Extreme obstacle races such as Tough Mudder and Warrior Dash have surged in popularity in recent years. They test strength, stamina and teamwork in a fun – and often muddy – outdoor environment.
Problem is, these obstacle races are geared toward adults, not children. (For Tough Mudder and Warrior Dash, you must be a minimum of 16 and 14 years old, respectively, to compete.)
That’s where Chris Harris hopes to fill a void. He last year launched The Blitz Events (theblitz.events), which will host obstacle races for kids between the ages of nine and 17 years old across northeast Ohio. Races are scheduled for May 16, June 20, July 11 and Sept. 12.
Harris, 57, talks with Name.Kitchen about his new fitness venture and why its name embodies the mission he has for the kids who participate.
Why start a new business now?
At this stage of my life this is, I’m not ready to retire. [My wife Kathy and I] like fitness. We like activity. We’re not sedentary. So, it really kind of blended nicely with the ability to work in our local community, put on something that no one else is doing in our community.
Why extreme obstacle races?
We’ve taken the idea of sort of capitalizing on the popularity of obstacle course racing, and we now are targeting the youth market. Obstacle course racing is still relatively new in this country. It’s probably only four-and-a-half years old. Events like the Warrior Dash can pull in somewhere between 12,000 to 15,000 people per day at each event that they host.
But we’re very small. We’re a startup. Warrior Dash, Mud Mudder, those are huge, million-dollar-plus companies. This will be the first event [in May] that we have put on as our company, The Blitz Events.
What can kids and parents expect with your inaugural obstacle course races?
We want it to be a family bonding experience. We want parents to run with their kids. There will be a variety of things to kind of test the kid’s strength and fitness and endurance, balance, strength.
Describe the experience.
There will be things like climbing walls. There will be cargo net climbs. There will be mudslides. There will be balance beams. There will be these crawl-unders where you travel 20 feet, and you’re crawling under some netting through the dirt and grass to get to the other side. There will be hurdles.
And it's a competition?
Actually, it’s a non-timed race. In the end, we want the accomplishment of finishing the race to be its own end result, which is why we’re not timing it.
Why is that important?
I want to be able to reach the kid who maybe eleven or twelve years old who’s sitting at home on his Play Station who’s not a good enough athlete to play a varsity sport. He’s thinking, “Should I try out for the baseball team? No, I don’t think I will because I’m not good enough and maybe I’m a little overweight.” That’s the kid I want participating in our race. I want that kid. I want to get him out from behind his video game and say you know what, getting fit can be a fun experience.
So there’s an overall health and wellness mission atop the fun.
We want to do our part on a local level to softly communicate the messages of good health and wellness to our runners. We’ve partnered with the American Diabetes Association because we are trying to promote fitness, nutrition, health and wellness as part of our daily lives for kids. One in three kids born after the year 2000 will have a strong likelihood of developing diabetes in their lifetime. It’s a huge problem, as is childhood obesity.
Let’s talk about that name, ‘The Blitz’ – where did it come from?
My wife and I were sitting around talking about the concept of the obstacle course race for kids, and we wanted a quick, fast name. I threw out threw out ‘The Blitz.’ And she kind of looked at me, and we sort of said, “You know what, that could work.”
Just like that?
We did not go through like, “Oh, let’s throw out ten names and try to figure out which one we like.” It happened quickly, and it was the one that we both agreed sort of achieved our goal.
Which was what?
It’s a very quick, easy, memorable name.
It also evokes another popular sport.
To most people today, ‘blitz’ is mostly equated with a football term. When people talk about football and they say there’s a blitz, it means that there are additional people attacking the quarterback.
How does this also work for obstacle course racing?
There are a lot of things conveyed with the word ‘blitz’ that tie nicely to an obstacle course race. It’s a high-action word. It means motion. It means strength.
Taking the business name online, how did you learn about ‘dot-events’ [.events] as a domain option?
The woman who was helping us, a little small, local marketing agency here in Akron, she did some research on domain names. We couldn’t get ‘theblitz. com.' That was already gone.
She said they’re starting to see domains that no longer end in ‘dot-com,’ ‘dot-net,’ ‘dot-org,’ ‘dot-us’ -- and she said you could do ‘theblitz.events.'
What was your initial reaction to that option?
It just makes sense. Our company name is The Blitz Events. The name of the actual race that we put on as Blitz Events is ‘The Blitz.’ So using and having the accessibility to ‘theblitz.events' as the domain name just made sense.
But you had wanted a ‘dot-com’?
Now it’s so ingrained in people, the whole ‘dot-com’ thing. I remember early on in my career, there was no Internet. It didn’t exist. Then we had this kind of huge transformation. Now when you try to get away from ['dot-com'] — it’s like anything else in business — you’re spearheading a new movement that is a very ingrained part of our culture.
As your spearheading this new domain naming movement, where do you hope to take your new business?
I think that the natural progression would be going from our northeast Ohio communities which is really Akron, Cleveland, Canton markets. And if we’re successful in getting this going and really building some traction then I’d like to take it throughout the state of Ohio. But we want to start out small and we want to do it right because that’s the most important thing is regardless of how big or small it is, these first events that we do they have to be run seamlessly.
To learn more about this business and to register for The Blitz obstacle course races, visit theblitz.events.