Since its founding in 2007 the Spartan Race has become world famous. It has been franchised to over 30 countries. In 2017 it had its debut run in Iceland in middle of December. The Spartan Iceland Ultra World Championship had both a 24-hour endurance race. In addition, it featured signature “Sprint” event 6.7 mile course with 20 obstacles. 16th of December was the event date. The race was to be held in the vicinity of the village of Hveragerdi in South West Iceland. Iceland Travel MICE department took on the challenge of setting this event up.
Ready, Set, Go!
“As promised, the race delivered some of the most punishing conditions to ever to take shape during a Spartan event, making our first race on the Island one of the hardest obstacle races in history. Athletes who crossed the finish line on Sunday weathered some of the worst conditions I have seen during an endurance race, and showed a true display of dedication, passion and grit.”
Joe De Sena, Spartan Founder and CEO
Taking on the Icelandic Winter
The event would present the Iceland Travel MICE team and participants with one main challenge: The Icelandic Winter. In December there is only about 4 hours of daylight. First of all, the Weather is volatile to say the least. During this time of year the average low temperature is about -2 degrees Celsius and an average high of about 4 degrees Celsius (39 F). Temperatures can be significantly lower. In addition, average temperatures mask the often unrelenting wind, sleet and snow which is typical of Icelandic winter weather. The terrain around Hveragerdi village is rough and in December you can add icy ground to the equation.
Rising up to Meet the Challenge
Meet in Reykjavik, the official Convention Bureau for Reykjavík City and surroundings contacted the Iceland Travel Incentive Department in May 2017. The Spartan Race cannot be considered typical of the events Iceland Travel organizes. However, fundamentals of event planning and execution remain the same. Erla B. Ágústsdóttir the department Manager of the Iceland MICE team oversaw the project for Iceland Travel. In addition, five other members of the Incentive departments worked on Spartan Race project. Their tasks included the following:
- Work with the Icelandic Icon advertising agency to promote the event
- Help to set up the track with 20 obstacles
- Book accommodations for the Spartan Race Team and participants
- Liaise between the Spartan Race team and the local authorities
- Help to recruit 150 volunteers
- Recruit Vikings for the starting ceremony
- Supplied day tours and souvenirs
A Spartan beats the obstacle course.
“I am proud of my team for their hard work. We enjoyed this project tremendously. Most of all, to see the spirit of the Spartans who participated in the race was an experience we won´t forget. The event was closely supervised and surveilled. Therefore, only one ankle got sprained despite the fact that people were competing in the dark and cold of winter.”
Erla B. Ágústsdóttir, Manager of the Incentive Department at Iceland Travel.
Racing Across Icy Ground.
Legions of Spartans Race Under the Northern Lights to Glory
The race was a success since more than 800 contestants from 35 different countries participated in the race and faced 60 mile-per-hour winds, downpours, sleet, snow, below freezing temperatures and darkness. In addition, the track was 11.9-kilometres of unforgiving terrain. Furthermore, the Spartans got lucky and saw the elusive northern lights during the night.
The Iceland Travel MICE team is ready for the 2018 Spartan Race
The Iceland Travel MICE team is now preparing the 2018 Iceland Ultra World Championship which will be held in Hveragerdi village on the 6th of December. More information is on the Spartan Race web site.