This past weekend, Spartan hosted its first U.S. event since suspending its season for nearly three months, implementing aggressive, new, and modified operating procedures to maximize the safety of racers, staff, and volunteers. The 5K race took place on Saturday at the WW Motocross Park in Jacksonville, Fla., with a reduced capacity of 1,400 racers.
“The time was right for the Spartan community to safely return to the course, and we’re grateful to the state of Florida and city of Jacksonville for hosting this milestone event,” said Spartan Vice President of Production Mike Morris. “We worked closely with local officials and consulted medical and safety experts to create the event protocol, reimagining the entire experience — from parking and registration to the start line and finish line, and every touchpoint in between.
A New Standard Was Set
“Seeing these new aggressive safety measures in action — which emphasized the importance of social distancing, cleaning, and sanitization — to prevent the spread of illness come to fruition shows a true path forward for Spartan and the endurance event industry. Our racers, who wanted to return to the course after nearly three months, respected our rules and had a lot of fun in the process.”
Spartan’s safety protocol required the intentional reduction of the event capacity by more than 70 percent of a once-typical Spartan event. Racers per hour dropped from the usual 1,000 to 300 or less. While the total number of racers reached nearly 1,400 throughout the day, heat sizes were drastically reduced to 24 racers departing every five minutes. A maximum of 300 racers spread out across 450 acres per hour, allowing for ample social distancing. In addition, nearly 50 percent of the course was expanded to 10 feet wide in areas with more concurrent racers, and all water obstacles were removed.
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On the course, Spartan offered only sealed water bottles at aid stations, and hand sanitizer was provided after every obstacle and throughout all areas of the venue. Dedicated lanes, along with designated waiting spots, ensured that all racers could stay properly distanced while waiting and holding. In keeping with nearly all other major sports preparing for a modified return to operating events, spectators were not permitted.
On-site registration was eliminated to minimize customer touchpoints, and before entering, participants received contactless temperature checks. No racers registered 100.4 or higher, which would have prevented them from entering the event.
Face Coverings, Time Limits, and Testing
Throughout the venue, all event staff and volunteers wore face coverings throughout the entirety of the event and racers were respectful, honoring Spartan’s request to do the same off the course and in the presence of others. Racers were not permitted to enter the venue more than 30 minutes prior to their start time, and had to exit within 30 minutes of their finish to reduce lingering and the number of people on-site. All staff were tested for COVID-19 prior to the event, and maintained at least 6 feet of distance from one another throughout the event and in the days leading up to it.
Additional cleaning and sanitization of customer touchpoints took place throughout the race course and event areas.
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To read all of Spartan’s new event safety guidelines, click here.
‘We Showed the World There Is a Safe Way’
“We’re proud of our team for their tireless efforts in taking this necessary first step, not only for Spartan, but the whole endurance sports industry,” said Spartan founder and CEO Joe De Sena. “Seeing our community take on the race with these new rules and guidelines was inspiring, and we’re thankful for their support. This weekend, we showed the world there is a safe way for endurance sports to return.”