Spartan Racing borrows its name from the great warriors who defended the Greek city-state of Sparta and were made famous by the movie 300. The Spartan Race as we know it today was one of the very first obstacle course races in the world, and has grown to be one of the major players in the industry. Spartan Race was founded by Joe DeSena in an attempt to bring a new type of adventure race to a wider audience.
How Did The Spartan Race Get Started?
Before there was Spartan Race, there was “Death Race.” Death Race was the first race put on by DeSena and co-creator Andrew Weinberg in 2004. Death Race was a 48-hour event held on DeSena’s farm in Vermont, and garnered national attention for it’s insane race requirements and the fact that very few people ever “finished” the race.
In 2010, DeSena launched Spartan Race as a way to provide the thrill of adventure racing to a wider audience.
Owners, Investors, Sponsors, Branding
Who Started the Spartan Race?
Spartan Race was founded by Joe DeSena in 2010, who is also the acting CEO. Prior to Spartan Race and Death Race, DeSena owned a number of small businesses, including a fireworks business and small t-shirt company. Lee Goss is acting President since 2012. He is the formet COO of Yankee Group Research, and was a Division 1 basketball player. Other board members include John D. Burns and James Scott English.
Spartan Race Sponsors and Branding
In 2012, Raptor Consumer Partners invested in Spartan Race, and Reebok become the title sponsor a year later. Along with the title sponsorship, Reebok has come out with a line of Spartan products, including shoes, apparel, training equipment, and other products. There is even a training certification that allow one to become “Spartan SGX Certified” and lead official Spartan Race Workouts. Even Daily Burn has a Spartan Fit program designed to get you ready for races.
Universal Sports, a division within NBC, has run a series of Spartan Race television programs, including The Spartan Race World Championship Series and Spartan: Ultimate Team Challenge.
Spartan Race History and Growth
The first Spartan Race was held in 2010 on Joe DeSena’s farm in Vermont, and had a total of 500 finishes. That year, there was only one distance, a 5k. Matt Medeiros and Grace Dufree were the men’s and women’s champions.
After 2010, additional locations and distances were added. The standard lineup of Spartan Races include Sprint (3+ miles), Super (8+ miles) and Beast (13+ miles). It didn’t take long before races were held internationally, and a Championship was created that was held in Vermont, near where the original Spartan Race took place. In 2012, Spartan Stadium Series emerged and brought the excitement of Spartan Race to world-famous venues like Fenway Park, Citi Field, and AT&T Park.
Spartan Race Growth
Since its beginnings, Spartan Race has seen tremendous growth. In 2015, 1 million people participated in a Spartan Race for the first time in the company’s history. That year, there were 120 events spread across 20 countries. 2016 and 2017 saw a growth in participation, as well as new venue locations and the emergence of the Hurricane Heat, a 12-hour endurance race, as well as the Spartan Race Ultra Beast (26+ miles of obstacles). The 2017 Spartan Race Ultra World Championships were held in Iceland in December 2017.
In 2018, Spartan Race has plans to introduce “Spartan Race Agoge,” a training program that will challenge participants with physical and mental obstacles. It will include endurance events, intellectual challenges, and teamwork. Spartan Race Agoge will be a 60-hour test of grit. 2018 will also feature the Global Championship Series.
Spartan Race vs Other Obstacle Course Races
Spartan Race is one of the major international obstacle course race series that take place every year, alongside other giants like Warrior Dash and Tough Mudder. Spartan Race has the most international races of any race series (Warrior Dash has the most within the United States), and more formats than any other race series. The Spartan Race obstacles are also unique to Spartan, and are unlike those that you’d find in other race series.
Spartan Races, although difficult, can be great races to introduce anyone to the world of OCR. Spartan Race is the only series that requires “burpee penalty” for obstacle failure, so make sure you get comfortable doing burpees before running in a Spartan Race. Make sure to also check out our Spartan Race Checklist and OCR Beginners Guide before running your first Spartan Race.