I learned about Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) in 2011. I had heard about a race that puts you through mud pits, rope climbs and crawling under barbed wire and I though “Whoa, how awesome would that be!” I had just missed the local Tough Mudder so the next OCR would be the Spartan Sprint. Spartan offers 4 levels of obstacle courses; the Sprint (3+ miles/15+ obstacles), the Super (8+ miles/20+ obstacles), the Beast (12+ miles/25+ obstacles) and the Ultra Beast (26.2ish miles).
I checked out the Spartan website to see when the next race in my area would be. It was May 2012 and I had a solid 12 weeks to train. I got a team together with my crew from from Full Force Fitness (now Pinnacle Training Center). We offered free Saturday morning Spartan race training classes to anyone who signed up for the race. Training included lots of rope climbs, bear crawls & crab walks, push/pulling exercises, high box jump overs, pull ups and a lot of running. I ran many miles on my own too. My husband and I had gotten married early March and planned our honeymoon for early May. We went to Vermont and spent our time hiking the Appalachian Mountains….perfect training conditions!
Race day was approaching and I started to do some research on what to wear and pack for the race. I got some good tips but I knew I couldn’t be fully prepared and I just needed to run my race. Here’s what I learned:
- Our race was at Reveille Peak Ranch in Burnet TX. My first learning experience was to schedule for an early start time. Mid-May in Texas can be brutally hot, it reached the upper 90’s during our 12pm heat (“heat” is also the start of a race time). Try to schedule your heat accordingly unless the weather doesn’t bother you!
- Arrive as instructed. Spartan has a structured check in system that provided a smooth and quick process on getting registered.
- Plan to check in a bag.
- Bringing friends and/or family for support is really great. They can also take your pics and hold your phone or wallet while your race 😀
- An extra bag to put your muddy wet clothes and shoes.
- A towel and any other toiletries for the shower after.
- A change of clothes and shoes.
- Cash for food & beverages.
- Shoes that are well ventilated so that water can easily squish out. The lighter the shoe, the better. Inov8 makes perfect shoes for a race like this BUT are pretty expensive. Plus, some locations will take your shoes, clean them up and give to charity. So maybe pull out an old pair or buy cheap.
- Socks will not matter but think about wearing knee high sock that you can pull off as “just being cute” but can actually help prevent chaffing on your Achilles tendon area. My last race left me with painful chaffing on the back of my heels.
- A sports bra alone or with a dry fit top. Spandex type shorts or leggings. Nothing baggy. Braid your hair or pull it back. A headband is great too. Most guys just wore shorts. Be as minimal as possible with your clothing.
The biggest tip would be to JUST HAVE FUN. If you’re like me, all I could think about was finishing with the best time. While I was still having fun doing it, I was also seeing people at a slower pace having just as much fun helping their buddies through obstacles and supporting each other to simply get through the race.
I’ve done the Spartan Sprint in Burnet Texas twice, 2012 & 2013. This year, it’s been changed to the Spartan Super and I’m ready for it!!