Disclaimer!! This is an opinion on the event as a whole. My own personal experience can be read about here. I truly enjoyed the experience and the challenge. It was one of the greatest physical and mental challenges I have ever experienced and at some points was very spiritual.
Has Spartan Race gone too far? The recent Spartan Super in Virginia, in my opinion, did just that. The definition of the Spartan Super according to www.spartanrace.com is as follows: "The Super Spartan obstacle race provides an 8+ MILES / 20+ OBSTACLES battlefield of insane mud running with 15 or more obstacles to test your physical strength and mental resolve. This mud fest of a race will have many trials to push you to your limits that any man or woman with resolve can complete! This endurance race conists of mud runs, trails, and both mental and physical obstacles and challenges." Yes, there was 8 miles with obstacles but 'running'? I'm pretty sure the greater percentage of us did not do much 'running'. Yes, the course most definitely consisted of 'both mental and physical obstacles and challenges' but the course was not necessarily designed that way. The course was not designed to be a challenge but to be an elimination. The ego's of the race director's and course designers have gotten out of control. They have reached the point of constantly trying to 'out-do' each other that they crossed the line. This course was designed solely with the elite in mind as if Norm Koch was preparing everyone for the Ultra Beast or the The Death Race. This particular course quickly became not fun, yes we enjoy these things and think they are fun, and turned into survival and an extreme desire to finish or be finished.
Look at it from a business standpoint. For generalization let's say that 90% of the Spartan Sprint registrants are out to enjoy a challenge, have fun with friends and get a good Facebook picture. The other 10% are the Elite out to win money and many of them are probably running for free. By that reasoning, it would be sound to expect that 80% of the Spartan Super participants would be the same people out to enjoy a challenge with friends and get a good Facebook picture. Obviously the percentage of the hardcore and the Elite would increase with the level of complexity. By this same line of reasoning an even smaller percentage of the participants of a Spartan Beast would be just out for fun and a challenge. So, using these hypothesized numbers, your largest customer base and the people providing you with the bulk of your income are not out to be eliminated but have paid damned good money for a challenge that will put them just outside their comfort zone. If they don't get there, then they will be hooked to pursue the next level and, guess what, pay more money. However, if they do not enjoy themselves or possibly do not finish, which happened a lot on this course, they will never come back and they will tell everyone they know what a bad time they had. Businesses rely on repeat customers and new customers from testimonials. The sport of OCR is new and growing but it definitely has a finite customer base. Just as people are being turned away from the sport and pastime as a result of the many cancellations and non-refunds that have happened this year, they will also be turned by having too much thrown at them. This is where the local 'mom and pop' mud runs will continue to thrive. Joe Desena constantly talks about how he wants to get people "off the couch" and Spartan Race has done just that but if the level of difficulty continues with this current rate of ascent, they will be putting people back on couches, in hospital beds or possibly in graves. Course designs like this one are counter-productive to that base goal of 'getting people off the couch'.
As I mentioned in a previous blog over the current state of the OCR world, this is all about the law of supply and demand. There is a certain demand for Sprints, Supers, Beasts, etc .. and this is what people expect and pay for. If you do not supply to the demand, the demand will diminish and not require the supply.
A word of advice to Spartan Race; get your organization under control if you want to continue with the great level of success that you have had and continue to provide us with the most awesome events that has gotten this country moving again. No American TV network or Global shoe manufacturer is going to want to have their name associated to an event that intentionally tries to throw people off a mountain.
Just my thoughts and my opinion .. it's like an a$$hole, everybody has one.