Hobie: I’m Concerned About Athlete Safety at the Spartan Race World Championships


Recently Spartan mentioned that they would be adding a second “short course” to the World Championships in Vermont, that the top 20 men and women would compete in just hours after finishing the Beast race. Here is the statement:

“After the Beast the top 20 men and women from the elite category will run multiple laps on a short course that will be very obstacle heavy. The person who finished in 20th place will have the shortest rest time before being forced out into the next course” -Joe Desena (page 36 of the August edition of Spartans digital magazine)

In the interest of preserving the health of the elite athletes I would like to petition Reebok Spartan Race to reconsider this “Sprint” race for the elites.

It was said by one person that this is akin to taking the top 20 people from the Boston marathon and having them run a 5k time trial hours later.
Another person noted: “At the Wintergreen event this last weekend, which is easier and about half the distance of the Vermont Beast, a number of the top 20 finishers had injuries and only gutted through the finish based on sheer willpower. Asking them to go back out and run another event would simply not be possible.

Hunter McIntyre busted up his ankle and drove himself to a second place finish. But I saw him an hour later and he was struggling to walk. How could he have gone out and run another race?”

And another: “The problem here is that Spartan is creating an atmosphere where the odds of getting injured are VERY high. TOO high. Athletes wanting to earn money in this sport shouldn’t be put in that position.”

The Vermont Spartan Beast is one of the worlds premiere athletic events, and short, spectator friendly Obstacle Races are desperately needed for television to introduce the the industry to the world, but combining them in this particular way is not healthy for the athletes. The physiological response to hours of brutal exercise such as will be required by those “racing” the Vermont Beast, followed hours later by a maximum intensity short sprint course will be disastrous.

I predict that if indeed the top 20 men and women do “race” the Beast, and then also attempt to truly “race” the sprint course afterward, that half of them will end up injured. An expected 50% injury rate is simply irresponsible, and as far as I’m concerned, abusive.

There has been quite the lively discussion on the matter on facebook concerning this, and the opponents to my position basically have 3 arguments:

(1) STFU and just do whatever Spartan says, no one hired you to be the safety director anyway.

(2) you don’t know that half of the athletes will get injured.

(3) this is an extreme sport, there are supposed to be risks involved. If you don’t like it, stay home.

To them I say:

(1) No, I haven’t been hired to be concerned with athletes health. Obviously no one has, and no one else is willing to take the job on, so I stepped up because I care to see this “sport” thrive, and that can’t happen if the athletes aren’t reasonably taken care of.

(2) Will 50% of the athletes walk away injured? No, because they won’t truly race both events. Most will pace themselves through the Beast intentionally saving some strength and energy for the sprint course. This will diminish the glory of the Beast and cause it’s own set of problems, but that’s a whole other issue…..

But, if they did try to “race” both events, then yes, 50% would get injured. I challenged anyone to dispute that claim by asking the top 20 athletes from last years Beast, and this years Virginia Super if their bodies would have held up if they would have had to “race” a short sprint course just hours later. No one took the challenge. I even directly asked a couple of top athletes that were opposing my concerns, and they refused to dispute my claim.

(3) Yes, there are risks, as with anything in life. But to create something designed to injure half of your competitors is not healthy. Could we just choose to stay home? Absolutely, yes we could, but the last time I checked, Spartans Mission was to get people off of their couches, not send them back to them.


  1. I am with hobie on this, it’s just the same as making a horse run the Kentucky Derby race and right after have that same horse run another race, you are putting that horse in serious danger.

  2. Hobie Call has a very valid point racers are not gonna take the second course seriouslyan go all out especially if it has nothing to do with the prize money ,and if it does then they’ll simply pace themselves through the first course therefore diminishing it’s value. I’m not gonna touch to much on the Fact that all athletes have to deal with injuries but no one should be intentionally trying to hurt others . I don’t believe that is Spartan Race’s intent perhaps this thing needs to be thought through again . If you wanna make the race tougher why not just do that within the first course . There’s a lot of questions that come to mind but please Spartan Race lets NOT lose our top athletes!

  3. I agree with Hobie Call. Which brings up the importance of having a governing sanctioning body for the Sport of OCR

  4. I agree with Hobie. Its simple strategy, everyone will cruise through the beast and the top 20 will then have to do it again and again. I understand SR theory about making a tough course, this isn’t a course (singular) anymore now its an event that does end. IF we are trying to legitimatize OCR, we can look at other sports for example. After the Superbowl (and after a winner has already been declared) why make them go out and play another game? What’s the point of the Superbowl/Beast then? It’s asking for trouble, and putting ratings above athlete safety.

  5. It is the lack of information that has contributed to this debate. We have heard rumors that the Beast winner is indeed the champion and the additional sprint will just be for extra cash. But how much cash? Will it be normal $5oo, $300, $100 payout or will it be much more substanial? Will the sprint start 10 minutes after the 20th finisher of the Beast comes in? Or will it be several hours? And will the top 20 be able to preview the course beforehand? These answers will certainly affect who is willing to attempt the Sprint and how hard they may pursue it. You have our attention Joe. Don’t keep us guessing.

  6. I totally agree and would sign the petition if a petition would even make a difference. Unfortunately a petition, or even this discussion, just adds fuel to the ever-inflating ego of Joe Desena and how he is driving Spartan Race into the ground instead of elevating it.

  7. Its not our call. These athletes what to do this its their choice. Just let them run if they want to and quit acting like they are all 10 years old. You act like they have been forced to enter, compete and when its all said and done with the first race they beat them to run another 5K. Your thought on this mater are appreciated I’m sure and thoughts should be conveyed to the runners directly about the concern for their safety but not to the persons putting on the race. The participants know what is at stake and fully understand the dangers of the race and still choose to run and run and run. Just make that choice for yourself and let the others do the same. Offer the advice and let them do as they will.

  8. Yup. Hella high HS-CRP inflammatory levels and shitloads of muscle fiber tearing and calcium leakage will be present after Beast. You go for an all-out contraction after that and you will tear things. If anything, do this course on Sunday morning at least. That will allow for a good 8-12 hours of recovery which makes a night and day difference if compression, icing, etc. are used intelligently.


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