Spartan Sprint: An Introduction To Obstacle Racing

Spartan Sprint: An Introduction To Obstacle Racing

On 24th June 2018, Spartan Races held a Sprint event (5-6 km with 20-23 obstacles) at Aston Down Airfield in Gloucestershire. Sally Callaghan, having never taken part in an obstacle race before chose this race as her first! Wanting to celebrating a 3 year sobriety with something special, Sally saw the Spartan Sprint on social media and decided to give it a go!

Setting off on a very hot day in the Open Wave mid-morning Sally had more than the heat of the day to contend with, when in front of her were obstacles such as Walls (ranging from 4ft to 8ft), Atlas Stones, Rope Climbs, Monkey Bars, The Hercules Hoist, and more!

Spartan SallyThe obstacles range in difficulty throughout the course. Sally made short work of the balance beams and low walls, requiring a foot-up from fellow Spartans on the higher walls. Other obstacles such as the Z-Wall, Cargo Nets Climbs, A Frames, and Stairway To Sparta were all found challenging but all ended up completed! Sally admits she was caught out by obstacles such as Hang Tough Rings and the Monkey Bars due to grip strength:

“Grip strength, upper arms, and shoulders were tired so I had no chance of getting further than ring 2 on the bars – so burpees”

Spartan Race have marshals in place to dish out a 30 burpee penalty to anyone who doesn’t complete an obstacle. However while Spartan themselves might not want to hear it, Sally let us in on the secret that they weren’t as strict as had been let on;

“Because of the heat I think the marshals let most off with just 10 burpees.”

Spartan Sally Crawl

Spartan’s signature obstacles such as the Spear Throw and Rope Climb always provide a good source of entertainment along with a physical challenge – The Spear Throw can always be a 50/50 chance of getting lucky or getting burpees. Unfortunately for Sally it was burpees:

” The Spear seemed to be ok as it stayed in a straight line and glided, but there was not enough power to get far it enough.”

The rope climb, a throwback to school PE lessons for some, was protected by Spartan’s slick new branded crash mats.

“I loved the Rope Climb as I’ve never done one before – I got a demo from a marshal and I just got it but only halfway. I think I could do it with a bit more practice.”

Spartan Sally Sandbag Carry

Among the obstacles were of course as many hills as you could fit into a 5-6km course. Aston Down’s course is notorious for the switchbacks on steep hills into the area known as Death Valley. Sally, like many others found the tricky terrain to be tough;

 “I hated the zig zag hill climb…. It was harder than I thought with the hill climbs and very unstable under foot on the grass which I didn’t expect. However I did still enjoy it a lot!”

Spartan Sally Fire Jump

Sally prepared for her Spartan Race by adding core work and some weight lifting into her usual run routine.

“Next time I would go for the Super as I can run distances, and would do more upper body work.”

Join Sally and many others at The next Spartan Race weekend at Marston lodge on 15th July enter the open wave with code SPARTANKEITH for 25% off


Written by Keith Fairburn

Personal Trainer, Sports Therapist, S&C Coach.

Ninja Warrior Semi-Finalist, Obstacle Racer, Salming Running Ambassador.

If you have any questions about anything I’ve written in this post or want to get in touch, contact me.

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