Spartan Race CEO and co-founder Joe De Sena spearheaded a purchase of rival Tough Mudder out of bankruptcy, a deal that was finalized in February 2020.
Then the pandemic hit.
“So, here we were dealing with the worst thing we could possibly deal with: a global shutdown,” De Sena told Front Office Sports. “We would be frauds if we blinked, crawled in the corner, and started crying.”
The first Tough Mudder event since December 2019 is slated for April 24-25 outside Atlanta. It will run with about a third of the traditional capacity, with pre-event health screening surveys and event workers/volunteers in masks.
Spartan Race and Tough Mudder have 64 U.S. events scheduled this year. The average cost for a Spartan Race is $130 and Tough Mudder’s average entry fee is $93. Four Spartan events have already taken place.
“The millions of people who took up running or cycling or have been working out in their basement or garage over the past year haven’t had an outlet to actually put that to work,” Tough Mudder CEO Kyle McLaughlin said. “The number of new customers is off the charts right now.”
The pandemic forced between 15,000-20,000 events to be canceled or postponed last year, according to industry trade group Running USA. That trend has continued into this year with major road races. The Boston Marathon — which was canceled last year and would traditionally run in April — is now scheduled for Oct. 11.
“We are not likely to see events with 40,000 people, but we may start seeing events with 10,000 and 20,000 participants with best practices in place,” Running USA CEO Dawna Stone told FOS.