An unfortunate series of events led to the cancellation midway through the latest Monster Race in Devon on Sunday 17 March and the fallout looks to have forced the liquidation of the organisers. With more than 200 obstacle course races (OCR) listed in the 2018 calendar, where does this leave other promoters and potential participants in this increasingly popular genre?
Perhaps we should start by attempting to define an OCR. The definition used by one website is that the term 'Obstacle Race' includes anything from an extreme trail run to a full-on fest of ice baths, electric shocks and water slides. In other words, anything that makes use of natural hazards and/or extremely challenging man made obstacles.
These races are not cheap to promote or to enter due to the cost of constructing ever more exhilarating obstacles and the essential safety elements that must accompany such hazards. The Monster Race at Escot Park, Ottery St Mary, near Exeter was bedevilled by deteriorating weather conditions and a serious medical emergency involving a spectator. The organisers decided not to delay later start waves due to the extreme cold and cancelled the event part way through the race.
The subsequent statement by Monster Race on their facebook page
includes: “This is a hard post to write. Unfortunately having to cancel last weekend’s Devon event has crippled us financially”. The post continues to explain that the organisers are unable to offer refunds or transfers, explaining that each event is reliant on entry fees to pay for upfront costs with no reserves to meet such an unforeseen eventuality.
While some comments on social media are extremely supportive of the organisers there is some anger that the prospects for refunds look bleak. One positive theme that has emerged is the idea that entrants for events with high risk factors like OCR could be offered cancellation insurance at an extra cost with their entry fees. After all, this is commonplace in many other walks of life from booking show tickets to hotel rooms, so why not races?
Should event cancellation insurance be the responsibility of the promoters? Would that make it prohibitively expensive to organise the more hazardous events such as OCR? Could organisers of these events collaborate and use their combined buying power to reduce costs? If individual race cancellation insurance was an option what would be a reasonable fee and would it be taken out by many entrants? Let us know what you think.