Kickstarter – The New Frontier of Obstacle Races?

By on May 24, 2013

Kickstarter has made a big buzz in the news lately as high profile projects like Veronica Mars are using unconventional means to try to finding funding for their new ideas. This relatively new trend is called crowdfunding.

Kickstarter provides tools to raise funds for creative projects through their website. The site launched in 2009, and as of October 2012 there have been over 73,000 projects launched through Kickstarter. The projects range from films, comics, video games and yes – obstacle races. People can only back or invest in projects in exchange for perks like special treatment at an event, T-shirts, or collectible items related to the project they are funding. They cannot invest in projects in exchange for profit sharing or in no way to make money.

Projects are looking for investors of all sizes. You can invest in some projects for as little as $5.00. The different investment ranges offer different perks depending on the amount you are willing to put down for their vision.

In recent months several start-up obstacle races and OCR related projects have shown up on Kickstarter. Unfortunately the internet buzz around these have not necessarily been favorable. Questions have been raised on social media sites about these events.
“They must be shady.”
“How can we trust a new event that is panhandling for money?”
“How do I know they aren’t going to collect all this money and then disappear?”

Part of this fear and cynicism is from the handful of low budget races that have come, taken people’s registration fees, and then vanished without putting on an actual event. Or if an event takes place, it is poorly designed and safety becomes an issue. With the popularity of Obstacle Races and Mud Runs growing, it can become a breeding ground for some shady people to try to make a quick buck without really caring about the product they create.

But there are a lot of fantastic ideas out there, and not everyone has the money to make their dreams a reality. So this has become a way for those seeking investors to skip the pavement pounding or the grueling paperwork to try to secure small business loans.

Quality races can range anywhere from $20,000 and into the 6 digit range. This is not something most people have at their disposal, so they need to find investors to help fund their event. They now have an avenue to virtually reach out to thousands with common interests that can help make their dream a reality.

One example of this is 7 Summits Adventure Race. Their Kickstarter page promised to deliver challenges from the highest peak of the 7 continents into a 7 mile race. They were looking to bring more social networking into their race. That’s an interesting concept. Unfortunately their goal was not met, so the kickstarter project was not funded.

By looking at their website, they currently list 4 upcoming events that start June 29, 2013 in Seattle, Washington. So there is probably additional funding coming from an outside source.

This race will be one to watch. Their event has the potential of being unique to other races out there today. The creator is Brian Dickinson, an extreme athlete who has climbed on all 7 continents including a solo summit of Mount Everest. Brian created the 7SAR adventure series to elevate normal races to the next level. He obviously has the skills to maneuver through some of the world’s most difficult terrain. Only time will tell if he will be able parlay his success in climbing to create a successful obstacle racing series.

This is not the only OCR themed Kickstarter project. A quick search showed funding opportunities for an OCR Documentary, a new Urban Ninja Obstacle Race, and an online Obstacle Racing Magazine.

It will be interesting to see how many more Obstacle Racing ideas find their way to kickstarter. If you keep your eyes out, you may be able to say that you help fund the next big race!

About Laurie Hale

Laurie hosts a podcast with her husband called Getting Dirty with Daniel and Laurie. It is a bi-weekly podcast that focusing on the ins and outs of obstacle racing, interviews with race directors and tips and tricks to get you on your way to participating in your first obstacle race.

You can also catch up with Laurie at the Getting Dirty Blog where she writes about her obstacle race journey and other fun things related to obstacle racing.