OBSTACLE SPORTS A BRIEF HISTORY

HISTORY OF OBSTACLE SPORTS

Early Races

708 BC Ancient Pentathlon: run, long jump, javelin, discus, wrestling

1040 Fell Running: 1.5-20 km, open terrain, many hills

1860 Steeple Chase: 3,000 m run + 28 barriers & 7 water jumps

1876 Cross Country Running: 4-12 km, open terrain

1912 Modern Pentathlon: fencing, swimming, show jumping, pistol shooting, track run

1946 Military Pentathlon Obstacle Run: 500 m + 20 obstacles

World Obstacle

The formation of an International Federation to represent the needs of athletes in “multisports” was first proposed in 1997 after the 3rd ESPN X-Games X-Adventure Race. The initiative went dormant in 2007 after the international television shows like the Eco-Challenge, and associated advertising, sponsorships and media left Adventure Racing. Joe Desena and Ian Adamson had collaborated on races since the 2001 Expedition BVI and rekindled the idea of an international federation in 2014.

World Obstacle, the Fédération Internationale de Sports d’Obstacles was founded in 2014 and formalized in 2018 to unify and develop Obstacle Sports worldwide, including Ninja Competitions, Obstacle Course Racing and Adventure Racing, to represent the athletes, and provide a pathway to world level competitions and international multisport games. The GAISF Council granted World Obstacle Observer Status in 2021 and this was transferred to AIMS Observer Status in 2023 after the dissolution of GAISF. This is regarded as a critical step for international federations seeking membership of the International Olympic Committee. The first OCR European Championships were held in the Netherlands 2016, the first OCR Asia-Pacific Championships were held the Philippines in 2018, the first Ninja World Championships were held in Moscow in 2019, the first medal events in a Games recognized by the International Olympic Committee were held at the 2019 SEA Games.

The first Altitude OCR World Championships was held on Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania in 2021 with World’s Highest OCR and E.P. Global Events. The Altitude OCR World Series and World Series Finals was added in 2022. The Adventure Racing World Cup series and World Cup Final were launched in 2021 in collaboration with Adventure 1.

A comprehensive, unabridged history of Adventure Racing with links and citations is available here.

Early Races

708 BC Ancient Pentathlon: run, long jump, javelin, discus, wrestling

1040 Fell Running: 1.5-20 km, open terrain, many hills

1837 Cross Country Running: 4-12 km, open terrain

1879 Steeplechase: 3,000 m run + 28 barriers & 7 water jumps

1911 Sea to Summit Mount Baker Marathons (Adventure Race, USA)

1912 Modern Pentathlon: fencing, swimming, show jumping, pistol shooting, track run

1946 Military Pentathlon Obstacle Run: 500 m + 20 obstacles

1968 Karrimor International Mountain Marathon (OMM, UK)

1980-1991 NZ Alpine Ironman (Adventure Race NZL)

1982-2004 WildTrek (Adventure Race, AUS)

1987- Tough Guy (Obstacle Race, UK): 12 km + 25 obstacles

1989-2008 Raid Gauloises Adventure Race World Championship(worldwide)

1995-2002, 2019 Eco-Challenge Adventure Race (worldwide)

1995-1997 ESPN X-Games X-Venture Race

1997- Sasuke (Ninja worldwide)

1997-2010 HiTec, Balance Bar & Muddy Buddy (Adventure / Obstacle Races, USA)

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