Who Wins Spartan Trails?

When people talk about a Spartan Race, we all usually assume they're talking about obstacle course racing. That's where they built their name. However, Spartan Trail Races have proven to be a sustainable way to rip even more people off the couch for a healthy challenge. Right?

The Runners

Aren't Spartan Trail runners really OCR folks just wanting to squeeze in a little more action while picking up one more medal during their normal OCR weekend? Are they seasoned trail runners who have no interest in walls or crawls? Or maybe they truly are new to it all and are just eager/reluctant to get moving. In reality, it's probably all of the above. While we don't know exactly who makes up the majority of these races, we can see who is winning them. 

The Winners   

In order to understand better who is running Spartan Trail Races, we decided to look at the 2021 winners. Specifically, we wanted to know whether running purists have adopted the Spartan way or if it's just the same OCR folks - minus the obstacles. 

Of the fifteen Spartan Trail races of 2021, seven of them were held in the United States. The Spartan website shows race results and keeps track of individual race history. So, we can easily see whether winners also participated in the OCR side of things or if they’re trail purists. Here’s what we found. 

The Results

As expected, the 50k ultra distance is more likely won by trail purists than the 10k winners…but only slightly. Only two of the 10k races had winners who had competed in more trail races than OCR. Those were both in California, and the winners were trail purists - never running OCR. 

In the 50k, most of the trail winners had raced more trails than OCR, but 4 of the 7 had raced some OCR.

The Implication

What does this all mean? Only that Spartan Trail Races are mainly won by Spartan OCR people - with the strong possibility that few trail running purists have bought into Spartan thus far. That doesn’t mean Spartan Trail has been a failure or that the winners aren’t top notch athletes. However, until Spartan Trail races can draw some of the same big names that win the most respected trail races, especially ultra trail races like Western States and Hardrock 100, it may never receive the respect in the trail running community that it deserves. 

Here’s the thing. We’re not being critical of Spartan. If anything, our thesis is that there are a lot of trail running purists who are missing out. As a result, we all miss out, because the competitive side of the Spartan ethos wants to see the best go against the best! 

What to Expect in 2022 

This year's U.S. Spartan Trail Series consists of 10 races; 8 are alongside OCR events during shared Spartan weekends, and 2 are standalone races - trail running only. 

Spartan Trail World Championship

On the international front, the Spartan Trail World Championship 2022 consists of 9 race stops across the globe. The Golden Gate Trail Classic in San Francisco will be the only United States stop. That race will be held in November and offers an opportunity to race against some of the best trail purists on the Spartan roster. We hope to see many more in years to come! 

Locations

If you're ready to jet set for global competition, here's the when-and-where for the Spartan Trail World Championship (series). 

1. Transgrancanaria (Canary Islands / Europe)

  • March 3-6, 2022
  • Gran Canaria, Canary Islands, Spain
  • Trail Ultra Championship distance: 126K
  • Trail Run Championship distance: 43K

2. Patagonia Run (Patagonia / South America) 

  • April 7-9, 2022
  • San Martín de los Andes, Neuquén, Argentina
  • Trail Ultra Championship distance: 100 Miles
  • Trail Run Championship distance: 42K

3. Brisbane Trail Ultra (Australia / Oceania)

  • July 8-10, 2022
  • Brisbane, Australia
  • Trail Ultra Championship distance: 100 Miles
  • Trail Run Championship distance: 30K

4. Fjällmaraton (Sweden / Europe)

  • July 30 – August 6, 2022
  • Äre, Sweden
  • Trail Ultra Championship distance: 100K
  • Trail Run Championship distance: 45K

5. Skyline Scotland (The Fells / Europe)

  • September 17-18, 2022
  • Kinlochleven, Scotland
  • Trail Ultra Championship distance: TBA
  • Trail Run Championship distance: TBA

6. Salomon Ultra Pirineu (Pyrenees / Europe)

  • September 30 – October 2, 2022
  • Bagà, Catalunya, Spain
  • Trail Ultra Championship distance: 100K
  • Trail Run Championship distance: 42K

7. Borneo Trail Classic (Asia Pacific / Asia)

  • Oct 15-16, 2022
  • Sarawak, Borneo, Malaysia
  • Trail Ultra Championship distance: 100K
  • Trail Run Championship distance: 50K

8. Golden Gate Trail Classic (Golden Gate / North America)

  • TBA, November 2022
  • San Francisco, California, USA
  • Trail Ultra Championship distance: TBA
  • Trail Run Championship distance: TBA

9. Aconcagua Ultra Trail (The High Andes / South America)

  • February 2023 (TBA)
  • Mendoza, Argentina
  • Trail Ultra Championship distance: TBA
  • Trail Run Championship distance: TBA

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