Spartan 2020 US National Series Schedule

We’re barely through the 2019 Spartan Season and already the talk about what’s to come in 2020, continues to heat up. So far we’ve seen Spartan’s new medal design, finisher shirts, and a more standardized approach to race distances.

If you’re already in the planning stages for your 2020 season, you’re in luck. Spartan has released the 2020 US National Series venues and dates, so get those airline miles and AirBnB bookings ready!

2020 US National Series Changes

Similar to last year, the season kicks off in Jacksonville, FL with the Super on February 22nd, 2020. The second stop will be Seattle (Super) on April 4th as it’s been since 2017. Saraland, Alabama was a one and done and has been removed from the National Series, presumably after issues with “cell coverage” and low attendance numbers.

Montana is part of the National Series again with its first time back since 2016 with a Kalisepell, MT Beast on May 2nd.  At the turn we’ve got the newly upgraded Utah Beast on July 18, before finishing … somewhere. While the fifth race isn’t confirmed according to the graphic released, we’re taking a guess at where it will be.

2020 USNS Full Schedule

Saturday, February 23 2020 Jacksonville, FL SPRINT
Saturday, April 4, 2020 Seattle, WA SUPER
Saturday, May 3, 2020 Big Fork, MT SUPER
Saturday, July 18, 2020 Huntsville, UT BEAST
Saturday, August 29, 2020 Glen Jean, WV* BEAST

* The 5th race on Spartan’s schedule is currently listed as “TBD”. This is our best guess with current available information

North American Championship Venue Change

West Virginia was the home to the Spartan North American Championship in 2018 and 2019. That moniker will now move west to Lake Tahoe where competitors from the US and Canada will battle for the title of North American Champion on September 26th, 2020.

So if Lake Tahoe is the North American Championship for Spartan, where will the World Championships be?!?

Stay tuned, true believers. Stay tuned.

UPDATE 11/15 5:39am EST: Spartan has released a new graphic updating the schedule which calls out that Jacksonville’s race will be the Sunday Sprint as the first race of the National Series. Montana will be a Super and will also be on Sunday.

 

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Spartan Announces New Standardized Distances in 2020

In January of 2019 David Watson, VP of Product at Spartan talked with Matt B. Davis on the Obstacle Racing Media podcast about changes that were happening in the 2019 season. They talked about the US National Series and qualification guidelines for athletes. During that conversation, Watson also teased a change to the distance of Super events in that conversation.

Spartan then sent out surveys to participants in May of 2019, asking their opinion on the idea of changing Super distances from 8+ miles to a more standard 10K distance.

Standardization – Good or Bad?

We’ve heard the word “standardization” a lot this year – most notably around standardizing the obstacle set that would be at each race distance. Spartan has now gone live with their next iteration of standardization beginning in 2020 – Standardizing the distances of events.

So the 2020 Spartan events now look like this:

Sprint / Stadion 5K
Super 10K (formerly 8+ mi.)
Beast Half Marathon (21K)
Ultra 50K
Trail 10K / 21K

The Spartan website has not yet been updated to reflect these changes. We have seen the 2019 Spartan medal preview however, which removes the word “Sprint” altogether, in favor of the new 5K distance.

View this post on Instagram

@spartanrace New Sprint Medal!

A post shared by Obstacle Racing Media (@obstacleracingmedia) on

Why the Change?

Spartan’s reasoning behind this change was two-fold; First, the distance is much more recognizable with other running events all over the world. Second, according to Spartan, surveyed participants wanted this change. They wanted “less running and more obstacle density.” It also will help first timers, and Sprint participants to step up easier to a Super as their next achievement.

Personally, I like the change if for no other reason than it makes sense in terms of effort vs reward. Supers are now twice as hard as a Sprint, and Beasts are now twice as hard as Supers. That makes sense. Also, any move to the metric system is a positive move.

Feedback from the Fans

The real question is – what do you think about the change? Social media exploded with both positive and negative comments in regards to the change. Looking at the Instagram post announcing these changes, we’ve got a few examples of how people feel about a 10K Super distance:

“I LOVE it! 🙌” says Spartan Pro Nicole Mericle

@isaac__88 disagrees by stating “Super should of stayed at 8 miles. People that want less should find other races or step their game up!!”

@aka_rhino seems concerned about his or her apparel consistency going forward, “Glad I got my 8+ mile super in so my hoodie is true to its word!”

At first it definitely seemed that the overwhelming opinion was against the change, but there has been a large amount of support for the change recently as well.

Let’s hear your thoughts – How do you feel about Super’s being moved to 10K distance?

 

Spartan Elite Qualification Process for 2020 Season

 

Are you fast enough to qualify for elite? – Click here.

Click here for Spartan 2020 Season Pass. Open, Age Group, Elite.

When Spartan “released” the 2020 Season Pass details, one Pass was notably missing from the lineup. The Elite Season Pass came with the caveat that competitors would need to qualify to run in the Elite Wave in 2020. The details around that qualification process have been released.

TL;DR (too long, didn’t read AKA Cliff’s Notes):

  • Elite Waves are gated for races after January 1, 2020
  • Each application requires a one-time payment of a USD $30 fee
  • Application will be opened on or before 10/31/19
  • CRITERIA
    • One or more top 3 finishes at Spartan events in the Elite and/or Age Group category within the previous 24 months
    • One or more top 10 finishes within the Elite category at any regular season Spartan event within the previous 12 months
    • One or more top 5 finishes within any Age Group category at any regular season Spartan event within the previous 12 months
    • US$2000 or more of lifetime prize money earned to date in the Spartan Elite category. (International Prize money will be converted from local currency to USD based on current exchange rates)

Here is the official information is from the Spartan Zendesk site:

NEW for 2020: Elite Category Qualification Requirement

In the interests of continuing the growth of Spartan OCR as a truly competitive global sport, a competitor may no longer register for any Elite category heat (or purchase an Elite Season Pass) without first meeting qualifying criteria listed below. This rule applies to all Elite category heats globally starting on January 1st, 2020. 

Any Elite competitor already registered for an event on or after Wednesday, January 1st 2020 must complete the qualification process or will be moved to the Age Group category. Competitors who are automatically moved may apply for qualification at a later date.

​Elite Category Qualification Application Process

Any prospective Elite category competitor, whether a prior Spartan participant or not, may submit an application for Elite category qualification via spartan.com (submission details coming soon).

Each application requires a one-time payment of a US$30 fee, payable to Spartan HQ upon application submission. This fee covers program administration and processing and is non-refundable in the event of application rejection.

Successful applicants will be emailed a unique Elite Qualifying Code (EQC) which will be good for the remainder of the 2020 season. This code must be input each time the competitor registers for an Elite category heat, or chooses to purchase an Elite Season Pass.

Denied applicants will have 7 days to dispute their decision without having to repay the application fee. Any disputes after 7 days will require a new application and application fee.

​Elite Category Qualification Criteria

To earn an Elite Qualification Code (EQC), a competitor must be 14 years of age or older as of Wednesday, January 1st, 2020 and meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • One or more top 3 finishes at Spartan events in the Elite and/or Age Group category within the previous 24 months
  • One or more top 10 finishes within the Elite category at any regular season Spartan event within the previous 12 months
  • One or more top 5 finishes within any Age Group category at any regular season Spartan event within the previous 12 months
  • US$2000 or more of lifetime prize money earned to date in the Spartan Elite category. (International Prize money will be converted from local currency to USD based on current exchange rates)

Elite Category Automatic Qualification

On December 1st, 2019, the top 30 male and female athletes from certain 2019 championship series and events will be automatically sent Elite Qualifying Codes (EQC) via email, which will be good for use throughout the 2020 season. These athletes do not need to separately apply for an ECQ. 

The eligible events for automatic EQC qualification are:

  • All 2019 National & Regional Series, final leaderboards
  • All 2019 championships, final leaderboards
  • The 2019 World Championship, 2019 Trifecta World Championship, and 2019 Ultra World Championship, final leaderboards.

In addition, all members of the Spartan Pro Roster and selected athletes at any HQ designated Spartan Combine event, will be issued an Elite Qualifying Code (EQC) and do not need to submit an application.

Spartan 2020 Elite Qualification

​Downgrading from Elite Category

An Elite competitor with an EQC may freely choose to register for, and compete in, the Age Group or Open categories at any event globally.

Click here for Spartan 2020 Season Pass. Open, Age Group, Elite.

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2020 Spartan Season Pass Info Released

Spartan teased the information for the 2020 Season Passes earlier today.

The Season Pass has always been a popular choice amongst Spartan enthusiasts to get the most bang for their buck. This year, Spartan is including even more with their Season Pass (for even more USD).

The Elite Season Pass is also changing for 2020 – Elite competitors will have to qualify AND apply to run as Elite. The Season Pass will be fully gated, meaning you will not be able to sign up before submitting qualifying information

Season Passholders Receive:

  • Unlimited US Races (Includes Spartan Trail)
  • 50% Discounts off Spartan Ultra & Agoge events
  • One (1) Spectator Pass per event
  • Multi-Lap Discounts
  • Passholder T-shirt
  • Passholder Hat
  • Passholer Jacket
  • 10% Merch Discount at all races

How to Sign Up For Spartan Race Season Passes:

Open Wave Season Pass Sign Up
$799 

Age Group Season Pass Sign Up
icon$999 

Trifecta Pass

$349 – Any Wave for Stadion, Sprint, Super, and Beast.

2020 Elite Season Pass: Article here on Qualifications & Application process.

Some of the links that ORM uses are affiliate links. They help pay for our operations. However, all race and product reviews are independent, and our opinions are our own.



Spartan Announces 2019 Path To One Million $ – Is It Achievable?

Spartan CEO and Founder Joe De Sena today announced a $1 million prize, part of the largest purse in Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) history, to elite athletes competing in Spartan’s three World Championship events in the 2019 season.

Notably changed in 2019, is how you win the $1 million prize. In 2018, athletes needed to win all 3 Spartan World Championships – The Spartan World Championship in Lake Tahoe, CA. The Trifecta World Championship in Sparta, Greece and the Spartan Ultra World Championship in Iceland. After Jon Albon’s victories in Lake Tahoe and Sparta, the eyes of the OCR world followed him as he took on Iceland, only to drop out before reaching the 100-mile mark needed to claim the million dollar prize.

In 2019, Spartan has developed a new points-based system to cash in on Joe D’s new generous prize purse. The payout field is much deeper this year, awarding cash to not only the top 30 Elite athletes but also this will be the first time that cash prizes are also awarded to athletes competing in the gated age group categories. It’s clear that Spartan is looking to bolster the fields for the 3 premier events on their calendar this year.

Spartan Prize Payout System

Now, this excitement aside, the question still remains – Is the $1 million prize achievable?

If you don’t win Tahoe and Sparta Greece, the chance that the answer to that question is “yes”, is minute at best. Ryan Atkins, regarded as one of the premier endurance athletes of our time, won Iceland last year, with just over 80 miles complete in 24 hours.

That distance would have only landed him $1,500 under this new system, regardless of how well he did in the previous 2 events. Jon Albon would have gone home empty-handed in Iceland, failing to make a qualifying distance.

What the athletes are saying:

The best in the sport of OCR are still a bit tenuous about how achievable this million dollar prize truly is:

Jon Albon: “Let’s see how Tahoe goes first”

Ryan Woods: “I’m not the caliber of OCR athlete to contend for the newly announced bonus money but I’m extremely excited to see how this chase for a million plays out.”

Ryan Atkins: “I’ll show up in Sweden ready to run as many miles are my feet will let me, regardless of the prizing structures. Ultimately, our bank accounts will be at the mercy of the course designers who will have the final say in everyone’s mileage.”

Rea Kolbl: “It’s exciting that the new challenge this year allows more flexibility, but whether or not it’s achievable really still depends on the course set up in Sweden which we won’t know ahead of time.”What if there isn’t a winner?

What makes 2019 more interesting for athletes is if someone doesn’t win the million dollar prize, your payout could be even better. Spartan has instituted a backup payout scale, that doubles the payout for athletes who finish in the Top 10. This gives athletes not named Albon, Atkins, Webster or Mericle even more incentive to attend each Championship event.

Wild Card Athletes?

Spartan says they are inviting all manner of athletes from OCR, swimming, hiking, biking, triathlon, and more to step out onto the Spartan race course. To qualify for events like Tahoe, Sparta Greece, or the Ultra World Championship in Sweden, Spartan athletes will have to jump through some hoops.

How will a non-OCR athlete hope to attend with these hurdles in place? Joe De Sena added the fine print: “We reserve the right to use some wild card slots for athletes outside of our sport.”.

OCR Goes Mobile – Spartan and Tough Mudder Launch Mobile Apps

You’ve got an app to order your morning latte. You’ve got an app that brings pizza, tacos, beer, and countless other noms to your door. You’ve got an app to purchase flights, rent cars, or book an Airbnb. So why don’t you have an app for OCR?

You soon may – and from a few familiar brands.

Openfit Partners with Tough Mudder

Tough Mudder is already helping people tackle their fitness goals with their Tough Mudder Bootcamp gyms which have popped up in a handful of states across the US. This week they’ve also announced a partnership with Openfit, an all-new digital streaming platform that integrates fitness, nutrition, and wellness together in one place. They’ll be hosting Tough Mudder’s 30-day On Demand fitness program dubbed – Tough Mudder T-Minus 30. The program promises to prepare participants both physically and mentally for their next Tough Mudder event.

2-time TMX Champion Hunter McIntyre leads the 30-day program which will focus on strength, endurance, speed, and mobility. New customers can sign up for a 30-day free trial of Openfit, and a 12-month plan for under $80.

More info on Tough Mudder’s T-Minus 30 is available here.

Spartan Fit

Not to be outdone, Spartan also announced a new mobile app with a focus on building a healthier workplace. SPARTANFIT will launch this May with a challenge that will see companies face off for a donation to the charity of the winner’s choice.

SPARTANFIT focuses on helping employees complete wellness activities over a set period of time. The app contains hundreds of SPARTAN videos on providing instruction on forming good habits, teamwork, food planners, and workout plans. Spartan’s goal is to help HR teams make it easy to motivate their workforce and focus on corporate wellness.

Joe De Sena’s goal of wanting to “rip 100 million people off their couches to help build healthy lifestyles across the world” continues – with the SPARTANFIT app extending that goal to corporate employees as well as fitness enthusiasts.

SPARTANFIT does not appear to have a monthly or annual subscription. Interested companies can get more information here.

Competition Is Fierce

The fitness industry has countless online, mobile, and home-based solutions for would-be fitness enthusiasts. Companies like Peloton, Daily Burn, Nike, MyFitnessPal, already have a foothold in this space. Hollywood superstars like Chris Hemsworth have launched their own apps to capitalize on our obsession with body image. A search on the App Store yields almost infinite results for fitness-based app solutions.

Have you used one of these apps before?  Would you be more likely to use a fitness app created by your favorite OCR brand?

Let us know in the comments.