What is a Spartan Race?

5 Dec

Leonidas

“What is a Spartan Race?” is a question that seems to come up more each year and there is yet to be an answer with satisfaction.  It seems everyone has their own definition so here is mine.

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The Spartan Race is a test of endurance, bravery and courage for the mind, body and soul.  It is the leader in the obstacle course racing (OCR) phenomenon that is increasingly impacting the globe.  Take the fast thinking agility of the Ninja Warrior and the determination of an Ultra marathon runner or Ironman and have them face themselves and their fears in the hero’s journey and it starts to give you an idea of the mindset of a Spartan Racer.

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Spartan commands it’s own distinction in new world of endurance and adventure themed events.  At the time of this writing it seems there is Spartan Race, Tough Mudder and “Everything Else”.  In 2010-2011 I discovered the world of “Everything Else” while working with first responders with my job with Praetorian Group.  Running seemed boring but playing “Jailbreak” or “Warrior Dash” was a blast.  Perhaps it was a chance for adults to get dirty and play in this world of safety helmets and antimicrobial tech.  For me there was no real training, planning or lessons to be learned.  It was just a bunch of us playing and drinking afterwards.  

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When I mentioned I was registered for a Spartan Race many were compelled to counsel me on what it was as if they were paying their final respects.  Tough Mudder gets similar reactions and I notice many favor one over the other but there is a mutual respect yet bias between the two. Racers usually have a preference and I favor Spartan.  (If you want to know more check out “Rise of the Sufferfests”.)

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Spartan Race come in all shapes and sizes from inspirational workout tours, blogs and Spartan Sprint all the way to 12+ Hour Hurricane Heats, 26+ Miles Ultra Beasts and Agoge.  https://www.spartan.com/en/race/learn-more/race-types-overview
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Spartan Race attracts racers of all shapes and sizes because it transcends just the physical athleticism and balances the importance of the heart and mind which often levels the playing fields for those that may not be the fastest runner or the strongest climber.  It is brilliant because it truly strengthens all three.  If you start with all heart, those burpees will get you off the couch and training your body for the best shape of your life.  If you are in top physical condition these obstacles will test and strengthen your mind and your spirit.  If you have soul these races will transcend you to another level and another plane.  
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Spartan Races are mental.  I got over fears I never knew I had in the very same race (Claustrophobia in those tiny green underground tubes in Austin anyone?).  Can you run 26.2 miles?  How about 28 miles over rugged terrain, slippery rocks, waist deep mud or waist high fire in extreme climates and epic destination terrain?  You must learn to psyche yourself up and how much of an influence the mind actually is over the body and soul.  Thanks to Spartan Racing I pushed my physical and spiritual farther than I could in any gym or place of worship.        
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Spartan Races are spiritual.  I distinctly remember thinking I as a few levels beyond a “near death experience” when suddenly storm clouds parted and light shined on a cross in a chapel carved into a granite cliff.  I also remember the multi-cultural spiritual experiences of the Hawaii Trifecta and if you are monotheistic your mind can certainly empathize how early Greeks had so many gods if you experienced the Spartan Race in Sparta.  “This is blasphemy!  This is madness!”  You know your cue.    

Spartan Races are physical.  You might think this goes without saying but top NFL athletes are put to the test and humbled.  I was running alongside Lance Armstrong in Austin a few years back, and know ultra fit pop stars that have taken the challenge.  My body may not look it as fit as I would like it to, but when I show up to a gym, cross-fit group or triathalon in a Spartan Finisher shirt it feels like having the pride of some well earned chiseled abs.  

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Spartan Race changes your life.  I remember the traffic to for the Texas Beast a few years back.  Cars were lined up for miles filled with amped up racers that took their pre-workout a bit early.  I got out and jogged almost 8 miles to the start line with a smile on my face.  I was honored to be the last volunteer sweeping the course after the Ultra Beast in Hawaii.  I no longer need a race to get out there and push myself.  I do it every chance I get.        

Who am I? I AM A SPARTAN!

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