Joe De Sena

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Joe De Sena
Born (1969-01-02) January 2, 1969 (age 55)
Queens, New York
Alma materCornell University
OccupationBusiness owner
Known forCo-Founder of Death Race and Spartan Race
Notable workSpartan Up: A Take-No-Prisoners Guide to Overcoming Obstacles and Achieving Peak Performance in Life
TelevisionSpartan: Ultimate Team Challenge

Joe De Sena (born January 2, 1969) is the CEO and founder of Spartan and the Death Race.[1] He is also a NY Times best selling author of Spartan Up,[2] Spartan Fit [3] and The Spartan Way.[4]

Early life[edit]

Joe De Sena grew up in Howard Beach, Queens, with his mother Jean, a yoga aficionado,[5] and his father, Ralph was a business owner. De Sena built a small business around selling fireworks, and then a t-shirt sales business at a young age.[6] Joe later began a pool cleaning business while a teenager, where he earned 750 customers in his local area. Joe eventually moved with his mother and sister to Ithaca, NY, and four years out of high school he attended Cornell University. He eventually restarted the pool cleaning business and later sold it for $500,000. Following this, he began a career on Wall Street.[7] At a brokerage firm De Sena worked as an equities and derivatives trader[8] and engaged various outdoor activities ranging from multiple IronMan races, to the Iditarod by foot.[9]

Racing career[edit]

De Sena first became interested in long-distance events after gaining weight while holding his desk job, and trying to reverse the process through running the stairs of his apartment building. He later moved to Vermont in order to continue a private stock trading business.[7] He moved his family as well to Pittsfield, Vermont to operate a farm, a bed and breakfast, and a general store for hikers[10] that he purchased.[11] Here he became an ultramarathon runner and began to compete in other long-distance events.[12] This included athletic events like the Ironman and the Furnace Creek 508 Bike Race,[10] as De Sena competed in several hundred extreme races after moving.[13] In one year, De Sena completed fifty ultra events and fourteen Ironmans.[6]

Spartan Race[edit]

In 2000, De Sena's team became stranded in the Quebec wilderness during a 350-mile winter adventure race, when he had to dig himself beneath the snow to survive. It was here that he claims he made a distinction between "difficult" situations and "desperate" experience, and inspired him to create his own endurance races. De Sena decided to develop a new series of obstacle course races[11] and cofounded the Death Race. The first edition in 2007 saw only eight competitors, with three completing the race.[7] The original race is still held at De Sena's farm, where in 2014 only forty of three hundred entrants completed the race. He also hosts individuals at his farm for long-term personalized outdoor training.[11] In 2008 De Sena began the Corporation to promote endurance sports, including Peak and Spartan.[14]

In addition to running the Death Race[15] and De Sena founded the Spartan in 2009 as a less strenuous obstacle course test.[7] He is currently serving as the company's CEO.[16] In August 2012, the Raptor Group, an equity firm run by Jim Pallotta, invested in Spartan with John Burns from Raptor Consumer Partners joining the Board of Directors for Spartan. Spartan continues to grow and currently hosts more than 200 events in 40 countries across the world, with over one million annual participants.[17] The new venture began as Spartan Race unveiled a new stadium series of races beginning with Fenway Park. In 2013, Spartan Race expanded the stadium series to include CITI Field, Miller and AT&T parks.[9]


De Sena is a contributor to publications including Entrepreneur.[18] In 2014 he published the book Spartan Up: A Take-No-Prisoners Guide to Overcoming Obstacles and Achieving Peak Performance in Life,[19] co-authored with Jeff O'Connell.[20] In 2016 he followed up that book with Spartan Fit!: 30 Days. Transform Your Mind. Transform Your Body. Commit to Grit. No Gym Required.,[19] and in 2018 he added The Spartan Way: Eat Better. Train Better. Think Better. Be Better. De Sena is also the host of the Spartan Up! podcast, on which he interviews various public figures on their achievements.[21]


  1. ^ Webster, Donovan. "How Fitness Has Become the Secret to Multimillion-Dollar Success". Men's Fitness. Retrieved 2013-10-18.
  2. ^ De Sena, Joe. Spartan up! : a take-no-prisoners guide to overcoming obstacles and achieving peak performance in life. ISBN 0544570219. OCLC 898052856.
  3. ^ De Sena, Joe (2016). Spartan fit! : 30 days. Transform your mind. Transform your body. Commit to grit. No gym required. ISBN 9780544439603. OCLC 961282519.
  4. ^ De Sena, Joe. The spartan way : eat better, train better, think better, be better. ISBN 9781250153227. OCLC 1050871746.
  5. ^ "Is 'Spartan Race' The Next 'American Ninja Warrior'? Founder Joe De Sena Hopes To Replicate Success Without The 'Glitz' In New NBC Series". 2 September 2015.
  6. ^ a b "Why Spartan Race founder Joe DeSena is not your average Joe".
  7. ^ a b c d "Joe Hardcore". Archived from the original on 2017-09-07. Retrieved 2016-07-13.
  8. ^ Miller, Stuart (2011-06-21). "Vermont's Amazing, Grueling, Traumatic Race". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 2013-10-30.
  9. ^ a b Brick, Michael (9 June 2009). "You Created It, Tough Guy. So Let's See You Finish It". The New York Times. Retrieved 18 October 2013.
  10. ^ a b Baverman, Laura (11 January 2013). "Are you Spartan Race material? Prove it in a Death Race and you're hired". Upstart Business Journal. Retrieved 11 June 2013.
  11. ^ a b c Vigneron, Peter (10 June 2014). "Meet the Most Punishing Man in Fitness".
  12. ^ Rommelmann, Nancy (17 October 2014). "Mud, Sweat and Beers" – via Wall Street Journal.
  13. ^ "Q&A With Joe DeSena, the Founder and CEO of Spartan Race".
  14. ^ "Spartan Race: una carrera llena de historia".
  15. ^ "There's Something Called the 'Death Race' in Vermont".
  16. ^ Burns, Mark J. "Spartan Race CEO Discusses Brand Evolution, Overcoming Adversity And Obstacle Racing In The Olympics".
  17. ^ August 16, Wayne Havrelly |; Comments, 2018 5:30 Am | (2018-08-16). "This is Sparta!". Camas-Washougal Post-Record. Retrieved 2019-01-08.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  18. ^ Sena, Joe De (19 May 2016). "The Most Important Question for Any Entrepreneur, Period".
  19. ^ a b "Spartan Fit! – Joe Desena Book 2 Announcement". Obstacle Racing Media. 7 April 2016.
  20. ^ "Nonfiction Book Review: Spartan Fit! 31 Days. Transform Your Mind. Transform Your Body. Commit to Grit. No Gym Required". ISBN 978-0-544-43960-3. by Joe De Sena, with John Durant. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, (256 pp)
  21. ^ Murphy, Austin. "Q&A with Joe De Sena: On the Spartan Race, his recipe for success, more".