Featured Obstacle Course Race (OCR): Savage Race

A pioneer in obstacle racing, Savage Race has been holding OCR events since 2011. Eleven events are planned so far for 2016. Recently, Savage Race was recognized by Inc. Magazine as the 266th fastest-growing private company in America.

Sam Abbitt and Lloyd Parker are the creators behind Savage Race and the race series is poised for continued success in the coming years. Obstacle Race World is grateful to Sam Abbitt and the Savage Race team for the following interview.

Sam Abbitt, Savage Race CEO

Sam Abbitt, Savage Race CEO

ORW: Who were the founders of Savage Race? What were their backgrounds before starting the series? 

Abbitt: Savage Race was co-founded by Sam Abbitt and Lloyd Parker. Sam is a Florida Certified General Contractor, and holds both an MBA and a Master of Science Degree in Building Construction from the University of Florida.  Prior to co-founding Savage Race, he built high-rise hospitals in Central Florida.

Prior to co-founding Savage Race, Lloyd worked as a project manager for a development company. His focus ranged from land development for subdivisions to building commercial buildings, office parks, and more. Both have received Orlando Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 award.

ORW: Tell me a little bit about your race series. What is unique about Savage Race? Who is it best suited for? 

Abbitt: Savage Race, an Orlando, FL based premier obstacle course race featuring the world’s best obstacles, hosts more than a dozen events across the middle and eastern United States each year. Savage Race is a true test of courage and teamwork as thousands of participants push themselves to their limits to defeat over 25 jaw-dropping obstacles forged with 65 tons of steel and drenched in 1.5 million gallons of water and 60,000 pounds of ice. Savage Race participants across the country train hard to complete the 5-7 mile race that tests stamina, strength, agility, and mental grit, culminating in victory stories and muddy hugs passed around amongst strangers and friends alike.

Savage Race has an incredibly high concentration of obstacles over the perfect race distance, making it appealing for competitive athletes and casual racers alike. Our sheer number of obstacles per mile really sets Savage Race apart from other race companies. We’re focused on providing a great experience for a wide range of athletes. Our non-competitive heats draw families, student groups, corporate teams, and more, and our elite SavagePRO heat appeals to the best in the industry.

Savage Race Start

ORW: How many participants did you have in 2014? How many since the race series started? 

Abbitt: In 2014, we had approximately 40,000 participants and project around 55,000 in 2015. We’ve had approximately 83,000 since the series started (2011-2014). We’ve also had approximately 166,000 attendees since the start of Savage Race, which includes participants, spectators, kids, etc.

ORW: What do you think are some of the challenges and opportunities for growth for the sport of obstacle racing?

Abbitt: The biggest challenge for the sport of obstacle racing as a whole is consistently delivering a quality product that appeals to a diverse range of participants. With a handful of major players in the industry, standing out from the crowd can be tough. But when a company doesn’t over-promise and under-deliver, like we’ve all seen happen from time to time, standing out isn’t so difficult. Making sure growth doesn’t trump quality is also a challenge, but the best companies in the industry understand the importance of that fact and grow at a pace they can sustain.

Opportunities for growth and expansion abound, as there is always room to develop existing markets in addition to expanding to new markets. As we reach more and more people who get excited about the sport of OCR, and as that loyal fan base grows, so does the credibility of obstacle course racing. For some, it becomes their sport of choice, and for others, a great way to stay in shape and have fun with family and friends. The more people incorporate OCR into their daily life, the easier it will be for companies in the industry to grow and expand in to new areas.

Savage Race cliff

ORW: Any predictions for OCRs in 2016? 

Abbitt: We believe that the OCR industry is here to stay, and that it will continue to evolve throughout 2016. The sport isn’t the same as it was in 2010, and it won’t be the same in 2020. Obstacle course racing, mud runs, etc. have become much more mainstream in the United States, and the people who have fallen in love with the sport will continue to support it for years to come. It’s certainly not a passing fad.

We also believe that there are more barriers to entry for new OCR companies than ever before. There’s a lot of brand power amongst the existing companies, and it’s tough to catch up to that. Even more important than brand power, though, is the quality of the event. The quality has to remain high in order to attract participants back over and over again. We hear all the time that our participants are back for their 3rd, 4th, or 5th race and these loyal fans will help sustain the sport of OCR as it continues to grow and develop in the coming years.

Savage Race 3

ORW: Is there anything else you would like to share about Savage Race?

Abbitt: We’re very honored to be recognized as a significant part of the obstacle course racing industry. Over the past 5 years, we’ve seen the sport evolve and develop, and our passion for what we do has only grown throughout those years. We’re looking forward to the future and we’re excited about where things are heading for both Savage Race and the OCR industry as a whole.

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