Spartan Race is a series of obstacle races of varying distance and difficulty ranging from 1 mile to marathon distances. In 2012, they were voted Outside Magazine's "BEST OBSTACLE RACE". They are held in North America, Canada, Europe, South Korea, and Australia. The series include the Spartan Sprint (3+ miles of obstacle racing), the Super Spartan (8+ miles), the Spartan Beast (12+ miles), and the Ultra Beast (26+ miles - one of two marathon obstacle courses along with Mudderthon). Spartan Race also has a time-trial obstacle course race that is one mile in length, and has a military series in which obstacles are designed by the United States military. Spartan Race's parent company, Peak Races, hosts the Spartan Death Race, 48+ hour extreme test of endurance and resilience. ESPN describes the Spartan Race as "a true test of will."
Spartan Race was founded in 2001 by Joe De Sena, Mike Morris, Andy Weinberg, Selicia Sevigny, Richard Lee, Brian Duncanson, Shaun Bain, and Noel Hanna. Each has an extensive background in athletics, racing, and service.
The Spartan Death Race originated in 2004 as a seed for future Spartan Races and was founded by Andy Weinberg and Joe De Sena. The first Spartan Death Race was run on June 9, 2007 in Pittsfield, VT.
The first Spartan Race event was held in 2010 at the Catamount Outdoor Center in Williston, Vermont and represented the city of Burlington, Vermont. Roughly 500 competitors had to "run, crawl, jump and swim" and overcome a variety of obstacles at the first ever Spartan Race. All finishers received a medal and prizes were awarded to the top athletes—a precedent that lives on today.
In Aug 2012, Raptor Consumer Partners (RCP) announced its partnership with Spartan Races, investing a reported $10 million into the company, and with RCP's John Burns joining Spartan Race's Board of Directors.
In Jan 2013, Spartan Races partnered with Reebok, thus creating 2013's "Reebok Spartan Race Series".
In Aug 2013, Spartan Race announced that it's partnership with NBC Sports was leading to the sports first televised event. On Dec 7th, 2013, NBC Universal Sports will show a 90-minute televised taping of the 2013 Spartan Race World Championships, which has a $250,000 purse up for grabs.
While Spartan Races vary in distance from 1 mile to marathon distances, the obstacles themselves also vary and are unpredictable. Participants must complete the obstacles or perform burpee penalty exercises. Many obstacles are present at each Spartan Race. Unlike other companies, Spartan Race does not provide a course map or list of obstacle to their participants until race day. Frequently presented obstacles include:
- Fire jump: participants leap over flames. This obstacle is typically at the beginning or end of a race. The fire jump has appeared in nearly every Spartan Race, though certain venues do not allow fire.
- Barbed wire crawl: a crawl through mud under barbed wire. Participants must stay low to the ground as to not get injured by the wire. Crawls range from 20-100+ yards in length. The wire crawl has appeared in every Spartan Race to date.
- Over-Under-Through: a series of obstacles in which runners must first climb over a wall, then under a wall, then through a tire or square hole placed in a wall. This obstacle is often repeated three or more times in a row and appears in almost every Spartan Race.
- Spear throw: from a distance of 10-20 yards, athletes must throw a wooden spear into a target. If the spear does not stick, a penalty of 30 burpees is assigned. The spear throw is present at every Spartan Race with the exception of state parks that do not allow weapons. Typically, the spear throw is near the end of the race.
- Wall climb: as the name suggests, runners must climb over a wooden wall. Walls range from 4–8 feet and are often in sequence. This obstacle may be repeated throughout the course.
- Object carry: A signature obstacle, the object carry is often the most challenging. In a Spartan Sprint, this obstacle typically appears once. In a Super Spartan, twice; in a Beast, three times or more. The object to be carried may be a tire, rock-filled bucket, or sandbag. Both the bucket and sandbag weight between 30 and 70 pounds. Men must carry heavier objects than women.
- Herculean Hoist: athletes must hoist a cement block or heavy bucket off the ground using a pulley system. This obstacle is similar to the "lat-pull" exercise machine, but is more difficult because the rope is often muddy and slippery.
- Tyrolean Traverse: Spartans must traverse a single rope that is hung horizontally between two posts or trees. The rope is hung over a body of water, so if competitors cannot traverse the rope, they will fall into the water and swim.
- Traversal Wall: the traversal wall is similar to a bouldering wall.
- Slippery Wall: a wall built at an incline (roughly 45 degrees) that is covered in soap or grease. Runners may try to sprint up the wall or use a rope for assistance.
- Gladiator Arena: before the finish line, athletes must pass through the "gladiators" who try to knock down runners using their pugil sticks.
- Hobie Hop: Participants place a thick band around their ankles and hop through 20+ tires in a row
- Log Jump: Logs are arranged in a zig-zag pattern at varying heights and participants have to hop on them without touching the ground.
- Rope Climb: A rope is hung over a body of water/mud with a bell installed at the very top. Participants must "ring the bell" before climbing down.
A variety of other obstacles are also present at a Spartan Race, and obstacles relevant to the venue are typically present as well.
The Spartan Race website provides a subscription to a "WOD" or work out of the day for training advice.
"Spartans" can receive a trifecta medal after completing a Spartan Sprint, Spartan Super and a Spartan Beast in one calendar year (12 months from the date of their first race). A participant can earn multiple Trifectas in a given year by completing another set of events (Sprint, Super, and Beast), as of the 2014 season (Sept. 29th, 2013 - Sept. 28 2014) the number of Trifectas earned in that calendar year is denoted on the back of an individual's medal. Trifecta qualifiers travel long distances to their race destinations just to achieve this title.
Kids Spartan Races
Each Spartan Race features a Kids Spartan Races for children age 5–13. These races feature cargo nets, balance beam, and mud. The "Jr. Varsity" mini obstacle courses typically last ½ mile, with the "Varsity" children completing two laps to make a 1 mile course. Children who complete the courses receive finisher medals.
For the 2011 season Spartan Race announced it partnered with Homes For Our Troops, a charity dedicated to providing specialty homes for troops that have been severely injured. The goal of Spartan Race Inc. was to raise enough money in the 2011 season to build a "Spartan" home for soldiers who have been injured while on duty. Spartan races are a perfect environment for wounded warriors to test their limits and Operation Enduring Warrior is a charity that allows this to happen. A team of volunteers take injured troops to complete a Spartan race. At the finish line, participants and expectators can visit the charity booths and make donations or buy gear.
- Hobie Call
- Ropes course
- Sasuke (TV series)
- Viking: The Ultimate Obstacle Course
- Obstacle Racing
- Burlington Free Press Spartan Race in Williston
- Erik Olsen (Producer) (July 6, 2009). Surviving the Death Race (Video). Pittsfield, Vermont: New York Times. accessed October 7, 2011
- Homes For Our Troops