Believe it or not, soon enough the temperatures will rise above zero, the mud will thaw, and you’ll be able to run 400’s without your snot freezing. And what does that mean (for me, at least)? Obstacle race season.
This year, several obstacle races will be rolling through town, including a Super Spartan in Marseilles, IL on September 27th. The Foundry is already putting together a team (sign up info at the end of the post). Interested in being a part of it (or just running on your own), but have questions? I’ll run down the most commonly asked FAQ’s.
“What if I’m not a runner? I religiously skip our 5k time trial days”
You work out at the Foundry, right? You do CrossFit, right? Then you can absolutely get through an obstacle race. The Super Spartan, for example, is between 7-9 miles. While this may seem daunting, the course is littered with anywhere from 25-35 obstacles, meaning a race is more akin to a WOD including 400 or 800m runs.
Likewise, there is absolutely no requirement that you RUN the entire thing. You’ll find many people will take walk breaks or slowly jog, and there is built in “rest” while you are competing obstacles (rope climbs, monkey bars, and barbed wire crawl, oh my!)
“What kind of obstacles are there?”
While obstacles are never identical from race to race, there are certain obstacles that are standard and you’ll likely see at almost every race. These include, among others: walls, rope climbs, monkey bars, barbed wire crawls, sandbag carries, tire flips, cargo nets, and mud. Lots of mud. Spartan Races include their signature spear throw, and Tough Mudder has a number of signature obstacles such as the quarter pipe (Everest), and Electroshock therapy (self-explanatory). I’ll write a full post in the coming months on tips and strategies for each.
“Electricity? Eff that.”
Yeah, I hear you. Tough Mudder is the only race with electric obstacles – you won’t see it at a Spartan Race or Warrior Dash. That being said, even at Tough Mudders, the electric obstacles are NOT mandatory, and there is a “bypass” option. Feel free to take it if getting shocked with live wires isn’t your thing. And please take it if you have heart problems.
“If I sign up with a team, do I have to stay with them? What if I want to run competitively?”
There’s absolutely no requirement you stick with your team, and often you will form ad hoc teams out there on the course with others running at a similar pace. Being on a team allows you to all have the same start times. If you want to test yourself and run competitvely, Spartan Race has two options: (1) an “Elite” heat that goes off first thing in the morning (men and women separate – this is what I run)- there are cash prizes and trophies attached; and (2) a “competitive” heat that goes off right after the first heat, but no cash or prizes. In general, the later on in the day you run, the more of a back-up there will be on the course, so try and get out there early if that is important to you.
Tough Mudders are untimed, but if you want to go out there and see how fast you can run it, get in the first heat.
Hard Charge is a relatively new event, with competitive heats. It’s also the first regularly televised obstacle race – you can catch it on Comcast Sportsnet.
“I don’t want to be timed. Competition sucks.”
Totally feel you there – there is a reason I signed up for Tough Mudder before a Spartan Race – I hated the thought of being timed (funny how things change). If “racing” is not appealing to you, a Tough Mudder may be more up your alley.
“How safe are these races? I’ve seen your legs. And I heard some dude died.”
No less safe than a road race or a CrossFit WOD. Sure, you are out in the woods, so there is always a risk of nature attacking, but the course organizers do everything they to make it as safe as possible. Do prepare for being scratched and bruised, but that can be mimized with gear (which I will discuss in a later post)
“So why should I do this?”
I dunno – why did you start CrossFit? I started obstacle racing because it was fun – it was a challenge, and something different (and it actually led me to start CrossFit). And there’s nothing more fun than taking it on with a group of friends – you may end up hating it, but I guarantee you’ll have some awesome memories. And pictures.
“Sweet. I want in. What’s next?”
You’re in luck – the Foundry Endurance program this spring will be focused on preparing for Ragnar as well as upcoming obstacle races.
“I have more questions.”
Email me – email@example.com. Or come hunt me down at 6am in the box. Happy racing!
Upcoming races in the Chicago area:
Tough Mudder Chicago – May 10th & 11th
Warrior Dash – June 14th & 15th
Hard Charge – July 19th
Super Spartan – September 27 & 28th
-Sign up link:
Team name: The Foundry Spartans
Team password: Foundry#1