Following an extremely successful first Obstacle Discipline test event in Ankara, Turkey in late June, a second test event, the New Pentathlon Discipline Test Event II, was held at Bridgetowne Central Park in Manila, Philippines on August 6-7.
Whereas the first event brought in athletes from all throughout Europe, this event attracted more than 120 athletes from nine countries across Asia and Oceania. The weekend featured some of the best and brightest obstacle course athletes in the world, as it coincided with the Asian leg of the Ninja World Cup.
The New Pentathlon Discipline Test Event II course was hosted and produced by the Pilipinas Obstacle Sports Federation, and it was approximately 70 meters long. Racers had to overcome the following 10 obstacles:
1. Archer steps
2. Sonic swing
3. 2.0m A-wall
4. Double-tilting ladders
5. Balance beam
7. 1.5m wall
8. Ring swing
9. Giant steps
10. Warped wall
"It was a new and exciting thing to see pentathletes from nine different countries come together to take on an obstacle race," said David Watson, Spartan's VP of Product and Head of Sport, who was representing Spartan in Manila. "A crowd full of Spartan competitors and spectators, and the combining of all these historically different worlds — Olympics, Ninja World Cup, Spartan — was a very special thing for our industry."
Despite unforgiving heat, the atmosphere was electric over the course of the two-day event. Diehard Spartan fans made their presence felt, cheering on the athletes and this next chapter in the sport's history.
"Manila has been experiencing monsoon weather, so it was roasting hot and incredibly humid," Watson said. "Everything was soaked. Despite this, the music was pumping and the athletes couldn’t have been more focused and energetic. Our sport is growing, maturing, and delivering more opportunities for people around the world. All of these things are good signs for the future of the sport and for Spartan, and it only makes OCR stronger."
The Next Step: A Third Test Event on the Beach in Italy
With the New Pentathlon Discipline Test Event II in the books, the next step is a third test event in Lignano Sabbiadoro, Italy. Unlike the first two test events, this one will be targeted towards youth athletes. The New Pentathlon Discipline Test Event III, which will be held on a beach, is aimed at the next generation of modern pentathlete Olympians. Held in conjunction with the UIPM 2022 Youth World Championships (U19/U17), the third test event will take place on Sept. 9-10. The Obstacle Discipline test is expected to attract a significant number of elite teenage athletes, as 300 athletes from roughly 30 countries typically compete in the Youth World Championships.
"Testing the new sport will be an exciting experience that I will treasure along with the World Championships," said Italy's Annachiara Allara, who took home a silver medal at the 2022 European Youth Championships. "I'm really looking forward to it! I'm thrilled at the idea of climbing and twirling like an acrobat. I'd love to challenge myself out of my comfort zone."
This weekend will be a critical step in the path forward for obstacle course racing in the Olympics, as many of these youth athletes could end up being the face of the sport if and when it's featured in the Games.
“I believe athletes aged under 19 are the most important audience for the New Pentathlon Discipline process," said UIPM Athletes Committee Chair Yasser Hefny. "This is the generation most likely to be competing for medals in 2028 and beyond."
The beach course will be set up in collaboration with global governing bodies UIPM (Union Internationale de Pentathlon Moderne) and World Obstacle (FISO), Tokyo Broadcasting System Television (TBS), and Spartan Race.
UIPM is considering Obstacle Discipline for inclusion in the modern pentathlon event in the Olympics following the 2024 Games in Paris. Following the testing and evaluation phase, the UIPM Congress will vote on proposals for the addition of Obstacle Discipline. The revised format would then be submitted to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for approval, with the possibility of obstacle course racing becoming part of the Olympic program by the 2028 Summer Games in Los Angeles.