The Spartan Race is one of the world’s most popular and intense obstacle courses. However, a Spartan Race isn’t just a single race.
There are many variations, from easy 3-mile races to difficult marathon-length races. These races are designed to challenge people of all skill levels.
While Spartan Race competitions and events are held across the globe, not many can confidently explain what Spartan Race actually is.
After all, it’s not your average obstacle course.
What is the Spartan Race? Here’s a quick guide!
History Of Spartan Race
Despite its name, Spartan Race was founded in the United States in 2009 by Joe De Sena.
Technically speaking, it was a spinoff of De Sena’s original difficult obstacle course founded in 2007 under the name Death Race.
It started as a 48-hour endurance race where 500 competitors had to crawl, run, jump, and swim to finish the course.
Raptor Consumer Partners then invested in the race in 2012, and a year later Reebok became the race’s title sponsor.
Spartan Race then swept the nation, taking over NBC with a television series titled “Spartan: Ultimate Team Challenge” in 2015.
Today, the event is still televised across multiple channels.
The event is also held in around 30 countries, including Canada, Australia, South Korea, and parts of Europe.
Spartan has acquired Tough Mudder, another obstacle course racing brand.
The Spartan Race vs. Tough Mudder is compared here.
Types Of Spartan Race
There are three main types of events depending on your skill level. These are the Spartan Sprint, Spartan Super, and the Spartan Beast.
As the name suggests, the Spartan Sprint is the shortest race, featuring a 5K length and 20 obstacles.
The trail is relatively easy and injury-free, consisting of an off-road muddy trail with occasional water.
The Spartan Super takes on average 3-4 hours and is a 10K race featuring 25 obstacles.
This might not seem like much of an upgrade compared to the 20 obstacles in the Sprint – but this is because Super is more of a mental challenge.
It is designed to test your physical and mental stamina thanks to the 13-kilometer length.
This race is considered vastly more difficult than the Spartan Sprint because of the longer distance.
When the obstacles are further apart, it feels far more like a mixture of a running race and an obstacle course, meaning competitors have to work on their stamina and perseverance rather than speed.
Spartan Beast is a 21K race (half-marathon) with 30 obstacles, making it significantly tougher than the Sprint and Super combined.
This race is certainly not for beginners or the faint of heart – the grueling length of the course matched with the high-intensity obstacles makes this the hardest race yet.
In fact, it’s so difficult that some contestants can’t even finish this course. It’s brutal but highly rewarding – everything that Spartan Race is all about.
If you are truly insane, you can complete all three of the main races to complete and achieve the Spartan Trifecta.
The Trifecta is an annual challenge wherein contestants must complete the Sprint, Super, and Beast over the course of a 12-month period.
While it might sound straightforward to complete these races over the course of a year-long season, it’s important to remember that the courses increase dramatically in difficulty.
In fact, a lot of athletes don’t make it past the final race and are classified in the DNF (did not finish) category.
Once completed, athletes are awarded The Ultimate Spartan Achievement which recognizes their hard work and dedication to completing the tough Trifecta.
Other Spartan Races
It doesn’t just stop at the Sprint, Super, and Beast.
There are several other Spartan Races designed for other athletes, including endurance-based races that are incredibly challenging for even the fittest of contestants.
Competitive athletes aim for this ultimate race after years of experience in the Trifecta series. And many still struggle to reach the finish line of it. It’s no wonder, as Spartan Ultra is a 50K race with 60 obstacles.
The terrain is rugged and the trail isn’t even marked, just to make it even harder.
The Stadion is perfect for beginners. It has 20 obstacles over a 5K route.
Stadium races do not involve mud or barbwire as they are held in sports stadiums across the country. These include a lot of stair climbing and CrossFit-type endurance.
Spartan City races are not held very often. City centers are the sites of these events.
The layout and types of obstacles differ from Sprint and Stadion events. Since the race is short (3K-5K with 20 obstacles), it is ideal for first-timers.
Spartan Trail is Spartan’s entry into the trail running scene.
They have standalone trail races and shared events with the main Spartan weekend.
Distances vary from 10K, 21K, and 50K. And unlike other Spartan Races, there are no obstacles (if you don’t count the rugged terrain of trails).
Spartan Kids Race
Spartan Races don’t have to be for adults! Obstacle courses are a fantastic way to encourage kids to exercise, get muddy, and ultimately have fun.
The kid’s races are split into three categories:
- ½ mile run for 4-8 year old
- 2-mile course with obstacles for 10-13 year old
- 5-mile course with obstacles for 11-14 year old
There’s a slight overlap between the 2-mile and 5-mile courses depending on what races are on offer in specific states.
What Kind Of Obstacles Are In The Spartan Race?
Obstacles distinguish Spartan Races from other running races. At least 20 obstacles will be integrated into each course. Obstacles vary from race to race.
There are many different types of obstacles with different weights in a Spartan Race: climbing, carrying, gripping, crawling, skill and cardio.
The failure to complete an obstacle results in a penalty (burpees or a penalty loop).
Why You Should Try A Spartan Race?
Now, we’ve emphasized that it is hard to complete an obstacle race, regardless of your skill level. You have to consider if you are tough enough!
So why on earth should you want to try one of these courses?
First and foremost, you can treat your first race as a fun way to exercise.
Even the Sprint is enough to get you out of breath, and the vast range of obstacles is an ideal way to get your heart racing and move literally every muscle, bone, and joint in the body.
When you go with friends, you can spur each other on. Plus, if you bring three friends to your next race, your entry will be free.
Of course, the races are competitive. You can train for fun all you want, but the race itself is an official event.
Unless you’re doing the course to raise money for charity, you are expected to take it seriously.
These races are all about pushing yourself to limits you didn’t even know existed.
You will surprise yourself with your willingness to complete certain obstacles, and you’ll learn a lot about your body and mind while completing the course.
Even if you’ve learned that you hate Spartan Races, at least you can say you tried!
Are Obstacle Races Safe?
There’s nothing better than pushing yourself to your limit and seeing how far you can go. But when pushing to your limits, there is always the possibility of injury.
Obstacle course races and mud runs have been linked to severe injuries: fainting, electrical burns, head injuries, broken bones, and dislocated shoulders. Most of them can be prevented with good preparation.
The Bottom Line
So, there you have it! Hopefully, this quick guide has taught you everything there is to know about Spartan Races.
These events are hardcore, but they are nothing short of rewarding.