While we celebrate the few who are still able to deliver safe races in 2020, MudGear is both heartbroken and cheering for the race brands that are facing extra challenges during these already difficult times.
Since 2014, Epic Series has been one of the few OCR brands consistently delivering quality races on the West Coast. However, fun in the California sun also comes with its own unique set of challenges. MudGear spoke with the CEO, Casey Bateman, to see what’s in store for Epic Series OCR and whether they’ll be able to move forward with the October 31st race at Huntington Beach.
What will newbies notice and love about EPIC?
"Our Race is perfect for beginners and athletes new to Epic series. We offer less running and more obstacles; all of our events are between 3-5k total run length with 50+ obstacles. Each of our obstacles is adjusted and graded for beginner, intermediate and advanced. When you run Open Waves you can choose your own adventure; you can choose to go over the lower walls and lift the heavier weights or vice versa. Our competitive elites and age groupers do not get that option. The men will need to complete all advanced obstacles and women will need to complete all intermediate obstacles. For the New elites; we don't just put you through our obstacle course but we also throw you into our Functional Fitness Course which is 150 meters long with 10 different feats of endurance and strength to conqueror along the way including our famous truck pulls."
One of your taglines is “more obstacles, less running.” Why do you think that’s a valuable selling point?
"Our race stands apart from many of the other races which tend to be very run heavy. For the elites it can be a disadvantage for those who do not have a strong run background. You look at some of our competitor races and the top elites come from a strong run background. Our race wants to find the best hybrid athlete in the world. We want to test your run speed; we want to test your stamina; and we want you to pick up some very heavy stuff between sprints and show us what you are made of. The true runners of OCR struggle with our strength components where the true strength athletes still struggle at the speed at which you need to run to conquer our courses. We felt this combination took the advantage away from both sides.
"Four our beginner athletes, it can be daunting to have to run a 10k or further and not be able to complete many of the obstacles and receive penalties. We give them a chance to dip their toes in the OCR pond and build up to aspire to compete in our Age Group and Elite competitions as well as some of our competitors' other events."
Being based out of San Diego, are the fires on your mind daily? How are they affecting you and your team/events?
"Luckily in San Diego we are out of the way regarding the fires that have been going on. We had a staff member who lives nearby one of the fires that have recently been contained but he has been out of harm's way. The closest call we have dealt with regarding fires this season is we had planned to host a new formatted event Epic Fit Camp up in Shaver Lake on Memorial Day weekend, but due to state regulations we had to withdraw the event. Unfortunately, the states largest single fire ignited approximately 15 miles away from there the weekend of the event, and we would have had athletes and team members trapped at China Peak and be forced to evacuate by escort or helicopter. We are very grateful to hear that facility did not take too much damage, and we look forward to hosting an event there in August 2021."
Aside from the wildfires, the pandemic had already disrupted most of the country and definitely the obstacle course racing community. Are you confident that you can deliver a safe event (Huntington and others)?
"Our Team began building new safety protocols in May, and we believe we will be able to deliver a safe event. What we are running into in California is being under some of the tightest restrictions in the United States regarding live events. We take that as a blessing as we have built strong guidelines and protocols for in person events; but we also have to wait for clearance from the state and hosting counties to be able to move forward. At this moment our Huntington Beach race has been postponed to next year as well as our Fresno and San Diego events. We will come back stronger in 2021 with a plethora of new formats including our 'Beat The Elite' series which will take place within three of our Expo races as well as two new 'Fit Camp" weekends which will be a whole weekend on site fitness camp with the primary focus still being on our OCR races."
How do you keep the Epic community engaged during this downtime?
"We have been experimenting with a lot of virtual events including a last man standing every minute on the minute competition over zoom that brought in hundreds of athletes and lasted over 9 hours until we found a winner. We have been playing with different virtual races as well which has been great to keep Epic going during the pause in live events. Our Epic Live events are paused in taking registration until the End of October when we will have the full 2021 schedule available to our athletes."
Anything else you want to mention for potential racers?
"We stand with all of our athletes who have supported us through the years and we appreciate the continued support during this pandemic. Without you guys we would not be able to sustain. To our new athletes, thank you for your interest and we look forward to welcoming you to our events very soon! We are a race for everyone and we will challenge you all equally. Be strong, Stay safe, and Support one another. We will see you all next season."
We can't wait to tackle Epic Series OCR in 2021. Thank you, Casey, and best of luck!
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