The Spartan Race
FEEL THE GAME - Bobby Motus (The Freeman) - June 28, 2019 - 12:00am

If you think triathlon is enough body punishment already, think again. Here comes another extreme endurance sport that tortures a participant to the highest level. This does not include biking but maybe a little swimming in the mud.  Yes, there are adrenaline junkies who willingly submit their bodies to this, shall I say, enjoyable agony. This is the Spartan race and no, participants don’t wear those rubber slippers with the same brand.

Training is different as this sport have obstacles on the course. Elite Spartan athletes have core and upper body strengths as well as cardio endurance because aside from these hurdles, the course is mostly done on a hilly terrain. Obstacles vary from races and the most common are the spear throw, wall climbing, tire flips, heavy object carry, mud crawls under barbed wires, rope climbs, running thru fire and monkey bars and other things of these types.

Surviving gets you a finisher’s medal and shirt. Yes, you need the change of shirt with all mud and grime encountered. As a bonus, your knees, shins and elbows get scraped, quads, thighs and shoulders sore and maybe have a sore back. You can then kiss your shoes goodbye after the race as they will surely get worn out in record time.

Considered as the beginners’ category is the Spartan Sprint where athletes race thru 20 obstacles along a 5-km route.   It then moves up to the Spartan Super with at least 25 obstacles on a 13-km race route.   The Spartan Beast is on a half-marathon course with 30 obstacles and then it graduates to the Spartan Ultra with at least 50 obstacles on a 42-km course.

As seen from video clips, the race usually starts with the participants jumping into a mud pit where they then get to the obstacles one at a time. Aside from the ripped and muscled athletes, there are a lot of regularly built beings, and just like this deadline beater, some slightly overweight guys just doing it for fun and bragging rights. You can linger on the course but there is a need to move aside for other people who could run you over.  They did not join the race for fun but for personal records and maybe potential sponsorships.

Joe de Sena, a businessman and a seasoned ultramarathoner got inspiration to create an endurance event when sometime in 2000, he and his team got stranded in the wilderness during a 350-mile winter adventure race and he got to distinguish between difficult and desperate situations. Thus in 2007, the brutal Death Race was born, which could last between 48 to 72 hours.  It is full of the unexpected and it challenges the participant mentally, emotionally and physically.

Said de Sena, “Just like life, the Death Race is designed to push and aggravate people to such a point that even the most stoic eventually fail. Only those people possessing incredible discipline under the most insane and even delusional circumstances can call themselves a finisher. The fact that people endured for 70 hours to see what they are made of is just remarkable and awe-inspiring.”

Co-founder Andy Weinberg added, “Even though it’s called the Death Race, it’s more about living. Some of the most inspirational people I’ve ever met have participated.” Among other obstacles on the 42-km mountain course, participants can be asked to do survival skills like building a fire from scratch, chop wood for at least an hour, hunt for food, or maybe recite Bible verses while hiking towards a hill with a 30-pound backpack.  For the record, death, for real, was never encountered in the race.

Because only an average of 10% completes the Death Race, a less grueling and more manageable event was developed by de Sena to encourage more participants.  Spartan Race was then created in 2009 and had become popular that to date, 40 countries including the Philippines, had already hosted more than 200 races.

On July 7, Cebu will witness for the second time the world’s biggest obstacle race to be held at RD Hills in Danao City where there are more than 2,500 registered participants. This northern city is getting to be the extreme sports capital of south, if not of the country as it has hosted for several times international mountain bike events and the X-Terra Off-road Triathlon series.

Danao City has the capability to host this event as they are blessed with some technically challenging terrains. The officials of the city, led by Mayor Nito Durano and Cong. Red Durano, are known sportsmen so it’s a no-brainer organizers favor doing extreme sporting events there.

Scheduled events are the Spartan Sprint, the Spartan Super and the 4-hour team event, the Hurricane Heat Endurance event where the course and obstacles could be different from the Sprint and Super.  The objective of the Spartan Race is to finish what you had started. You’ll have to get up when you fall down to be a Spartan.

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