There are rules to a Spartan Race. If you’ve done one, you know them.

Fail an obstacle and you will do 30 burpees. Chest-to-the-ground burpees. There should be dirt on your chest proving you’ve gone all the way down. Those out there that have done a race know this, those that haven’t have probably heard from friends so yeah, they know too.

If you have a Tyrolean traverse to get across, breaking out all your rock climbing harnesses and locks will not only have some furrowed brows thrown your way, but you’ll also be told that your race is over.

The last main rule is to stick to the marked path. Invent your own short cut and at best you’ll be disqualified. Worst-case scenario, you’ll get lost in the wilderness and be eaten by lions, tigers and bears. Oh my.

But there’s the unwritten rules of Spartan Race that everyone should be aware of. Not so much rules as etiquette. While these are just guidelines for those in the open heats who aren’t concerned with their times they should still, where appropriate, be observed:

Your running partner may not want to chat.

1) If you are running alone and happen upon other folk running without a partner, be quick to figure out whether they are the chatty type. Some people like to go about the course speaking very little and saving the air in their lungs for what lay ahead. Naturally there will be others that will talk on and on about everything from their new blender to how their kid is doing in school. Maybe about how said child just nailed that part she got in the school’s production of the nativity, “She played the donkey SO WELL!”.
If they don’t want to talk, let them be. If they do, excellent! You’ll be sharing stories about the first time you saw Metallica in no time.

2) There may come a time that you feel you need to clear your nose or jettison some kind of mouth/nose fluid. If you absolutely must do this, make sure you don’t do it the same side as your running partner. Move over to the side and do what needs to be done. A little respect goes a long way.

3) Passing people will inevitably happen. If you hear them approaching and you’re walking or running more slowly politely move out of the way. Find an area where they can skip by and continue as they are clearly running for time. There’s nothing more frustrating than being stuck behind folk oblivious to the fact that there is someone behind them that wants to pass.
Conversely if you can see someone you know you need to pass shout out “on your left” or “on your right”. This signifies that you are approaching and intend to pass on their left or their right. Give them time to hear and comply. Shouting this when you are so close that you can tell which deodorant they are wearing isn’t going to work. You’ll just make them jump and probably cause a collision due to being startled. Shout from too far away and you may as well try flag signaling. Shouts can be lost due to hills, wind, trees, bushes, etc.

If the trail is clearly single track, remove the headphones. Yes, rocking out to Guns N’ Roses is great for seeing the trails go by more quickly, but the girl behind you has Slayer on and is running faster than you.

It’s a scientific fact that listening to Slayer makes you run faster. Guaranteed*
*Not a guarantee.

4) Give shouts of encouragement as you pass, but not to the point of being patronizing. A simple, “you got this!”, “keep going!”, “great job!” or such is ample and will be appreciated. “There, there, have you got a stitch-witchy? Awwww” is asking for a row of knuckles. A little boost in confidence via praise is always welcome and it takes seconds to do. Share some love!

5) If you run with a Camelbak or fuel belt, always carry more than you need. You may come across someone cramping or dehydrated. Small packets of salt or mustard take up little room and are great for cramps. Let them wash it down with a little of your water or sports drink and make sure they are ok. It will take 5 minutes and who knows, you may have just met your new best friend or soul mate.

6) Coming to an aid station is where we should all have the British in us rise to the surface. It’s a well-known fact that the British are the kings and queens of standing in line. Some have even been suggested that an Englishman can form an orderly queue of one, so take note.

If you’ve been running with the same group of people for the last mile or so, it’s not cool to sprint ahead and help yourself. Let whoever appears to need it the most go first and remain in your running positions.

7) Most importantly, thank the volunteers. A word of thanks, a quick joke about “mistaking” the water for gin or vodka, anything to just give them a positive word or smile. It goes along way and is the karma chaos theory at its finest. What goes around, comes around. Everyone likes to be thanked or told something nice, right? Being all elbows and attitude is how to gain enemies and lose friends.

8) DO. NOT. LITTER. Treat the course with the highest level of respect. If you have Gu gels or protein bars, the wrappers stay with you. Put it back in your Camelbak or fuel belt. If need be stuff it into your sock or sports bra. There are litter bins at the finish line you can use. Spartan Race is lucky enough to see some of the most spectacular trails in the world. Sprinkling debris and litter all over the place is not ok. If you see someone littering, politely call him or her out on it. If you see any pick it up and take it with you to the next water station where you can throw it in a trash can.

It is NEVER ok to leave litter on any trails.


At the end of the day, it’s all about treating the course and each other in the same way you’d like to be treated yourself. Show a little respect and the race will show you it right back.

See you at the finish line…

Picture credit Chinawatch2050

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