COVID-19 isn't going anywhere for a while. But while we wait for a vaccine and more scientific data, businesses are trying to return to (some semblance of) normal. We're no different.
For those of you itching to return to racing, we're here to make that happen in a safe way. We've consulted with several third party experts on how best to resume Spartan racing, and have adopted new health and safety protocols to get back to OCR. Overtime, as we add more Spartan Races to the schedule, these protocols will be adapted to emerging information and developed hand in hand with local governments.
Why? Because we view it as our responsibility. As one of the largest fitness companies in the world, we host the biggest events (next to big-city marathons), with greatest frequency. That means we have resources to help racers, and racing companies, safely get back to the starting line. "We are one of the premier fitness event production companies on the planet, so we see it as our responsibility to get out and set the standards on how it can be done safely," says Brian Duncanson, Spartan Race General Manager. "We intend to share the learnings and information from our upcoming Jacksonville event afterward with other endurance companies. Overall, we believe that everyone should be following these new healthy and safety practices."
As the world figures out how to return to activity, these unprecedented times are like wading into a pool where you can't see the bottom. It'd be dumb to do a cannonball without knowing how deep the water is. So we're starting with a Sprint in Jacksonville on June 12. We will then aim for a Trifecta weekend in West Virginia, and an Ultra/Beast/Spring in Utah, both in late August." Jacksonville is the paddles-to-the-chest push, and we are starting to get green lights for more events, which we expect to grow into the fall," says Duncanson. "This is our prove it moment."
In addition, our Spartan Race international events are starting back up, with Hungary hosting the first event on June 26. "As the world pushes to get back, this underscores the importance of getting Jacksonville under our belt, safely, so we can disseminate this information to others," says Duncanson. "This isn’t about the commercial success of events right now. In fact, with limited entry, we’ve structured it so it’s almost impossible to be making money. It's about safety, doing it right, and helping other people race safely, too."
With a light lineup, aggressive social distancing measures, mandatory temperature checks, lots of hand sanitizer stations, and several other new-to-OCR protocols, we know we can do it. (We wouldn't try it if we didn't.) So here are a few reasons why you should get back to racing—when you're ready.
Racing During COVID-19: Why It Might Be Good For You
1. It's a Good Way to Get Outside
Working out during COVID has been a game changer. Our #BeUnbreakable series of daily exercises, mindfulness and nutrition tips, and social media challenges has been nothing less than extraordinary because of you. Your participation, from crushing insane jumprope workouts to bagging trail marathons, shows just show much grit and determination our Spartan community is really made of. At this point, we all know getting outside, no matter how you do it, is one of the best ways to beat quarantine blues. So if you're feeling comfortable and confident in your ability to sanitize and stay safe, why not level up and take it outdoors with a race? Putting an event on your calendar will give you a goal to work toward during these uncertain times. (And with achieving a goal comes accomplishment, confidence and other good juju.)
2. You Can Socialize (At a Safe Distance)
You've been stuck inside either alone, or with the same group of people, for months now. Spartans tell us over and over that one of the best parts of OCR is talking to other like-minded athletes. With new entry/exit limitations in our Festival area, you can chat with others and—with over 40-square-feet dedicated per person—still maintain a (super) safe distance. "It may feel a little weird having a conversation six feet apart when you’re normally huddled close together, but these are small asks to be able to race," says Duncanson. "Given all of the other stories that are shared with us of Spartans who have overcome addiction, loss and injury in their lives, we know Spartans are used to overcoming obstacles. This is no different. It's a small ask to wash your hands and put on a mask for the safety of all." At this point, it's about taking what we can get.
3. It Will Motivate You to Stay Healthy
Staying fit is one of the best defenses against COVID-19. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, while exercise may not prevent the virus from taking hold if you are exposed, it is likely that staying active will boost your immune system to help minimize the effects of the virus' symptoms. It may also speed recovery and lower the likelihood that you infect others with whom you come into contact. "It’s a balance," says Duncanson. "We believe, at our core, that being healthy is one of the best ways to combat the virus. So we are doing everything possible to make sure that people are continuing their training. We just hosted the world's largest virtual race, and it's evident people want to get back out there. Being able to put on events with all of the new protocols is a step we have to take."
4. You Can Support Local Businesses
Our Spartan Sponsors, many of them small, local businesses who've given back to their communities during COVID-19, are suffering because of this pandemic. One way to engage with these companies and show your support is to check out their products in person, at a race. Even though interactions with each other will be different, you can still get your hands on top-shelf gear, nutrition, hydration products, and more. (Plus, you'll feel good about making purchases, know your dollars are going directly to small business.) Among them in Florida will be Visit Jacksonville, Natalie's Juice Company, Athletic Brewing Company, and others.
5. You Can Start Small
While most of our larger Spartan races typically have 6,000-8,000 participants, we are capping Jacksonville at 3,000. If that's still too big for you, or you can't make it to Florida, West Virginia or Utah this summer, fear not. We're also expanding our Hurricane Heat offerings in several cities across the country. With just 30-50 participants, these four hour races are a lot smaller, and still come with a reformatted structure for health safety. We recently launched events in Georgia, North Carolina, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas and more—all of which sold out within 24 hours. "Depending upon where you live and your tolerance for getting on a plane, you may not have a Spartan Race close to you any time soon," says Duncanson. To mitigate that, and abide by crowd restrictions, we'll be launching several more Hurricane Heats in the coming weeks. "Our plan is to put out as many of the four-hour formats as we can, so it's a safe and satisfying way to compete before races get fully back into the swing of things." When Hurricane Heats started selling out within hours, we realized we need to do more of these, he says.
Bonus: if you're sitting with a coupon code from a canceled Spartan Race due to COVID-19, you can convert that into a Hurricane Heat bib. They're about the same price as a Sprint, and an excellent, smaller alternative to being around thousands.