By Alipate Pareti
The Spartan Games has earned the reputation of being the world’s leading obstacle race course and it is coming to Fiji this year.
Spartans were one amongst the most feared and formidable forces in the ancient Greek world, withstanding the Persian Empire to their last breath. You may recall learning about Sparta in ancient history lessons, or seeing a heavily-fictionalised version in the movie ‘300’.
Now modern and friendlier (yet very competitive) Spartans will set foot in Sabeto, Fiji, thousands of miles away from the Mediterranean from 9th to 12th November this year.
Plans to hold the Spartan Games in Fiji were put on hold for the last few years due to Covid. Spartan Games Managing Director, Chris Heverin says, “We started discussing with the Fiji Government back in mid-2019…so we’re really pleased to reinvigorate discussions and enter in agreement to come to Fiji and we’re really excited about this.”
The actual route of the Spartan obstacle course is yet to be disclosed, but the general location will be around the thick lush terrain of the Sabeto ‘sleeping giant’ foothills and mountain ranges. The organisers are keeping that secret safe for now as we wait for the participants.
The program actually runs over four days, Heverin says. “There’s a ‘Spartan trial’ on Thursday which is an important part of the Spartan experience. On Friday, during the day will be ‘Kid’s Day’ and our courses are especially modified for kids from 8 – 12 years of age. And one of the great things about the kid’s race is that the parents are allowed to go on the course with their kids.
“Also on Friday evening is the ‘Hurricane Heat’. The hurricane heat is like the SAS training. So there’s a group of hardcore people who love doing the hurricane heat and they are getting excited because of Fiji and the different experience it will provide.
“On Saturday will be an ‘Endurance Day’, that is a 50km race and there will be a 21km marathon race. So a very big day on Saturday – early start and late finish for the teams. In the 50km race, the athletes will have a 14hr time limit to complete the race. So it’s a very long and tough day but it’s part of the Spartan brand,” Heverin adds.
To close off on Sunday, is the ‘Super and the Sprint’. “The Super is the 10km Spartan race and the Sprint is the 5km race. So basically, anyone who looks after themselves and is interested in keeping fit and healthy and is frequent to the gym can easily do a 5km race. And the 5km includes the archery event and people do love getting involved in that,” said Heverin.
Tourism Fiji and Fiji Airways are working closely with the Fiji government to ensure the Games’ success, with special deals and packages to make competitors’ stays safe and convenient.
Deputy Prime Minister and Tourism Minister, Viliame Gavoka says, “In terms of direct economic benefit, the event organisers forecast a total revenue of approximately $12 million per annum – this includes $1.2 million by the event organisers and $10.8 million by the participants.”
They are also hoping competitors and their families will arrive a little early to enjoy a little bit of Fiji while they acclimatise themselves under the tropical Fijian weather, or stay on after they compete to recover and explore more of the country.
This article first appeared in Fiji Traveller, April-June 2023.