OCEAN CITY — With little discussion or fanfare, resort officials last week approved a one-day franchise agreement for food, drink and merchandise for the Spartan Race, which returns to Ocean City this weekend.
The Mayor and Council reviewed a resolution to grant a franchise to Spartan Race, Inc. for the sale of food, beverages, including non-alcoholic and beer only, and Spartan-themed merchandise during the event set for Saturday in the downtown area. The council approved the resolution unanimously with no discussion as a rather routine matter.
For the first time ever, Spartan, the Boston-based company that produces the high-intensity obstacle course races all over the country and throughout the world, brought its sprint-style competition to Ocean City in the fall of 2019. It was set to return last year, but the event was cancelled because of ongoing COVID restrictions.
The Spartan Race is returning Saturday, Oct. 16. The Spartan obstacle course event includes a festival village at the Inlet parking lot with tents featuring food, music and vendors. The race itself will take 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 2019 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.
After last year’s event was cancelled because of the pandemic, it is expected to return to Ocean City bigger and better this year. Spartan has added a kid’s race to its Ocean City event this year. During a discussion of the memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Spartan, which outlines both the company’s and the town’s responsibilities, it was projected this year’s event could draw as many as 5,000 competitors.
Earlier this week, a check of the Spartan website revealed there were about 200 spots available for the three different race times in Ocean City next Saturday. The early morning session starts from 7:30 a.m. to 7:45 a.m., while the morning session runs from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. There is also an afternoon session from 11:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
In the initial MOU, there was $80,000 allocated in the town’s tourism budget to return the event to Ocean City. However, in the final MOU, the town’s fiscal contribution had been winnowed to $65,850, which covers the Spartan host fee, banners and a pedestrian bridge. The town’s in-kind services will not exceed $50,000.