Participants pack a month’s worth of adventure into a morning

 March 21, 2014, San Luis Obispo – The popular Checkpoint Challenge (formerly known as the Central Coast Adventure Challenge Sprint) is set to begin at 9:00 am on Saturday, April 12 at Santa Margarita Lake. Participants will navigate themselves on course, paddle kayaks in the lake, ride single track on mountain bikes, hike through the backcountry’s best trails and cliffs, while taking on team challenges and obstacles in pursuit of the finish line.

This event has been billed the top beginner adventure race by National Geographic Adventure magazine. “We suspended the race to pursue other events, but we’re hoping that the increased interest in mass events like mud runs will help bring back this race in  a big way,” said Yishai Horowitz, race director, “This is a great race for any ability – fast people will be tested just as much as new athletes. It’s designed to be finished in between two and fours hours. Adventure racing is so much more laid back, team oriented, and friendly than most organized sports– but with more excitement and discovery. So long as you can mountain bike and have decent endurance, you can do this, and have a great time doing it.”
The Checkpoint Challenge event is a hold out event in a weakened sport, replaced by mass running events with lower barriers to entry. Registration numbers show it has grown considerably since the last time the race was held thanks to the course accessibility and experience, but also because All Out provides kayak rentals and connects racers with bike shops in town for bike rentals – making it easier than ever to travel to the location for a taste of gorgeous San Luis Obispo County backcountry.


You can find out more at – registration prices go up March 31.


# #  #

If you’d like more information, or to schedule an interview with Yishai Horowitz, please call 805 720 1245 or email



Participants Will Travel Over 80 Miles By Bike, Foot, Kayak, and Rope in Course of Day

 March 21, 2014, San Luis Obispo – The 10th Annual Dawn to Dusk All Out Adventure is set to begin at 7:00 am on Saturday, May 10th in Goleta. Participants will navigate themselves on course, paddle kayaks in the ocean, ride through Santa Barbara streets and single track on mountain bikes, hike through the backcountry’s best trails and cliffs in pursuit of the finish line.


This classical format adventure race (as opposed to newly designed “adventure races” like obstacle course runs) draws top teams from around the country because of its consistent quality of course and execution and because of the cash prize offered – a rarity in the sport. The top three co-ed or all-female teams will receive checks for $1000, $700, and $300. All male teams and solos are welcome to race, but following classic rules, San Luis Obispo’s All Out Events seeks to reward co-ed teams for their work.


“Our athletes have compared this event to Ironman triathlons – they take that kind of endurance,” said Yishai Horowitz, race director, “but we’ve designed the course and rules so that an 11-year-old can do it – literally.” Conellan Coxwell had watched the events for two years before deciding to enter the event with her two younger sons – skipping optional checkpoints and having a support team (her dad) pick them up to cut the course shorter enabled her and her kids to have a fantastic race experience and finish, while top teams fought it out on a longer optional course for the win. This year we’re proud to have four teams from various California Wounded Warrior groups come out, along with many other active duty military racing alongside civilians.

“This is what triathletes do when they burn out,” said Horowitz, “Adventure racing is so much more laid back, team oriented, and friendly – but with more excitement and discovery. So long as you can mountain bike and have decent endurance, you can do this, and have a great time doing it.”

The Dawn to Dusk event is a hold out event in a weakened sport, replaced by mass running events with lower barriers to entry. It continues to grow each year thanks to the course accessibility and experience, but also because All Out provides kayak rentals and connects racers with bike shops in town for bike rentals – making it easier than ever to travel to the location for a taste of gorgeous Santa Barbara County backcountry.


You can find out more at – registration prices go up April 10.


# #  #

If you’d like more info

rmation, or to schedule an interview with Yishai Horowitz, please call 805 720 1245 or email


Some Event Production Tools We Recommend

cat watching people work

We’ve been working with two interns this Spring, and their energy is phenomenal. We’re not exactly old fogeys ourselves, but college students are bright, enthusiastic, and they’re very much up on new trends and techonology (and quick to adopt it). I cannot stress not only finding good interns but appreciating them and working to help them get where they want to go – you will, in turn, definitely reap the rewards. Here are some of our favorite event production management tools.

One of the particular programs that we use that they’ve been excited about is Asana. We started using it last year when a temporary employee showed us it, and it’s phenomenal. Asana is a web-based project management software for free for organizations up to 15 people – at which point you pay a totally affordable fee as your business grows. It’s easy to set tasks, deadlines, share ideas with team members, and collaborate through email or the site. It’s integrated with a number of other programs as well. You get a daily “deadline” report of things to focus on that day, and we never let anything fall through the cracks thanks to the program.

Another thing we rely on heavily are various Google apps(which integrates with Asana, btw). We use their email to archive and manage incoming and outgoing mail – their system is simple, easy to manage, etc. Google drive houses all of our collaborative documents that get used by all of our team – especially stuff we need to refer to fast when working with emails and calendars. The app program on your phone is actually more efficient than the desktop version, and it’s wonderful! We also integrate Google Calendar so that the team always knows what’s going on and we don’t plan things on top of eachother. A lot of this could be used with just Asana, but we took Asana on later so a little bit of work is duplicated, but the Google suite is amazing. I could go on and on.

Speaking of Google – we also use a powerful little add on in Gmail: Rapportive. This little tool links to info on the internet (specifically LinkedIn) and allows you to use your contact list as a customer relationship manager. You’ll get emails from people, be able to see what they look like, who they are, and where they live. Talk about making email personal!

Along the same lines (and something that also integrates with Asana) is Dropbox. Our company houses all of its mutually used files on Dropbox so that any team member can quickly grab what they need without us having to have a dedicated server and backups. The files are accessible from any computer (or phone), which makes it incredibly versatile and helps with us keeping a paperless office.

Speaking of paperless offices . . . I cannot recommend enough the Neat Desk. It’s a small desktop scanner that takes all your files and archives them automatically for you. You train it to learn and read your documents and you’ll have contracts, waivers, business docs, and receipts archived for easy referral whenever you need them – filing cabinets and event binders begone.

Whenever you do anything electronic, however, it’s important to back it up. That’s why we use Mozy. Mozy is a hassle-free, automatic way to ensure your hard files are covered should something happen (and we all know it does). And affordable, too!

What tools do you use to manage your projects?

“I’ve never been this destroyed!” – SB 2014 AR MTN BIKE SCOUT!

We passed by an old mine, with a shaft we could actually get up in if we had time.

We passed by an old mine, with a shaft we could actually get up in if we had time.

As you may, or may not, know, we were recently granted permits to host our ninth annual Dawn to Dusk race in the Santa Barbara area. Not only is the race in a new area, but we were able to swing a point to point course: it is a truly classic adventure race format. One of the best parts of having a new location to work with means getting off of Google Earth and physically scouting the area to discover the best routes for the course and checkpoint locations.

Our fourth scouting trip to Santa Barbara was designated bike course discovery day and started as most other scout days do with an early morning drive down highway 101, through wine country, fields of vegetables, and along the ocean. I was happy to have Ryan Tarver as my scout buddy today; his athletic resume is more than impressive with numerous 24 hour bike races,  strong finishes at adventure races against pro race teams, and he’s just an overall incredible athlete with a mind blowing VO2 max of 83 – take that Lance!

Tarver on the hike-a-bike.

Tarver on the hike-a-bike.

So it was Tarver and one of my best friends: “Horsey” – my carbon-fiber Trek Remedy 98 mountain bike, that Kristin, my wife and business partner, gifted to me after I literally rode my old bike into the ground last year. Big thanks out to Foothill Cyclery for the sponsorship that made its acquisition possible.

I always check the weather before departing, and this, like every other day in 2013 and what we have experienced in 2014, dry and sunny conditions with 0% chance of rain. Today was no different, however as we got into Santa Barbara a strange thing happened: spots on the windshield starting appearing and then with more and more frequency. Could this be rain? Why is my smart phone saying it’s sunny out? Can we ride bikes in the rain; will it melt us if we touch it? A quick call to Kristin, she takes a quick look at the weather radar and sees a small system moving through but shouldn’t drop too much water. Always good times when you add less than favorable weather into the mix – but it turned out to not be a big deal.

In order to keep the course secret until the morning of the race, I’m not going to go into too much detail of the route or specific distances, but I will say that this year’s course is really something special. Yesterday had all of the essential adventure ingredients including pain, suffering, technical terrain, amazing views, natural infinity pools and incredible creeks that still have flowing water, hike a bike, lots of route and navigation choices and, of course, a huge sense of accomplishment when finished.

Nature's infinity pools!

Nature’s infinity pools!

All in all, we spent eight hours riding all of the possible routes. When we finally made it back to the car, both of us were semi delirious, with me being much further gone, as we didn’t have enough calories packed for that distance. Our stop at Vons was a scene out of Half-Baked with two dirty guys walking kind of funny and picking up chocolate milk, cookies, kale chips, blueberries, and bagels for the long ride home before eating a large pizza by myself.

If you’ve signed up for this year’s Dawn to Dusk, thank you, and you’re in for an awesome tour of some of the best that Santa Barbara has to offer. If you’re on the fence, I would highly encourage you to sign up for our first foray into the Santa Barbara area. This race is doable but will put you to the test: the entire course is completely different and requires a high amount of self-reliance, teamwork and fortitude, but with the challenge comes the reward. photo 4

Interns for 2014 Season Wanted

All Out Events was established in August 2010 as a for profit limited liability corporation in San Luis Obispo, CA. Prior to that it was a sole proprietorship. Its focus is on human-powered outdoor events and its lineup for 2014 will include two adventure races, an obstacle course race, and a triathlon. Other opportunities to work with partner events will arise as well. All Out is committed to community service and gives a percent of its proceeds to non-profits. It self-produces and is available for hire if the right fit is met.
All Out Events has internship opportunities in the following areas:


  • Assisting in devising an ongoing marketing campaign for each event
  • Creating content for its blog and ebooks for download
  • Creating promotional videos
  • Designing and updating websites
  • Contacting various media and developing/sustaining relationships with them
  • Getting the word out to potential participants through grass roots means
  • Promotion of the event’s non-profit beneficiary


  • Developing and sustain relationships with companies for event sponsorship
  • Contacting local companies for sponsorship and vendor opportunities
  • Assisting in development of sponsorship packet and opportunities

Event Management

  • Operations – setup/takedown and management of the event
  • Volunteer recruitment and management
  • Festival development

All Out Events is looking for energetic interns who are self-motivated and self-starting. They should be enthusiastic about not only the sports involved but the products and non-profits they come in contact with. They must be committed to 10-15 hours a week and be available at least one day during business hours for a quarter’s length of time, with opportunity for extension of internship and paid positions.

Our event dates are: April 12, May 10, October 25, and November 2nd.

We are willing to work with any level college student and majors that best fit can include: business administration or marketing, communications, English, recreation administration, speech, journalism, etc. We are open to anyone who has a sincere interest in gaining experience in any aspect of this industry.

The internship is paid by day of event and not hourly, however opportunity exists for it to become a long term paid position in the future.

If you are interested in an internship with All out Events, please contact Kristin Horowitz at Please provide a resume and cover letter stating which positions would best fit you and why you feel your internship with benefit both of us.

The All Out Events Guide to Great Sporting Events : SLO-based All Out Events Releases Only Race Director Manual on the Market


January 1, 2014, San Luis Obispo – After ten years of adventure sports
race production on the central coast and nationally, All Out Events
owners Kristin and Yishai Horowitz have self-published an event
production gui

de. The book is available on Amazon and other markets in

both paper and Kindle form.
After a few years assisting others in project and writing blog and
magazine articles centered around common questions, the pair realized
that the quest

ions they were fielding from people all over the country
had no ready resource for answers.  “We’re excited to take our
knowledge of the industry and make it available in a wider format,”
said Kristin of the book, the third she has published to date.

The book is available in paperback on for $59.99 (buyers
can download

a Kindle version for free or pay $35.99 for an electronic

Electronic review copies are available to race directors, media, and
industry professionals on demand.

# #  #

If you’d like more information, or to schedule an interview with
Kristin Horowitz, please call 805 748 1478 or email

History of Obstacle Courses and Mud Runs

Tom Thomas' amazing photo of some of our work building this tyrolean for a 4-day AR this Sept. More photos here:

Maybe this kind of stuff will resonate with OCR participants looking for the next step in adventure and difficulty?

For those following the rise and fall of OCR (obstacle course racing): OCR didn’t come from nowhere – traditional adventure racing (AR) came up and saw the same growth and support in about the same time frame as OCR is (but with much smaller numbers of participants). Joe Desena of Spartan was a part of that world, as well. Here’s an article from 2005 about the impending failure of adventure racing: all reasons point to loss of sponsorship money.

We are one of the organizers left standing from the adventure race collapse that we’d say was official about three years ago when we went from one of many working as a coalition, to ourselves alone. There are only three other companies producing traditional adventure races on the west coast – one is a startup from last year, and as far as I know, all of us rely solely on racer entries to sustain us.

Interesting to note: “Everest wall” and the mud crawls and obstacles? Definitely were a part of the adventure race experience. The Spartan Death Race, too, was a tiny little “do this if you’re bored with AR” until Joe hit the jackpot in marketing and culture – and now it’s part of the fold (though it’s been around since 2007) and gaining popularity thanks to the support of the national OCR movement and Spartan’s excellent cultural marketing machine.

With obstacle races collapsing under the weight of the saturated market and huge cost to produce, many OCR professionals are seeing the writing on the wall – including Jeff Suffolk of Human Movement (The Color Run, Ugly Sweater Run, Dirty Girl Mud Run) in an interview for podcast. The same troubles that haunted AR are starting to climb into OCR. Suffolk says, “This will be a long, cold winter for the ‘knock off’ events (is a nice way to put it) . . . I do think we’re going to see an end of the saturation in 2014. I don’t think we’ll be surprised to see them go away. But I hope they don’t go away with people’s money.”

Is OCR here to stay, according to Suffolk, “I think some of the major markets will stick around for a long time, but you won’t be able to do it in every town in America like people do this year.  It’s definitely going to ebb and flow . . .” Sound familiar if you read the article from 2005 cited above?

As we produced quality AR events over the past ten years, we found more and more people unsatisfied with other AR event productions and carrying it over to expectations of our race, it really hit home when Suffolk said in the interview: “We do have a vested interest in making sure that participants don’t get burned, and that they want to stay in our industry and spend their money in our industry.” As one of the few west coast AR producers standing, we felt the same, and we’re in a unique position to now set the bar for AR as it continues.

Tom Thomas' amazing photo of some of our work building this tyrolean for a 4-day AR this Sept. More photos here: Maybe this kind of stuff will resonate with OCR participants looking for the next step in adventure and difficulty?

Tom Thomas’ amazing photo of some of our work building this tyrolean for a 4-day AR this Sept. More photos here:
Maybe this kind of stuff will resonate with OCR participants looking for the next step in adventure and difficulty?

With a renewed interest in AR palpable after our last mud/obstacle race, we’re looking to bring back our once-popular 2-4 hour sprint adventure race in 2014 along with our 12-hour race (that we believe is the biggest on the continent and growing every year) – there’s a much larger market that’s been built on the backs of champion marketers to capitalize on that wasn’t there when AR was a standalone race type. If you’re tired of obstacles and are ready to get out into the wilderness and push yourself to master not only burpees but multiple sport disciplines, there’s an option for you . . . and it may just see the resurgence that was hoped for ten years ago.

We hope that the OCR industry learns from it’s predecessors and finds a way to create a sustainable sport that’s with us for a long time to come. There’s value in almost every idea and execution, as long as it continues to be worth it for participant and producer.

It Takes a Village – the Mud Mash

SLO County Veteran's Outreach

Four years ago, we finally decided to act on a permit we’d submitted to the city of San Luis Obispo years ago but didn’t follow through on, and the Mud Mash was born. When we did it, we didn’t have a really solid idea of what we were doing with it. Was it a boot-camp style event that was growing in popularity then? To me, it seemed like people looking to challenge themselves really didn’t need to be yelled at by drill sergeants, so while our marketing had a heavily-militaristic style to it, our logo became a pig giving you a thumbs up (thank goodness for cartoons being able to give pigs hands). “Happy Pig,” as we call him, has guided the evolution of this event.

“Would ‘Happy Pig’ approve?” is always a deciding factor for us when deciding what to do with the event. This year, I think Happy Pig definitely approved. In the last four years, we’ve managed to understand what we’re building and what people want. And we didn’t do it ourselves. This morning, and all of last night, my dominant emotion at the end of the event, as everyone packed up and left, leaving the venue empty and silent, was gratitude.


Equipment provided by Arsenal and SCI

Gratitude starts with every email notification that arrives in my inbox from someone thinking what we were offering was worth it, putting money in the bank. Immense gratitude when we hit the break-even point and knew that this year, though our budget for marketing was light, was not going to be a loss.

Gratitude to the community of entrepreneurs we have here in SLO that helped us promote our events through postering, emails, and sharing the event on their Facebook page.

SLO County Veteran's Outreach

SLO County Veteran’s Outreach

Gratitude to organizations who wanted to build a real event within the Mud Mash, like the Veterans Outreach of San Luis Obispo County and the fitness studio Gymnazo.(Who arrived in “Mud Mash Finisher” shirts!)

Immense gratitude to the businesses who donated or severely discounted supplies and equipment (and in some cases, even labor) to cut an expensive event’s cost, making it sustainable even without big cash sponsorship behind it. Companies like SCI (sending us Craig, to both dig and fill in the mud pits), Arsenal, Central Coast Brewing, Trader Joe’s, and some who wish to remain anonymous.

1377063_10151937199735943_1807788804_nGratitude to our team, most of whom we know from SLO Op Climbing, our non profit climbing gym also built on the backs of supporters, who gave us long days, never complained about being sore or given a lame job to do, worked hard during the event (even taking a reactive punch from a guy recovering from getting taken out at the Pugil Pit finish gauntlet), and kept on going to take it all down. (Taking it down’s the worst – the glamour is gone.)

Gratitude to the land managers of the areas we took over for maintaining a good working relationship with us year over year and trusting us to take it to another level without damaging their property or opening them up to negative publicity.

Gratitude to people who set up booths, both making the venue more interesting and highlighting the relationship of our business to theirs, and making me feel really good about being able to help connect our community in so many ways.

Gratitude that SLO County Search and Rescue was there (they ended up being instrumental in helping an unrelated  and potentially major injury that occurred outside of our event) and gratitude that we had good medical coverage on course, both thanks to SAR, to SLO Ambulance, and to our staff’s quick and knowledgeable reactions to situations.

Gratitude to the legions of volunteers who maintained great energy, controlled their end of the course well, and contributed so much to the success of the event. Gratitude, also, to participants who saw needs when they arose and thought nothing of diving into the need and taking care of it.

Craig from SCI, building the mud pit.

Craig from SCI, building the mud pit.

Most of our events are based on tourism dollars – getting people to come in from other areas. This event, after making attempts to do that, is not about that any longer. There are big-name obstacle races out there that people will travel to thanks to their national scope, and it’s hard to compete with that as a single event. It’s our hope that the event will grow because of word of mouth that our event is something special, but today, I’m just so grateful to the community that came together to make this an event to remember.

Come what may, if you were a part of it as a volunteer, participant, vendor, sponsor, participant, or anything else I might inadvertently be forgetting about, thank you; thank you so much.

Conquering the 6 Foot Wall

Mud Mash X: super popular, well received, but the 10 mile course was too much for our team and we almost bankrupted because of it.

So we actually read the surveys we send out after events, and everyone mentions not feeling like they know how to execute the six foot wall.

We are happy to oblige.

Kristin (in black): Event producer and author of this blog

Yishai (shirtless): Event director, course and obstacle designer

Kelsey (in tutu): Volunteer coordinator, kayak mover, and all around excellent pinch hitter

Greg (banana): Operations director

All Out’s Approach to Obstacle Design

Fun facts about the current state of obstacle design for big and small races:

  • Insurance does not sign off on obstacle designs (though they can require disclosure of certain elements, like water travel)
  • The government does not sign off on obstacle designs (they are considered temporary structure and therefore under no controls for construction)
  • There currently is no association setting internal standards for obstacle and mud run course designs.

You read that right – it’s a largely non-regulated industry for the good and bad, and it’s up to to course designers to make courses safe enough for participants that these conditions don’t necessarily need to change. We at All Out Events believe there needs to be a unifying organization to ensure safety hazards are addressed – example? Valley Fever, a fungus endemic to much of the southwest and found in topsoil. With the advent of digging trenches, mud pits, and the like, very little, if any consideration goes toward preventing the spread of this devastating, sometimes deadly, infection. How many obstacle course racers will end up with this disease as a result of ignorance on the part of the race producers? Common sense isn’t common, especially when it concerns a quiet illness like this one.

Until there’s regulation, however, All Out Events follows a practice as if there was one:

  • Ideas for obstacles are fully vetted through experienced staff with regard to execution, difficulty, and impact on the budget
  • Ideas are sketched out in an AUTOCAD program (we use Google Sketchup) to determine size, scale, cost, materials needed, and feasibility.


    Google Sketchup design

  • We run it by a structural engineer (he calls our jobs “Fun-ginereering”)
  • We pre-build the obstacles and tweak
  • Construction of obstacles to specifications by professional construction crew
  • On race day, we maintain roving staff prepared to assess and fix the build as needed
  • On race day, we place volunteers with experience in determining issues and management (maybe limiting number of racers on an obstacle or calling our staff for a fix)
  • Reviewing the performance of our obstacle on race day, its ease of takedown and setup, and iterating its design until perfected for build out, takedown, budget, and racer experience. (Thus creating a “standardized” obstacle.)


Obstacle and Race Course Design Basics


582659_10150838016885943_2027163570_n“The greats weren’t great because at birth they could paint / the greats were great because they paint a lot.” – Macklemore

Whether you’ve run a hundred obstacle courses, volunteered at a million triathlons, or ridden a billion bike rides, if you weren’t looking at those experiences from the perspective of a designer, you have some homework to do.

Our experience tells us that course quality is not as important to a race’s initial success as marketing and branding are, but if you’re putting on a race you want people to remember and come back to, once that marketing and branding has them entered, the course does the rest of the work. It’s important to you, as a race producer, to make sure your course is something special.

How do you do that? Go to a lot of events like the one you’re building. Participate in them, but think about the choices the course designer made. Why this turn on this street? Why that obstacle there? Why am I running on dirt when there is a boardwalk ten feet away? Answer those questions. Become a student of your sport, not from an athlete’s perspective, but from the execution standpoint.

Courses are dictated by a number of things, including local and national laws, terrain, your audience, and available equipment.

When you set off to start an event, whether it is a one-off or a series, you’ll want to think about the best place to hold your event. “Best” can mean “cheapest” or “most beautiful” or “most epic” or whatever.

For example, we get a lot of calls asking us to consult or build obstacle course designs for budding race companies. The first question we ask is, “Do you have the budget for this?” Next, “Where are you trying to have it?”

People hosting events on private property often have a number of things in their creative favor: they can do pretty much anything they want (even skirting the laws about permitting, structure erection, and soil movement) because the odds are there that no one will call them out on it, they can make choices about whether that lawn can go out and become a mud pit, and they can take days and days to build out and take down the course – if they take it down at all.

Public land courses are a different matter: you have close oversight from the land managers, you need to be fully compliant with all laws as a result. You’ll have restrictions about what you want to do because the land manager’s job is to preserve the land for others’ use and for the environmental stability of the area.

Determining your restrictions, it’s time to let your imagination run wild! But keep these things in mind:

  • Can I afford to do it? (Obstacles, road closures, and venues come with a cost)
  • Is is safe? (What causes people to get injured on courses? If you don’t know, try talking to directors of similar events.)
  • Will it cause back ups or in any way disrupt the flow of the event? (Obstacle too small, turn too sharp, etc)
  • Will my audience like this? (Is it too easy, too hard core, too in the middle? Does your audience even like what you’re trying to build?)

The more experience you have with similar events, the more your mind will race with the possibilities. We highly recommend attending any and all similar events you can, even just as a spectator to build a repertoire for your mind. We get smarter and possibilities grow the more exposure we have. One of the things that has served us well as course designers is that we’re outdoor athletes first and foremost. We’ve put 10,000 hours of bike to road and soil, climbed thousands of peaks and problems, hiked forest and meadow, and that, paired with event experience helps us get creative.  Apply it all!

The most important thing, however, is just experience. Whether you work under someone or take it on yourself, building your course, running people through it, and then continually tweaking it for peak performance, getting feedback from your participants will teach you so much, too.

The greats really weren’t great because they were born that way, it’s because they painted, a lot. (And studied other greats.)