As a big fan of obstacle course races, there was no encouragement needed to take The Reebok Spartan Race’s offer of taking part in a taster obstacle course. The only thing that alerted our attention was that it would take place in Covent Garden. Now, I don’t know about you, but we generally don’t like an audience when we’re getting sweaty…
As the Healthy Living London representative, it was a testament to my enthusiasm that I arrived a full 2 hours early. Mainly because I was excited but also because I was coming straight from a full on sweat session at Edge Cycle and had time to kill. Still, it gave me time to check out the obstacles and ponder on whether I was a little insane. After all, what normal person would voluntarily put themselves through a set of obstacles designed to test every ounce of your strength, determination and focus?
The Reebok Spartan Race, pioneered by Joe de Sena, a formidable man who thinks nothing of bashing out 300 burpees a day (he’ll even burpee in an airport queue, much to his family’s embarrassment), claims half a million participants ‘Spartaned Up’ in 2013, via 71 worldwide events; that’s a lot of people crawling, climbing, clambering, wading, swinging and sweating – perhaps I am normal after all!
Not content with half a million participants, The Reebok Spartan Race is more set than ever before to get people active, which was why a dozen or so people were standing around me dressed in their gym gear, ready for instructions from a scantily clad Spartan. After some ‘Aroo-ing’ and an introduction from the chiselled half-naked Spartan, it was Richard Pringle, UK Race Director’s turn to lead us on what he called a ‘gentle’ warm up. Most people would call it a hardcore fitness session. And this was before we got let loose on the course. He had us working in pairs, working on abs, thighs and arms. Didn’t he know I needed my arms for the daunting-looking rope climb?
Once we’d been partially exhausted, Richard explained that the key to getting through an obstacle course was technique – technique that expended as little energy as possible in the fastest time. We had a go on the cargo net, the ropes, the sandbag lift, the pancake carry, the traverse wall and what looked like horse jumps that you went through, rather than over. Once everyone had had a ‘play’ it was time to get serious. Heading off in pairs for timed laps (there was a free Reebok Spartan Race All-Access Pass to be won!) men and women scampered round the course. This was where the pros came out in full force – flying round the course in 30 seconds, it really was unbelievable; it would take a normal person 30 seconds to jog round the course, let alone tackle all the obstacles too. By far, the hardest obstacle for us was the rope climb – not only do you need upper body strength but if you’re using your feet too, you have to be pretty precise in getting the rope in the right position otherwise you run the risk of a nasty rope burn on your ankles. Either way, if you failed at an obstacle, there was a 30 burpee challenge.
Sadly, we didn’t come anywhere near the top times in our race, but we had so much fun it didn’t matter. Exhilarating and adrenaline-fuelled, we can only imagine how much better taking part in a real Reebok Spartan Race would be. We’ve also decided we need proper obstacle course shoes – perhaps that would shave seconds, if not minutes, off our time. And luckily for us (and you), Reebok have an All Terrain series that recently launched. Tempted? We are. You can find their obstacle course shoes here.
To find your next nearest Reebok Spartan Race, take a look here. With 5k, 13k and 20k options, there’s something for everyone, regardless of fitness levels.
Maybe we’ll see you there…!