Spartan Race was founded in 2001 by a group of seven individuals, all with extensive histories in the athletic and racing worlds. It comprises a series of races of varying lengths and difficulties from one mile to a marathon.
The concept was voted the best obstacle race in Outside Magazine in 2012, as races are held all over the world, with it being particularly popular in Europe, North America, South Korea and Australia. Spartan Races are for those with a competitive edge – the main goal is to finish as quickly as possible, as there are cash prizes at stake.
Co-founder Joe Desena has said that "Spartan Races have a very professional atmosphere. Not many people dress in costume at our events", adding an extra insight into how the race is perceived by the organisers, and the type of participant they aim to attract.
There are four types of races for adults, while there is also a children's race at each event. These include the Spartan Sprint which involves three-plus miles of obstacle racing; the Super Spartan, including eight-plus miles of obstacles; the Spartan Beast, including 12-plus miles of obstacles; and the Ultra Beast, which consists of a gruelling marathon-length course. It is only one of two marathon-length obstacle courses around, along with Mudderthon.
The races are unique in that they do not provide course maps or lists of the obstacles to be expected until race day. Some of the most popular obstacles include fire jumps, with competitors leaping over flames and burning embers; a barbed-wire crawl; "over-under-through", consisting of climbing over a wall, then under a wall and then either through a tyre or a hole in the wall – this is a common obstacle featured several times in most races; spear throw, where entrants must hit a target with a spear; "object carries", typically the most challenging obstacle as athletes must carry heavy objects, often through uneven and difficult terrain; "Herculean hoist", involving the lifting of an object off the ground using a pulley system; "Tyrolean Traverse", where athletes traverse a single rope suspended horizontally between two trees, with water underneath for those who fall; and "Gladiator arena", typically placed before the finish line, where entrants must run past gladiators who try to take them down with pugil sticks.
The children's races cater for those between five and 13, with all finishers receiving medals.
In the UK: London, August 30 and 31 and November 8; Cambridge, September 7; Edinburgh, September 21; and Ripon, Yorkshire, September 28.
Highs A truly competitive race with a very sporting atmosphere. The courses are enjoyable due to their unpredictable nature.
LOWS The object carries are the most exerting. Penalty burpees are never fun.