“A set of doors that were propped open and not properly unlocked, shut during the 8:30am age group heat and caused about 6-minute delay between the Spear throw and 7-ft Wall."
At the beginning of the year Spartan Race launches their new ‘Stadion Series’ (a.k.a old Stadium series), two days later, people go crazy and waste all their money on races. Later on in the year Spartan reveals a new points system for both the Elite and Age Group categories, a few minutes later, people go crazy and start hating Spartan Race.
Spartan Race is the largest franchise and most popular race brand on the world of obstacle course racing. Due to its fame and ridiculous profit margin, it has become solely a business and less of a fun event that is affordable and doable for everyone. The addition of a new point system for the various series Spartan has on the table is a clear example of this monopolistic strategy. If we break it down, the only way for someone to rank higher on the list is by doing more races, which means that the person who races the most (buys more Spartan Races) is the one who will stack up the highest amongst other competitors. And this is true even if that person doesn’t have a top finish. For example: person A can place 1st on two different events within a series, while person B placed top 20 on five different events within the same series; person B ranks higher than person A just because person B did more races than person A, therefore, accumulating more points combined.
After realizing this, most people felt overwhelmed, while others didn’t care as much. Nonetheless, both types of people still kept signing up for races (myself included). The new ‘Stadion Series’ is comprised of the following venues: Citi Field, NY (April 13); Nationals Park, DC (May 11); AT&T Stadium, TX (June 22); and Boston Stadion, MA (November 9). With two of the four races down, competitor only have two other venues left to conquer if they want to stack up high on the rankings. A lot of people take this very seriously, whether it is because they want the fame, or the want to be the best on their age group, or simply because they want to prove to themselves that they can be the best of themselves. Whichever the case may be, if they miss one or more of the four races of the series, they risk having someone else do all four events and therefore place higher than them on the rankings. This is why this new change Spartan made is causing a lot of controversy lately.
The day of the Nationals Park Stadion race (May 11th), I go on Facebook and see a thread about an issue that created conflict and raised discussions in regard to people getting thrown off in placement due to start/finish times being affected by an “unknown mistake”. Immediately I contacted Spartan and their explanation was as follows:
“A set of doors that were propped open and not properly unlocked, shut during the 8:30 am age group heat and caused about 6-minute delay between the Spear throw and 7-ft Wall. As soon as it happened, we rushed to get venue security to the location to correct the issue - and all affected racers were offered entry into a later heat.” - Spartan
A lot of people had their times thrown off by a few minutes due to this “negligence” as someone I interviewed called it, and it was detrimental to the finish times of a lot of these people running competitively for a shot at hitting the podium in their age group.
What Spartan tried to do to alleviate this chaos by letting people do a “retry lap” and substitute their previous time, was not the fairest move, in my opinion. I believe that these people running this “retry lap” later on through the day are now going to be running with more people on the course from the open waves, thus facing inevitable bottlenecking at obstacles which ends up throwing off their finish times once again. Now, was this unfair to other racers? I believe that this decision invalidated the overall race results to an extent. Unfortunately there is nothing more that can be done now but to talk about it and try to come up with better and more efficient methods to solve these kind of situations that not only Spartan faces, but all other obstacle course races as well. If we want our sport to grow and become more standardized, we need better ways to correct the flaws.
What are your thoughts? Please leave a comment below or shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
*Note: Thanks to Spartan Race for kindly working with us to get to the bottom of this dilemma as this subject created a lot of speculations and gave lots of people a bad impression of the brand.
About Jorge Estevez
Jorge Estevez is a young, enthusiastic obstacle course racer (OCR) and writer. Jorge loves to run obstacle courses with his friends and has become an advocate of the sport. “I always enjoy a challenge and tough obstacles are my favorite. The camaraderie I see in the sport is surreal, this community of people have been some of the best I've met to date”. Jorge enjoys writing for OCRMNetwork.com and sharing his experiences and thoughts with the OCR community.