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Spartan sees over 40,000 athletes compete in virtual event

More than 40,000 people in over 100 countries crossed the virtual finish line in Spartan's most recent virtual event

Amelia Boone
On May 30 and 31, Spartan held the world’s largest virtual race, with over 40,000 competitors in more than 100 countries crossing the virtual finish line of what the endurance events company dubbed Project Unbreakable. The event was open to everyone, from amateurs and first-time Spartan participants to pro and elite racers, and four different races were featured. Spartan has been holding weekly virtual events since April, with thousands of athletes participating in each. Project Unbreakable was organized with the goal of reaching more participants than ever before, and the company succeeded, with more than double the number of registered athletes than in any of their previous virtual events.

Project Unbreakable races

Athletes from six continents (all but Antarctica) competed in the many Project Unbreakable events. The shortest event was the Spartan Sprint, which involves 5K of running and 20 obstacles. Next up is the 10K, 25-obstacle Spartan Super, followed by the Spartan Beast, which sees athletes working through 30 obstacles and running a half-marathon. Finally, the longest and most daunting of the races is the Spartan Ultra, a 50K run with 60 obstacles. In addition to the four main events, there were Spartan Kids races for children between the ages of four and 14, which ranged in distance from 800m runs up to just over 3K.

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Virtual Spartans

You might be wondering how a virtual obstacle course race works. After all, how are 40,000 people supposed to run the same course if they’re spread out across over 100 countries? Instead of using physical obstacles like a regular Spartan Race does, virtual events like Project Unbreakable see participants performing different bodyweight and aerobic exercises, such as pushups, mountain climbers and other physical tasks. In addition to these at-home obstacles, participants had to run (or bike or row on stationary machines) the appropriate distance for whichever event they’d entered.

Not virtual for long

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Spartan has been holding virtual races for over a month, but on June 13 and 14, the company will return to hosting live events. The first in-person Spartan event since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic will be held in Jacksonville, Fla., and race organizers are expecting 4,000 racers per day. Spartan CEO Joe De Sena told Obstacle Racing Media that his team has “procedures in place to make a Spartan event safer than going grocery shopping, going to Starbucks or going in an elevator.”