Spartan Stadium Series will make its first visit to Arizona when it hosts the Spartan Race at University of Phoenix Stadium July 7.

“This is our unique outdoor series that we are bringing indoors to the University of Phoenix Stadium for the first time” Spartan Series Race Director Ryan Durnan said during a recent interview. “We are going to put on one of our biggest events in Arizona and competitors will race through the stadium, as well as a short stint outside to enjoy the Arizona weather.”

Durnan said 99 percent of the course is inside the air conditioned stadium, but race organizers wanted to give a short stint outside to let competitors get “hit in the face with the heat.”

The series started eight years ago, with approximately 100 competitors and has grown every year, Durnan said.

“I would say from just over a hundred competitors eight years ago, to now we have had over 5 million that have crossed our finish lines,” Durnan said. “It was founded in 2010 in Vermont and has grown from there, and our motto is that we want to get people off their couch or chairs and get active.”

Spartan Race is the world’s largest obstacle race and endurance brand, and the first in-sport to feature timing and global rankings. With more than 200 events across more than 30 countries in 2017, Spartan Race will attract more than 1 million global participants offering open heats for all fitness levels, along with competitive and elite heats.

The Spartan Race lifestyle boasts a community of more than 5 million passionate social media followers, health and wellness products and training and nutrition programs, which has helped make obstacle racing one of the fastest growing sports in the world.

“Spartan draws some of the world’s most talented athletes to obstacle racing to battle technical terrain and punishing obstacles, which creates fierce competition that is unlike any other broadcast sport,” Spartan COO Jeffrey Connor said.

The military-style obstacle races pushes the bodies and minds of competitors to the limit across miles of unforgiving terrain while they conquer signature obstacles such as the spear throw, bucket brigade and barbed wire crawl. Spartan is a leader in transforming obstacle racing into a mainstream endurance sport, having been the first brand to feature timing, rankings and a Global Championship Series.

“The course of obstacles in each city, we try to adapt to the stadium and take advantage of what each city has to offer,” Durnan said. “That is why in Glendale, we will have a short section that is actually outside of University of Phoenix Stadium to showcase the heat.”

The event has competitive age groups of 18-34, 35-38 and 39 and older who all compete for bragging rights while the elite group uses a ranking system of athletes who compete around the country and battle for prize money.

“When you hit the elite, they are the athletes that are the top people in the sport,” Durnan said. “They go from race to race and compete against other elite athletes and are the crème de la crème of the sport.”

Durnan added that “the spirit of the event focuses on athletics and pushing boundaries and challenging competitors with races, but even more events such as obstacle course, spear throw, multiple height walls to climb, box jumps, rope climbs and other events.”

He also said that of the more than 5 million competitors to have run the courses, “nearly 99 percent will finish the course and none have walked out unless they are injured.”

Spectators are welcome to attend to watch the competition and Durnan said once a person competes, he normally returns to future events. He said he sees a huge future for the Spartan Series and expects the event to grow in Arizona.

“I think in Arizona, there is such a great offering of runners and athletic people that enjoy the sports outdoors and it is big in Arizona,” Durnan said. “The state has multiple professional sports teams with a die-hard following and you can’t beat the scenery. We are expecting about 4,000 competitors this year for our first and hope for more when we eventually return.”

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