What is the Spartan Death Race? Is it Still Around?

Before the events that would come to be known as the Spartan Race came to be, there existed a “death race” version of it which was one of the first MAJOR, televised, event that took place somewhere in Vermont.

The challenge would involve an X amount of people having to cross an X amount of land (which could be mountains, rivers, and other difficult terrain) and overcome various challenges besides the terrain itself. Tasks and obstacles would be placed across the event and if competitors were to finish the event, they would have to complete all the said obstacles, fully. 

It sounds like today’s regular Spartan Race, such as the Super or Beast, but these events were shaped thanks to the Death Race version. And based on what I remember for the Death Race, it was more difficult. But that’s not to say the current Spartan Races aren’t tough, not at all. It’s just that this particular event was built for the most toughest challengers.

The event would take anywhere from several hours to even a day or more to complete and it would test the endurance and mental resilience of even the most hardcore athletes in this world. 

I remember watching the Spartan Death Race on television and seeing how people were climbing mountains, carrying heavy bags full of nails, answering puzzles, overcoming challenges and even having to do a 100 push ups at the finish line, and all of these people were seeking to complete the said challenges in the fastest time possible. 

Winners could get money, recognition and fame in the process. But whatever happened to this event?

The last time I heard of it being held, it was somewhere in 2014. While this event itself drew a lot of attention, there were many people who wanted to participate in it but could not, due to a lack of funds, physical abilities, having the logistical opportunity to travel to where the event would be held and overall with there being a cap on how many could do it, this created a lot of difficulties for the everyday person to do.

Additionally there is said to have been disagreements between the 2 main creators of the event, something that led to lawsuits, and overall a refusal for one person to continue the events while the other wanted them to go on. Additionally, there were also reports of money issues, payout issues and other miscellaneous business issues. 

However, this “break up” and “end” to the death race brought forth the idea of making it into something different, more accessible to people across the country/world. This would lead to the creation of the following Spartan events:

Spring, Super, Beast and Ultra Beast (I’ve done them all except the last one). Here’s explanations on each.

By spreading these events across the world and in particular areas where people from large metropolitan areas could get to easily enough, the event would then become:

Far more accessible to the general public. 

It was also a lot easier than the original death race, no more 24 hour + events, now it was slightly more doable for most athletes and they could choose from the 4 events above, based on their physical level. But just because it is more doable than the past death race still doesn’t make it easy.

I personally think out of all the mud runs I’ve done, the ones which were EASILY the hardest for me to complete were the Spartan Races. They are physically and mentally draining beyond belief…

Prices were also cheaper as now people who were in the area of a held event could actually pay and get there without having to take a plane.

This proved to be a very successful venture as a few years later, this event and it’s 4 different versions have become an ever growing event, with millions across the world participating in it, including people like myself. As for the death race, it is apparently not around anymore. 

If you look at the official Spartan challenge site, there is no mention of this anymore. There are championships held, but I believe this is for the existing 4 versions of the event, not the previous one. 

As for what happened to the creators, for all we know, there is still some lawsuit going on behind the scenes, with the death race put on hold until it’s settled as far as I know. From what I saw, there was no official “end” announced for this event, but in it’s pause, the 4 other events took over and today, this is what the Spartan Race is best known for.

What types of alternative events are there?

Well if you’re into crazy mud runs, here are some alternatives to consider:

Spartan Beast. You’re looking at 12+ miles of harsh hiking and obstacle crossing. Elite level athletes MAY be able to cross this in a manner of 3-4 hours (which is the record from what I know). Regular runners may have to do it for 10+ hours. More info.

Ultra Beast. Just multiply the beast by 2 (2 laps that is). This is literally a marathon long event, except on mountains. I would say this may take nearly a day for most competitors to complete but you’ve got to be in some seriously sick physical condition to consider it. I finished a beast and I am glad I never went for the ultra…

Toughest Mudder. A popular competitor to the above events is Tough Mudder and their hardest event last for 24 hours. Your job is to cross whatever they put in front of you as many times as possible, so if their overall length is 12 miles (which it usually is), you’ll have to see how many laps you can do around that. I think the record is 70 miles in 24 hours…

Any type of iron man challenge out there. It’s not exactly a typical mud run/OCR, but it is still one of the most grueling physical events in the world. I believe it involves 2 km of swimming, over 100 km of cycling and a finale of jogging for 26 miles. There’s numerous areas in the world which host this one…

These 4 alternatives aren’t even classified as “hard”, there’s ridiculously difficult and you need to really consider your health and physical shape as well as mental fortitude to do ANY of them. Luckily with the huge popularity of the mud run industry, you have other events with their own options that have sprouted and you can pick one out based on your physical level here.

I always advise people don’t go too crazy, start with a simple one and work their way up to the harder ones, and even then, always consider your safety first…

4 thoughts on “What is the Spartan Death Race? Is it Still Around?”

  1. This all sounds really intense, I recently have been seeing a lot of attention put on ultra marathons which I though was the craziest thing ever but this sounds way better. I want to do something like this one day. At the time I am in no shape to do it but in the future I will definitely look into getting myself involved in one of these events.

    • Hi Jose, do you have experience with ultra marathons or any big races? If so, then you should be fine to switch over to big time mud runs like the Spartan Beast or higher levels. If not, I’d start with lower level mud runs like these.

  2. These is awesome! I get excited just reading about the different Spartan races. The death race sounds insane, to bad its not around anymore, because I would have loved to take that challenge. You are right when you say they are taxing both mentally and physically, but it is so fulfilling when you pass the test!

    • Yeah there is a strong satisfaction (and hunger!) after finishing these events. Have you done any of these mud runs?

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