November 27, 2015

Get physically, mentally prepared for a Spartan Race

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 27, 2013

About a month ago, I mentioned the YMCA starting a new program.
Well, we are starting it Tuesday morning. Since all the mudruns and boot camps have become so popular, we have decided to start a class to get our members ready for the Carolina Beast Spartan Race on Nov. 9 in Winnsboro, S.C.
What is a Spartan Race?

It is a race with a series of obstacles. There are different distances:
The Spartan Sprint is 3+ miles with obstacles.
The Super Spartan is 8+ miles with obstacles.
The Spartan Beast is 12+ miles with obstacles.
The Ultra Beast is an entire marathon (26+ miles) plus obstacles. Ultra Beast Athletes actually complete a Beast course twice in a day.
And for the truly dedicated (and slightly demented), Spartan Race offers the “99 percent Need-Not Apply ‘Death Race.’” This grueling event covers uncountable miles of Vermont mountains over two to three days non-stop.
The class we are starting at 7 a.m. Tuesday will get you ready for the Carolina Beast, which is about 12 miles.
The instructor is Brian Walker who has done numerous Spartan Races himself. Brian will be leading and motivating this class to achieve new levels of speed, strength and stamina. The class will meet every day at 7 a.m. in the aerobic room, but will not stay in there.
Spartan training covers all terrains and utilizes objects found in nature to develop multi-dimensional functional fitness. So, if you plan to attend, don’t be late because the group may be anywhere.
To participate in this class, you need an intermediate fitness level. Brian will get you to that high level of fitness you need to finish the race.
Examples of obstacles used in the Spartan Race are:
Fire jump: Participants leap over flames. This obstacle is typically at the beginning or end of a race. The fire jump has appeared in nearly every Spartan Race, though certain venues do not allow fire.
Barbed wire crawl: A crawl through mud under barbed wire. Participants must stay low to the ground as to not get injured by the wire. Crawls range from 20-100+ yards in length. The wire crawl has appeared in every Spartan Race to date.
Over-under-through: A series of obstacles in which runners must first climb over a wall, then under a wall, then through a tire or square hole placed in a wall. This obstacle is often repeated three or more times in a row and appears in almost every Spartan Race.
Spear throw: From a distance of 10-20 yards, athletes must throw a wooden spear into a target. If the spear does not stick, a penalty of 30 burpees is assigned. The spear throw is present at every Spartan Race with the exception of state parks that do not allow weapons. Typically, the spear throw is near the end of the race.
Wall climb: As the name suggests, runners must climb over a wooden wall. Walls range from 4 to 8 feet and are often in sequence. This obstacle may be repeated throughout the course.
Object carry: A signature obstacle, the object carry is often the most challenging. In a Spartan Sprint, this obstacle typically appears once. In a Super Spartan, twice; in a Beast, three times or more. The object to be carried may be a tire, rock-filled bucket or sandbag. Both the bucket and sandbag weight between 30 and 70 pounds. Men must carry heavier objects than women.
Herculean hoist: Athletes must hoist a cement block or heavy bucket off the ground using a pulley system. This obstacle is similar to the “lat-pull” exercise machine, but is more difficult because the rope is often muddy and slippery.
Tyrolean traverse: Spartans must traverse a single rope that is hung horizontally between two posts or trees. The rope is hung over a body of water, so if competitors cannot traverse the rope, they will fall into the water and swim.
Traversal wall: The traversal wall is similar to a bouldering wall.
Slippery wall: A wall built at an incline (roughly 45 degrees) that is covered in soap or grease. Runners may try to sprint up the wall or use a rope for assistance.
Gladiator arena: Before the finish line, athletes must pass through the “gladiators” who try to knock down runners using their pugil sticks.
Hobie hop: Participants place a thick band around their ankles and hop through 20+ tires in a row
As you can tell, this is not for the faint of heart. The training will get you physically ready, but it will push you to, and beyond, the limits of your mental and physical endurance. But don’t worry, you will not be jumping over fire until you go to the race.
To find out more about Spartan Races go to or join Brian at 7 a.m.

Ester H Marsh is the associate executive and health and fitness director at the JF Hurley Family YMCA.