2020 was hard. Really hard. It was unquestionably the hardest, most challenging year in the history of our company. With fewer events than ever due to the global pandemic that turned the world upside down, we weren't able to create as many memories as we would have liked.
But when we could host events, albeit few and far between, you guys showed up and helped make them epic. In the early months of the year, before COVID-19 took full effect, the energy was palpable. And when we returned to racing in Jacksonville, despite the reduced number of racers, the atmosphere was electric. Outside of the United States, in such magical places as the Czech Republic, racers the world over got muddy, overcame obstacles, and crossed finish lines.
Despite the limited number of events, there was no shortage of spectacular moments. With the help of our supremely talented Director of Photography, we've brought them to life visually.
These are our 15 favorite photos of 2020, and the wonderful stories behind them.
Starting off in SoCal
We started the year off with a bang. This was the first photo taken in 2020, at the SoCal Super and Sprint Weekend. The early-morning fog hadn't yet burned off, and there was an entire year of races ahead of us. (Or so we thought...)
Finish-line volunteers get caught up in the energy at the Arizona Super in February. Spartan wouldn’t be where it is today without its amazing volunteers providing support and energy throughout the course and festival area at every event.
Getting a Little Muddy
Sometimes the kids events are even rowdier than the adult ones. This image, from the San Jose event, captured the energy of Spartan Kids running as fast as possible right out of the gate!
Conquering Against All Odds
There unfortunately weren't any official Para Spartan races in 2020, but the February event in Jacksonville had no shortage of incredibly inspiring endeavors. Above, an amputee miraculously conquers the Atlas Stone Carry.
No Fire Extinguisher Needed
The battle for the podium at the Jacksonville race was hotly contested, ending with a sprint to the finish line and a charge straight through a roaring fire. Pictured above are elite racers Ryan Woods (left) and Ryan Kempson (center).
Fun in the Sun
Tough obstacles, beautiful courses, and sandy beaches: How could you go wrong? This overhead shot from the Acapulco, Mexico race captures the fun of racing in the sand amongst the palm trees.
Hurricane Heats came up huge in 2020. While mass events were hard to put on, Hurricane Heats — with their smaller group sizes and tough challenges — were a perfect change for many Spartans. These students, at the 12HR event in the UK, were greeted with a beautiful sunset as their event progressed into the evening hours.
H3X is a three-tiered event that pushes you through all three Hurricane Heat levels in one brutal session. The event starts with the standard four-hour stage, and finishers can then choose to move into the 12-hour event. Should they finish that event, they can opt for a 24-hour challenge. This image from the Atlanta H3X shows what happens when the sun starts hitting the clothes that students have been sweating in all night.
After a significant time away from the course, racers were beyond psyched to return. That was especially true in China. At the Hangzhou race in October, a competitor smiles through the struggle during a sled pull.
Ready. Set. Go.
When races were held, eager participants were itching from the get-go, as illustrated in this gorgeous shot from the Czech Republic.
No Ordinary Trail
Spartan races have a huge selection of obstacles, but that’s not the only thing that makes them special. This image from Liberec, Czech Republic shows off some of the really unique landscapes that racers all over the globe get to run through.
Just a Little Walk on Water
It’s not often that an outdoor venue gives our photographers studio-quality light, but that’s exactly what happened at this overpass at the Ningbo, China race. A little water on the surface provided a great reflection for the photographer to cap it off.
Water Break, Anyone?
If anyone ever asks you what the Dunk Wall experience is like at a Spartan race, just show them this image from the Ningbo, China event. Calm and collected individuals think and strategize through the submersion, but no matter the preparation, you’ll almost always end up gasping for air on the other side.
Crawling Back Stronger
2020 has felt a bit like a fire hose coming directly at us, at full blast, with no time to breathe. It’s the perfect imagery for this shot from Orfu, Hungary, during one of the first races that Spartan held after the world started to slowly crawl back from the grips of the global pandemic.
Spider-Man in Training
We wish there was an epic story behind this image, but there isn't. Truth be told, we’re just suckers for silhouettes and sunbursts, and they're both evident in this exceptional shot from Pezinok, Slovakia.