The Spartan Pro Team has been talked about so often in recent years, we can’t begin to recap it all in one article. Luckily, we’ve got some historical documents that do a great job recapping the highlights.
This article discusses the history of the Spartan Pro Team from 2012 through the end of 2018.
Next, in 2019, the Pro Team grew to over 200 members worldwide. Spartan even launched a “Media Day” in Jacksonville, Florida. We covered some of that in this video.
In early 2020 (pre Covid), Spartan grew the team even larger and we wrote about that here.
In 2021, there was no Spartan Pro Team. Ryan Atkins spoke about that here.
This brings us to where we are in 2022. We interviewed Spartan’s Steve Hammond to discuss the new Spartan “Pro Roster” based on a tiered system.
We then reached out to many athletes across the sport to get their thoughts on the recent news. As of this publication, here are the men and women we’ve heard back from concerning this topic.
Robert Killian – “I accepted the initial invitation to the pro team. It depends on the final contract and what Spartan requires if signing for the season. I applied for the GORUCK games and planned on racing DEKAFIT, World Champs and Honor Series events. I was swamped last year with my military obligations at the Capitol and Command and General Staff College (grad degree). Despite a solid end to the OCR season, I couldn’t make the trip to SRWC, which weighted in heavily for the tiered criteria. However, I like to see performance-based metrics and more international members on the pro team. But at the same time, character, influence, and loyalty to the brand should also be essential factors for selection. I’ve contributed significantly towards building the National Guard OCR team, supporting Dekafit, and competing in other Spartan events over the last two years, so my priorities will still be with the All Guard team. Like I’ve always told you, for me, it’s more about advocating for all those athletes who worked so hard to get to the top, and now what used to be about a lucrative contract, plus bonuses, is barely enough to cover travel expenses to a few events, even at the Tier 1 level. Overall, this system has potential but it’s still taking two steps backwards from where we were two years ago, and is far from the sport progression we should be seeing from the VP of product at Spartan Race”
Jon Albon – “Hey Matt, I saw the list and felt it was very presumptuous of Spartan to title it ‘2022 Spartan Pro Athletes’, when in fact it’s a list of people they would like, not one of people they are going to get”
Janka Pepova – “Hello. I should be happy to be in. The selection was very strict! Many athletes will be disappointed. Personally, I don’t like this selection. For me, Spartan sets and changes the rules as they please.”
Nicole Mericle – “The new pro athlete program is a great step forward in my opinion. The athletes have been asking for greater transparency, a performance-based criteria, and increased investment in the depth of the sport. The new criteria and support structure addresses all of those issues. A gender gap is apparent in that less women qualified for the tier structure, tier 2 and 3 in particular. Of course this reflects the continued development of the women’s side of the sport. I hope Spartan can find a way to equalize the support to both sides.”
Mark Batres – “This is the most transparent Spartan has been about contracts. It also gives us no restrictions on sponsorship which is great. This is a great starting point but again I wish they would get a little more athlete input because I think we could have talked about the finer details a little more. But overall I think this is a good step in the right direction.”
Faye Morgan – “There was much more forethought put into the pro selection this year than in years past – that was a much needed change. I’m a little disappointed in some of the names I am seeing in the developmental team – especially on the women’s side. It’s clear there are athletes in that group who should’ve been listed under the tier system. Someone like Lauren Weeks? She’s a dominant force in our sport, she’s more than proven herself, and for her to be developmental level is absurd. All in all, it’s evident time was put into this and I see the big pic – excited for how this year plays out.
grateful as always for the opportunity to wear the Jersey and for the season pass – any time I can race without depleting my kids’ college savings account is a bonus for me.”
Alisa Petrova (from her IG) – “My time to look back and just to be happy for myself and the results I achieved during these few years. So happy to be selected for 1 tier among Spartan Pro Athletes. From Europe there are only 2 girls: me and @zuzanakocumova 👏🏻. From this year Spartan decided not to create a usual Pro Team, but just divide athletes competing in Pro into 3 tiers according to their results.I think, it’s a good motivation to work harder and show better results in future👌🏻Congrats to everyone with the beginning of a new season! No doubt it will be an interesting journey 🖐🏻”
Dustin Livengood (from his iG) – “I will be honest i was upset when i seen I didn’t make any pro tiers with my performances last year. I performed well but not at the right races. But once i seen the qualification guidelines it’s 100% fair, transparent, and rewards athletes who work hard and perform. You can tell that Steve and Jack put a lot of time and thought into the system. So thanks @spartanrace , Steve, and Jack for making this system transparent and fair! Now its time make a plan and get to work.”
Miranda Kielpinski –
“Michael Suazo and I are both a yes for being a spartan pro! Nicole my mentor for the Dream Team did not think it would interfere with any obligations being on both teams seeing that I am in Tier 3 for Spartan.”
Rose Wetzel sent a visual aid along with her comment. Let us know if you agree in the comments.
Spartan does a lot for the sport of obstacle course racing, and I appreciate them for it. It’s my sponsors, CLIF and MitoQ, however, who provide me with the means to compete professionally in this sport and dabble in a few others, so it doesn’t feel right to stop wearing the gear they’ve given me and replace it with a generic podium shirt with additional logos crowding them out. The whole concept of wearing a uniform on the podium seems odd and a bit generic/boring to me. I prefer the variety of colors on podiums, as found on Xterra, Ironman, and Golden Trail podium finishers.
The documents below were sent to potential athletes on January 19. It includes how Spartan devised the tiers, the benefits of the tiers, and who was invited to the various tiers.