Minute 1: Warrior Dash Crash
Another one bites the mud. After 10 years and more than 3 million participants, Warrior Dash crossed the finish line this week, canceling all remaining races and winding down the company. It was a sad milestone for the company, its employees and the obstacle racing industry. We are big fans of mud races and routinely challenge our purist running and cycling pals to at least give one a shot. Folks rarely regret it. Climbing ropes, braving steep water slides and plunging through mud pits makes everyone feel like a little kid again. The problem is that once you’ve checked it off your list, most people never try a second one. Well before the Warrior Dash announcement, one industry publication asked: “Is Obstacle Course Racing Dead?” The data shows that participation peaked in 2013 or 2014 and has lost ground since then.
Once a dominant player, Tough Mudder has struggled mightily in the past two years. The market is now led by two established and respected companies, Spartan and Rugged Maniac. Spartan attracts the CrossFit crowd while Rugged Maniac skews more female and more friendly. Rugged has done a better job of expanding beyond obstacle races by successfully acquiring more than 50 traditional running races. We reported a few months ago about the launch of Spartan’s trail racing series, but based on race results, it seems that Spartan is only drawing a few hundred runners for each event.
We expect Spartan to return its focus to its core offering, where it does a great job of wrapping a lifestyle and training regime around its events. Spartan picked up some of the Warrior Dash assets and offered to give free race entry to anyone who had paid for a Warrior Dash that is now canceled. It didn’t take long for Rugged Maniac to match the offer. Check out Rugged’s “Recess for Grown-Ups” video below to see if you’d like your sweat with a side of mud.
Minute 2: Should endurance athletes be taking ketones?
Reporting on a doping controversy at the Tour de France is like reporting on the sun rising in the east. It happens every day and it’s not that interesting. (Unless you’re there to see it firsthand.) But this year’s Tour also spotlighted ketones, a legal supplement that is now a hot topic among amateur endurance athletes. The Dutch team calls their ketone beverage a “miracle drink” that aids in recovery and endurance. It can improve performance by 15% and is WADA legal. Lance Armstrong highlighted the trend in his podcast on the tour, saying “Ketones are essentially the third fuel source. The body has fat, sugar and ketones… The taste is horrible, extremely expensive. But it’s gotten to a place where it’s less expensive and somewhat drinkable.”
If you’re thinking that “ketones” sounds similar to “Keto” (as in Keto Diet), you’re right. They both draw from the same principles. The Keto Diet calls for an elimination of carbs so that your body goes into ketosis, burning fat and ketones instead of carbs. Drinking a ketones supplement can get you to a similar place without eliminating pasta, bread and beer. Here’s a good recap of the potential for amateur athletes: “Should Runners Take Ketones?” Another interesting read here on how the Keto Diet was evolved from the Atkins Diet.
Minute 3: Profile in Courage
Back in May, we wrote about one athlete’s courage in standing up to the biggest brand in global sports. Allyson Felix risked her family’s paycheck by telling her sponsor, Nike, that it was not alright to lower compensation for their sponsored athletes if performances dipped temporarily following pregnancy. She went very public with her protest in May with this OpEd in the New York Times with the subtitle: “I’ve been one of Nike’s most widely marketed athletes. If I can’t secure maternity protections, who can?”
The folks in Beaverton, OR, were not too pleased with Felix, despite her 6 Olympic gold medals in track and a long tenure as a Nike athlete. Sensing an opportunity, Athleta, the women’s fitness apparel arm of the Gap, swooshed in to the rescue. They just signed their first-ever athlete sponsorship deal with Felix with a major media splash. No wonder Felix and her daughter are smiling in the photo below.
Minute 4: Gear round-up
We normally turn to Backcountry.com for our ski gear, but the site with the most street cred among outdoor athletes also has an excellent collection of running and training gear. Not only do they curate top tier brands, but they also curate top tier bargains. Here is a link to their best deals for endurance athletes and gym-goers. The whole site is promoting their semi-annual summer sale with 30-50% off top brands like Salomon, Prana and Patagonia. Their sister site, Steep and Cheap, serves up even bigger discounts with clearance items. If you asked us to pick just one wicked good bargain item, we’d probably have to go with these Patagonia trail shorts at 30% off. Ideal for your next swim, bike, run, hike or espresso outing. And no, we don’t get paid anything for promoting Backcountry, we’ve just loved their operating ethos and brand curation for years.
Minute 5: Quick Intervals
- We wrote last week about the most sizzling trend in food today – the emergence of vegetable-based burgers that actually look and taste like burgers. Outside magazine just turned up the heat by declaring that “This Is the Beginning of the End of the Beef Industry.” The stock market doesn’t seem to agree, however, as the Beyond Meat (Nasdaq: BYND) stock price has dropped about 25% this week.
- Cycling deaths have risen steadily over the past few years and 2019 is sadly on track to be one of the worst years yet, particularly in New York. From 2010 until 2017, cycling fatalities rose 25% in the U.S. While those tragedies used to involve mostly children, the average age of victims has risen to 45. A new report (“What’s Behind the Rise in Bike Fatalities?”) provides a surprising reason: a growing negative sentiment among non-cyclist drivers. In one 2019 survey, 55% of non-cyclist drivers rated bike riders as “less than human.”
- Sorry to continue on a morbid theme, but there was sad news in an Italian ultra running race last week as a Norwegian woman was struck by lightning. The tragedy occurred in the Dolomite Mountains at about 6,800 feet above sea level. Race organizers had ordered runners off the course 30 minutes earlier, but the woman was stuck between aid stations on the course with no safe shelter. Here is a list of the 5 most dangerous spots to avoid during a lightning storm.
Minute 6: Daily Inspiration
We just saw the new Tarantino film “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” (trailer here). Like most Tarantino movies, it was a little self-indulgent, but the rapport between the Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio characters was well worth the time investment. And like many Tarantino movies, there were some homages to martial arts films. We liked the scene featuring Bruce Lee, played by Mike Moh, a fifth-degree black belt in Taekwondo. Clearly, Moh is the real deal as an athlete which made us wonder about his workout regime. Wonder no more. The video below shows 6 workout moves that we can all use to change up our routine.
Get faster, get stronger, get inspired.