by Brian Ansley
Paul Faust’s legs were drained and he was using every muscle in his body to move through the sludge beneath the barb wire. 60 burpees just before the crawl left his legs on fire and his breath caught in his chest. Crouching low, he moved beneath the jagged wire careful not to get caught up on the sharp points. At about a third of the way through the taxing obstacle he pulled his head up above the mud and saw an end to the misery. Spartan brothers and sisters to his left and right were giving each other words of encouragement giving him the inspiration he needed to edge towards the finish. It didn’t matter at this point that the rocks were scraping his legs because he had made it to the end.
Here at Spartan Race we have decided to give our readers a little insight into our brilliant course design, and all of the demanding work that goes into building our intricate obstacles. If you have participated in a Spartan Race, regardless of the level, our courses will challenge you like no other race out there. We are constantly fine tuning our courses, as well as adding new obstacles to make them more challenging and let’s face it, more fun. Basically Spartans, we don’t want you to get too comfortable out there!
I spoke with two of our experts on the Spartan team. Mike Morris and Russell Cohen who are directly responsible for making your race experience as excruciating as possible and they really like their jobs… Mike is the Race Director for Spartan Race. According to Mike, the popularity of Spartan Race is growing rapidly. So in order to keep up with this expansion, Mike plays a very important role. He has to pick the venues, design the course obstacles, and map out the trails. It’s no easy task. It generally takes him about 2 hours to bushwhack through approximately a half a mile of terrain to mark a trail for the race.
His primary goal is, “An obstacle course with running, as opposed to a running course with obstacles.” As I was talking to Russell about the obstacles that he builds, he put it brilliantly.
He said, “We want to put the flavor of the venue into the race course”. He elaborated on this by telling me about the “Chariots of Fire” obstacle in New York. Russell also went on to explain the 100 ft cargo net filled with smoke that the athletes had to crawl through, all while someone on a bluff manned a machine gun, and fired paintballs at them. This immediately became one of my new favorite obstacles!
Many of the traditional obstacles remain on the course. Russell did say that he tries to, ‘Use as many natural features as we can’. This is understandable, because Spartan Race is on the move all the time. Mike and Russell have limited space as to what they can travel with to their next race location. It takes about 5 to 7 days to build a Spartan Race course. Then, when it is all over, this crew is putting in 12 hour days until usually 1 A.M. after the race is over to move out to the next race location.
At Spartan, our courses are constantly evolving. It is evolving to a higher standard of athletes while allowing for active people to come out and complete the course with their own goals in mind.
Our 2012 season will feature more events with more distance varieties in each region building up to a World Championship Beast at the end of the year. Everyone races for their own reason, time goals, team goals, just to finish, to finish with friends and family, or to finish faster than before.
Regardless of your reason for racing our events you will know at the finish line.