spartan race toronto

Obstacle and endurance brand Spartan criticized for not offering refunds to Toronto race

A Toronto man has lost faith in obstacle course racing company Spartan Race after he says its Canadian franchise postponed a race because of COVID-19 without actively notifying racers, rescheduling it for just several days after Canada Day.

Peter Davis and his wife signed up for Spartan Canada’s Toronto Sprint at Christmastime last year. His registration receipt reads that the race had been set for June 21, 2020.

But now the race has been postponed to the weekend of July 11. “They moved it back a month and they didn't even give us any kind of email notifications of that,” Davis said.

Davis says he would not have been aware of the change in dates without doing some of his own digging.

He had “only the link to the race detail in the original email that they sent, and by clicking on that link, the date just changed real quick. And then they have an Instagram post that says that the dates have moved.”

Davis expected that Spartan would give out refunds in light of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“After the coronavirus [outbreak] started, there was a lot of stuff that was getting cancelled, so we had contact from a couple of things that we were participating in and they all were pretty forthright with doing refunds or they would offer a credit,” he said.

Noticing that even airlines were offering refunds or credits for cancelled flights, Davis reached out to Spartan Race to figure out his options.

“The initial response was just like, our terms and conditions say no refunds under any circumstances,” Davis said. “And so I just kind of felt like it was a bit of a cash grab. That's why I wanted to push back a little bit more.”

Spartan has always had a stiff no refund policy, advising racers that if they don’t wish to participate in a particular race, then they can transfer over to another.

This policy remains unaffected during the COVID-19 outbreak the site reads, despite noting in the explanation addressing the unprecedented nature of the pandemic.

“I can understand if it’s something that's coming from us, that we choose not to attend the race or were unable to attend the race, but if the race is cancelled, they're not delivering any service to us,” Davis said.

According to Spartan Canada’s site, the race that Davis and his wife signed up for hasn’t been cancelled. It’s postponed to early July.

But whether this date is viable is highly questionable when you consider that Canadian Heritage Minister Stephen Guilbeault’s announced just yesterday that Canada Day celebrations will be held virtually, “in light of the current and ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in Canada and around the world.”

Spartan Canada has not responded to a request for comment about why the new dates were selected when it remains uncertain when the government will lift social distancing measures and restrictions around public gatherings.

There is precedence for cancelled Spartan events and refunds being offered.

In 2016, U.K. paper Messenger Newspaper reported that Spartan U.K. offered racers refunds after receiving backlash for cancelling a race in Manchester due to changes in municipal security procedures.

It is still possible to sign up for the Spartan Super, Spartan Sprint, and Spartan Kids Race, all of which take place in July, on the Spartan Canada website.

“At the end of the day, the money isn't that important,” Davis suggests. “It's more [that] I feel we have a duty to hold companies to account so that they don't do whatever they want.”

Lead photo by

Spartan Canada


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