It takes a certain kind of confidence to write a blog. You might even say it’s a little arrogant to assume people would want to read about your life, ideas, and experiences. People have compelling stories though, and if you can reach out to your audience and connect with them then you’ve accomplished something truly special. That’s what I tell myself anyway. It certainly seems that I’ve managed to entertain a few of you over the past several months. At the least I hope I’ve made you think about and look at the world around you and your place in it. I’m trying to help people find more confidence in themselves and see what they can accomplish. In the military we used confidence courses to help us overcome our fears and tap into that inner strength so many are searching for today. The rise of obstacle course racing is also helping people find their limits and discover their strength but some events are loosing focus and making decisions based on profit and a quick buck. In the end its the customer that suffers most.
If you’ve been following along from the beginning you’ve probably noticed that my love affair with Obstacle Racing and Spartan Race in particular is starting to fade. While I am still excited and anxious to compete in the races I’ve already signed up for I doubt I’ll be entering anymore. After dealing with the management and ownership of that company I just don’t see the point in giving them my hard earned money. I do not feel that they genuinely stand behind their stated mission and goal and it has become obvious to me that the organizers are more concerned with fame and profit than any other goal. That’s not a bad thing in and of itself and don’t think that I feel they don’t deserve to make a buck. They certainly do and I wish them well. However I will no longer work to promote their race or any other for that matter. Likewise I will not shell out hundreds of dollars in entry fees, travel, and accommodation for something I could do myself any weekend I please.
This brings me to my next point; why are we paying to race? Why are we giving companies our money to exhaust ourselves and punish our bodies? My grandfather told me twenty years ago that if you’re good at something never do it for free, and if you love what you do make damn sure you get paid to do it. I know that few of us are professional athletes and the prospect of getting paid to do obstacle races isn’t very realistic but does that mean we should part with a quarter month’s pay for it? The cost of this growing sport is escalating faster than the number of companies trying to cut out a piece of the pie. The sport for the average person is very quickly becoming another sport only a wealthy few can truly enjoy in the current state of our economy. I just think it’s ridiculous how high the entry fees of these races are becoming, and for what; a few hours of getting muddy and wet and hopefully not injured.
I’ve decided that from now on I’ll save my money for truly monumental events. If I’m going to risk injury it’s going to be for something that truly tests me. Throughout the rest of the year I will be entering into the GORUCK challenge, and a few other lengthy endurance events. Likewise I will be training for entry into the Leadville 100 ultramarathon and the Death Race for the winter of 2013. These events simply put; are on a whole different level. I know that for many people they are beyond reach of their ability and obstacle races are more appealing. If that’s your flavor then I encourage you to go get it, but just be smart and shop around. There are many more affordable events then Spartan Race or Tough Mudder that can provide you with an enjoyable day of fun and excitement that won’t bankrupt you.
This was supposed to be fun and affordable after-all. Wasn’t that the draw to begin with; an adventure that didn’t require a passport, machete, and local guide. What is it turning into though? I really wonder why we can’t just call up five of our friends one weekend, get some packs and trail shoes, and go disappear into the woods for a couple of days. Let’s make our own trails and go really connect with nature instead of a pre-prepared version of it. This nation is literally studded with recreation areas and national parks that would love to have you come play on their courses for pennies on the dollar. I think in the end that’s the answer we’re all really looking for. Why do we need to pay someone to make us sweat and tell us what we need to be and what tough really is? I refuse to live my life under the shadow of a growing culture based on a movie ideal of strength. Life isn’t a movie, and in the end everyone of those heroes we worship so much and struggle to emulate got slaughtered. Surely there’s a lesson in that somewhere. Get outside, go for a hike, learn to camp. In the end you’ll find a whole new hero to idealize; yourself.