I have had my fair share of adventure and trail runs but in the last two years I have had the opportunity to try out obstacle course racing and I have thoroughly enjoyed the adrenaline rush and the camaraderie it brings. However till recently India did not have any OCR which truly matches up to the standard of a Spartan race till we got the Wild Warrior Race. Though in its first year, WWR would be the one to participate if you truly want to enjoy a world class obstacle set up in India.
That said, there is nothing like participating in the “Mother of all OCR’s” – The Spartan Race. I have heard a lot of stories about Spartan races but never got the opportunity to run in one till recently. I was selected to be part of the India team for the Swiss watch brand, Luminox for the Spartan Asia race which took place on 9th November in Hong Kong. Our team had four participants with 3 women and a gentleman.
Spartan Race began in 2004 as a 48 hour endurance event founded by De Sena which became a full fledged endurance Spartan race in 2010. Spartan race is series of obstacle races but with varying distances and the difficulty level is different for each one.
There are three wave types to cater for various levels of competition which include the Spartan Sprint, the Spartan Super and the Spartan Beast. Since this was my first official Spartan run and it was a team event, we enrolled for the Spartan Sprint which includes 24 obstacles in 6.6 kms distance. The Spartan Sprint is the first level of a Spartan Trifecta which is a coveted medal for completing all three levels in one year. The Spartan Super has 30 obstacles (13 kms) and the Spartan Beast has 35 obstacles (21 kms). There is also the Spartan Ultra which happens in select countries which is the toughest of all levels with 35+ obstacles spanning 26 to 32 miles. There is also a Spartan race for the little ones between the age of 4 to 13 years which are split into 3 levels based on difficulty and distance.
As the name suggest, the aim of a Spartan race is to endure obstacles and challenges not only at a physical level but a mental one too. Competitors need to run, crawl, climb, jump, swim and overcome many such obstacles. These obstacles do vary from race to race with certain obstacles such as fire jump, barbed wire crawl, wall climbing, herculean hoist, atlas carry and few more being a permanent fixture to all Spartan races. If you fail to complete an obstacle the penalty is 30 burpees at the burpee zone. Though Spartan originally began in the US it is now held in almost 30 countries worldwide including Canada, Australia and several European and Asian countries.
After the initial excitement of entering the arena and warming up, I was a little worried about the race but the 6.6km Sprint was the perfect entry into the world of Spartan for me. My teammates though first timers to the world of obstacle course racing were gung ho about it and ready to face any obstacle which helped me calm my pre-race nerves. Though we were competing against 9 other Asian teams, we decided to enjoy the race and complete it as a team as opposed to splitting up.
Some of my favourite obstacles which I have done thanks to the Wild Warrior Race were the Atlas Carry, Barbed Wire crawl and Bucket carry turned out to be physically and mentally the most challenging ones here at Spartan as the distance was more than double the expected distance and that it made it some of the toughest obstacles I had to face. All finishers including Team India were awarded with a finisher medal, finisher T shirt and a post race pic opp.
Spartan race is considered to be the world’s best obstacles race as the idea is to strike fear into the runners and to help them improve their fitness levels. For many it is a way to shake up their fitness routine and take it to the next level. It is only after I enrolled for my first Spartan race did I realize that the Spartan community is a huge one with websites providing health, training and workout tips and so much more. Even the atmosphere at the venue was buzzing and it almost seems like all day Spartan festival with food, drinks and mini challenges happening around us.
That is why they have so many levels to choose from. If you are planning to do a Spartan I do suggest you follow some of their training guides to mentally and physically prepare yourself for the obstacles as some of them have a technique to doing them. If you are based in Bangalore, India, I would suggest heading over to Chaos Faktory where Delson and his team will teach you the right techniques to overcome these obstacles and get you Spartan ready!