Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) is still a relatively new sport so the exact definition morphs over time. Furthermore, with no governing body***, there technically is no official definition. Previously I tackled a similar topic in the article I wrote called “Is Death Race OCR?” and “Ninja, OCR and Adventure Racing: Three Different Sports?” With new types of events like DEKA FIT and HYROX the question has arisen again, so let’s dive into it.
I would define OCR as:
Races where an athlete moves along a fixed course mostly by foot and athletes are required to complete largely man-made obstacles (or their associated penalty), as well as some natural obstacles to reach a finish line located a known distance/time away.
DEKA FIT and HYROX both involve functional fitness movement and running for time. This is much closer to functional fitness (or the brand name CrossFit) then it is to OCR. Just as American Ninja Warrior (a brand) is the shortest form of OCR and we have Ultra-OCR with events like World’s Toughest Mudder, Conquer The Gauntlet Continuum and Spartan Ultra-Beast. Functional fitness has CrossFit (a brand) as its short form and events like DEKA FIT or HYROX as its longer form. HYROX is essentially endurance functional fitness, it isn’t OCR.
Does this mean we are going to see ultra-functional fitness with events lasting 6, 12 or 24 hours? If history has taught me anything it’s that almost every sport has an ultra-variant, so yes…I think we will. In fact, smaller brands like Flatline OCR have put on similar events that were 24 hours in length and a blend of functional fitness movements and obstacles truly blurring the lines.
Just because it has a Spartan brand name on it doesn’t make it OCR. Spartan also has a Combat line that covers wrestling and Jui-Jitsu. If we use the “it has a Spartan name, it is OCR” logic then wrestling and Jiu-Jitsu are now lumped into OCR too.
On the flip side if OCR World Championships starts a functional fitness event like HYROX will it be OCR? I would still say no, but it would be a cool addition to the weekend and possibly bring in more athletes to an already fun atmosphere. We have already seen a version of this with former Spartan Pro Cassidy Watton and Alexander Nicholas had an Epic Interval Training fitness competition at the base of Stratton during 2019’s North American OCR Championships.
I’m not saying it should be shunned or ignored but just because someone is good at OCR doesn’t necessarily make them good at endurance functional fitness, as we saw in the Spartan Games. There are always athletes that can make the transition well because OCR athletes in general tend to have a very well rounded set of fitness skills.
In conclusion, no I don’t think HYROX or Dekafit is OCR but rather an endurance form of functional fitness (i.e. CrossFit). Feel free to compete, improve your fitness and have fun, but it is a lot closer to CrossFit then it is to OCR.
***I’m not saying a lack of governing body is a bad thing, it allows for more diversity in the sport, but the lack of definition is a side effect of this. In fact, I think the way things are setup now with independent brands feeding into a combined championship provides the best of both worlds.