Spartan events are known as obstacle-course races (OCRs) with advanced challenges, excellent logistics and burly participants. The races offer harrowing obstacles on adventurous courses from three miles to 60-hours long.

Today, Spartan has announced a new series for 2019: Spartan Trail. Debuting with 12 races across the United States and supported by media partner Trail Runner magazine, Spartan Trail races will be pure trail runs, no obstacles allowed.

Trail Runner is excited to work with Spartan,” says Trail Runner Associate Publisher Ben Yardley. “Spartan is a heavy-hitter in organized sporting events, and bringing their expertise to trail racing will grow the sport and raise awareness among all demographics.”

Trail Runner's Strategic Partnerships Director, Cynthia Bruggeman is quick to note that Spartan Trail events will attract runners who might not otherwise enter a trail race. “The Spartan venue mix combines the best of urban and remote locations—so no matter where you live, you can trail run!"

SPECIAL OFFER: Sign up for a Spartan Trail race and get a screaming deal—just $9.95—on a year's subscription to Trail Runner magazine!

Started in 2010 by Joe De Sena, Spartan races are two-day mind-and-body-bending challenges, and the Spartan OCR series has drawn participants from all across the globe. With a mission to get 100 million people off the couch, the OCRs take place across 40 countries and reach one million annually.

The inaugural Spartan Trail event was held last month in Virginia, drawing 300 anticipatory Spartans. Race directed by the legendary ultrarunner and adventure racer Charlie Engle, the course wove through forest on singletrack, skirted a pumpkin patch and splashed through a creek.

"It was hilly, like I thought it would be, being a Spartan race," says the 1st-place 10K finisher, Robert Motrynczuk, avid trail runner and four-time Spartan race finisher from Richmond, Virginia. "It was fun, well marked, little bit of water, little bit of mud. It was a good time."

"I'm pretty much a Spartan racer only," says Ryan Bolick, a 25-year-old 3rd-place 10K finisher, from Raleigh North Carolina. "So this is really exciting."

"It was a great race, really fast, and the elevation was just good enough to get the quads going. Usually I rely on the obstacles to come back and give me a little bit of a break in between, so this was challenging. I just kept trying to catch the guy in front of me."

Charlie Engle and Luis Escobar, the regional eastern and western race directors for the U.S. Spartan Trail races, have their roots in the trail and ultrarunning communities.

Escobar is an eight-time finisher of the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run (he actually lives on mile 84 of the course) and has been race directing trail runs for more than 20 years.

"I'm old school," he says. "I come from mom-and-pop races. Spartan is creating an opportunity for people to run where they’ve never run before, because most of the venues are places where trail runners don’t otherwise have access."

Engle, who has completed the Badwater 135-mile ultra six times, wants to set up all his races to be as successful as the one in Virginia.

"The experience is what matters. What makes a great trail race is an adventure that is open to the average runner. I want them talking about the hill they had to climb at mile six or the five stream crossings."


Spartan Trail races will be $65 to$95 and range from 10K to 21K for the first year. Look for news and updates at the new Spartan Trail site here.

All photos by Jeff Lautenberger for Spartan

29 thoughts on “Spartan OCR Reveals New Trail-Running Series”

  1. Sounds bad to me. No fun at all. Spartan was always OCR to me – this is what makes it fun. Removing obstacles and leaving only trail run – boring, plenty of it around.

  2. One thing that was neat about the first one in VA, is that it was at the same location as the Super/Sprint. So you could be there and get the same merch, travel there with friends who were doing the Super, or if you were feeling particularly strong, race the Super first or afterwards, and get a lot more miles in.

    Yes, there are plenty of other trail runs, but there is something nice about doing something that’s connected to an established company that has its stuff together. For all their faults, Spartan knows how to put on an event.

    In my case, they had a good deal, and I’ve been fighting injuries that made me question the wisdom of doing obstacles, but I wanted to do something else, so I tried it. I might try it again if the price is right. I don’t really like the Virginia Super location for a Spartan, having a race there within sight of Wintergreen is like eating McDonald’s in front of Ruth Chris’, but as a trail run, the terrain isn’t bad.

  3. Can’t say I am excited about it. Seems like higher cost (especially when including parking, insurance, etc.) with similar or less swag compared to local events. Also didn’t quite understand how they are offering locations not typically available since many Spartans are at ski resorts and Off Road parks. The few trail races I have been to have been in State Parks where Spartan would not likely be able to access. It is a good idea for them to try and increase revenue at their race sites, but doesn’t seem to offer anything over what’s already out there for a better price.

  4. This event would be cool without all the price gouging. I mean come on $20 to spectate. It’s not Indy 500 or a rock concert. No food or beverages…please. ok I’ll eat what you provide and puke because a runner needs to run on food they are accustomed to. No thanks…..

  5. The Big Box mentality comes to trail running. Homogenized, over commercialized, synthetic events. This is not what trail running is about. A threat to the real Mom & Pop events and part of the fast track to an over saturated market.

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  10. Spartan Race reported a notable 40% increase in UK racers last year. Four new disciplines and new obstacles were also rolled out over the year; making 2017 one to savour for the legion of loyal Spartan Racers. Combining their stats; runners conquered over 250,000 km of muddy trails and notched up a staggering 2 million burpees.
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