OKINAWA, Japan --
Over 2,000 service members, Japanese local nationals and civilians from multiple prefectures across Japan gather at Chura Sun Beach to participate in the first ever Spartan Race on Okinawa, Japan, February 27.
Earning the title of the largest endurance participation sport in the world, the Spartan Race was first established in Pittsfield, Vermont, in 2010. Spartan Race now draws in over 1.5 million participants every year and is established in over 40 countries worldwide.
“Today is a historic moment for us. We established races in Japan four years ago, and we have always wanted to come to Okinawa,” said Emily Downey, the managing director of global partnerships at Spartan Race. “Despite the setbacks of the pandemic, postponements and logistical difficulties, we made it happen.”
The Melbourne, Australia, native explained that the Spartan Race Okinawa entry tickets sold out in a matter of days. She said that numerous contestants migrated from multiple prefectures across Japan to challenge themselves at the event and face its obstacles head-on.
“A few sailors and I took leave and traveled all the way from Yokota Air Base to be here today,” said U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class William Rosencrans, a native of Elko, Nevada, and a mass communication specialist with Armed Forces Network Tokyo. “I am dedicated to high intensity interval training, and this race had it all. It challenged my strength, precision and cardiovascular capabilities in every way possible.”
“Today is a historic moment for us. We established races in Japan four years ago, and we have always wanted to come to Okinawa." Emily Downey, the managing director of global partnerships at Spartan Race
Competitors of the event had the option to select the Spartan Super, spanning 10 kilometers with 25 obstacles, or the Spartan Sprint, which stretched to five kilometers with 20 obstacles. Both races are packed with 25 obstacles to include hurdles, low-crawls through sand, javelin throws, weight lifting and climbing. To add extra incentive, a participant is expected to execute over 20 burpees upon failing an obstacle.
Rosencrans explained that the level of camaraderie between service members, Japanese local nationals and civilians during and after the race was unparalleled to what he had ever seen before. He explained that throughout the Spartan Super he encountered countless words of encouragement and motivation from fellow challengers.
“To have this spirit of togetherness, especially during these troubling times during a pandemic, is really important for everyone,” said Rosencrans. “Today, everyone came together, conquered the obstacles and awakened the warrior soul within us all.”
The process to construct the event began with the transportation and installation of the obstacles from Tokyo to Okinawa. Hundreds of volunteers and employees of Spartan Race worked to build, facilitate and take down the entire operation in just two weeks.
“We’ve had so much support and dedication not just from our staff, but the participants themselves,” said Downey. “We’ve created a beautiful blend of culture and companionship that knows no bounds. It warms my heart to see men and women of all ages and backgrounds conquer this event.”
Downey explained that the past two years in her career with Spartan Race, she has worked around the clock to bolster the success and popularity of the races. The mother of three explained that she additionally brought her son to the Okinawa Spartan Race to compete in the Spartan Super.
“The Spartan Race isn’t just my job or a competition. It’s everything to me,” said Downey. “The real challenge is yourself. When you cross the finish line, you become addicted to the accomplishment and pride from conquering the challenge.”