Over the past few years, Spartan has gotten a ton of grief over the scheduling practices and re-scheduling practices. There have been numerous times that dates or locations have been changed so that a Spartan Race was near a competitor. A prime example of this is the schedule conflict between the OCR World Championships and the Spartan World Championships. Multiple posts on social media stated unhappiness with Spartan Race for changing dates and locations as racers had made travel plans. As a result, athletes had to spend money to change plans. Athletes had to decide between events to participate in, and in some cases, the “competition” changed their dates completely.
Spartan can be divisive. Some ardent supporters will always support that brand, and over the years, some will always push back against Spartan for anything and everything they do. You can guess who the vocal ones were when Spartan would change their plans to compete with another obstacle race, which they are allowed to do as the United States is a capitalistic market.
People questioned whether it was good business practice and whether it was “right.” People would counter with the term #racelocal and support their local event or the one they already registered.
This week, Spartan released the first phase of their 2022 schedule. Looking at the first group of 28 events, it appears Spartan is not moving weekends around and moving schedules to compete with other races. (They also have a list of races yet to be announced, which means this previous statement could possibly be a moot point) The 2022 events are where they should be in the schedule compared to the original 2021 schedule (note: events may have changed dates from their original date due to the pandemic).
Instead of waiting to see where some of the other brands are placing their events, Spartan has told the OCR Community to begin planning 2022. While another group of events will go live on their website soon, the hope is that Spartan will continue this practice and keep their events along with the same type of schedule. Tough Mudder has also begun to announce their 2022 schedule, as has other multi-race brands such as Savage Race and Rugged Maniac.
While they get their share of negativity, Spartan deserves credit when they do the right thing. They are telling you now where they will be and when instead of playing the waiting game and trying to take out the competition. Currently, within the OCR Buddy database, over 250 OCR events are listed within the United States in 2022 compared with nearly 700 live events listed in 2021 (canceled/postponed events were not counted). This means that brands and race directors can see what is already scheduled and plan accordingly. Many Race Directors use OCR Buddy to help schedule and plan to avoid “doubling down” on dates so that the athletes have more race options.
While competition is good, within the OCR Community, direct competition can have adverse side effects. Athletes must choose between events, and therefore, events will have lower participation. Athletes can only be at one location at a time. In a sport in which we all must work together to succeed, the more opportunities we have to get on the course and have some fun, the better we all are.
Spartan, kudos to you for your early 2022 schedule. Well done, and thank you for playing nice. So far.