It’s amazing how time flies. Believe it or not — and it’s hard to believe — on May 16, 2020, Spartan celebrated its 10-year anniversary. On May 16, 2010, Spartan held its first race in quaint Williston, Vermont. Ten years later, it’s the global leader in obstacle course racing, with over 200 events held in 42 countries and extensive coverage on major television networks.
How did we get there?
It’s a long story with plenty of twists and turns, but these 10 races, the most important in the company’s history, played a significant role in catapulting Spartan to what it is today.
Here’s to 10 more years — and many more after that! — of unforgettable races.
2010: Williston, Vermont
It all began, fittingly, in Vermont. The first Spartan race was held in Williston, a suburb of Burlington, on May 16, 2010. Roughly 500 people participated — not bad for a maiden event — and all finishers received a medal. The top finishers took home a prize. Check out some old-school footage of our first year in the trenches. Man, we’ve come a long way, but we’ll never forget those glorious first days.
2011: Glen Rose, Texas
When you think of the Spartan World Championships, Killington and Lake Tahoe come to mind. But the first World Championships was actually held in Glen Rose, Texas on Dec. 3, 2011. The prize was $10,000. The magnitude of the event, as well the purse, would increase dramatically in the ensuing years.
Honorable Mention: Boston, Massachusetts
After Hurricane Irene caused the cancellation of a race in Boston in 2011, Spartan founder and CEO Joe De Sena remained undeterred. He invited people to the venue to run with him in brutal, ferocious weather, and thus the Hurricane Heat was born.
Another Honorable Mention: Chandler, Arizona
The first Super!
Yet Another Honorable Mention: Killington, Vermont
The first Beast!
2012: Killington, Vermont
On Sept. 22, 2012, the first-ever Ultra Beast was held in Killington, Vermont. Of the 345 participants who started the race, only 152 finished the 14-hour marathon. This was also World Championships weekend, the first of three held in Killington. It was Cody Moat’s weekend; he won both the World Championships and the Ultra Beast.
Honorable Mention: Boston, Massachusetts
The first Stadion Series event was held in none other than iconic Fenway Park, the home of the Boston Red Sox. (The Sox lost 93 games and finished in last place in the AL East that year. Don’t blame us.)
Yet Another Honorable Mention: Colorado Springs, Colorado
Spartan debuted its first military-inspired race on the Fort Carson Army base. The 10th Special Forces Group offered support in what was an unforgettable and inspiring weekend.
2013: Henderson, Nevada
In one of the most epic finishes in Spartan history, Cody Moat and Hunter McIntyre battled tirelessly for second place, and it culminated when they jumped over the fire at the same time. The thunderous, enthusiastic reaction from the crowd was unprecedented to that point. For many, this was when Spartan cemented itself as a legitimate spectator sport. We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that Hobie Call won the race, and Moat narrowly edged McIntyre for second.
Honorable Mention: Wintergreen, Virginia
In one of the great upsets in Spartan history, Matt “The Bear” Novakovich came out of nowhere to win this race, stunning such legends as Hobie Call.
2014: Killington, Vermont
On the weekend of the second World Championships in Killington, Spartan debuted its first short-course trial.
2015: Lake Tahoe, California
After three years in Killington, the Spartan World Championships moved to its new home, in Olympic Valley (near Lake Tahoe). With the introduction of many new obstacles, and the new scenic venue, the kickoff World Championships in California was a massive hit. Robert Killian won on the men’s side, and Zuzana Kocumova took the women’s heat.
2016: Kalispell, Montana
The 2013 Spartan World Championships in Vermont was featured as a special on NBC, but it wasn’t until two years later — during the Montana Beast and Sprint Weekend — that Spartan debuted the U.S. Championship Series on the network.
2017: Reykjavík, Iceland
In 2017, Spartan debuted the 24-hour Ultra World Championships in Reykjavík, Iceland. Joshua Fiore outlasted the competition and came away with the historic win.
Honorable Mention: Kaneohe, Hawaii
This one falls a bit under the radar, but it was truly astonishing and superhero-like. Rea Kolbl absolutely dominated the field in Hawaii, placing first overall (men and women) in both the Super and Beast races during the Hawaii Trifecta Weekend. Oh, and she also finished fifth (second overall among women) in the Sprint. Not bad.
2018: Race to a Million (Lake Tahoe, California; Sparta, Greece; Reykjavík, Iceland)
OK, this is technically three races, not one, but we’re taking the liberty of combing them because they’re forever linked. Remember that $10,000 prize at the 2011 World Championships? Fast forward seven years, and the prize for sweeping all three Spartan championships was increased to $1 million, the largest purse in OCR history. The triple crown wasn’t captured, but some of the showings were truly heroic.
2019: Lake Tahoe, California
In 2019, the Spartan World Championships reached new heights as a marquee event. On the Sunday of championship weekend, Spartan held its first fully-gated championship day in its history. Robert Killian and Nicole Mericle won the men’s and women’s races, respectively.