(Oct. 11, 2019) More than 3,000 men and women participated in the inaugural Ocean City Spartan Race in the inlet parking lot last Saturday.
Thousands of friends, families and onlookers watched as men and women ages 14 and older participated in the first Ocean City Spartan Race, which was only the second urban race set up by the organization.
The event was considered a success, according to Ocean City Special Events Coordinator Frank Miller.
“If we were to make a general guess on attendance, I’d probably say there were 5,000-6,000 [spectators],” Miller said. “The type of crowd it attracted … it attracted people who may not have necessarily come to Ocean City for other reasons or other events, so that exposure is highly valuable.”
“We’ve heard nothing but positive feedback regarding the event,” Ocean City Private Events Manger Lisa Mitchell said. “A lot of the participants said this was the first time that their friends and family could actually watch and almost walk with them as they did the course.”
The responses from the Spartans, their friends and families and onlookers was also very positive.
“This course is unlike any other courses Spartan has done where they usually get to close off the stadium or arena or a park,” Miller said. “But here, because it’s such an open public and tourist-based venue, the friends and family could walk the entire route and see everybody as if they were going through the obstacles.
“Lisa [Mitchell] and I saw there was one lady who didn’t know any of the runners, but she was at the obstacles cheering them on,” he continued. “It was awesome to see the support that the general public was giving.”
Some participants traveled from all over the country to participate in the urban race, like Paul Masser of Daytona Beach, Florida.
“We have family that live in Maryland and the website lists all the races and we thought it would be a good way to come up and visit family and have some fun,” Masser said. “It’s a fun challenge and it’s something different from running a 5K or a marathon.”
There were five categories for this year’s race: Elite Men, Elite Women, Age Group ranging from 14 to 60s, Morning (8:45-11 a.m.) and Afternoon (11:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.). The first wave of runners took off at 7:30 a.m.
The first-place winner of the Elite Men’s race, Mark Falcone of West Chester, Pennsylvania, finished the entire course in 27 minutes.
“This race was awesome, by far one of my favorites,” Falcone said. “It’s a flat course so it’s great for beginners, but for the elites it’s super-fast and you have to push hard as hell. There were all sorts of upper body, lower body, a bunch of grip strength obstacles … it’s real fast pace, high intensity obstacles.
“I would recommend it to anyone – young and old, beginner or elite – it’s a super fun course,” he continued. “It’s awesome to be running on the beach ... it’s just great.”
The race was so inspiring for the town, that Miller and Mitchell believe the Recreation and Parks Department will have its own team signed up next year.
“[Ocean City Recreation and Parks Director] Susan Petito mentioned the idea of maybe the town putting together a team to compete next year,” Miller said. “That just goes to show you that an event like that can be so inspiring to the public. People that wouldn’t normally think about participating on a run, let alone a run that has 20 obstacles in it, are [getting] inspired by people who are fit and people who want to get fit.”
The race held in Ocean City last weekend was a considerably shorter event than other Spartan races. Sprints take place over a three-mile distance, whereas Super ranges from five to seven miles and The Beast includes runs 13 miles or farther.
Miller would like to see more events like this in the resort.
“My hope is that that we will continue to see events like this come up and it goes along with us following Rec and Park’s slogan: ‘Be Active, Be Healthy, Have Fun,’” Miller said.
Spartan races first began in 2010 when founder Joe De Sena became increasingly aware that humans are missing a critical component in the modern world. As humans took steps forward technologically, holistic health took a step backward. Life is getting “easier”, but as a result, people are becoming overweight, depressed, lonely and less self-sufficient.
Inspired by the warrior society of ancient Sparta, De Sena set out to create a community of Spartans who push and inspire each other. Spartan obstacle courses seek to manufacture adversity, which then trains the body and mind to overcome obstacles on the course and in everyday lives.
Spartan has grown to 250-plus annual events across more than 42 countries and has currently pushed more than 8 million people to become more active, growing closer to De Sena’s goal of 100 million people.
For more information about Spartan Race, visit www.spartan.com/en/race/detail/5325/overview.