Profiles in Badassary - Matt B. Davis October 05 2014, 0 Comments

MudGear Profiles in Badassary is an article and interview series dedicated to documenting the incredible characters and stories that we come across in the world of OCR and outdoor adventure and endurance racing events.  They range from everyday heroes to extreme athletes but all have unique and engaging stories to tell. 

Meet Matt B. Davis, the founder and face of Obstacle Race Media, the premier destination for OCR news, reviews, and a top notch weekly podcast.

When did you decide to start the Obstacle Racing Media podcast and why did you feel like it was the right time? 
If ever there was a case of right place, right time, it is ORM. I did not have grand plans to take over OCR or much forethought at all. 
Here is what happened: After doing 5 or so obstacle races, I decided to go check out the Death Race in June of 2012. I left very inspired and something told me to start interviewing people in the OCR and Death Race world. The only other podcast about OCR at the time was the Spartan Radio podcast and web cast that lasted about 30 episodes and ended at the end of March 2012. 

What was the turning point for you that led you to start training for and competing in the much tougher events yourself like the Death Race?
After doing 40 or so obstacle races, I decided I wanted to do something different. I had watched Death Race and World’s Toughest Mudder from the sidelines and reported on them for the last two years. I figured it was about time I gave them a shot.

In just the past 3 years, the sport seems to have gone through phases from novelty to rapid expansion and commercialization, to some retraction and some consolidation.  What is your perspective on where we are in the growth cycle and where the sport is heading next? 
This is the billion dollar question right!?!? If any of us REALLY knew, then we’d really be onto something.  I agree that things are “settling” down after the boom/bust we just went through, but the one constant in OCR is change. New races pop up, old ones go away. The Big 3 constantly announcing new things and trying to stay ahead of the curve.

You've interviewed some great guests including top racers and race directors.  Do you have one or two favorite interviews that you just really enjoyed personally?
When I first talked to Ray Upshaw, people were fascinated by him. Ray is unscripted and may or may not be certifiable. I got the most questions about his episodes for a long time. 
I have done a couple of non OCR podcasts that were fascinating to me, but I am not sure the audience was into them as I was. I interviewed this music producer, Jason Pittman,  and his story is really cool. A few people said they didn’t like it cause it wasn’t racing related. Another is Richard Blais. I am a huge Top Chef fan, and he is the most famous person I have had on the show to date.  Again, we didn’t talk about running much and many people in OCR had no idea who he was.

The Death Race and World’s Toughest Mudder episodes are really my favorites though. I end up talking to 15-20 people over the course of 2-3 days so the events themselves are the real subject of the episode. They tell a pretty good story and are the closet thing I will get to This American Life.

For someone who has never listened to one of your shows, what episode would you direct them to try first as an introduction to your podcast? 
Usually I direct people to Episode 19 The Big One (Tough Mudder and Spartan Race). It was the first time I interviewed Joe Desena and the first time I talked to anyone from Tough Mudder.

It’s great to hear the different viewpoints from the two big companies. Also, listening to this episode from October 2012 is great to see how far we’ve come.

I also direct them to WTM and Death Race episodes as well. 

You seem to have a focus on the elite athletes and the die hard OCR community.  How did you choose them as your focus area, versus the subjects covered by other podcasts?
It’s been explained to me that most people in the community view Daniel and Laurie’s Getting Dirty Podcast as they “everyman” or “beginner” podcast and mine is more “elite” and “hardcore”. However, now that Ben Greenfield and Hunter McIntyre have their Obstacle Dominator podcast, mine seems quite tame and those two bros are hardcore for real. As far as what I focus on, I go back to the adage of if I find it interesting, the odds are the audience will to. Although, as previously stated, sometimes I am wrong.

What are your goals in 2015 for the podcast and for your races?
For the podcast: 
I want to keep providing quality consistent content for the podcast, website and social media for Obstacle Racing Media. The podcast itself I always want to do once a week, I have been inconsistent with that, but really want to make that happen again.
I appreciate my compatriots and competitors and am on great terms with all of them. I do want ORM to be considered THE source for news and information about the OCR world.
For my races:
I recently had a major life revelation at this year's Vermont Ultra Beast.  This means I’ll be much more choosy about the races I do in 2015, specifically the ones I travel for. If I had to predict, I would say that 2015 will be 15-20 (instead of 40) obstacle races. 1 or 2 50k races, and maybe a 50 miler. (No sufferfests though. -No WTM, No Death Race, No 100 milers.

Any passions outside of OCR?  What would others not expect to know about you?
For better or for worse, I am a pretty open book. My wife and 3 children are the most important thing to me. I talk and or post about them all the time. There isn’t much about me that people don’t know.