Back in May, we launched the Spartan Spirit Awards, celebrating the people who truly embody the key Spartan values: grit, determination, and perseverance. One of this month’s Spirit Award winners is Spartan 4-0, a global Spartan team that brought an incredible 850 participants to the West Virginia Trifecta in August. Spartan 4-0 has won a remarkable 129 Biggest Team Awards, and over the course of its run, a community has been formed and lives have been changed.
In September of 2015, a woman took to Facebook and wrote that, at age 42, her best days were behind her. She wrote that she wished she had found Spartan sooner, and friends and fellow Facebook users chimed in to share similar sentiments. One of those users was Ameer Haroun, who took the contrary position: He felt fitter at age 37 than he did at 17.
The entrepreneur from Montvale, New Jersey — now 42 — and a friend created a Facebook group for likeminded athletes who wanted to remain athletic and competitive despite getting older. A supportive, dedicated community was born, and the group quickly exploded to over 1,000 members. When one of them decided to start a Spartan team with members of the group, Spartan 4-0 — a group of “positive-minded” individuals ages 30 and up — took to the course for the first time, and the rest is history. Just four years later, Spartan 4-0 boasts over 15,300 members and counting. The team has participated in over 200 races since October of 2015 and racked up 129 Biggest Team Awards.
Spartan 4-0, an “awesome, amazing, inspirational team of Spartan race badasses” — according to its Facebook page — is represented in all 50 states and has had a team at every Spartan event in the country. Globally, it has a strong presence in Canada, Australia, Europe, South Africa, and the Far East. The group boasts 32 team ambassadors around the world.
We spoke with Haroun, the team leader, to learn more about what it means to be a member of Spartan 4-0, how the team has inspired and changed lives, and what lies ahead.
Q&A With Ameer Haroun, Team Leader of Spirit Award Winner Spartan 4-0
Spartan: How has your team been able to grow so rapidly?
Ameer Haroun: The secret to our growth is that we are diligent at creating a social experience at the races. We meet before and after the race, and we also organize hikes and workouts across the nation. Additionally, we also provide a supportive and fun environment.
Spartan: You have said that Spartan 4-0 has changed lives. Can you give me some examples?
AH: It is not uncommon to hear that Spartan 4-0 is the inspiration for trying to get fit and live a healthy lifestyle. People have gone from feeling alone to having a large, supportive community at every race they attend. Some believed they could never run a mile, and they just finished a Beast (13 miles, 30 obstacles). Others have met their spouses. The community is supportive through all injuries and challenges, and it brings people together and keeps their spirits high.
Below is a collection of stories and experiences from Spartan 4-0 racers, provided by Haroun.
“I went from gassing out from running a mile to being able to run 30 miles in hills with some gnarly elevations. Spartan races really gave me that motivation, and I am all the better for it. It’s funny … I ran my first marathon to train for a Spartan race!”
“I went from not knowing anyone at races — like I do at some other types of races — to looking forward to seeing my race family at every Spartan race.”
“The people in this group have somehow convinced me that I’m a beast and should go for it. Because of this group, I’ve trained harder and seen bigger improvements than I ever could have imagined. More than that, I’ve made some amazing friends both on and off the course. You guys have become family and certainly made life more entertaining and fulfilling.”
“I thought I’d never race again after I broke my leg. The outpouring of love kept me going through the injury, and I was able to race again.”
“A friend of mine invited me to join this group after barely completing my first Sprint. Three years and 30 pounds later, I’m in the best shape of my life, completing more than three Trifectas per season.”
Spartan: What does the future hold for Spartan 4-0? What do you envision and hope to achieve?
AH: Our goal is to continue to grow and inspire while still feeling like a close-knit community. We are preparing to celebrate our biggest team wins at Killington, Citizens Bank Park, and North Lake Tahoe. We are excited to see our family grow, and the lives we will change along the way.