Words by Dave Sherman (Trek and Run UK Editor)
Photos by Epic Action Imagery
Hi Sam and welcome to the Spartan family!
Before we speak about Spartan, let’s talk about you! During our research we discovered you’ve taken part in a number of roles including creating the student musical theatre project ‘The Big One’, managing youth football in Sevenoaks, and you’re now entering the world of Obstacle Course Racing! What would you say has led you down this varying career path to the helm of the UK and Ireland branch of “The World’s Best Obstacle Race”?
Well, firstly, for Spartan Race, I think it’s quite useful to have someone coming in who doesn’t already hail from within the Spartan world. Having someone join from the outside, who knew very little about obstacle course racing, was of benefit. It helps me to see the event from a different perspective and with a different pair of eyes. It’s a strong brand. it’s an exciting race. And I was naturally attracted to it.
And looking forwards, where do you aspire to take Spartan Race in the future?
By 2020, we want to be running 10 race weekends, whereas we are currently running six. We want to be selling out every single race. As a global brand, we also want to be part of the Olympics and to lead the way in terms of becoming a credible sport worthy of Olympic recognition.
One of the things we’ve always loved about Spartan Race has been the fully inclusive family buzz at your events. Will the Spartan Junior races continue, and do you have any plans to develop them further?
Yes, they will continue. We are investing more resources in our Spartan Kids junior races this year so we are hoping they will be bigger and better than before. Plus, we have lots of exciting plans for them in the future.
It’s fair to say the obstacle race scene in the UK is thriving with some great names in the OCR world competing to claim the title of the 2018 Spartan Race Global Championship. Are there any particular athletes you’ll be looking out for this season who you think could go the distance?
There’s a huge range of talent out there and I wish all Spartans, whether they are elites or newcomers to our events, all the very best of luck in the coming season. For the first time also this year we have introduced a prizemoney pot of £12,000 across the UK and Ireland regional series, which consists of five races, (the South-east Sprint, the Ireland Super, the Aston Down Super, the Marston Lodge Sprint and the Windsor Beast), so we wish all the elites all the very best of luck as they pitch for this prize pot.
And with Spartan UK’s biggest ever season ahead of you (25 races across 6 venues, including the first ever Spartan Race in Ireland!), do you have any surprises in store such as new obstacles or changes to the existing race format?
This year, we are investing more than we ever have done before in the UK and Ireland race series. We are investing ten-fold what we have previously invested, so your readers can expect the course to be bigger and better than ever before. Also, we are particularly focusing on the event village or the festival because we want that to be more engaging for racers and more of a hub of activity on race day. With regard to your question about whether we have any surprises in store, the answer is ‘Yes’. But not wishing to spoil those surprises, I’ll leave it at that!
At Trek and Run we place a heavy focus on working with partners who promote strong ethical values and environmental respect through their events. Can you describe any ways in which your events promote these values?
After each of our events, we want to leave all our venues exactly as we found them. So we spend a huge amount of time clearing the site. And we also encourage all our racers on race days to put all their rubbish in the bins provided, and to respect the environment on which they are racing because we are lucky to be racing at so many fantastic venues across the U.K. and Ireland. We also recycle all our mud. Just kidding.
We noticed this year you’ll be taking the Spartan Ultra Beast (with a 50km distance and over 60 obstacles) to a new venue in Perth, Scotland. Can you tell us more about this insane challenge, and offer any advice to anyone planning to take on this challenge?
We are actually renaming it The Ultra, and are no longer calling it the Ultra Beast, as we want to call it out really as its own event – whereas the Ultra Beast rather aligns itself to The Beast, which is traditionally the longest race within the Trifecta, namely the Sprint, Super and Beast. It’s one of the toughest endurance events on the planet as we so regularly call it out to be. The terrain at Perth will be incredibly challenging. It’s very steep, with incredible views. So if you are going to be taking on that event, you have to have trained very hard and be a seriously well-prepared athlete. This event is not one for the faint-hearted. Our advice is to treat the event with respect.
Finally, we think it’s fair to say the phrase “Obstacle Race” can seem intimidating to someone unfamiliar with the OCR event scene, but we’ve had a great time at Spartan events in the past with 4 members of our team proudly earning their Trifecta medals back in 2015. Do you have any parting words to offer anyone considering entering their first Spartan Obstacle Race?
We see thousands of people do their first Spartan race each year, all typically entering with a sense of trepidation and fear. But they leave filled with an overwhelming sense of achievement and also that they are part of a big and strong community. Our races are accessible to anyone, no matter what size, shape, gender you are so we look forward to welcoming you to one of our race days this year.
Many thanks for your time Sam, and we wish you all the best for your first Spartan Season. We’ll see you in Kent in April at the launch event!
Spartan Race UK kicks off in Wrotham, Kent, on Saturday 7th and Sunday 8th April 2018 offering an ideal entry point to the OCR scene with their first Sprint distance event (5km and 20+ obstacles) of the season on Sunday . Visit www.spartanrace.uk for more information and to sign up