Spartan Race CEO Joe DeSena Addresses Vermont Rumors!

Recently,  posted a blog addressing several disappointments Spartans had with the Vermont Beast Spartan Race.
The disappointments included, but were not limited to, few water stations, garbage along the course, running out of Medals, and finisher T-Shirts.
Thankfully, CEO and Spartan Co-Founder Joe De Sena has responded to these rumors!!!
 Click the jump to see his response:

I’ve read your comments on social media. I’ve taken in your feedback – positive and negative – by reading every single email. I have this to say: I apologize. To those who left feeling disappointed or angry, I sincerely apologize.
I’m blown away by the Spartan community. When you are passionate about a product, as so many expressed about Spartan Race, you are vocal about the good, the bad and the ugly. This passion does not go unnoticed – your feedback does not go unheard. We are not perfect and we never will be – but we will try like hell every single day to be as close to perfect as possible.
To those who think we put more time into Tahoe or any other race, that is simply false. Our builders spend months working absurd hours, in the worst weather to plan and execute each venue. They are the true superheroes of the company. This was a collective mistake, none of which stemmed from lack of effort.
This race will always serve as a reminder that we have come so far, and still have a ways to go. You had questions, so here are my answers:

WTF happened with the water?

Problem: “Was having not enough water at water stations one of the obstacles? Completely unacceptable Joe De Sena!!” – Stacy T.
Racer Response: “So I couldn’t fill my CamelBak at every water station, no big deal.” – Missy W.

Racer Solution:“How about an obstacle called ‘help a Spartan’ where you have to carry a jerry can or 5 gallon water jug to the top of the mountain to the water station.” – Paul from NJ
Looking back, it appears as though over 1,000 people “jumped” their waves at our starting line. That means a TON of people asking for water and filling up CamelBaks at once. Knowing this will help us moving forward. We will do better at enforcing these start times.
We also had a well issue – it lost pressure early Saturday morning. That said, we preach being prepared for anything and were not prepared for this. No excuses here.

Bottlenecking cost me time and tested my patience.

Problem: “I waited patiently in line with many others for 40 minutes…” – Daniel K.
“From my point of view, the event was oversold.” – Kenneth R.
Racer Solution: “Waiting in line for water was unnecessary… we took the opportunity to pass 200 people at a time and get water at the next station…” – Peter K.
This bottlenecking was the result of people waiting for water, and people “jumping” into earlier heats: two issues we are addressing. As a racer you are also entitled to pass groups ahead of you, just be respectful.

Overlooked the race in my backyard.

Problem: “I love you brother but this should never have happened, let alone in your backyard.” – Jim S.
I love you too, and your intensity. You are correct. As many of you pointed out, this course was in my backyard. When you invite someone to your home, as I consider this course to be mine, the goal is to show a one-of-a kind experience. I will do everything humanly possible to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Not only in my backyard, but at our races around the world.

Forgetting the memory test.

Problem: “This was also the second race with a memory test and the second time we were never asked…” – Bob H.
Without giving too much away, this was not an oversight. Our courses are carefully calculated. This was a case of us getting in your head.

How did we run out of Trifecta merchandise and 2x, 3x, 4x, 5x Trifecta medals?

We know it’s a big deal to you. It’s a big deal to us too. This one was just a mistake on our part. It was human error. We will do everything possible to ensure it never happens again. Mistakes like this will ensure we keep a closer eye on who has earned these prestigious medals.

Spectators were displeased.

Many people also explained that their spectators were unable to get to the right locations at the right times. Two things caught us off guard about the venue. (1) Killington didn’t open the gondola until 10 a.m. (oversight on our part). And (2) The venue had new amenities this year, like a roller coaster, that made it challenging to configure the race to be spectator friendly. Again, not excuses but explanations. These things won’t happen again.

Make this right.

Problem: “You need to make this right… merchandise credits…” – Ken Z.
Agreed. We are learning from this event. We also are sending out discounts to those who raced at Killington.


Your passion and ability to speak up for what you believe to be wrong is admirable. My promise to you is that we are listening to every single comment we have received, and are actively working around the clock to fix your concerns. Bobby M. said that we are the “big leagues, and everything else is Triple A.” That’s why I wanted to address this head on.
You’ve all been vocal with me, so I want to do the same with you. When you sign up for a Spartan Race, you owe it to one another to make this a kickass sport that has integrity and legitimacy. To do that we need your help. We had countless complaints about the following:
Garbage on the course.
Problem: “It also saddened me… how much littering took place… terribly disrespectful.” – Julie and Dean M.
Come on racers, you are all better than that. I know you are tired on the course, and all that’s on your mind is finishing. That being said, there is no excuse not to respect the course. Take the extra minute to secure your garbage back into your bag. If we see you litter, we will remove you. On our end, we will look into adding additional garbage and recycling bins.

Racing in an earlier heat.

If you don’t talk to customer service, you aren’t racing earlier. We are going to start punishing those who try to sneak into different heats. To ensure your desired start time, sign up earlier.

Fighting with volunteers.

Problem: “I was witness to shoving matches that broke out between desperate runners and staff trying to maintain order…” Ken Z.
Unacceptable. I know we are Spartans and get amped up. But guess what, these people that volunteer and work for us are awake at ungodly hours before and after the race. If they are asking you to ration water, then ration water.
At the end of the day we take responsibility and owe you a great experience …but please, never forget, a big part of the Spartan brand and ethos is to be resilient when things go wrong. Do not take it out on the people who make the race possible. In fact, remember to thank them while you are on the course.

1 burpee… 12 burpees… 30 burpees. All done!

Problem: “My biggest complaint that I’ve rarely seen at a Spartan Race before is cheating…” – Julie and Dean M.
I can’t tell you how many of these emails I received. Don’t skip your burpees.
Whether or not someone is watching, if you skip your burpees you are cheating. You should not accept a medal unless you’ve completed every burpee. Lose count? Start again. Feeling sore or injured? They don’t have to be perfect, get on your knees to do the motion. But you damn well better do them. You are cheating yourselves, other races, and brand integrity when you do otherwise.
So there you have it. A learning experience. We could have ignored these issues, hoped you would forget, but that’s not who we are. That’s not the right thing to do. That’s not why I started this race. Five years into the company and we are excited to be where we are, but never complacent.
We aren’t perfect. Our people work tireless hours. But if we are going to promise to get better, you must promise too. Let’s move forward without forgetting our brand integrity.
I’m damn proud to be a part of something this special. For that, I am grateful to all of you.
See you back on the course.
– Joe De Sena