August 24

Highlander Adventure Got a Spartan Size Boost

By fitness

August 24, 2022

Jurica Barac was working his dream job as a sports activities advertising supervisor for Red Bull after having been signed to the model as a BMX athlete.

While working at Red Bull, Barac had firms of his personal that he managed, and he was starting the method of pursuing his MBA. The fruits of managing giant occasions every week, his research and life on the whole actually pushed him to burnout. How may doing what you liked and grow to be accustomed to make you're feeling so exhausted?

In 2017, a buddy of Barac approached him with the concept of Highlander, and life hasn’t been the identical since. Highlander is billed because the world’s first and largest international long-distance mountaineering occasion collection. Since its begin in Croatia, it’s grown to over 100 occasions all year long in 20-plus nations. What makes the collection nice is the simplicity. There is not any racing, simply you, the requirements and nature on excursions of 60 miles over 5 days or 30 miles over three days.

Barac spoke with Muscle and Fitness on the collection origin and development since its inception. The CEO of Highlander additionally mentioned how the fantastic thing about the collection is in its simplicity, the influence it has had on him and others, and simply how shortly they proceed to develop.


Highlander Start

A buddy of mine, who was doing occasions with me as a freelancer. He got here up with the concept for Highlander and I supported him from Day 1. We wished to arrange one thing that was simple and like an out of doors competition, however one thing the place you wanted some endurance, like 100 kilometers or 60 miles in 5 days. He was main the undertaking at the moment with none advertising.

We began Highlander in Croatia in 2017. Without any advertising, 70 folks confirmed as much as the occasion. We put a $250 registration charge up for a non-existing occasion. Out of these 70, 10-15 have been precise hikers. Five days and 5 nights and it was raining. People have been moist, indignant, hungry and it was tough. It was solely 60 miles on the time. About 30 p.c of the folks couldn’t proceed however the remaining completed, and so they have been glad, crying, and having beers on the end line. We liked it and we mentioned we might do it the subsequent yr. That subsequent yr, 150 folks confirmed up.

Courtesy of Highlander

Growing Highlander

I left Red Bull in 2016 to develop my firm. From there, we wished to go greater, see how we may develop the routes, give the individuals some merchandise. What I liked about Highlander was there was no TV broadcast, no sponsors, no highway closures, no VIP friends or none of that further stuff to fret about. And folks adore it. They take pleasure in nature, the friendships they make. They carry their canine and youngsters. Once I noticed the potential, I finished most of my tasks and went full Highlander. We began with the licensing, calling our mates in Europe to start licensing there. Everyone was proud of the idea, and we bought 4 markets for 2020. We have been very motivated as a result of we have been creating a worldwide model.

Highlander hiker standing on top of a mountain
Courtesy of Highlander

From Trying To Triumph

Then COVID hit. With all the time and sources we invested, it appeared that every part was going to fail. About 80 p.c of our enterprise was misplaced throughout COVID, and it was an enormous wrestle. Every day, somebody is looking you, telling you the deal is off and let’s wait till subsequent yr. What occurred is the mountains by no means closed and it was really useful to go exterior in nature. Somehow, we managed to get 10 new markets that yr. Even although everybody was in a troublesome state of affairs, we began getting very constructive suggestions from the organizers.

Later in that yr, my buddy was in New York, consuming breakfast. He noticed a man with a kettlebell round his neck. He requested the man about it, and it was the proprietor of Spartan, Joe [De Sena]. He instructed my buddy about Spartan and my buddy instructed him about Highlander. After listening to it, Joe wished to satisfy us. We had a name, and he was tremendous glad about our idea, and it was an enormous milestone for us once they wished to put money into our firm. They wished to make Highlander a worldwide collection.

At the beginning of 2020, it regarded like we wouldn’t be round lengthy and in six months, our fortunes had turned. We stored doing what we have been and in 2021, we hit 10 extra markets — most of Europe, most of Middle East after which we made plans for the US. Finally, we launched the primary U.S. occasion in January of this yr in Big Bear Lake, CA.

Participants stretching for a Highlander experience activity
Courtesy of Highlander Adventure

Take Primitive Living

We wished to make it actually primitive, so solely the core values. You have hearth, water, air, and bonding. There are not any telephones, no fancy eating places, fits, or vehicles. Everyone appears to be like the identical and you've got the speak. When you’re round folks for that period, you’ll start to speak about life, and you've got a lot time that you just’ll begin to discuss every part. There’s a brilliant robust connection between the folks and also you’ll see folks on the end line hugging one another and crying. We see that many individuals repeat the identical Highlander occasion.

This isn’t the case with Ironman since you don’t return to the identical race — you need to end one other one. You’re there, targeted on your self and also you don’t communicate to too many individuals. Here, it’s the other. We wished to make it a gaggle expertise. People will take their canine. They will put a small bag on the canine that has his meals. This is how we wished to make it. It’s why we name it an journey and never an occasion. It’s all an journey.

Highlander adventure camping under the stars
Courtesy of Highlander

The Different Stages of The Highlander Experience

We have about 15 p.c of hikers who come and are one hundred pc prepared as a result of they’re mountaineering each weekend. A majority of the group is the traditional one who works on daily basis and is perhaps in nature as soon as each different weekend. Those are the folks which are very curios and don’t know what to anticipate. We name it an journey as a result of there’s no GPS monitoring, it’s 100 kilometers and it’s not small. People come prepared and the primary day may be very arduous. We all the time put the longest distance first and you may see the exhaustion on folks.

The second day, you’re waking up in nature and also you understand you’re beneath the celebs. There’s none of that feeling that you need to do that or that and also you’re there on the mountain. You most likely don’t have a sign in your cellphone, and also you begin enjoyable. You even benefit from the ache in your muscle mass, and also you’ll begin this regeneration course of. People ask why we don’t do one-day adventures and it’s as a result of after the second or third day, the discharge of the stress and this regeneration course of begins. You’re sort of reborn. After the third day, you aren’t considering of the ache since you’re tremendous relaxed and also you understand how robust the influence of nature is on the physique. They sleep like a child, get up early and you're feeling the distinction in your physique and thoughts.

This is the key sauce of Highlander – you're struggling however you get happier. It’s arduous to explain it. What was impactful for me is while you’re in your metropolis, you may need a plastic bottle and you understand if you happen to throw it away, somebody goes to return decide it up and there’s no guilt. When you’re within the mountain, you would possibly need to toss something away, however you’ll really feel responsible as a result of there isn't a one to choose that up. This feeling about defending nature is so vital. These adventures additionally assist your confidence since you really feel you possibly can tackle something after finishing one.

Highlander adventure hikers looking down a hiking trail down a mountain
Courtesy of Highlander

What’s Next For Highlander?

When you get onto the mountain, you alter your body of reference. You understand you don’t want 10 pairs of footwear, three vehicles, or 10 hats. You simply want one good mattress and a heat bathe. You reset your thoughts and my objective in addition to the corporate’s objective is we positively need to attain as many individuals as we will simply to present them the Highlander expertise to attempt to inspire them to do one thing about their well being, defending nature and sharing constructive vitality. I’m certain within the subsequent few years, we’ll be on all continents, 35 to 40 nations, over 100-plus occasions all year long as a result of it’s spreading so quick and we’re receiving such constructive suggestions from folks, media, and sponsors. It’s quite simple; lets inspire folks to return to nature, educate them behave in nature and do one thing about your psychological, bodily, and emotional well being. We need to attain everybody with this Highlander momentum


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