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Highlander Journey Bought a Spartan Measurement Increase

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

Whereas working at Crimson Bull, Barac had corporations of his personal that he managed, and he was starting the method of pursuing his MBA. The end result of managing giant occasions every week, his research and life generally actually pushed him to burnout. How may doing what you liked and turn out to be accustomed to make you really feel so exhausted?

In 2017, a good friend of Barac approached him with the thought of Highlander, and life hasn’t been the identical since. Highlander is billed because the world’s first and largest world long-distance mountain climbing occasion sequence. Since its begin in Croatia, it’s grown to over 100 occasions all year long in 20-plus international locations. What makes the sequence nice is the simplicity. There isn’t 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 Health on the sequence origin and development since its inception. The CEO of Highlander additionally mentioned how the great thing about the sequence is in its simplicity, the influence it has had on him and others, and simply how rapidly they proceed to increase.


Highlander Begin

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

We began Highlander in Croatia in 2017. With none advertising and marketing, 70 folks confirmed as much as the occasion. We put a $250 registration payment up for a non-existing occasion. Out of these 70, 10-15 have been precise hikers. 5 days and 5 nights and it was raining. Folks have been moist, indignant, hungry and it was tough. It was solely 60 miles on the time. About 30 % of the folks couldn’t proceed however the remaining completed, they usually have been blissful, crying, and having beers on the end line. We cherished it and we stated we might do it the subsequent yr. That subsequent yr, 150 folks confirmed up.

Courtesy of Highlander

Rising Highlander

I left Crimson Bull in 2016 to develop my firm. From there, we needed to go larger, see how we may develop the routes, give the individuals some merchandise. What I cherished about Highlander was there was no TV broadcast, no sponsors, no highway closures, no VIP visitors or none of that extra stuff to fret about. And folks like it. They take pleasure in nature, the friendships they make. They create their canine and children. As soon as I noticed the potential, I ended most of my tasks and went full Highlander. We began with the licensing, calling our mates in Europe to start licensing there. Everybody 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 world model.

Highlander hiker standing on top of a mountain
Courtesy of Highlander

From Making an attempt To Triumph

Then COVID hit. With all the time and sources we invested, it appeared that all the things was going to fail. About 80 % of our enterprise was misplaced throughout COVID, and it was an enormous battle. Day-after-day, somebody is asking 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 beneficial to go exterior in nature. Someway, we managed to get 10 new markets that yr. Though everybody was in a troublesome scenario, we began getting very optimistic suggestions from the organizers.

Later in that yr, my good friend 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 informed my good friend about Spartan and my good friend informed him about Highlander. After listening to it, Joe needed to satisfy us. We had a name, and he was tremendous blissful about our idea, and it was a giant milestone for us after they needed to spend money on our firm. They needed to make Highlander a world sequence.

Initially 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 Center East after which we made plans for the US. Lastly, we launched the primary U.S. occasion in January of this yr in Large Bear Lake, CA.

Participants stretching for a Highlander experience activity
Courtesy of Highlander Journey

Take Primitive Dwelling

We needed to make it actually primitive, so solely the core values. You have got fireplace, water, air, and bonding. There are not any telephones, no fancy eating places, fits, or automobiles. Everybody appears to be like the identical and you’ve got the speak. If you’re round folks for that period, you’ll start to speak about life, and you’ve got a lot time that you simply’ll begin to discuss all the things. There’s a brilliant sturdy 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 converse to too many individuals. Right here, it’s the alternative. We needed to make it a gaggle expertise. Folks will take their canine. They’ll put a small bag on the canine that has his meals. That is how we needed 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 Completely different Phases of The Highlander Expertise

We’ve about 15 % of hikers who come and are one hundred pc prepared as a result of they’re mountain climbing each weekend. A majority of the group is the traditional one that works day-after-day and could be in nature as soon as each different weekend. These 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. Folks come prepared and the primary day could be very laborious. We all the time put the longest distance first and you’ll see the exhaustion on folks.

The second day, you’re waking up in nature and also you notice you’re below the celebs. There’s none of that feeling that it’s a must to do that or that and also you’re there on the mountain. You most likely don’t have a sign in your telephone, and also you begin enjoyable. You even benefit from the ache in your muscular tissues, and also you’ll begin this regeneration course of. Folks 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 form of reborn. After the third day, you aren’t pondering of the ache since you’re tremendous relaxed and also you notice how sturdy the influence of nature is on the physique. They sleep like a child, get up early and you are feeling the distinction in your physique and thoughts.

That is the key sauce of Highlander – you might be struggling however you get happier. It’s laborious to explain it. What was impactful for me is while you’re in your metropolis, you may need a plastic bottle and should you throw it away, somebody goes to return choose it up and there’s no guilt. If you’re within the mountain, you may need to toss stuff away, however you’ll really feel responsible as a result of there isn’t a one to select that up. This sense about defending nature is so necessary. 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 Subsequent For Highlander?

If you get onto the mountain, you alter your body of reference. You notice you don’t want 10 pairs of footwear, three automobiles, 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 are able to simply to provide them the Highlander expertise to attempt to encourage them to do one thing about their well being, defending nature and sharing optimistic power. I’m certain within the subsequent few years, we’ll be on all continents, 35 to 40 international locations, over 100-plus occasions all year long as a result of it’s spreading so quick and we’re receiving such optimistic suggestions from folks, media, and sponsors. It’s quite simple; lets encourage folks to return to nature, educate them the best way to 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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