#Shirtstorm 2

Spartan Race Shirt

Yesterday, Spartan Race posted a photo of BattleFrog sponsored athlete Ryan Atkins with an altered version of his BattleFrog tshirt shortly after winning the Montreal Super rSpartan.

This is a current hot button in OCR after #shirtstorm occurred at the Spartan Georgia race back in March.

BattleFrog responded with a photo of their own, mockingly altering the Spartan logo in the lower right corner, on their own photo.

BattleFrog Shirt

We asked Ryan for his version of what went down yesterday afternoon. Here is what he told us.

Selica (head of Spartan Race Canada) asked me if I could wear a Spartan shirt on the podium instead? I honestly didn’t think she was that serious.

I told her, no, It’s part of my contract to wear my sponsor on the podium. A few minutes later Joe De Sena walked up and he and I chatted about some things, it was super amicable. Then someone else (not Joe) came up and asked about changing my shirt, and again I told them no.

It didn’t even seem like a serious thing. Like they were kind of half joking when they asked.

I think its hilarious that they photoshopped it. I can see how they don’t want me with my neon green BattleFrog shirt on the front page of their social media. I can totally understand that they can ask me not to wear it. They also have to understand, you can’t tell me what to wear. You can ask, but I will politely tell you no, which is exactly what happened.

We reached out to Spartan Race HQ directly, and they gave us the following:


Spartan Race participants are free to wear whatever they want throughout the event, including the podium. We ask that the podium finishers also take a photo with our tees to promote the road to the world championships, optional on their part.


If images are edited and how completely depends on the intended use for the imagery – partner promotion, advertising, media, etc.

As it relates to “competitor” logos, at times we have promoted competitors logos and at others we have selected another shot. We do not have a policy of blurring competitor logos.

Hope this clears up all the questions and lets all get back to building an Industry.

Joe De Sena personally added.

“I have spent a lot of time on shirts today, rather than pitching in what i can toward growing the industry with all of us, and getting this sport into The Olympics some day.”  

“Sometimes its easy to get focused on the speed bumps rather than on the mountains that lie ahead that are the real challenges to get past.”

We’d love to know your thoughts… 

We know this common practice in other some other sports-should it be?

Is photo shopping poor sportsmanship? Or just lame?

Matt B. Davis

is the host of the Obstacle Racing Media Podcast and the author of "Down and Dirty-The Essential Training Guide for Obstacle Races and Mud Runs". He is also the only (known) #wafflehouseelite obstacle racer.
  1. Personally I do not have a problem with what Spartan did to Ryan’s shirt on Sunday. I don’t think it was worth the trouble but whatever. I do believe Ryan did it on purpose. He’s a competitor. He’s on Battle Frog’s team and he’s standing up for their brand. On top of this, Spartan’s gaf awhile back turning Lindsay the wrong way as she pursued Amelia is probably still not sitting well. Why not turn the knife a bit.

    Either way, King Atkins will have a chance at the final say in October at the Spartan WC. Who know’s, we might see that shirt again on the 1st place podium in Tahoe. What will Spartan do to that pic?

    And the beat goes on! 🙂

    Jason “Science” Rulo

  2. i don’t have a problem with the blurring images as they are trying to build a brand. However I think it is working in the complete opposite way, of both, building a brand and Joe’s goal of making it an Olympic Sport.

    If this is a bump on the road, then don’t even slowdown for it Joe, don’t blur the image and move on.

    One more thing to note, is that no other sport requires an athlete to get rid of a short, or blur their sponsors when they play “visitors”. Not a single sport event in the world. So Joe … What kind of example are you trying to set here?

    I think we should all focus on enjoying the sport and learn that although there may be leading brands, it is always great to have competition … It only makes YOU better Joe.


    The biggest winner in my eyes … Savage Race. They love everybody 🙂

    1. I agree with everything you said until the very end. Many other sports actually do that very thing with the blurring or outright removal of images.

  3. Nike, Reebok, Asics, and Addidas sponsor sporting events all over the world and when opposing athletes win their sponsored events they dont blank out their logos. Desensa is deflecting. if he wants the World to accept OCR its about the athletes and not the brand !!!

  4. I cant help but chime in here. I know Joe, I think he is a world class innovator. I think it will take a guy like him to get the sport of obstacle racing to the Olympics. I also know Ryan whom I think is a class act and a solid competitor who is an absolute shoe in for Worlds.
    Having said all of that, its pretty simple: You want an athlete to fly your colors, pay him. If he already has a sponsor, make him a better deal. What you don’t what to do is ask a guy who won to take off his sponsor colors on pay day. That is what the sponsors pay for. That’s what the athletes work for, to get paid doing what they do so well.
    Its a new sport, there are a lot of details to get sorted out along the way. I say a world class athlete needs good representation. So that no one gets caught up in the fine print.

    1. Take an example of an already commited Olympic Sport in BMX racing. See the below podium shot:


      This was the podium of a Red Bull sponsored and organised event in Berlin last year. The winner is a high profile Monster Energy sponsored rider. Clear direct competitors in the market of energy drinks. Not a single picture of that event was changed to remove the Monster Energy marketing on the winner.

      This is how professional sports handle stuff like this.

      1. Simply said: Removing and censoring sponsorship actually does more damage than letting it on.

        The Streisand Effect is fully at work in situations like this. Nobody would have cared if it was not altered, but now it is news that is was removed.

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