Spartan Race Announces Appointment Of Ian Adamson To International Obstacle Racing Federation


[alert type=white ]Press Release: May 1, 2014[/alert]

Fastest growing participatory sport takes important step towards global unification.

BOSTON, May 1, 2014 Spartan Race, Inc., the world’s leading obstacle racing company, today announced the selection of legendary adventure race icon, Ian Adamson (, to lead the International Obstacle Racing Federation (IORF) (  The IORF, the creation of which Spartan Race also announced today, will serve as the international governing body of the sport of obstacle racing.

Obstacle racing has emerged as one of the fastest growing sports in history, with over 300 races and approximately five million participants expected globally in 2014.  In its relatively short history, the number of participants in the sport has exceeded that of the almost 100-year old sport of triathlon.  In the United States alone, the number of obstacle race finishers in 2013 exceeded the number of finishers in marathons and half-marathons by almost 60%.

However, with the immense growth the space has experienced since 2010, the industry’s landscape has become fractured due to the emergence of many smaller race operators, featuring a multitude of formats with variable standards and safety protocols.  More recently, smaller companies and industry newcomers have announced governing bodies.  Almost all of these bodies have been established as for profit entities.

The IORF has been launched by Spartan Race in consultation with a number of industry leaders to address these concerns, establishing unified rules of competition, safety protocols and admission processes for member organizations meeting the IORF’s standards of excellence.  In addition to enhancing safety and quality control standards across the obstacle racing industry, the IORF intends to focus on member benefits both at races and beyond, including establishing an international ranking system. Upon achieving certain operational milestones and 501(c)(3) (non-profit) status, which it is currently working towards, the IORF will operate independently. The Federation’s website is currently soliciting interest from prospective judges, officials, athletes and others within the space and will more fully launch later in the year.

As an originator of the sport of obstacle racing and the driving force behind the sport’s massive global growth, Spartan Race has long been regarded as the worldwide leader in the industry, the “gold standard” by which other obstacle races and race companies have been measured.  Despite its success, the Company has always maintained a commitment to innovation and integrity, both for itself and the industry more broadly, taking its responsibility as the sport’s preeminent leader seriously.  Announcement of Mr. Adamson’s appointment to launch the IORF continues in that tradition and furthers Spartan Race’s long stated goal of achieving Olympic recognition.

“For the sport to continue to thrive and for it to achieve recognition on the Olympic stage, its ‘look and feel,’ rules of competition and safety standards need to be unified and a legitimate and independent member-focused federation is paramount to ensuring this unification,” said Joe De Sena, Founder and CEO of the Company. 

“For several years, we’ve consulted with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the governing bodies of other endurance sports, like USA Track & Field (USATF) and USA Triathlon (USAT), with these near- and long-term goals for the sport in mind.  The IORF serves as the realization of these efforts and will achieve these goals for the benefit of racers worldwide,” he said. 

Building on Mr. De Sena’s statement, Jeff Connor, Spartan Race’s Chief Operating Officer, stated,  “Spartan Race has always focused on defining the sport, ensuring participant safety and offering a level playing field for competition, all with the ultimate goal of Olympic recognition for the sport.”

“Having reached a critical mass in terms of participation and experience and with recent activity by lesser known players, we felt responsible for taking the next step toward formalizing that definition and making obstacle racing a recognized sport by spearheading the effort to establish an independent governing body,” Connor said.

“Ian [Adamson] will be masterful at leading the organization’s launch and has been given full authority to execute its mission with the sport’s best interests in mind.” 

Added Kenneth Koleyni, Spartan Race’s Head of Corporate Development, “We took appointment of a leader for the IORF as seriously as any other major initiative, working with numerous industry experts to define the job and identify the best candidate for it.”

 “Ian was the consensus pick to fill the position. With his experience as a professional athlete, director of complex, multi-day international events since 1984, and his success in for-profit and not-for-profit enterprises, Ian has the requisite experience and embodies the characteristics of excellence necessary to be the international ‘ambassador’ for the sport. He will ensure that the IORF succeeds in accomplishing its mission. Let’s face it, Ian is not built to accept anything less.”

Said Mr. Adamson, “We have and will continue to closely study IOC recognized federations and take best practices from major races like the Eco-Challenge, ESPN X-Games, Ironman Triathlon, the Leadville Race Series, and Spartan Race. We will apply what we learn from these established industry leaders to the IORF and obstacle racing more generally. These efforts will result in a system that maximizes benefits to the athletes and protects the integrity of the sport. The IORF will work to build the legitimacy of the sport, setting the foundation for continued growth and ultimately inclusion in the Olympic Games. I am honored to have been asked to lead the IORF as it establishes itself and the sport of obstacle racing on the world stage.”

For more information:

Al Schreiber
646 320 5142
[email protected]

Jeff Blumenfeld
Blumenfeld and Associates
203 655 1600
[email protected]


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