SportsEvents Magazine

MAR 2017

SportsEvents is edited for those who plan tournaments or other sports events.

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March 2017 50 When the Reebok CrossFit Games start- ed in 2007, few athletic competitions tested overall fitness. Sure, there were marathons, Ironman races and decathlons but nothing that included weightlifting, running, station- ary bike riding and gymnastic moves — all in one event. Today, the CrossFit Games, including a worldwide Open, has grown to be the gold standard in the field and it influences all other fitness competitions, said Justin Ber- gh, general manager of the CrossFit Games. But the fitness field is filling up. The Spartan Race also started in 2007 as The Peak Races. It has grown into one of the world's top obstacle race companies, holding more than 170 events in more than 25 countries with one million participants worldwide. Ninja Warrior is one of the older events. It started as a television show in Japan in 1997, touted as "the most difficult obsta- cle course on the face of the earth." The popularity of the "American Ninja Warrior" TV show spawned at least three dozen competitions across the country. Athletes leap, swing, climb, balance and bounce through an intimidating obstacle course. Growing Strong Fitness games are fast-growing sports, climbing from less than half a million par- ticipants in 2010 to more than 4 million in 2014. And the numbers continue to rise. In 2016, Eventbrite processed more than three million tickets for more than 15,000 endurance events. The Tough Mudder competition reported 500,000 participants in 2015 alone. The Warrior Dash obstacle race series is another well-known brand that continues to attract large numbers of participants. "Since 2009, Warrior Dash has had more than three million participants cross the finish line during more than 300 days of events," said Nicole Meagher, media rela- tions specialist at Red Frog Events, which developed the series. The number of races increased by 2,300 from 2014 to 2015, according to Running USA. "Adventure racing/non-traditional triath- lon and trail running were among the year's top trending outdoor activities," according to an Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) 2016 report. "Adventure racing, which includes tough mudder-type events, has seen growth of 21 percent in the last year and 10 percent growth over the last three years," said James Rein, manager of market and con- sumer insights for the OIA. In addition, OIA data showed that 11 percent of men and 10 percent of women surveyed participated in some type of CrossFit training and drills last year. That's a lot of athletes looking for ways to test their strength, skill and determination if not necessarily their speed. The growth in popularity is primarily because more people are doing CrossFit and experiencing great results firsthand, Bergh said. "They're becoming more fit and looking for new ways to share experiences with other like-minded people and to check in to see how they rank," he said. As a result, CrossFit Games has grown exponentially since 2007, Bergh said. "We've seen an increase over the past three years in the number of participants who have signed up," he said. Because registration just started for 2017, t SPORT Report After regional competition in May, athletes will head to the 2017 Reebok CrossFit Games at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison, WI, Aug. 1-6.

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