When the World Stopped, Spartan Pivoted ... and Then Sped Up
Here’s the great thing about exercising outdoors: You have so many choices. Whether it’s walking, running, swimming, trekking, and even mountain climbing, it’s all there for you.
Until it’s not.
And in 2020, we felt the full impact of it “not being there.” When America and much of the rest of the world were forced into extraordinarily long lockdowns because of the COVID-19 pandemic, suddenly our outdoors was off limits.
Like many extreme wellness and fitness businesses, Spartan had to pivot — and do it quickly. We have over 5 million global participants who regularly compete in Spartan events, and we were committed to giving them something to train for and work toward, even with in-person events not happening.
Spartan’s powerful series of digital endurance events became the go-to experience for anyone serious about maintaining their strength and fitness during the craziness of the pandemic.
Our virtual Project Unbreakable, which celebrates 10 years of Spartan, took place in May 2020 in 100 countries. Over 40,000 participants turned up for what became the largest online race event ever. And now we’re back! The world is slowly reopening, and our Spartan community has returned to courses all over the world in full force.
The Spartan Community Feels Safe With Us
When the world was locked down, we immediately transitioned from an in-person events company to a digital media machine. As a result, when we returned to races in 2021 our loyal customers were primed and ready to get back out on the course.
Related: A Post-Pandemic Message From Joe De Sena: 'Enjoy the Process'
As we’ve ramped our race business back up, we’ve taken significant measures to ensure the safety of each and every one of our racers. We have taken huge steps to mitigate the risks of virus transmission at all race venues, including disinfecting surfaces, providing hand sanitizer stations at common touchpoints, requiring mandatory face coverings for all staff, and more. Results from our surveys show us that 98% of racers feel completely COVID-safe at races, and that’s reflected in our current race attendances.
Since we’ve returned to racing, the events operating across the country have been booking solidly, with the majority of our races attracting more than 5,000 competitors to the starting line.
Our Global Commitment
Spartan is a global brand, and we’ve been wholly gratified by the support we’ve received from competitors, host countries, and event partners around the world.
In 2020, we had to cancel the Spartan World Championship, one of the most iconic events on the OCR calendar. This year, however, the event returns in spectacular fashion: From Dec. 3-5, the 2021 Spartan World Championship will take place in the awe-inspiring Liwa Desert, outside of Abu Dhabi. This will mark the first time that Spartan’s premier event will be held outside of the United States.
Related: SEE IT: Joe De Sena Visits Abu Dhabi Ahead of the World Championship
Hosted by the Abu Dhabi Sports Council (ADSC), the 2021 World Championship weekend coincides with National Day: the 50th-anniversary celebration of the founding of the UAE.
Together, Spartan and the ADSC will deliver a once-in-a-lifetime experience for all competitors. This includes a massive weekend festival in the Liwa Dunes that melds the rich Emirati culture with Spartan’s core values of grit, perseverance, and community.
“In 2021, our commitment to the global Spartan athlete community is stronger than ever,” Ian Lawson, Spartan’s VP of Global Partnerships, says. “We’ve created an incredible digital footprint to keep our community active and connected, and we’re now able to join that with the exceptional live events we are known for. The 2021 World Championship in Abu Dhabi will be a once in a lifetime experience."
The 2022 Schedule Is Locked and Loaded
In addition to a jam-packed fall schedule, which includes the 2021 World Championship, Spartan also recently announced a large number of 2022 race dates across the U.S. Some of the stunning locations include:
- Arizona (Feb. 26–27, 2022)
- Hawaii (Aug. 20–21, 2022)
- Big Bear, Calif. (May 14–15, 2022)
- Big Fork, Mont. (Trifecta Weekend / Spartan Trail and 10K; May 7–8, 2022)
You can find the full schedule here.
The initial response to the 2022 schedule has been extraordinary. With over 50 races in the United States, 10-plus national championships, and five world championship events already locked down, Spartans are eager to get their 2022 race dates in place. We proved in 2021 that we can put on safe events, and the initial demand for tickets has been overwhelmingly positive.
Digital Partnerships With Premier Talent
Nearly 20K viewers have tuned in to watch Spartan Master Coach Trevor Franklin on the first episode of Do Hard Shit, our latest original series.
This six-part YouTube series, presented in partnership with Mike's Hard Lemonade Seltzer, tasks Franklin with taking on insanely difficult challenges. The catch? He has NO idea what those challenges are going to be beforehand.
In Episode 1, Franklin went head to head with former NFL linebacker Curt Maggitt in the DEKA Fit arena, and in the next episode he tackled a 31-mile Spartan Ultra in Montana. And because Spartans are committed to partying healthily, Mike’s full-flavor lemonade seltzer made the perfect victory drink — and the perfect brand partnership for this innovative and massively entertaining video series.
Check out episodes 1 and 2 here.
Delivering Unique Sponsored Content for Our Partners
While Franklin had to tough it out in the face of whatever test of strength was thrown at him, finding the right national partner for this show was our challenge.
We wanted a no-B.S., no-compromises kind of brand that reflected the values of Spartan and the audience tuning in, and we struck gold (or lemons) with Mike’s Hard Lemonade Seltzer.
“While we would never have considered ourselves to be conventional, this past year has allowed us to get really creative, producing and distributing an unfiltered #dohardshit branded content series that is paired with unique on-site experience for athletes,” Lawson adds. “Our partnership with Mike’s and Trevor Franklin is just one example of what we’re able to accomplish as we expand our fulfillment capabilities in both the digital and physical spaces."
People WANT to Be Outside
Millions of athletes have committed to running a Spartan race. Why? Because getting outdoors, breathing fresh air, and using our bodies optimally makes us feel like we’re functioning in the world again.
Research into outdoor participation trends shows that throughout 2020, more than half of Americans over the age of 6 participated in outdoor recreation at least once (when it was safe to do so). This is the highest participation rate on record, which shows that — more than ever — people want to be outside and live their lives, and our world-class events are their avenue to do it.
Spartan is a global experiential sport and wellness brand with a 10 million-plus strong community. We create transformational experiences, products, and content to help people, companies, and teams tear down boundaries and expand what they believe to be possible. Spartan combines large-scale global events with a vibrant digital content and community platform. With more than 250 events across more than 40 countries on six continents, Spartan is the world's leading extreme wellness and endurance brand. To learn more about Spartan Partnerships, contact Paige Hegedus at email@example.com