By Pete Williams
Spartan Beast, the most challenging of the Spartan Race’s three main formats, is coming to Central Florida this fall.
Spartan Race officials made a presentation this morning in front of Pasco County’s Tourist Development Council, proposing a Spartan Beast event, most likely at Little Everglades Ranch, in November or December. The TDC now will make a recommendation to Pasco County’s Board of County Commissioners, which almost always approves such measures.
The Spartan Beast is a 10- to 12-mile obstacle course race and considered considerably more difficult than the 8-mile Super Spartan, which has taken place in Miami in February each of the last three years. This will be the first Spartan Beast staged in or anywhere close to Florida; there is a Spartan Beast scheduled for Nov. 9 in Winnsboro, S.C.
While there are numerous Super Spartan races and 3-mile Spartan Sprints on the 2013 calendar around North America, there are only eight Spartan Beasts listed on the company’s website.
Spartan officials told Pasco County’s TDC that they had toured Little Everglades Ranch and projected to bring 8,000 participants to the race, at least 30 to 40 percent of which would travel 50 miles or more. Spartan plans only a one-day affair, but Pasco County officials hope that could be expanded into two days if there’s significant early registrations.
Spartan Race once made it a point not to hold events at venues previously used by its competitors, especially Tough Mudder, which held its first Florida event at Little Everglades Ranch in December of 2011.
But as obstacle events have proliferated in the last 18 months, races inevitably overlap at the same facilities, especially when so few have the right combination of ample land, parking, and convenience to major markets.
Little Everglades, a well-manicured, 2,050-acre ranch just north of Tampa, has proven to be perhaps the best venue for obstacle racing in North America. Located in a year-round warm climate, with numerous natural water obstacles, it also has multiple entrances from major thoroughfares and more than a hundred acres of parking, which makes handling big crowds no problem. For recent events, Little Everglades has provided large tents, one for men and one for women, to rinse off mud and change clothes.
Tough Mudder drew more than 15,000 runners over two days in 2011 before moving to Hi Hat Ranch in Sarasota for last year’s race, where athletes encountered traffic delays of up to four hours getting to the property. Savage Race moved to Little Everglades in October after two events in Clermont, and returns to the venue on April 13. The Dirty Girl Adventure Run staged a successful event there as well in February.
Since its debut in 2010, Spartan Race has become perhaps the most challenging of the national obstacle race events, developing a following of athletes who travel North America participating in the various distances. Unlike other events, Spartan Race penalizes athletes 30 Burpees for each challenge they fail to complete.
Unlike Tough Mudder, which bills its event as a team-building, untimed challenge and encourages office groups to run together, Spartan Race is marketed as a highly-competitive, individual, timed race. Reebok recently signed on as a title sponsor for Spartan Race, which holds some of its shorter events at Major League Baseball venues.
The Spartan Beast, though tougher than the Super Spartan or the 3-mile Spartan Sprint, is not as challenging as the Spartan Ultra-Beast, a marathon-distance event in Vermont in November. There’s also the Spartan Death Race, also in Vermont, which has no set finish. Last year’s event lasted 67 hours and, as usual, only 20 percent of the field was left standing when the race was called.