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Spartan Race Hands Off To Whole Foods

Spartan Race has named Whole Foods Markets as a new training partner, with the food retailer powering its “Food of the Day” platform. While Spartan may be best known as a muddy obstacle event and claims to be the fastest-growing sport in the U.S., the company “aspires to be a health and wellness platform and a lifestyle brand,” says Kenneth Koleyni, EVP, strategic development at Spartan. “We’re more than just a race. Nutrition is a big part of that, and so we’re aligning ourselves with Whole Foods, which is the gold standard and a trusted source.”

Each week, he tells Marketing Daily, content focuses on a single healthy ingredient, “then we promote it with daily seasonal, simple recipes.” In addition to its email subscribers, the content is featured on its Web site, and shared with its 4.3 million Facebook followers. 

And to further differentiate itself from competitors, which include Tough Mudder, Warrior Dash and other nontraditional races, he says Spartan is continuing to look for strategic alliances to extend the platform. “We are always looking at race innovation, as well as international expansion. But we are also evolving to find new ways to answer the broader questions: What do I eat? How do I train? What do I wear?”

Other partners include Reebok and Clif Bar.

Whole Foods, meanwhile, is undergoing its own growth spurt. While the last 18 months have been strenuous, including stiff competition from the likes of Costco, Kroger and Sprouts, Whole Foods “is exhibiting far more strategic resolve … and getting the company back on the offensive,” writes Sterne Agee analyst Chuck Grom, who just upgraded his rating on the Austin, Tex.-based retailer.

Key developments include expanding its home delivery partnership with Instacart (now in 15 markets), an extensive remodeling program, adding Apple Pay, launching Wine Club, a new affinity program, and continued traction from its first national ad campaign.

He also writes that as affluent consumers flex their shopping strength, Whole Foods is likely to benefit, and points to Gallup Poll figures, which show daily spending for households earning more than $90,000 continues to rise, up 5.7% year-over-year. “We believe the recent momentum at the high end bodes well for Whole Foods in the coming quarters.”

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