For Spartans familiar with running up and down ski slopes, through streams, over pastureland, or across alpine trails, the thought of competing in the biggest race on the Spartan calendar — in a foreign climate, without these elements — must initially seem strange. But the more that people learn about the 2021 Spartan World Championship in Abu Dhabi — which will be held Dec. 3-5, 2021 — the more irresistible it becomes. There’s no doubt that the unique experience awaiting Spartans from across the globe will be truly unforgettable.
Current Spartan offerings — from urban Stadion events in Philadelphia to the summits of Whistler and Blackcomb mountains in British Columbia — see half a million participants in North America alone. Beyond that, Spartan events host another half a million racers in Europe, Asia, Australia, and the Middle East. We are a very global brand, and the time has come for a global World Championship.
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But why, specifically, was Abu Dhabi chosen as the site of the Spartan World Championship? These are some of the many factors that helped us make what ended up being an easy decision.
The Ultimate Outdoor Playground
The championship course will feature sand dunes, salt flats, and treacherous undulations. But instead of equalizing the competition, it should allow for individuals to showcase how their backyard training translates to this ultimate outdoor playground.
“The terrain of Abu Dhabi is very unique," says Cherie Bortnick, Spartan's Director of Business Development, Destinations. "Most Spartans around the world take on courses in the mountains, farmland, parks, stadiums, and dirt fields. It is few and far between that Spartans experience a desert landscape. Abu Dhabi will have exposed, new terrain that is wholly unique to this region of the world.
"The sand is very fine and forgiving, which will require a different strategy to the running element for the course, while the salt flats are hard packed with small rock. (Watch those ankles.) While the course is riddled with steep dunes, fast descents, and long stretches of salt flats, Spartans with a mountain background will have an advantage, but those that are faster on flat land will thrive on the salt flats. Athletes should focus on a well-rounded training to conquer this course.”
Another plus about this year's championship is the fact that it will be held in December.
“The World Championship has historically been held in September, but as new products and championships emerged, we knew it was time to extend the season and ensure that the World Championship became the last race of the season," says Bortnick. "The weather in Abu Dhabi in December is perfect."
A Once-in-a-Lifetime Cultural Immersion
The best part of the event? It's more than just a single race. On the contrary, it's an opportunity for a weeklong cultural immersion.
“Abu Dhabi really has everything," says Bortnick. "Spartans will have a chance to camp under the stars in the vast desert near the course. For the art seeker, there is the Louvre Abu Dhabi art museum downtown and CLYMB Abu Dhabi, which is home to the world's biggest indoor flight chamber and the world's tallest indoor climbing wall. Spartans can race cars at the Yas Marina Circuit, go to the beach, enjoy water sports, or ride fat bikes on the sand dunes.
"At the competition site, racers can relax in an authentic Bedouin lounge complete with Arabic coffee, tea, and Shisha. When they are ready for an adventure, they can take a camel ride or a more high-powered dune buggy ride through the dunes. They can watch the night light up with fireworks and music while dining near a large campfire.”
We can’t wait for what will unquestionably be one of the most memorable events in Spartan history. Click here to learn more about the event and sign up.