How are Age Group and Elite Categories Changing in 2024?
In 2024, we will be removing the barrier between race categories and debuting a redesigned “Competitive Category” at all standard event weekends.*
In this new system, racers will register for Competitive start waves based on their anticipated pace and/or finish time. The overall podium winners will be the top 3 fastest male and female times from the Competitive field.
All other athletes will be ranked within their age group. The top 3 finishers in each age group will receive age group podium awards.
Are Age Groups going away?
Absolutely not. Age Groups will not be disappearing in 2024. Athletes racing in the Competitive category will still be ranked within their age groups, including age group awards.
The top 3 male and female times overall will be the overall podium winners and will be excluded from Age Group results for that race.
I’m an Elite Racer. How can I guarantee a spot at the front of the start line?
Any racer achieving an overall podium finish in 2024 - meaning the top 3 male and female times in the Competitive category - will receive a Pro Armband during the podium ceremony. This armband can be shown at subsequent races in the season to gain access to the front of the start line.
The Pro Armband is also proof of qualification to the Elite wave at National Series events.
Current racers that have achieved a top 3 finish in the Elite category in 2023 will be pre-qualified for a 2024 Pro Band.
Will the race categories be different at National Series and Championship Events?
All championship events - including National Series, Regionals, and World Championships - will still have a single Competitive category; however, the heats will be organized slightly differently from normal event weekends.
The first heat, called a “pro championship heat” will consist of all athletes that qualified into that championship event. These racers will be released in a mass start wave, with the overall winner of the championship race determined by the fastest time from the gun start. Only racers in this heat will be eligible for cash prizes and the overall podium. Qualifying and racing in this pro championship heat will exclude racers from Age Group podiums.
Racing in the Pro Championship Heats will require qualification to lock in a guaranteed spot. The current qualification standards are:
- National Series Race - 2024 Pro Band (i.e. Top 3 overall finish in the Competitive category of any ‘24) or a top 10 Elite heat finish in 2023
- Regional Championship - Top 20 Finish at any 2024 National Series race
- World Championship - Top 50 Finish at a 2024 Regional Championship race
Subsequent Competitive heats will be grouped by age brackets, which will constitute the Age Group Championships. Racers in these heats will not be eligible for the championship prize purse, but will still be ranked within their age groups and will be eligible for the Age Group Championship podium. Age Group Championships will be open to general registration, capacity permitting; however, any racer finishing top 3 in their age group at a 2024 event will be granted priority access to these heats.
What is the new Competitive Category?
The Competitive Category is the main race category at Spartan races, beginning in 2024. Racers in this category will be competing for placement on the overall leaderboard, podium finishes, and age group awards.
The top 3 overall male and female times in this category will be the Overall Winners, with all remaining athletes being ranked within their age groups. The top 3 finishers within each age group will earn age group awards.
Competitive racers will register for heats based on their anticipated finish time and will be released in a rolling fashion.
The other primary category in 2024 will be the Open category, designed for more casual racers that want to try out Spartan Race, without the overt pressures of racing or rankings.
Why are the race categories changing for 2024?
At Spartan, we believe that the best racers and the hardest workers should win. Just like in ancient Sparta, we are a meritocracy.
As we reviewed thousands of results from Spartan Races around the world, we realized we had a problem on our hands. Our Elite Category felt inaccessible for new racers, many of our top Age Groupers were running faster races than our Elites, and we were stunting the long-term growth of our sport.
The adjusted categories in 2024 are designed to reward performance and open the sport up to more athletes worldwide. At the same time, we’re retaining Age Group awards to continue honoring the achievement of a broad range of racers.
Additionally, the pace-based race heats will provide a substantial mitigation of lines on course and at obstacles, with the benefit of a substantially improved racer experience.
What types of Series & Championship events will there be in 2024?
Starting in 2024, we’re simplifying the structure of our championships to follow a simple progressive hierarchy.
There will be three tiers of championships:
- National Series: A three-event series (in most countries), consisting of a Sprint, Super, and Beast with a prize purse for the overall series winners
- Regional Championships: A single event weekend per region with short and long format events
- World Championships: One major World Championship event per discipline. The 2024 calendar includes championships for 3K, Beast, Ultra, Trifecta, World’s Toughest Mudder, and OCRWC.
Do I have to qualify for Series & Championship events?
To race in the Pro Championship heat - and contend for the prize purses - at Series and Championship events, qualification is required. Qualification can be achieved for each level with the following performances:
- National Series Race - 2024 Pro Band (i.e. Top 3 overall finish in the Competitive category) or Top 10 Elite finish in 2023
- Regional Championship - Top 20 Finish at a National Series race
- World Championship - Top 50 Finish at a Regional Championship race (3K or Beast)
Registration deadlines may apply for claiming earned spots at these events, with unclaimed spots being opened up to additional athletes.
Registering in the competitive category, and vying for age group podiums, at Series and Championship events will not require qualification at this time.
How do the new Pro Bands work?
Any racer achieving an overall podium finish in 2024 - meaning the top 3 overall male and female times in the Competitive category - will receive a Pro Band during the podium ceremony. This armband can be shown at subsequent races in the season to gain access to the front of the start line for the first heat of the day. (A valid Competitive ticket for the event is still required).
Please note that the Pro Band does not constitute a different race category; runners with a Pro Armband will still be competing against all other Competitive racers.
The Pro Armband is also proof of qualification to the Pro Championship Heat at National Series events.
Any racer that has achieved a top 3 finish in a 2023 Elite race will be pre-qualified for a 2024 Pro Band.
What happens if I already registered as an Elite or Age Group athlete for a 2024 event?
We move fast at Spartan - with one consequence being that we launched many 2024 events before we were ready to launch our updated race categories.
If you already registered as an Elite or Age Group athlete for next year, keep your eyes out for an email from Spartan to help transfer your registration to the appropriate Competitive Heat. Alternatively, you may contact Customer Service directly to initiate the process.
If you’re an existing Elite athlete that has podiumed in 2023, you will pre-qualify for a Pro Band to gain access to the first heat of non-Championship events.
How do I select my Pace Group for a Competitive heat?
Every Competitive race will feature five different pace groups. Racers are asked to select the group that best fits their expected performance in the race.
To help athletes best approximate the appropriate group for their ability level, we offer three reference points for each of our primary race formats (Sprint, Super, and Beast). These reference points are:
- Fastest finish time for that event format. For example, a racer that has run their best Spartan Sprint in 42 minutes would round down and select Pace Group 3.
- Fastest running pace for a non-OCR event at a comparable distance. For example, a racer that has completed a half marathon in 1 hour, 39 minutes would select Pace Group 2 for a Beast race.
- Overall Finish position. For example - a racer expecting to be competitive for a top 20 finish would select Pace Group 2.
The table below can be used to help select the appropriate Pace Group for your next Spartan race.
Please note, while we’re aware that your course time and/or finish position may vary from event to event, we expect all racers to act with integrity and make every effort to select the right Pace Group for their ability level.
Racers that are found to repeatedly misrepresent their pace may be automatically reassigned to a different group by Spartan Race staff. Ongoing dishonest behavior may result in a ban from the Competitive category.