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Since traveling the globe, embarking on what he describes as “primal” and “life-changing” endurance challenges, The Spartan Race founder Joe De Sena, has had a singular goal: to provide that same sensation of exhilaration and fear to others, along with the transformative benefits.






Born in Howard Beach, Queens, a neighborhood known to tempt young men into drugs and crime, as a young boy De Sena was moved to the relative security of nearby Ithaca by his concerned mother. A few years later, upon his return to his former community, Joe charted his own course, replicating his father’s entrepreneurial spirit.

Sometime around age13, Joe created a swimming pool and construction company that expanded from his Howard Beach neighborhood, throughout the borough of Queens and into Brooklyn. At 25, Joe continued to buck local trends. He sold his existing companies and tested the waters of finance on Wall Street. Later, in early 2000, De Sena proved he was a true Renaissance entrepreneur, and moved his family to Pittsfield, Vermont to operate a farm, a bed and breakfast, and a general store for fellow hikers.



Always an active guy, in 2005, De Sena met Andy Weinberg and, through their mutual love of fitness, together they developed a series of challenging obstacle course races for private clients. They designed a 24-hour event, meant to test participants both psychologically and physically, which they dubbed “The Death Race.”

De Sena’s experience growing up in a tough neighborhood gave him the ability to conjure up unimaginable obstacles for the event, including: excavating tree stumps or deadlifting heavy rocks. The Death Race, later lasting up to three days with little sleep for participants, was a true test of endurance, and people loved it! Sometime after the fourth annual Death Race, De Sena was pressured to create an event that would be available to the masses- not just the elite Death Race crowd. This new venture became the popular obstacle race series known as Spartan Race.

The Spartan Race began as two distinct races: the Sprint, a course of over three miles, and the Super, which was nearly eight sweat-inducing miles. The event caught the attention of a mass audience looking for something to inspire and challenge them, and soon similar events were hosted around the United States with thousands of new racers joining from near and far.




Signature obstacles, like the rope climb, sandbag carry, and barbed-wire crawl, became the “hot new thing,” while the spear throw became known as a right of passage at the end of each race –  just before a fire jump to the finish line. Eventually, a course called the Beast was added to give racers the ability to complete three different race distances in a year and collect the coveted Trifecta medal.

As De Sena’s company grew across the U.S., international interest grew. At first, Spartan Race tested the European market in Slovakia, and later found success in Australia, Mexico, Germany, and beyond. Ever expanding, in 2013, Spartan Race broadened its stadium series to include CITI Field, Miller Park and AT&T Park. During the same year, De Sena’s Spartan Race was named “Best Obstacle Race in 2012” by Outside Magazine with over 350,000 competitors participating.

In an effort to document his own story and successes, De Sena wrote the book “Spartan Up” which chronicles his journey while also expounding upon the positive transformations that have occurred for over 1 million people thus far.

“Spartan Up” reached number two on The New York Times Best Seller list for Advice and How-To Books as well as number six on the Publishers Weekly bestseller list and was named a USA Today bestseller.







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