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Spartan events are known as obstacle-course races (OCRs) with advanced challenges, excellent logistics and burly participants. The races offer harrowing obstacles on adventurous courses from three miles to 60-hours long.
Today, Spartan has announced a new series for 2019: Spartan Trail. Debuting with 12 races across the United States and supported by media partner Trail Runner magazine, Spartan Trail races will be pure trail runs, no obstacles allowed.
“Trail Runner is excited to work with Spartan,” says Trail Runner Associate Publisher Ben Yardley. “Spartan is a heavy-hitter in organized sporting events, and bringing their expertise to trail racing will grow the sport and raise awareness among all demographics.”
Trail Runner’s Strategic Partnerships Director, Cynthia Bruggeman is quick to note that Spartan Trail events will attract runners who might not otherwise enter a trail race. “The Spartan venue mix combines the best of urban and remote locations—so no matter where you live, you can trail run!”
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Started in 2010 by Joe De Sena, Spartan races are two-day mind-and-body-bending challenges, and the Spartan OCR series has drawn participants from all across the globe. With a mission to get 100 million people off the couch, the OCRs take place across 40 countries and reach one million annually.
The inaugural Spartan Trail event was held last month in Virginia, drawing 300 anticipatory Spartans. Race directed by the legendary ultrarunner and adventure racer Charlie Engle, the course wove through forest on singletrack, skirted a pumpkin patch and splashed through a creek.
“It was hilly, like I thought it would be, being a Spartan race,” says the 1st-place 10K finisher, Robert Motrynczuk, avid trail runner and four-time Spartan race finisher from Richmond, Virginia. “It was fun, well marked, little bit of water, little bit of mud. It was a good time.”
“I’m pretty much a Spartan racer only,” says Ryan Bolick, a 25-year-old 3rd-place 10K finisher, from Raleigh North Carolina. “So this is really exciting.”
“It was a great race, really fast, and the elevation was just good enough to get the quads going. Usually I rely on the obstacles to come back and give me a little bit of a break in between, so this was challenging. I just kept trying to catch the guy in front of me.”
Charlie Engle and Luis Escobar, the regional eastern and western race directors for the U.S. Spartan Trail races, have their roots in the trail and ultrarunning communities.
Escobar is an eight-time finisher of the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run (he actually lives on mile 84 of the course) and has been race directing trail runs for more than 20 years.
“I’m old school,” he says. “I come from mom-and-pop races. Spartan is creating an opportunity for people to run where they’ve never run before, because most of the venues are places where trail runners don’t otherwise have access.”
Engle, who has completed the Badwater 135-mile ultra six times, wants to set up all his races to be as successful as the one in Virginia.
“The experience is what matters. What makes a great trail race is an adventure that is open to the average runner. I want them talking about the hill they had to climb at mile six or the five stream crossings.”
Spartan Trail races will be $65 to$95 and range from 10K to 21K for the first year. Look for news and updates at the new Spartan Trail site here.
All photos by Jeff Lautenberger for Spartan