Introducing Mob™ Events, Part 1 – GM Eric McCue Dishes the Dirt

What exactly is a Mob™ event? It’s probably not a new concept to you; we simply coined a name to help describe it. Mobs can be anything—mud runs, obstacle courses, adventure races, costume chases—but what really defines them is that they are hyper social, they are often team-based, and they are a whole lotta fun.

The popularity of Mob events is growing. For example, take a look at these stats from January- May 2011 versus January – May 2012:

  • 72% increase in Active.com visitor searches for “Mob” related events
  • 162% increase in Active.com site visitors from Mob event online searches
  • 92% increase in Mob event listings on Active.com

This growing trend is something we wanted to stop and take notice of, which is why we are excited to introduce you to something new:

Check out the Active.com Mob section

To explain why we are extending what we do for all endurance sports to Mob events, we got some insight from the people who have the inside track on the market. In Part 1 of our two-part blog, we talk to someone who has been keeping a close eye on industry trends for years.


Q&A with Eric McCue, General Manager of Sports, Active Network

When did you first notice this Mob event trend? 

These types of events have been around for about six years and they started with mud runs. The genre didn’t expand and take off into different categories until about two years ago.

This is Active’s business – endurance sports map directly to our company and we spend a lot of time looking at the market. When you have your eye on it every day and you see such huge amount of participants flocking to these events, spotting a trend like this is easy. 

Why is it important to coin a name for Mob events?

Mass participatory sports have historically been defined by running, biking, and swimming. Events that include one or all of those elements are the ones that draw participants. Endurance events are typically individual efforts – someone basically signs up to see how much pain they can endure over a given distance.

Mob events have sprung from the endurance market, but you can’t put them into those traditional run-bike-swim categories. They are very social and largely comprised of groups of friends or teams. Their hyper-social aspect is how they are able to draw such big participation numbers. The biggest marathons in the world attract about 30,000 runners and it probably took those events years and years to build that base. Mob events can draw that number in their very first year.

Because Mob events are unique and they needed to be differentiated, which is why we coined the Mob name.

How do Mob participants differ from traditional endurance participants?

We are still doing research on this topic, but we have lots of anecdotal evidence that points to Mob participants being more casual and focused on having fun. For many, it’s the first event they’ve ever participated in. For example, the Color Run has a large portion of their audience using the Couch-to-5K training plan.

I think that Mob events are a physical manifestation of our gaming culture. People playing Call of Duty are going to register for the Spartan Race; people playing Doodle Jump want to do an obstacle race like R.O.C.  Mob events have a party-like atmosphere and attract people with the fun of it all.

Do you think Mob events appeal to a narrow demographic or is there broader audience?

Mobs have a way broader appeal than the traditional run-bike-swim event.  They are more accessible and less intimidating from the participant’s standpoint. From an event organizer’s perspective, it is much easier to put these events on. You don’t need to close down 26 miles of road, you can simply rent out a parking lot or large field.

Also, we see people who regularly participate in traditional endurance events using Mob events to pull their friends into activity. They get them to do a mud run and then convince them to try a 5K, half marathon, etc. Mobs can be a gateway to the run-bike-swim events.

Do you see this trend continuing to grow? Or will it plateau?

I think it’s got plenty of runway.

What do you think is important for Mob race directors (or race directors who want to incorporate Mob elements into their events) to know?

The most important thing for event directors to do is understand the genre. Mob participants are a different audience. Coming form an endurance background, you need to reevaluate your priorities. For example, it’s not important to have a scenic course, but it is important to provide a platform for participants to connect via social media. The notion of these participants being hyper social with a group mentality should permeate your entire event. Just make sure you consciously acknowledge that this is a different animal.

Go to Active.com Mob now to see what it’s all about!

Find out more about how Active can support your Mob (or help you include some Mob elements into your event) at www.ActiveEndurance.com.