Update 10.22.19 4:15PM EST – Spartan Race Bans Ameer Haroun
Spartan 4-0 is a Facebook group for obstacle racing enthusiasts. With more than 16,500 at the time of this writing, it’s the largest OCR Facebook Group not officially run by Spartan Race HQ.
Like most groups of it’s kind, 4-0 is a place where people that love Spartan Races and OCR can find friends to train and race with. It’s also a great resource where people new to the sport can learn everything from what gear to buy, to which races are coming up in their area. It’s a true community, that has helped thousands of people stay connected and live healthier, stronger lives.
The group’s undisputed leader is Ameer Haroun, a married, father of 2, who is undoubtedly one of the main reasons the group has reached its current size. He has a large personality and is extremely active on social media. He boasts of 4-0 landing the coveted “Biggest Team Award” at countless races and waves the 4-0 banner figuratively and literally everywhere he can. Ameer (who’s last name is actually Krass) has been interviewed for multiple articles and podcasts to speak about 4-0 the many things that the group has accomplished. In a recent article Ameer was quoted as saying “We win because we lift and support one another. Our goal is to continue to grow and inspire while still feeling like a close-knit community. We are excited to see our family grow, and the lives we will change along the way”
Earlier this year, Ameer was even invited by Facebook HQ to appear at their Facebook Communities Summit.
However, we have been speaking with several men and women in the obstacle racing community who have a very different view of Ameer. Obstacle Racing Media has been speaking to sources since January of 2016 to shine a light on some very troubling accusations.
Many we spoke to were not willing to go public until now, and there are those still not willing to give their full names names for fear of reprisals.
Not many know that the Facebook group “Spartan 4-0” was actually started by two women in the Fall of 2015. J Clark and Alicia (how they asked to be referred to for this story) created the Facebook group with a simple post in another group, Spartans Of The Northeast.
“I’m starting a 40+ Spartan/OCR men and women’s private group tonight, reply below so I can invite you”.
The group quickly gained traction and began adding hundreds of members. The two women were approached by Ameer shortly afterwards to work together to grow the group. When we reached out to the two, J Clark told us: “I wanted to trademark the 4-0 name and was told that I would be sorry if I went off and did this on my own.” Ameer wanted the three of us to go into business together and that is not something that we wanted to do. He pretty much bullied me out of that group. I did all of the work when starting it and then got pushed out. I am a 40 year old mother of two. I just didn’t need his bullshit and didn’t need to be bullied by an aggressor like him, so I left.”
“He started texting me and threatening me. I ended up blocking his number on my phone, and blocked him on FB and Instagram. To be completely honest with you…I was scared for my family after all of this. I truly was. That’s why I am hesitant on talking.”
By 2017, it began to be known in some OCR circles that Ameer was using his role as Spartan 4-0 Administrator to consistently and aggressively reach out to women. Some began to share pictures that Ameer had sent them. However, if anyone shared these images in Spartan 4-0, the posts would immediately be deleted and the poster kicked out the group. If any man or woman questioned why people were kicked out, they too, would be removed.
Two polarizing camps began to build. One camp calling out Ameer as a predator who cheats on his wife. The other defending his actions stating some version of “These women were complicit, and he’s doing something many men, married or otherwise, do every single day”.
As we researched this story, we heard tale after tale of Ameer Haroun’s inappropriate behavior. Several women who joined Spartan 4-0 with the hopes of connecting to a positive and supportive OCR community, were met with direct messages from Ameer looking for more than friendship.Our goal was to distinguish fact from rumor, and to get information direct from victims whenever possible.
A woman who did not want to be identified told us “He would ask me of photos of my nether regions. He would say no one would know. He’d also tell me how to take them so he’d get the best angle. After that, and after all the other women in 4-0 started talking about what he had done to them, I pretty much blocked him and left that Facebook group.”
Another woman who began a flirtatious relationship with Ameer posted her story in a private facebook group and allowed us to share some of it. Her communication with Ameer quickly grew from messages to phone calls. “He used to talk about all the things he wanted to do to me sexually, he would call me at work and tell me these things. He would then get mad when I wanted nothing to do with the conversations. He had offered on multiple occasions for me to fly out to New Jersey to see him. He told me to buy a package deal and he would pay me back for the hotel if I got myself out there. Once I learned he was doing this with so many other women, I called it off. I never want this to happen to another woman so long as I live. Coming from the abusive relationship I was in, he preyed on me in the worst possible time of my life.”
Amy joined Spartan 4-0 after doing her first Spartan trifecta. Shortly thereafter, Ameer began wooing her through messages on Facebook. Ameer told Amy that he was separated from his wife and asked to meet for dinner. Amy admits now that she was naive. “I thought it was cool to be hanging out with the leader of the Spartan 4-0 group. Little did I know that he was sleeping around with other women in the group”
She continued, “After dinner, he drove me back to my house and insisted on walking me to the door. He saw all my Spartan stuff on the wall and let himself into my house. He picked up my Atlas ball put it down, turned around and attempted to kiss me. I asked him to leave. He called me two minutes from his car. He told me he had driven over an hour for the date and that we would just talk if I let him sleep over. I had to tell him no, repeatedly before he got off the phone. That man does not like taking no for an answer.”
We got another example from a woman who became friendly with Ameer and his wife in 2017. They completed a race together with a large group from Spartan 4-0. Shortly after the race, she told us that Ameer pulled her behind a wall. “He started trying to make out with me. He was shoving his hand down my pants and putting my hand on his d**k, on the outside of his pants.” She was in shock as this was happening and did not know what to do. “Your wife is literally just around the corner and I ran the whole race with her!”
Then we heard the most disturbing story of all from a woman named Kerstin. She joined 4-0 in 2015 and was excited to be part of a fitness community which supported her and allowed her to thrive in her new passion of OCR. Shortly after joining the group she was pursued by Ameer and was charmed. She agreed to meet Ameer at the Hilton in East Brunswick NJ off I-95 in November of 2015. She admittedly knew there would be some “fooling around”, but had no idea what would transpire.
Shortly after Ameer entered the room, it became physical right away. He brought wine and began forcibly kissing her. She tried to slow things down, but was not successful. Ameer would drink from the bottle, then kiss her so the alcohol would go down her throat.
“He started getting aggressive and I said to stop, repeatedly. He then then slapped me in the face. He got a look on his face like this was going to happen no matter what and I knew I was in trouble. He grabbed the back of my head and aggressively forced his d**k in my mouth. I was crying and tried to push him back but he was smiling and loving it.”
￼”At that moment I laid on the bed and let him do whatever he wanted to. I just mentally checked out. I knew it was gonna happen and I couldn’t fight him, so I let him. I fell asleep and he woke me up and he did it again. Again I just laid there. This whole thing was only a few hours. Then we got dressed and left. He had a hoodie on and put his face down. He freaked out when he saw the cameras in the garage of the hotel.”
She told us that she posted her story in the 4-0 group in hopes of getting some help. Ameer would delete her posts as soon as they went up. She told us “Ameer said to stop talking. He said he would donate to a charity if I would shut my mouth. He ended up donating $200 a few weeks later, and sent me a screenshot to prove it”.
In the last 3 years, many men in powerful positions in politics and entertainment have taken down because of the #MeToo movement. The bravery of the women that have come forward, whom Time Magazine called The Silence Breakers, has forever changed our culture.
Like the woman in our story, they risked ridicule, shame and their privacy. Our hope is that more women will come forward if they have had experiences like this in the obstacle racing industry.
We are so grateful to the men and women who had the courage to tell us their stories. We hope that we can help facilitate some changes.
**Update 10.21.19 5:28pm EST. Obstacle Racing Media received the following from a spokesperson at Spartan Race.
“The safety of our community is our number one priority. Spartan is taking these allegations very seriously and we are working with multiple parties to investigate further to ensure swift and appropriate action where available. We pride ourselves on creating an open, welcoming environment for everyone and won’t stand for anything to the contrary.”
Update 10.22.19 4:15PM EST – Spartan Race Bans Ameer Haroun