With the Love Run behind me and heading into the offseason, I am looking at a few new goals and namely a big one is overall body strength and crosstraining. Weighttraining will be a major strategy, but I am looking at other forms of fitness that will challenge me as well, but keep myself fresh and workouts interesting. At the same time, crosstraining helps reduce the chance of injury from taxing my lower limbs all the time from running.
Recently at my birthday party a good friend of mine from run club told me to get acquainted with the Lululemon Run Club downtown, their Wednesday night crews do excellent crosstraining and body training workouts and something like this can only be beneficial for myself. At the gym, there are plenty of Weekend Warrior classes for me to take my chances at, and once the summer rolls around, I will focus more on body development.
It is something I could have used participating in my first obstacle course in July 2011, but it is not a mistake that I will make again on my next challenge. I’ve also known a number of friends from local run clubs who have done multiple obstacle courses, looking for a challenge and some often debate which race series out there has the most challenging – yet most accessible – atmosphere.
Enter the Reebok Spartan Race Series.
The Spartan Race Series is not only known for the sheer number of obstacles it has on a given course, but also for the diversity of obstacles that it provides. Some obstacles are relatively straightforward, such as jumping over fire. Other obstacles require multiple people to set up, such as the gladiator arena, where volunteers use pugil sticks to knock down participants. Some obstacles are also similar to your typical gym exercises, such as the herculean hoist, as it is similar to a lateral pull weight machine, however, because the ropes are often slippery, the outdoors will add an element of difficulty.
At the same time, the race series also is more accessible than its challenging reputation may let on. Here’s why.
Type of Race
First, let’s be honest, no obstacle course is for the faint of heart, and I can say that having learnt my lesson in 2011, not preparing my upper body properly. That said, there are three types of courses that participants can choose from. Each course length IS variable however.
– Sprint (3 mile minimum, 15 obstacle minimum)
– Super (8 mile minimum, 20 obstacle minimum)
– Beast (10-12 mile course, likely water and climbing components)
More difficult verisons such as the Super Beast race in Killington, VT and a Death Race are for those that qualify or top their initial races.
One thing that strikes me immediately is the sheer number of obstacles relative to the distance, there are definitely more, and I don’t remember having that many obstacles over a 10km distance when I completed my first mud run with obstacles.
There are even children’s races, dubbed “Jr. Spartans” races, that are either 1/2 mile or a full mile and tailored for two different age groups depending on the distance.
Discount and Volunteer Opportunities
If the cost of obstacle races is a turn-off, there are discounts for military and first responders, and even opportunities for US volunteers to score a free race anywhere in the US. Canadian students also have the opportunity for a small discount as well. Like other events, earlier registration will save you money.
All volunteers will get free lunch and drinks, free parking, free festival entry, and a volunteer T-shirt. Volunteer for a half day or even a full day.
As a resident of Philadelphia, and a relative beginner when it comes to obstacle courses, my most likely races to participate in will be in the nearby area, either the Citizens Bank Park sprint event in September (perfect for me being a Phillies fan!) or the Blue Mountain Ski Area sprint event in the Pocono Mountains in mid-July, which is just less than 2 hours north of Philadelphia, the same distance west of NYC and half an hour north of Allentown.
If you haven’t been to Citizens Bank Park, it is your standard MLB park in South Philadelphia with all the amenities fans could wish (although the team is a different story at this moment), with most of the obstacles revolving around on the playing field or on the concession walkways and ramps. That said, most if not all obstacles are man-made, which is something to consider. A September timeframe will give participants decent weather but not scorching humidity and heat.
For those that prefer a trail run-like or more natural atmosphere, the Poconos setup is for you. Having hiked in the Poconos many times before, it is relatively temperate in the summer but sometimes humidity can be extreme, especially in July. This might be something to consider when selecting your heat. The Blue Mountain course is 5 miles.
Regardless of where you live, even if outside the US, Spartan races are growing faster, bolstered by Reebok sponsorship – and the highlighting of their signature All-Terrain Spartan Race Shoe – in 2013. If you are just taking that first step forward or don’t have all the upper body strength in the world like me, the sprint races are a good marker to work for.
Ready for your next challenge? If so, I’ll be raffling off a free entry code for an open heat to a race of your choice located in the continental US.
It will not matter where the winner resides, just that the code only works for a race in the US.
At the same time if you can’t wait until the end of the giveaway – this link will generate a code good for 15% off any Spartan race.
Click on the link below to enter. Best of luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Disclaimer: I received zero compensation for this post and a free entry code solely to use for the giveaway. All opinions otherwise are my own.
Rules: Winning entry will receive a one-time code good for any open heat in any race in the continental United States. Giveaway runs from 4/2/14 midnight ET through 4/11/14 midnight ET. Odds depend on number of entries received.