There is a lot of buzz when it comes to obstacle course racing. There are new kinds popping up everywhere. I personally love Spartan Races. Spartan Race is a leader in the sport of obstacle course racing and is open to all levels. When I talk to people about signing up for one I usually hear a lot of excuses. Most commonly used is either they would never do one or that they want to wait until they are in better shape. You do not need to be in amazing shape to complete a Spartan. One of the most inspiring aspect of these races is seeing people who have had amputees or other serious injuries and are still coming to compete. When you begin to feel like giving up, there are many fellow racers cheering you on telling you not to quit and it uplifts you to continue.
I advocate for Spartan races not just to say that you have accomplished one, but because of the self growth that comes along the way. By signing up you commit yourself to a goal that is hopefully out of your comfort zone. Before every race I get nervous. Every time. I know that I have trained and done all I can but there is still the anticipation of what the course will hold.
There are three main race types; Sprint, Super and Beast. The Sprint at Fenway Park was my first one. The Sprint is considered the easiest level at 3+ miles and 20 obstacles. The next level is the Super where you must complete 8+ miles with 25 obstacles scattered throughout. The last and hardest level is the Beast which is 12+ miles and 30 obstacles. The “Trifecta” is when you have completed all three levels within a calendar year. The obstacles throughout the course are usually the same but always occur in a different order. As with anything in life, there are some easier than others. Oh and I forgot to mention, if you do not complete an obstacle or fail after one attempt, the result is 30 burpees chest to floor before you move on.
If you think you are up for even more of a challenge they offer even more endurance races. You can choose from the Ultra Beast (26+ miles, 60+ obstacles), Hurricane Heat (3-4 hours of grueling team building), Hurricane Heat 12 Hours (12 hours of physically and mentally draining team and individual challenges), or the Agoge, a 60-hour event that builds physical, tactical, mental, and team-based strength through training, testing and evaluation.
Here is my 10 top favorite obstacles from the Spartan Races:
1.) Barbed Wire Crawl - Time to get down on the ground and decide whether to bear crawl the whole way through or roll. Usually it is much faster to roll but it can be tough if you begin to feel nauseous. I usually do a little of both. The wire seems to go on forever and afterwards you are sure to be scraped, bruised, and dirty.
2.) Rope Climb - There is a technique to rope climbing and it really comes in handy when racing. Sometimes you are coming up to the rope climb right after carrying something heavy or after going into muddy water and are trying to climb while soaking wet. Being able to use your whole body to climb up makes it much easier.
3.) Traverse Wall - If you like rock climbing then this obstacle will be perfect for you. This one is a good one to try to move through quick so grip strength is not wasted by holding on too long.
4.) Atlas Carry - A heavy and awkward stone awaits you at this obstacle. You begin by squatting low to pick it up without straining your back carry it to the flag, drop it and do 5 burpees, pick it up again and bring it back. Pretty simple and does not take long to complete.
5.) Wall Jump - The wall height varies anywhere from 3-8 feet to jump over and one 10 foot wall with a rope to use for assistance. The most common way to get over is to get a running head start and use one foot to push off the wall while reaching your hands to the top and using a muscle up like maneuver to get over.
6.) Tyrolean Traverse - The Tryolean Traverse requires to use balance and strength to climb a rope, ring a bell, and maybe drop into water.
7.) Bucket Brigade - This obstacle is a staple in Spartans. Racers grab a 5 gallon bucket, fill it with gravel, and carry the bucket without spilling the gravel in the bucket below the designated line. Usually accompanied with a steep hill or long walk.
8.) Hercules Hoist - The technique is to anchor yourself down, grab the rope, and start pulling. Once you get the weight to the top, it must be lowered down slowly and not slam onto the ground.
9.) Spear Throw - There is a rumor with this one that only 5% of participants are able to get the spear throw. I have not been able to do this one yet and have been guilty of going straight over to the burpee station.
10.) Fire Jump - The final obstacle and all you have to do is jump over the fire and smile for your picture!