Earlier this month, the Kodiak Ultra Marathons, host of the North American Spartan Trail World Championships, was set to take place in Big Bear, California. Unfortunately, despite extensive planning to accommodate for COVID-19 guidelines, the race was cancelled due to severe fire danger. The San Bernardino National Forest officials revoked the race permits for the 2020 Kodiak Ultra Marathons because of the El Dorado fire, which posed a threat to the Big Bear Valley and surrounding areas. Race directors Susie Schmelzer and Harald Zundel said about the cancellation, “Runner safety is our number one priority. We are evaluating all options and we are devastated knowing the disappointment and disruption this will cause to our runners.”
Prior to the coronavirus pandemic Spartan Trail had plans to debut a multi-continent world championship race series in 2020. The cancellation of the Kodiak Ultra Marathons, meant there are no more live Spartan Trail World Championship race happening this year. As a consolation, there are virtual only Spartan Trail events at La Ruta Trail and Patagonia Run set for this November. The only Spartan Trail World Championship successfully held in this challenging year was the Fjallmaraton in Aré, Sweden that took place in August.
So, what’s next for Spartan Trail? I interviewed Mauricio Pagliacci, Director of Trail Media and PR for Spartan, who shares his thoughts on the cancelation of Kodiak Ultra Marathons and the future of Spartan Trail and its world championship series.
[TAYTE Pollmann] Tell us more about the relationship between Spartan Trail and the Kodiak Ultra Marathons. Why was this race picked as the North American Championships?
[MAURICIO Pagliacci] Spartan organizes an OCR (Obstacle Course Race) event in Big Bear, CA, which is how we became familiar with the area and Kodiak Ultra Marathons. The location is perfect. There are wonderful mountain trails and it is close to Los Angeles, which could attract runners from that area as well as providing easy travel access for those flying in. The race has a strong sense of community, which is something we’d like to incorporate in our Spartan Trail brand.
[TAYTE] What’s next for Spartan Trail and what are your plans for 2021?
[MAURICIO] As of right now, the 2020 US series Spartan Trail events are cancelled. That said, we have big plans for 2021. We will be introducing a “season pass” that gives runners special race prices and other discounts and benefits. We are also assembling a new team of people to create awareness of Spartan Trail and build a community around it. Spartan is known around the world for obstacle course racing, but we want to make sure it’s also known for trail running. We believe that after the pandemic there will be an increased participation in trail races. People will want to get back to the basics, being outside, taking in fresh air and being in mountains.
[TAYTE] Will there be a World Championship series in 2021 and will it follow the same format?
[MAURICIO] We’re currently working hard to develop a World Championship series for 2021 with new races (ultra and short distance) and significant prize money to attract top level runners. Format will be similar, but as a change, we want to make non elite runners feel a stronger sense of community and welcoming at Spartan Trail events.
[TAYTE] What else should trail runners know about Spartan Trail? How are these races unique?
[MAURICIO] Many runners may not know it, but Spartan has been organizing runs on trails since 2002. We have been a part of the trail running community for years and are excited to grow Spartan Trail. Our races provide a wide range of distances from 10 kilometers up to 100 miles, which makes them great for all types of runners including someone who has never ran on trails. Apart from racing we also offer training tips and other content such as podcasts and coaching plans. We are also strong believers in promoting equality and diversity in the sport. Our races are unique in that they are held in some of the most beautiful places in the world including South America’s Patagonia, the Dolomites in Italy, and Spain’s Canary Islands.
You can learn more about Spartan Trail on their website and check out their 2021 U.S. race schedule below.
You can follow Tayte’s adventures on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. If you liked this article, read even more of Tayte’s articles on our website. Spartan Trail is a member of the American Trail Running Association.