Sports Illustrated Examines Rapid Growth Of Endurance Events In U.S.
Endurance events are "sweeping the nation," as participation across the U.S. has "risen dramatically over the last decade," according to Austin Murphy of SI. These types of physical challenges include the "unthreatening, untimed and immensely popular 5K Color Runs; more testosterone-intensive challenges such as Muddy Buddy and Tough Mudder, otherwise known as MOB (mud, obstacles, beer) runs; and the scores of marathons and half-marathons, triathlons and CrossFit competitions that are selling out from Kona to Daytona Beach." Falconhead Capital in '05 "started gobbling up properties, including San Diego-based Elite Racing, whose Rock 'n' Roll series then had only five events." By the time Falconhead sold CGI to Calera Capital last December, it "operated 83 endurance events around the world, including 32 Rock 'n' Roll races." NYRR President & CEO Mary Wittenberg said, "What's radically different from even 10 years ago is the breadth of offerings. There are all these fun, different ways people are getting pulled in. And once they're pulled in, we have a chance to help them run for life." Murphy notes this is not just "a fitness craze." The U.S. is "in the midst of a sustained trend, what Running USA called the Second Running Boom (with boomlets in triathlon and MOB runs)." The number of U.S. road-race finishers "has tripled since 1990 to 13.9 million" in '11, while race field have "gone from 75% male to 55% female." Competitor Group President & CEO Scott Dickey said that "women make up 65%" of the field for the company's Rock 'n' Roll events. Dickey: "A lot of these women are running to stay fit, a lot of them are married with kids, some are coming out of the post-pregnancy fog." Ultramarathon runner John Korff said that social media also has "fueled the boom, ratcheting up the 'Look at me!' factor while piquing the curiosity of the uninitiated" (SI, 6/3 issue).
MY NAME IS MUD: Thursday morning's episode of NBC's "Today" featured a taped segment on Tough Mudder. Co-host Matt Lauer said, "In a short three years, that spirit of camaraderie over competition has struck a chord worldwide." Tough Mudder Chief Culture Officer Alex Patterson said Tough Mudder "went from three events and 20,000 people in 2010 to 53 events and over a million people this year globally." Lauer, along with co-hosts Al Roker, Natalie Morales, Savannah Guthrie and Willie Geist took on an abbreviated version of a Tough Mudder course. Roker said, "I'm the one in the worse shape and I came out unscathed" ("Today," NBC, 5/30).