SPARTAN Race Inc, the self-described “fastest growing participant sport in the world,” may stage one of its events – the Spartan Sprint – in Tucker Valley late next year.
And if plans by the local representative Sheldon Phillips are achieved, some 4,000 to 6,000 athletes and nature lovers should visit these shores to help stimulate the tourism industry.
Spartan Race Inc hosts obstacle courses with varying lengths and degrees of difficulty with franchises around the globe. It has hosted over 200 events and franchised to more than 30 countries. Over five million participants have challenged the events since 2012.
Phillips, who is currently in talks with potential private sector sponsors, as well as the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Sport to advance financial and logistical plans for the event, said it will attract a “key demographic of travellers” primarily from North America, Europe and Asia.
“The potential for the economic impact will be huge,” Phillips said in an interview with Newsday.
In June, Spartan Race officials flew in and visited Tucker Valley, Chaguaramas – the area highlighted for the event if all goes according to plan. “They loved Tucker Valley,” he said.
Upon arrival, he said officials mapped out a trail from Macqueripe to the Chaguaramas Golf Course and up to the Bamboo Cathedral.
“They really embraced the area,” he said. “The really felt the area provided unique features for the race.”
Phillips said the Spartan Race agents later met with Ministry of Tourism officials and presented their plan, which he said was well received.
“Everybody in the ministry loved the presentation. It was very positive, the numbers looked good. Now we’re just waiting for some feedback.
“We spoke to some folks at the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs as well. We presented some material to other officials there. Now we’re still awaiting word.”
Phillips highlighted two means by which TT could benefit substantially.
“Any time you talk about having 4,000 travellers coming to a place like TT for a period of time, you recognise the potential for economic impact will be huge. We estimate that potentially to be anywhere around $30 million. The second attractive feature about hosting an event like this is the exposure that the country would enjoy.”
The races are organised in groups of 200-250 participants. He said if the all-clear is given, races will start at 8 am, before another group takes the challenge a half-hour later. The event would run for the entire day and culminate with a festival near to the race site.
“What kind of sets this race apart from some of the other obstacle course races is that Spartan Race, number one, is the largest of all the obstacle course races. Last year alone, about a million people took part in it.”
Phillips described participants of the race as adventure travellers.
“They are a different type of tourist. They represent what is known as the fastest growing segment of international travellers, which is the eco adventure traveller segment. So we expect that when the travellers come to Trinidad, they won’t be the type that will just stay in their hotel and hang around by the pool. They are going to want to experience the country every minute that they’re down here.”
According to Phillips, the event “embodies what sports tourism is, which is establishing the country as a destination point for travellers.”
He said even though the number of potential visitors is large, it will be held around September when hotel rooms are not usually booked to capacity. “A lot of racers will double-up in the rooms and in addition to the registered hotel rooms, you have guest houses. So it will definitely stretch.”
Confirmation as to whether the event will be held next year or a year later should be reached next month.