Spartan Race | Sports Destination Management

Spartan Race

An Interview with Cherie Bortnick, Director of Business Development
May 21, 2020 | By: Cherie Bortnick

Image courtesy of Spartan Race
Spartan Race is a series of obstacle races of varying distances and difficulty, with more than 250 events across more than 40 countries on six continents. Spartan events feature races at various distances: Stadion and Sprint: 5k and 20 obstacles; Super: 10k and 25 obstacles; Beast: half marathon and 30 obstacles; and Ultra: 50k and 60 obstacles. This year, Spartan introduces DEKAFIT, an indoor functional fitness decathlon, as well. Additionally, Spartan offers trail races, endurance races, children’s races and championships.

Sports Destination Management: Spartan is having a busy year and is definitely in growth mode.

Cherie Bortnick: We have so many different products, and with Tough Mudder coming on, there is a lot happening right now. 

SDM: Are you hearing from destinations that had been scheduled to host Tough Mudder events?

Bortnick: We’ve had a few sports destinations and CVBs reach out, and our staff held a meeting recently to look at our schedule and talk about future events.

SDM: One of Spartan’s new products has been DEKAFIT. 

Bortnick: Yes, it’s a brand-new, workout-based event that is a co-ed program held indoors, known as the decathlon of functional fitness. 

SDM: Similar to CrossFit?

Bortnick: Yes but it’s not just a workout; it’s a full day of being with others who have that interest.

SDM: A few years ago, we talked to some people in the obstacle racing community and learned that because of the growth of the sport, many races are looking at using ski resorts during the off-season to host races. What are the advantages of venues like that?

Bortnick: The infrastructure is great – good roads, plenty of parking, rest rooms, space for the post-race parties and so on. The last thing people want to do is have to walk a huge distance before or after the race to get where they need to go.

SDM: With all its different properties, does Spartan have any ideal venue?

Bortnick: Not with so many different types of events. Almost every destination has something that would be suitable for us. This past year, for example, we introduced our City events, which are held in urban areas. They’re an entry-level product with distances of about two or three miles. The first one launched in Ocean City, Maryland, in October 2019. It was right on the boardwalk and what we saw was that it was such popular destination that people wanted to stay and make a weekend of it.

SDM: How do you find properties for all your events?

Bortnick: I’m going to Sports ETA for the first time this year because we’re looking for so many different venues for events starting in 2021.

SDM: If destinations want to reach out to Spartan about hosting an event, how do they do that?

Bortnick: We have an e-mail,, for questions regarding venues and hosting.

SDM: Are any of Spartan’s events televised?

Bortnick: We have worked with ESPN for a few years but something we’ve learned is that 80 percent of the people are streaming content on their phones or computers. People like seeing events as they happen; they won’t watch something that is taped once they know how it turns out, no matter how good the product is. TV is becoming an antiquated medium. 

SDM: What’s the most popular event for people to watch?

Bortnick: Our World Championship. We’ll be pushing out an RFP for that soon, by the way. It runs for 24 hours and has the largest audience. People just love to watch other people suffer. SDM