2023 brings many questions about the future of obstacle racing as a sport. What does the future hold? What will the sport look like, and how are companies moving forward?

One of the significant flaws of obstacle course racing is how hard it is to watch. Chasing athletes on a mountain with limited service for two to three hours is unwatchable. What do the commentators even talk about after so long? The video, at times, is unwatchable. 

When Spartan announced their new format for the 3k, I was optimistic and thrilled. They want to make the sport easier for the media, more energetic for crowds to watch, and more competitive for athletes. 

The 3k is an elite invite-only event and will be held on Fridays before the open races on Saturday and Sunday. Spectators are free to join to watch the best of the best compete in a fast pace race. Every second counts; obstacle technique, running pace, and strategy moving through stages. 

The first stage comprises up to 45 participants; they go in waves of 15 every two minutes. Based on time, two-thirds of the athletes move to stage two. They proceed with the same process of releasing waves every two minutes, and only half of them go into the final stage. For both men and women, the 3k takes about two hours. Stages one and two are a one-kilometer lap, with the final stage being three laps. 

I attended the Jacksonville 3k test event and was intrigued by how professionally everything was run. It felt like an actual obstacle race and not a hybrid trail event. It was fast pace, exciting to watch, and easy for any photographer or other media to get everywhere to capture the action. At many events, I find it extremely difficult to get to obstacles to capture without missing other athletes. Now, I can cover both males and females equally without missing any action.

The 3k event wasn’t perfect; they have a lot of details to work out. One of the things I would like to see is more obstacles. I would love to see the z-wall, hercules hoist, and maybe one more other obstacle included. An issue they also had was the new laser pistol; too many times, I felt like I saw athletes run up and pull the trigger as many times to hit the target. Limiting the number of triggers they pull to five or ten would be good. Athletes have to hit the target three times in under twenty seconds. 

This is an event you do not want to miss as a spectator. You get to watch athletes compete against obstacles and see their techniques; how do the pros make it look so easy and flawless? This is obstacle racing. Every moment spent on an obstacle, every mistake, can make a big difference. The event is held on Friday evenings, so spectators can come out and watch before they race the following days. The OCR Report is partnered with Spartan to live feed the North American events, so be sure to subscribe to us on YouTube. 

When Spartan makes announcements, I rarely agree, but with the 3k format, this is a move in the right direction for the sport. 

The event proceeds the elite series in North America and Europe. The first event in Palm Beach is on April 21st.

Here are all the must-watch events.

  • North American Series
  • April 21st – Palm Beach, FL
  • May 19th – Big Bear Lake, CA
  • June 16th – Mont-Tremblant, Canada
  • July 14th – Poconos, PA
  • October 13th – Mexico 
  • European Series
  • April 29th – London, UK
  • May 19th – Netherlands 
  • June 4th – Slovakia 
  • September 9th – Austria 
  • October 7th – Spain

December 9th – World Championship in Abu Dhabi

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