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The Economic Impact of Obstacle Course Races

9 Sep 2011

This weekend is promising to be a busy one for obstacle course races. According to mudruncentral.com, there are at least 11 races scheduled for this weekend. Nine out of the 11 are local and growing national races like local Marine Mud Challenges, Rugged Maniac, and Dirty Girl.

The rising popularity of obstacle course races is having an impact beyond participant tallies and facebook fans. With income still limited or static for many, consumers are showing that they are willing to invest in fitness, sports, and fun. Nowadays, this may be just what our economy can use a little more of: generous spending for personal health and recreational pursuits.

Consider a race entry fee in light of the number of registrations. Looking back at the historical registration numbers, the top three races can attract anywhere from 8,000 – 14,000 participants in a two-day weekend event. Depending on the event, entry fees can range from $50 – $180, with the sprints at the lower end and longer runs on the higher end. Do the math: popular obstacle course races can generate from $400,000 to $2,500,000 in registration fees alone from a weekend event.

Preparing for a mud race can also have an impact on the economy of fitness clubs and sports retail. The fiscal demands for participating in a run like the Spartan Beast or the Tough Mudder can be as much as $700 – $1,000 to cover health club membership and personal training fees three months before the event. If you’re a motivated exerciser, preparing for the event can cost $70-$190 on your own — the cost of an entrance fee and decent pair of gloves. At the minimum, 10,000 racers will collectively spend a total of $100,000 – $200,000 in gloves. If half of these registered participants join a health club membership and utilize training, they may shell out a collective sum of $3.5 million. It may not be a bad idea for health clubs to target marketing efforts towards obstacle course races or attempt to form joint partnerships with race organizer

Finally, obstacle course races have an impact on charity. In May, the Tough Mudder reached the $1 million-mark in raising funds for the Wounded Warrior Project, a charity assisting armed forces’ personnel that were severely injured in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other locations around the world. TM is likely to raise nearly another $1 million by the end of the year. A proud supporter of Green Sneakers, the Warrior Dash is on pace this year to donate a quarter of a million pounds of sneakers for developing countries to resell or recycle for absorbent material and other products. This season, the Spartan Race’s charity of choice is Homes for our Troops, an organization committed to providing specialty homes for armed forces that were seriously injured while on duty. The Spartan Race is aiming to raise $400,000 this year and offers participants who make a donation a discount off a race entry fee.

So when you sign up for a race, you can think and feel good about what you’re doing for the economy and your own health. And if you can spare a few dollars, make a contribution towards one of the many charities supported by your favorite obstacle course races.

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