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What the Spartan Race is Really Like, From a Participant

By Dan Reyes
On September 29, 2011

  • Rendering of the future home for the College of Business & Public Administration and the Robert Busch School of Design.


Muddied, bloodied and aching; hundreds of people are waking up Sunday morning after conquering the Super Spartan Race in Staten Island's Wolfe Pond Park. The grueling eight-mile adventure race forced men and women to overcome environment, obstacles, and each other.

The race began with a sprint onto the beach where runners ran on the sand along the waves for a few hundred yards.

The trail took them into the forest and along winding paths of pavement, dirt, and mud.

When runners exited the forest they were met with six walls. The first, roughly five-feet, runners had to climb over, followed by crawling under the second, and finally jumping through a hole in the third wall. This had to be done twice before moving on to a Spartan favorite, the barbed-wire crawl.

The crawl was about 100 yards through mud, water, and rocks. Since this writer had the 12:30 heat, hundreds of runners already tackled this obstacle, and the evidence was seen everywhere. Scraps of clothes hung from the barbed wire, runner bibs floated next to you, brown and unreadable. People all around were already bleeding, out of breath, defeat creeping into their minds. It was less than a mile and it looked like some were ready to throw in the towel.

Once completing the crawl, runners ran for about a mile through the forest. Abandoned shirts hung from trees or lay clumped on the sides of trails. Sinkholes of mud had runners on the side of paths, clutching their ankles while Emergency Medical Technicians worked to take them out of the forest.

"It's like running on ice," said one runner during the race "There's no traction, it's almost impossible to run."

The next obstacle was a series of another four walls, ranging in height from four feet to ten feet, which runners had to find a way over. It was here that the camaraderie that these athletes have with each other began to shine. Runners would help lift those who could not make it over the wall while others hung over the sides ready to pull them up.

After runners jumped over a row of hay bales on fire, runners were tasked with climbing up and over a cargo net about 20 to 30 feet high.

After more trail running, stone lifting, and tire carrying runners were forced into a creek with water at knee-high level, at the end of the creek was a tunnel that went underneath a four-lane road to the other side of the forest. Runners had to get on their hands and knees and crawl through the pitch-black tunnel, the water barely below your mouth.

Further into the course was a steep hill about 150 feet high. Normally not a problem, the Spartan Race organizers' apparent love for mud had runners clinging to a rope to climb their way up.

Once runners ran about another mile and a half, back through the tunnel and along more trails, they faced the final leg of the race.

Monkey bars were followed by balance walking along a two-and-a-half inch wooden beam that zigzagged for ten feet. Next up was a half-mile sand run along Princess Bay and into one of the last four obstacles, the spear throw, where athletes had to hurl a spear into a haystack, failure resulted in burpees.

After the spear throw was a wall with wooden pegs that had to be scaled across followed by a greased up slanted wall that demanded to be overcome.

The final obstacle right in front of the finish line was the Warrior's Pit which had three men waiting with gladiator-style batons ready to knock anyone out.

"This has been one of the best experiences of my life," another runner said at the finish line "You aren't tough until you cross a Spartan finish line."

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