TAMPA, Florida -- One year after holding its inaugural "Tampa Special Ops Sprint" race, international adventure racing company Spartan Race is returning to town - sans the military marketing.
In 2014, 10 Investigates exposed how Spartan Race promised contributions to local military charities, but wound up donating less than 50 cents per competitor when all was said and done. Many racers paid more than $100 to attend and compete in the event, held at Raymond James Stadium.
"We wish it could be more," company founder and CEO Joe De Sena said at the time, promising a better showing in 2015.
But after 10 Investigates started raising questions in the spring of 2014, Spartan all-but-stopped making claims about charity donations. The company did, however, continue to encourage racers to fundraiser in conjunction with their training and participation.
Spartan Race reports donations by participants went up 360% from 2013 to 2014. The company has also expanded its charity program to allow racers free entries if they raise a certain amount of funds for select non-profits.
However, Spartan Race declined numerous requests from 10 Investigates for actual numbers to verify the donations.
Spartan also would only say its direct donations to charity went up 12%, with no specific numbers available. The company added a national television deal with NBC Sports in the past year to accompany its existing national sponsorship deal with Reebok. But De Sena indicated in 2014 that deals with venture capitalists mean profits come first.
"With those profits, we'd like to give a nice portion to charities," De Sena told 10 Investigates last year. "We'd love for all our employees to donate to charities, but more importantly, we'd love for all our participants to donate to charities."
Spartan Race will host more than 150 races in nearly 30 countries this year.