Spartan Fiji aims to double participants, economic impact in 2024

Spartan CEO Russell Nelms

Spartan Race CEO Russell Nelms hopes to double the number of people participating in the Fiji event this year, and its value to the local economy.

Russell Helms says the event injected FJ$6.2 million into the economy in its inaugural year, and about 3000 people took part in the races across various categories.

He believes there is scope to attract more international competitors to Fiji.

“A lot of the overseas athletes get to a point where they want to do a trifecta, they’re called ‘trifecta chasers’. There are those who will race around the globe, and they will do a ‘racecation’. So they want to do a couple of days before the event, a couple of days after the event.”

Helms says while these competitors are looking for a diversity of experiences, they’re particularly focused on adventure, a segment that aligns with Tourism Fiji’s ambitions.

 “They would want to do the Sigatoka markets, they would definitely do the mud baths—that’s a recovery thing, a snorkelling tour, just being able to make sure that they can holt on some type of two- or three-day adventure. That adventure could be a river cruise, rafting.”

Spartan has signed up for a three-year commitment in Fiji, but Helms would like to extend this further.

“My goal is, is that we’re here for five, ten [years]. It should get bigger and bigger, but there’s going to be a saturation point.

“I will tell you that even in the US or in Hawaii, you’re going to get about 10,000 people, that’s a saturation point. If you get more than that, then people are not getting a good outcome and you’re just chasing the money.

“At the end of the day… we’re doing the wrong thing if we’re actually trying just to chase the money. The whole idea is about changing 100 million people’s lives.”

Helms says a key lesson from last year’s event was the time required for preparation.

“We have a build crew on site, and in Australia and New Zealand, it’s really easy to go ‘we’re going to go to the local timber store’. So we really learned that it wasn’t as easy as that in Fiji, so we probably needed another week or two in the grand scheme of things, but the locals, the team were phenomenal.”

Community connections

“Last year as our entry point, I think we did a phenomenal job of making a big impact to the country,” Helms continues.

Spartan Race is now hiring a local director and staff and is bringing on former-Olympian Winston Hill as a local brand ambassador.

Helms wants to ramp up local participation in the physical event as well.

“We’re working with the Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education; we want to actually provide boot camps for young children, and that’s around physical fitness, diet, mental fitness, what can they do to make themselves better? At the end of the day, it’s not about getting across the finish line the fastest, it’s about getting across the finish line.”

He hopes that in the future, smaller, locally-focused events will be run more frequently as well.

“If we can make an impact and especially to the young children, that is the most important thing for me…It’s not about making money, it’s about investing in those children and investing in the future.”

Spartan Trifecta Week 2024