Spartan Reebok Mash Up


Spartan Race made a huge announcement today – Reebok will be their title sponsor of Spartan Races in a multi-year deal. This will open up so many more avenues for Spartan to take their brand further than they have before. Joe De Sena, Founder of Spartan, says it will help them continue to expand globally as well as help make obstacle racing an Olympic sport. You would think that this would had obstacle racers doing flips at the thought of bringing their beloved sport into the mainstream.
Read press release here.

So why are Spartan die hards so upset?

For a long time I have struggled to figure out the secret behind the loyal following of Spartan. This is something that I haven’t seen in any other racing series. Their fans will tell you Spartan is the only way to go in obstacle racing and that every other race pales in comparison. It usually includes some colorful words to go along with that sentiment. In an industry that is growing faster than mold on bread, what makes Spartan so special?

Today I think I finally understand.

As the announcement was made in Times Square this morning during the “Reebok Spartan Race Times Square Challenge”, the low grumbles started to be heard all across the internets. Would this change the uniqueness of the courses? Will Reebok’s name be on everything from walls to pugil sticks? A lot of posts danced around the words “Sell Out”.  Although no one actually said the “S” word, it certainly was insinuated.

I now know where these extreme fans are coming from. With the announcement of a huge corporate sponsor like Reebok, it strikes an inherent fear that their beloved racing event will become so corporate and watered down, so much so that it won’t be recognizable. This has been seen time and time again with stadiums, arenas and other racing events.  It’s like your favorite Indy underground rock bank getting signed with a major record label.

But I think it goes even deeper than that. Spartan has really created a tight knit community with it’s fans. They offer great perks to members of their Street Team. Street Team members promote the Spartan races and encourage people to sign up in exchange for cool incentives and free race entries. Volunteers at the racing events also can qualify for free race entries for a half day’s worth of work. They were one of the first racing series to have a distinct group of elite runners and offer cash prizes for top finishers. In 2012 the Corn Fed Spartans, a Midwestern racing group, harassed Spartan so much that they added an event in the Midwest (mid-season) just to appease them. What other company would do that? What other company would want to please their fans so much as to add a completely new event to their already packed event schedule rather than sending their calls to voice-mail and ignoring their emails? Joe De Sena and Spartan, that’s who.

Most of you know that I don’t pledge my allegiance to any one race organization. I enjoy them all. But I have seen first hand how much Joe cares about this brand that has been created, and I find it hard that he would allow anything to muddy (in a bad way) the tight knit obstacle community that is Spartan.

Sure, there will probably be some changes on race day. You will probably see Reebok’s name printed on things. Maybe you will climb the Reebok traverse wall. You may even see Hobie Call sporting a new Reebok OCR inspired shoe line. So what?

spartan wall.jpg large

The people who are running the organization are still the same. Now, they have a large investor that will be able to stand with them and bring the obstacle racing world into the mainstream. As far as I know, Reebok has not ruined the Crossfit world. From what I can tell, it has helped them gain more popularity and bring it in front of more people who otherwise would not have known it existed. Reebok has launched a clothing and shoe line for Crossfitters, and it appears to be successful.

So with that information, I believe this is an exciting time for the OCR world. It’s about time that a shoe company takes a vested interest in one of the largest growing sporting events in the country. If Reebok develops a great product for the OCR community, they have a built in market. If the products suck or need improvement, the very vocal Spartan fan base will be sure to tell them what they think. Or at least the Corn Fed Spartans won’t be shy about voicing their opinions!


  1. Hey guys just wanted to say Hey! I have enjoyed your podcasts and that it has gotten me some good information lately. I have done Warrior Dash twice and another local mud run. I look forward to doing more races here in Austin, TX and thanks for your thoughts on this latest OCR happening.

    • Hey Matt! Thanks so much for the feedback. So glad you are enjoying the show. Austin is a fantastic city, and I’m sure there will be lots of races coming your way!


  1. […] If you still want more Spartan be sure to read Laurie’s blog where she goes in depth about the deep love spartan fans have for the race, and what her thoughts are for the future of obstacle racing with Spartan.  Read it here. […]

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