GOLD HILL, Ore. — Over a thousand athletes came to Southern Oregon on Saturday for the first ever Atlas Race. The obstacle run is from the Rogue Valley, but it’s already creating a foothold across the West Coast.
Barbed wire might not be everyone’s idea of fun…but don’t tell that to these athletes.
“It’s awesome, it was so much fun! There’s just non-stop action going on,” said runner Rose Wetzel.
Plenty of sweat, blood, and mud was on display at the inaugural Atlas Race. More than a thousand runners from the around the country came to test their mettle against a series of brutal obstacles.
“It’s just something you feel good about yourself. You cheer people on. You enjoy the weather, the environment. It gets you into a new town,” said Ben Sherwood.
The race is similar to other obstacle runs, like the Spartan Race or Tough Mudder, only this one started right here in the Rogue Valley. It’s an industry that’s exploding among athletes nationwide.
“Three years ago there were a hundred thousand people,” said Lance Landers, Vice President of Atlas Race. “This year there’s over four million involved in obstacle course racing.”
That’s a four thousand percent increase…and landers says it isn’t hard to imagine why.
“We had it figured out when we were children,” explained Landers. “We had it figured out that on the playground, we weren’t getting our exercises, and we were just playing.”
Throughout next year, the Atlas Race will be setting their playgrounds up all up and down the West Coast. Then it comes right back to Southern Oregon for the championship, something its founders hope will become a tradition.
“Once we start drawing from some of the bigger markets like Las Vegas, Seattle, LA, we’re going to be bringing those people right back here to Southern Oregon with us,” said Landers.
Its racers say they can’t wait to come back next year and a boring old run may never be the same again.
“If I’m going for a seven mile run, now I’m running through the woods and thinking, ‘Oh, I could do pull-ups on that tree over there.’ It’s like I’m done before I know it because I’m having fun playing like a kid out in the woods,” said Wetzel.