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Spartan Race is a series of obstacle races of varying distance and difficulty ranging from 3 miles to marathon distances. They are held in USA and franchised to 14 countries including Canada, many European countries, 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 military series in which obstacles are designed by the United States military. ESPN describes the Spartan Race as "a true test of will.
Spartan Race was founded in 2010 by Joe De Sena, Selicia Sevigny, Richard Lee, Brian Duncanson, Mike Morris, Andy Weinberg, Shaun Bain, and Noel Hanna. Each has an extensive background in athletics, racing, and service. De Sena, the only remaining founder who injected money, continued alone as the principal investor of the company.
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 August 2012, Raptor Consumer Partners (RCP) announced its partnership with Spartan Races, investing into the company. That year, Outside magazine named Spartan race the "Best Obstacle Race".
In January 2013, Spartan Races announced that Reebok had become its event title sponsor, thus creating 2013's "Reebok Spartan Race Series".
In August 2013, Spartan Race announced that its partnership with NBC Sports was leading to the sports first televised event. On December 7, 2013, NBC Universal Sports showed a 90-minute televised taping of the 2013 Spartan Race World Championships, which had a $250,000 purse up.
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, typically at the beginning or end of a race.
- Barbed wire crawl: a crawl through mud under barbed wire. Crawls range from 20-100+ yards in length.
- 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.
- Spear throw: from a distance of 10-20 yards, athletes must throw a wooden spear into a target.
- Wall climb: runners must climb over a wooden wall. Walls range from 4–8 feet and are often in sequence.
- Object carry: typically a tire, rock-filled bucket, or sandbag over a certain distance.
- Herculean Hoist: a cement block or heavy bucket is lifted off the ground using a pulley system.
- Tyrolean Traverse: traversing a single rope that is hung horizontally between two posts or trees.
- 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.
- Gladiator Arena: (Discontinued) before the finish line, athletes must pass through the "gladiators" who try to knock down runners using their pugil sticks.
- Hobie Hop: a thick rubber band is placed around the ankles and participants 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.
The Spartan Race website provides a subscription to a "WOD" or work out of the day for training advice.
"Spartans" obtain a Trifecta medal after completing a Spartan Sprint, Spartan Super and a Spartan Beast in one calendar year. A participant can earn multiple Trifectas i.e. Double Trifecta, Triple Trifecta etc. in a given year by completing another set of events (Sprint, Super, and Beast). As of the 2014 season, the finisher medal includes both the traditional circular medal and a "pie piece" -- one third of a larger Trifecta medal. Each pie piece is engraved with the year it was earned. 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 spectators 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
- Homes For Our Troops