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.

2019 Race Season Preview: Savage Race

It’s 2019 and that means it’s time to start planning another year of racing. What better way to decide which company gets your hard earned dollar, then by taking a look at what all of the major players will be offering participants in the coming year.

This is the second preview in a 4-week series looking at the 2019 obstacle course racing season.

Savage Race

When you talk about OCR brands, there’s always a conversation about “The Big 4”. And those four are Spartan, Tough Mudder, SAVAGE RACE, and well… the fourth spot is interchangeable. But if there is one race that is primed to challenge for best OCR experience in 2019, it’s Savage Race. Why? Well let’s look at the east coast based powerhouse that is Savage Race

Obstacles

Piece of Queso. Colossus. Shriveled Richard. Chopsticks… and so much more. The obstacle names are just as creative as the obstacles themselves at Savage Race. Want innovation? Want creativity? Savage Race is swimming in it, being awarded “Most Innovative” and “Best New Obstacle” in 2018. Savage isn’t afraid to bring monstrous obstacle builds with them wherever they go. Staples like Twirly Bird, Wheel World, and Davy Jones Locker ensure that Savage tests your body and mind with every race course you step foot on.

Savage was also one of the first companies to put the obstacles at the forefront of their customer experience. Want to see what you’re in for? They’re all on the website to check out. You can see them all listed here. They’ll even list the completion rate for them!

Look for more new obstacles coming in 2019 as well. Savage is constantly upping the bar with obstacles year after year.

Savage Blitz

In 2018 Savage Race announced the addition of Savage Blitz. An obstacle-packed 3-mile version of the Savage experience. The rollout and availability of the Savage Blitz in 2018 were, as all things Savage, slow and methodical. Or in OCR industry terms… smart.

For 2019, the Savage Blitz course has been added to EVERY event weekend now. Savage Blitz is a fast, heart pumping, quad burning all-out sprint through Savage’s signature obstacles with its own custom finisher shirt and medals. And the Blitz counts towards your Savage Syndicate achievement – more on that shortly.

Savage Pro & Blitz Pro

I’m not entirely sure why Savage Race doesn’t get more credit for it’s Savage Pro wave because they are dishing out cash faster than Bob Barker in a Showcase Showdown. Every Savage Race event and every Savage Blitz now offers incredible Podium Awards:

1st Place: $1,000; Gold Medal; The Savage Axe (Yes, an actual mounted Axe)

2nd Place: $500; Silver Medal

3rd Place: $250; Bronze Medal

Age Group awards are offered as well, which don’t carry a cash prize, but do offer Gold, Silver or Bronze medals to the winners.

Savage Pro is mandatory obstacle completion. Which means you’ll get to re-try any obstacles you fail, but you can not continue in the Pro Wave until you complete them. Can’t do it? Give up your band, and you’re done for the day. But for Savage Race veteran Yuri Force, the Pro Wave has been a great way to stuff some money in his pocket. And with 13+ events in 2019, the total purse across all Savage’s events tops $45,000.

Medals & Finisher Tees

It’s worth mentioning again that Savage Race has already taken home a handful of awards – those awards are Best New Obstacle; Runner Up – Best OCR Race Director, Bo Burton; Best North American Race Series; Most Innovative Race Series; and Best Mid-Size Race Series. Why they also didn’t win Best Medal is beyond me. Look at these things:

As if the Savage Race and Savage Blitz races in matte black and blue/green weren’t good enough, you’ll also get a sweet mirrored finish Savage Syndicate medal once you’ve completed any two events on the year. You’ve got Savage Axes, coins for additional races, and a ton more glorious looking bling to take home from your Savage experience..

Summary

Savage Race is doing OCR right. Their methodical approach to growth, use of community feedback, and incredible obstacle design have helped Savage position itself as a strong competitor in this industry. We didn’t even mention their partnership with GORUCK at certain events! I can only say good things about Savage Race, the event, the obstacles, and the community.

I’ll be at the Maryland event in early May this year, so if you’re in the area and you want to watch me shake with fear and cry atop Davy Jones’ Locker, you know where to find me.

Now I know what you’re thinking West Coasters: “Why hasn’t Savage Race come out west?!” Well… because the founder, Sam Abbitt, knows what he’s doing. He’s not going all BattleFrog on us. Trust us when we say, a trip to a Savage event is well worth your time and hard-earned dollars.

Take it from Sam. I mean just look at this guy.

2019 Race Season Preview: Spartan Race

It’s 2019 and that means it’s time to start planning another year of racing. What better way to decide which company gets your hard earned dollar, then by taking a look at what all of the major players will be offering participants in the coming year.

This is the first preview in a 4-week series looking at the 2019 obstacle course racing season.

Spartan Race

With over 200 events in 40 different countries, Spartan Race has solidified themselves as the top dog in Obstacle Course Racing. So how does Spartan keep it “fresh” in the new year? Let’s take a look.

Obstacles

OCR is nothing without the obstacles. And in 2019, Spartan has finally admitted that it’s time for some innovation in this space. Joe De Sena once took the stance that he didn’t want to be the company trying to release 2 or 3 new obstacles every year “like those Orange guys” but it becomes quickly clear that after 2 years without something “new”, the time is right.

Spartan announce in October of last year that they are bringing SIX (6) “new or updated obstacles” to their events in 2019. We’ve seen at least one of those obstacles – The Helix (video below) – confirmed by Spartan. The other’s have been rumored. Mike Morris, Spartan’s VP of Production referred to one as “The Egg Beater”, which may be this – seen in Spartan Malaysia in early 2018.

Other possible additions to the 2019 obstacle lineup could be the Irish Table that we saw at the Spartanburg, SC and Central Florida Beasts. The Great Wall, a variant on the current Stairway to Sparta could also be in the mix this year.

David Watson, VP of Product for Spartan Race, also made mention of different “modes” for obstacles in 2019. Modes are, as he explained, a different setup for obstacles depending on the course and distance you’re competing in. The Spartan Rig in a Sprint may be made up of all rings, whereas the Beast Mode (see what they did there?) will include Rings, Ropes, and Bars. These modes could impact obstacles such as the Monkey BarsHercules Hoist, and even Olympus.

Finish all of those “new and updated” obstacles? You’ve got one final challenge before you jump the fire. Spartan is bringing back the Gladiators to select events in 2019. So while training this off season, be sure to practice your fancy footwork, if you don’t want to fall victim to a mud-covered pupil stick.

Spartan Trail

Not a fan of the new obstacles? Spartan has got you covered. After a couple test runs in Virginia and Los Angeles, Spartan is rolling our a 12 event Trail Series in 2019. The Trail Series has been met with tenuous responses from would-be consumers but Spartan has already ensured a captive audience by announcing that Spartan Trail races would be included in the Spartan Season Pass.

Spartan Trail will offer a 10km and 21km option, depending on the venue, with prices ranging from $65 to $95 and include a finisher shirt and new teal Spartan medal.

Stadion Rebranding

Thousands of competitors have gotten their start at Spartan Race at a Stadium event. The short-form Sprint style event hosted at iconic locations such as Dallas’ AT&T Stadium, and Boston’s Fenway Park, is getting an upgrade in 2019.

Spartan proclaimed that the Stadium event was no more, and thus, Stadion was born. What is a Spartan Station event you ask, and how is it different? Well beyond the claims of “going back to its roots” and offering competitors “new challenges and ancient traditions”, we only know that Stadion events have claimed the color yellow for its medal and finisher shirt, but little else is known.

In 2019, “It’s ON like StadiON” (copywrite Josh Chace – all rights reserved)

Elite & Age Group Competitive Series

One Series to Rule Them All

Planning on visiting all the Stadion events in 2019? There’s a series for that. Mountains your thing? There’s a series for that. In 2019, there’s a series for any type of Spartan Racer out there. The one Series probably most anticipated, and most polarizing, is the Championship Series – leading up to the World Championship on September 29 in Lake Tahoe, CA (for a 5th straight year).

The World Championship is the culmination of a National Series season consisting of 5 (US) races ranging from February in Jacksonville, FL to July’s Utah finale. The Regional National Championship is next (in West Virginia for the US) which all helps filter the sports best athletes in to Lake Tahoe for a first-time Sunday World Championship event, where the eyes of the world will watch Jon Albon claim another Spartan top spot, before moving on to win the $1,000,000 purse. Yes, that’s a bold prediction. It would be great, wouldn’t it?

2019 Spartan Championships

Age Group Revisions

New for 2019’s Age Group competition, is the announcement that the 30-39 and 40-49 will be broken up into 5-year increments. Long overdue, the 30-34, 35-39, 40-44, and 45-49 waves look to be some of the most competitive of the year.

Need full details on how to qualify? Matt B. Davis interviewed David Watson and broke down the full qualification paths here.

Medals & Finisher Tees

Let’s be honest. Few things drive obstacle course race enthusiasts to sign up for an event, quite like a well-designed finisher medal.

I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves:

The 2019 medals are updated all around. And while opinions have varied, Spartan gets high marks for a wholesale update to the medal lineup, including this amazing variant available to Winter Spartan Race finishers

And lastly, to go along with your fancy new Spartan Race Medals, there’s new Craft design, finisher T-shirts, complete with … branding! You’ll now be a walking, talking, Spartan, Craft, Rakuten Billboard.

Summary

If you’re a fan of Spartan Race, there’s a whole lot to be excited about in 2019. From new obstacles to updated medals and tees to an all-inclusive competitive series, leading up to Championship caliber events to finish off the year. Spartan looks to be the most well-rounded branding once again, heading into their 9th year in the industry.

Interested? Sign Up Here

Tailwind Rebuild Review

Tailwind Rebuild
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On race day, my pack always has a few standard items in it – Gels (gross), a Snickers bar (because I’m not me when I’m hungry), Honey Stinger waffles, and a few other selections from the roadside service center on the way to the race. In my hydration pack? Water. How boring. Sometimes I may get a little wild and throw some Pedialyte in there for taste, but it wasn’t until last year that I learned about Tailwind. A product that can make staying hydrated on the mountain easier, and tasty, all at the same time? I was all in.

Earlier this year, Tailwind released Tailwind Rebuild – a “patent-pending perfectly complete protein” to help athletes recover after an intense race or workout. Anything has to be better than my tradition of gorging on Wendy’s cheeseburger and fries. So I decided to give Tailwind Rebuild a try after a particularly grueling stretch of races this Spring.

Tailwind Rebuild Features

A “Perfectly Complete” Protein  – Tailwind Rebuild uses organic rice protein, combined with healthy fats and carbs to help shorten your recovery time after a strenuous workout, or race.

All Natural – Tailwind Rebuild is non-GMO, gluten-free, vegan, soy & dairy free, making it an ideal recovery solution for athletes of any kind.

Great Tasting Flavors – Tailwind Rebuild is available in Vanilla and Chocolate flavors. If you’re a fan of chocolate milk – you’ll love the chocolate version. It goes down smooth in a bottle of water, and tastes amazing. Me? I prefer the Vanilla flavor – it’s an easy to drink, healthy alternative to thick shakes, or sugary sports drinks.

 

Tailwind Rebuild Usage

In the month of May I competed in five events, over the course of four weeks – Ragnar Relay Cape Cod, the Boston Spartan Sprint, the Austin Super, Montreal’s Sprint & Super Weekend, and finally the Ohio Beast. Rebuild was in my bag in each of those events, and was a great addition to my race day recovery plan. After my night time Ragnar leg, Rebuild was a quick (and delicious) drink that wouldn’t sit heavy in my stomach for the remainder of the event. At the scorching hot Austin Super, Rebuild over a shaker of ice water was a refreshing treat. And after the Ohio Beast, I was craving chocolate – and Rebuild was a healthy (and yummy) way to cap off a 13 mile sufferfest.

Tailwind Rebuild Durability

Normally I wouldn’t discuss the durability of a consumable – but I do have to give credit where it’s due. Tailwind’s Rebuild and Endurance Fuel packaging is easy to toss in your pack and open mid-race. It’s withstood submersion, and being stuffed in to my shorts pocket, without making a mess.

Tailwind Rebuild Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Great taste – If you’re like me, it doesn’t matter how good something is for you, if it’s yucky, I won’t eat it. Tailwind’s Rebuild is delicious in just water.
  • No gut bombs – Rebuild is easy to drink, light, and enjoyable.
  • Healthy – Rebuild is good for all kinds of athletes. Being vegan, soy & dairy free, non-GMO and gluten free ensures that whatever your lifestyle, Rebuild is a perfect addition to your training day nutrition routine.

Cons

  • Rebuild is $3 per serving – It may cause you to decide whether your workout or race is “Tailwind worthy”
  • This isn’t a joke – you may get pulled aside at the airport security line. Apparently they get flagged sometimes under the baggage scanner

 

Tailwind Rebuild Conclusion

Post race binging photos may dominate Instagram feeds now, but consider this – what will make you feel better? Spending $52 on Burger King because you can’t control your cravings? Or a tasty (and healthy) Tailwind Rebuild in an ice cold shaker bottle? For me, I’ve got room for improvement when I finish a race, and Rebuild offers me the perfect solution to one of our biggest struggles – nutrition balance.

 



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Josh Chace

Josh Chace has been an obstacle and endurance race enthusiast for the last five years. He is a 2017 Team MudGear Athlete and is a co-host of the New England Spahtens Show podcast.
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Winter Has Come – Greek Peak Spartan Sprint

Spartan’s 2018 season thus far has consisted of races in SoCal, Arizona, Miami and Las Vegas, so it only makes sense that next in line was the snowcapped mountains of western New York – namely Greek Peak Resort, for the 2nd annual Winter Spartan Sprint this past weekend. Both racers and weather alike descended upon the mountain on Saturday, ensuring there was plenty of snow pelted tracks to traverse, as frosty obstacles to navigate.

The day started inside the ski lodge for registration and packet pickup – a welcome change from last year, where the cold weather outside brought registration proceedings to a literal standstill as the electronics succumbed to the weather. Racers were huddled inside staying warm, comparing layers, and questioning whether they actually wanted to go outside and pin themselves between the trials of Spartan, and the tribulations of Mother Nature.

At the end of the day, over 3,000 Spartans took on the challenge of the Winter Sprint in Courtland, NY – with well over 400 Age Group competitors vying for precious podium spots, while the Elite field dwindled down to only a hundred entrants. It seems that Spartan has found what drives competitors, and that’s their desire to compete, but not against everyone, more specifically against individuals in their same age groups, and fitness level. The Age Group category has consistently sold registrations quicker than Elite in 2018, and the chance for a podium presentation and shot at social media fame continues to pay dividends for Spartan.

Course Notes

The course at Greek Peak has turned up a notch from last year. We traversed roughly 4.5 miles up, down and across the resort, including a 400-meter uphill trudge straight out of the Start Line. Running uphill is a standard in any Spartan event, but running uphill in 16″ of fresh snow is a new kind of frosty hell most have not been exposed to in prior events.

Spartan showed no quarter in their lineup of obstacles, just because this was a Winter race. The usual pain points like the Sandbag Carry, Herc Hoist, and newly capped Bucket Carry were all there to punish racers as they navigated the mountain. Particularly difficult in the snow, was Olympus – positioned in a wide open field where wind and snow added to the difficulty. Monkey Bars, a Rig made up of just rings, and the Rope Climb were all there to punish competitors grips in the bitter cold. The Spear Throw seemed like it was positioned further away than in past years, although that may have been because my contacts were frozen over by the time we reached the last few stretches of course.

The course finished over the A-frame, with a short climb, before heading down to a true to name “Slip” Wall, and a “Dunk Wall”, sans water – thankfully, and the Fire Jump, which comically, dropped about 2 feet into the snow as the fire melted the base it rested on.

Summary

Winter Spartan Race events are few and far between. So few and far between that there’s only a single event out there – Greek Peak. Spartan had attempted to elicit interest in events in both New Hampshire and Utah, proving unsuccessful, so they were abandoned. Whether you live in warmer weather or inhabit the Great White North, you’ll most certainly enjoy a Winter Sprint. Some obstacles like the Barbed Wire Crawl are tamed by the snow, where others are made more intense. It’s a welcome difference from the muddy sweat fests we’ve become so familiar with throughout the race year.

Unlike 2017, we didn’t have an event unique finisher shirt, but the new Spartan tech shirts were available in both short and long-sleeved versions and accompanied an event-specific winter-themed medal.

Gear Note: The Inov8 X-Talon 230’s that I recently reviewed here on ORM performed absolutely amazing in the snow and mud. As others were sliding down trails on their behinds, I was confidently upright, with each step. Bravo to the Inov8 team for what will most likely be my main shoe for the 2018 season.

I’ll be bringing you coverage from all of the major players (and maybe a few you haven’t yet heard of)  in the OCR industry all year long, so be sure to follow me on Instagram here, and be sure to check out Obstacle Racing Media’s OCR Recap, now on CBS Interactive’s Sports Live website.