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Volume 25 No. 177
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Spartan Race Could Be On Hook For $1M Bonus After Iceland Event

Spartan Race’s $1M cash prize offer to anyone who wins three major competitions this year appeared to be a long shot when it was first announced, but it is now a distinct possibility heading into the final race. British athlete Jon Albon will start the '18 Ultra World Championship in Iceland on Friday as the winner of the first two legs of the Spartan $1M Trifecta -- a September event at Lake Tahoe and a November race in Sparta, Greece. To cash in, Albon must cover the most distance and complete at least 100 miles, or 20 laps, of the 5-mile course in 24 hours. Spartan Race is self-insuring the prize, series Founder & CEO Joe De Sena said, after an oversight earlier this summer. "There’s a chance he wins that damn thing,” De Sena said. "That’s got me a little ... that will be aggravating." De Sena yesterday said he secured a promise from Rakuten CEO Hiroshi Mikitani, whose company sponsors the series, to help “cover a portion should Albon win.” He will ask other sponsors too. De Sena said he got quotes from various insurers to cover the $1M prize, which Spartan Race announced on July 2. "I basically agreed on getting insurance, so I knew what my downside was,” De Sena said. “And shame on me, my fault, I didn’t have that contract completely locked up. When Jon won Tahoe, and they saw how fast he completed [the race], all the insurance companies said, ‘We’re not insuring this.’" Other than the $1M Trifecta, the prize pool for the Iceland stop is $25,000.

COMPANY IS FINANCIALLY SOUND: During a wide-ranging interview in S.F. last week, De Sena said Spartan Race is financially sound, with a pool of cash reserves to cover the possible prize and other contingencies. “We’re sitting on a little war chest,” De Sena said. Other than De Sena, Spartan Race’s owners include Hearst Media, some friends and family, and Raptor Group. There has been some conversation about finding a new investor to replace Raptor Group, De Sena said. Participation overall in endurance racing has stagnated in recent years, and competitor Tough Mudder last month announced a restructuring in the wake of cash-flow challenges this year. Tough Mudder has taken on a new capital partner, and as a result, will be spinning off its line of boutique fitness gyms and downsizing its core events business. De Sena said the industry is not facing a crisis. “There’s not a systemic issue," he said. "I think the issues that some folks are experiencing are specific to their business models, specific to the way they operate."