stadiums, race tracks and amusement parks) vie for large scale participatory events?

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