OCEAN CITY — The popular Spartan obstacle race held in the downtown area in 2019 is returning this fall, but the challenge now is how to make it a two-day event.
For the first time ever, Spartan, a Boston-based company that produces high-intensity obstacle course races all over the country and throughout the world, brought its sprint-style competition in October 2019. It was set to return last year, but was canceled because of COVID restrictions.
The Spartan obstacle course event included a festival village at the Inlet parking lot with tents featuring food, music and vendors. The race itself took place largely on the Boardwalk, beach areas and side streets in the downtown area with all manner of obstacles to overcome. Over 3,000 racers competed in the event, which included obstacles such as cargo nets, walls to traverse, rope climbs, monkey bars, water hazards, atlas carries, spear throws, sandbag carries and many others. Spartan produces similar events all over the country with different courses and varying degrees of difficulty,
It was difficult to quantify how many of the competitors and their friends and families stayed over night or made a weekend out of the event. Many from large metropolitan areas relatively nearby likely made it a day trip while others stayed over the night before the race or the night after. During a Tourism Commission meeting on Monday, Mayor Rick Meehan asked if there was any effort to expand the popular event.
“What do we need to do to make this a two-day event?” he said. “The goal is to get people to stay after.”
Special Events Director Frank Miller said that would likely depend on the event’s continued popularity. During the 2019 race in Ocean City, over 3,000 participated and went off in waves of 150 every 15 minutes. If the number of registered racers exceeded the available start times, the race could be expanded to two days.
“It will take some time for it to grow,” he said. “If they get enough registrations, they will make it a two-day event.”
Worcester County’s Director of Recreation and Parks, Tourism and Economic Development Tom Perlozzo said he has had discussions with Spartan’s new leadership.
“I’ve met with them and we’re trying to get their interest in making it two days,” he said. “It’s worth a conversation with Spartan. My thought process is how we can make it even longer than two days.”
Miller agreed the new leadership might be responsive to expanding the event.
“They’re fitting their model into a unique venue,” he said. “They were resistant to change, but they have new leadership so there may be an opportunity there.”