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Exciting times for Spartan Race UK

by Paul Hayward
Friday 29th August 2014
Tags  Dan Tuffnell   |   Joe De Sena   |   Spartan Race   |   SRUK   |   Obstacle Course Racing   |   Paul Hayward

Interview: Ahead of the start of the Spartan Race season our obstacle racing columnist Paul Hayward speaks to Dan Tuffnell

Dan Tuffnell - SRUK's new Director and UK Licensee © Epic Action Imagery

Photos: Dan Tuffnell - SRUK's new Director and UK Licensee © Epic Action Imagery

A couple of months ago we announced that Spartan Race UK had a new race director, Dan Tuffnell (HERE). Since then we have had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing Spartan Race founder Joe De Sena (HERE) and now, finally, the Spartan Race season is upon us; starting this weekend with a bang at Pippingford Park with two full days of OCR!

I briefly caught up with Dan, stood on a car roof in the middle of Pippingford Park in an attempt to get some reception, for a chat and to see how it was coming along:

Paul Hayward (PH): How has your week been Dan?

Dan Tuffnell (DT): Really exciting Paul, we have been out flagging up the course. Alot of the obstacles are all ready out on the course and it is all coming together nicely.

We have had a couple of issues with the course and have had to use “Spartan solutions” and use some forklifts to resolve it. I am pleased to say it is really taking shape and the course will be tested by 200-300 scouts on the Friday, as they are helping us, and if they are old enough they can do the real course.

So it has to be ready by the middle of the week!

PH: Tell us a little about the course?

DT: This Spartan Race will test people. We have greatly benefited from a new expanded Spartan team, including Dan Luzzi, who has huge experience of constructing Spartan courses as international race director, and the addition of Richard Pringle, who has bags of enthusiasm and huge ideas as an elite racer, who have both really contributed to the formation of course and the direction of Spartan this year.

This is a new year, a new Spartan and there will be wow factor this weekend. There will be spear throwing, Spartan walls and some really enjoyable big obstacles!

I cannot say anymore as I do not want to ruin it, but we are expecting 4,000 people each day (to race) and we want to blow them away.

PH: Talk me through what will be a success for you this weekend for the Spartan community and for new racers?

DT: For me the main judgement of whether this weekend is a success will be if people have a good time. Do not get me wrong, getting out the car park will be a start [a joke to the past year where it was impossible for many people to get out!] but no; I want to see what people’s reactions are, their smiles at the finish line and I cannot wait to hear their views after.

I want to put on a great event but you can always improve and I will be listening to the community on their thoughts and experiences. I am hopeful, however, that now “Spartember” is nearly here, it will be awesome and the community will be really pleased with the innovation and progress we have made.

© Epic Action Imagery

Photos © Epic Action Imagery

PH: I have heard a rumour that Joe De Sena will be running it. Is that true!?

DT: Yes Paul; I can confirm that Joe will run the course and will be with us all day Saturday. I am really looking forward to him being there and it is huge that he will be joining Spartans to race the course..

PH: Turning to the Beast, quickly if we may, is there a lot of focus on it?

DT: We were all talking about the Beast last night actually. Everyone got cold, everyone got wet and weeks later they were all saying “we are coming back”.

We have taken on board people's comments and the date has been moved forward, the car park has had measures put in place to support it and if I am honest the plans for course looks absolutely brutal. Sorry I mean accessible!

It is going to be an amazing event and I think there is a lot excitement for it.

PH: How is the partnership with Reebok? Any exciting news?

DT: Well actually the relationship is really exciting Paul, it is going from strength to strength. I can give you an exclusive and reveal that we are holding a “mini Spartan race” in Covent Garden in London on 10th September 2014 to promote the partnership.

Spartan took over Times Square in the United States and now we are taking over Central London in front of none other than the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden!

I want to invite you and the team from Run247 to come down and see us. It is going to be something very special and a great moment in OCR.

PH: Wow, that is amazing news. If I may ask as well; will Scotland see any of the bigger races?

DT: Yes; absolutely. I asked to be judged next year in 2015, as that will be my first real season, and part of that will be to expand the Spartan series to include a bigger race in either Scotland or the north of England.

I am very keen to do this and I am committed to it.

PH: thanks for your time Dan; I cannot wait to be back this weekend.

DT: Thanks Paul; it is going to be really exciting and we look forward to seeing everyone in our new festival village!


About The Author

Paul Hayward

I am 33 years old and spend the majority of my life within an office environment. Whilst I played football, I never really took an interest in sport let alone athletics. In 2011 I joined a gym as I was slightly concerned about my weight. However I was, like an awful lot of my colleagues, coasting and I considered spinning three times a week a workout.
This changed when I took up a circuits class and found myself entering Men’s Health Survival of the Fittest London in November 2011. I was assured by my friends that this was a good idea and would be a “challenge”.
I had never entered any form of competitive event before and training for this run changed me. I listened to my personal trainer, who assured me that if I quit drink I could be dangerous, and sorted out my diet, stopped drinking so much and focussed my training. I completed the race in just over an hour and I was instantly bitten by the racing bug, I loved the challenge the event offered. 
Nearly two years on I have completed a half marathon in 1hour 49 minutes, came 6th in the Rat Race Horseplay 5k event and usually come within the top 30% at Obstacle Course races. I am also a part time triathlete and I am lucky to find myself in a running club where we have a great coach and the focus is on members. If I am honest - I came to running through these events and I am not alone.
My aim through Run 247 is to promote, discuss and publicise Obstacle Course racing. It is becoming huge and over the coming months we will cover all of the major races and the new competitors entering the scene. 

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