A Bunch of Cheaters

How to do burpees

How to do burpees

Cheaters suck.

In competition, there is little that is more frustrating than losing to someone who has cheated.

For Obstacle Racing to become a legitimate “sport” and a valid test of competitive superiority among its athletes, there must be standards that are met by all participants. When participants take it upon themselves to ignore the rules of competition, chaos ensues, doubts are raised, and conflicts develop.

Don’t be a cheater.

Attempt Every Obstacle

If you sign up for an obstacle race, you should expect to attempt every obstacle. In this writer’s opinion, if you KNOW you cannot swim, don’t sign up and just skip the swimming obstacle. Instead, find another race.

There is no shame in failing; but there is plenty of shame in first, glancing around to see if anyone is looking, and then, waddling past a 8-foot wall because you don’t want to make a fool of yourself struggling up the obstacle like a stranded seal in San Francisco Bay.

OCR is a supportive community. If you are willing to try, there a hundred athletes behind you, all ready to help you achieve that goal. If that means squatting on all fours and creating a step-ladder for you to get over that wall, or cupping the hands to give you a lift, or even collecting a group to toss your big ass over, athletes in the community will be there for you.

Even better, they’ll high-five you on the other side, tell you what a great job you did, and move on.

That’s the experience you came for when you signed up for an obstacle race, isn’t it?

Complete Your Obstacle Penalties

Most races do not have obstacle penalties. I could write an entire piece about this subject as in my humble opinion, a race with no penalties is no valid race at all – it’s just a trail run.

Spartan Race is probably the most well-known obstacle race series in which penalties can be a major factor in race performance and finish time. Typically, failing or skipping a major obstacle in a Spartan Race will result in the participant being ushered to the sidelines to complete thirty [30] full-range burpees.

They key here is “30”, and “full-range”, but what is really going on is anything but.

Is Counting To 30 An Obstacle?

It sure seems that way.

Next race, meander on over to a monkey bar obstacle, rope climb, or wall traverse and watch the crowds of obstacle failures attempt their set of burpees. Let me know if you find more than 1 out of 5 that are actually completing their obstacle penalty, because I’ve never seen it.

Why should that seemingly fit girl in purple tights get to short her burpee count, when a far less fit athlete, is struggling through her burpees, as instructed?

At one race, I informed a girl from the sidelines, “hey – that was only 14 burpees.”

Her response? “I have to catch up to my friends.”

There’s something wrong with that, isn’t there?

A Burpee Is Not A Squat Thrust

There is almost an infinite number of videos on YouTube displaying proper burpee form, but in short, the bottom of the burpee should have the athlete on the ground, full legs, hip, and torso contact, with the top of the movement consisting of an open hip, and controlled jump into the air.

That is a legit burpee.

You’ll find people who throw their legs behind them, into a high-butt plank, and then jump right back up, and do it again.

That’s not a legit burpee. No rep.

You’ll find people who flop to the ground, roll side-to-side to get themselves up, and then with a muted hip, start the process over. No open hip, no jump, and in my opinion, no rep.

Who Cares, Cranky?

I care.

I’m hardly an elite racer and I’ve never seen the podium in OCR, but I do run the elite heats, and in these heats more than anywhere, I expect a higher level of competitive integrity. The problem stems from the the top, to the back of the pack, and I would like to see our community police it more, and especially when there is money involved for the top finishers.

Look at every OCR race web site out there. What is the overarching theme?


“Dig deep and challenge yourself.”

“Achieve the seemingly impossible.”

I have yet to see a race that promotes,

“Super easy obstacles.”

“30 burpee penalty (unless you don’t want to).”

“Anyone can do it!”

Why? Because most obstacle course races want to be viewed as true tests of one’s physical, mental, and emotional capability under the duress of challenging competition – whether vs. oneself or other racers.

Cheating in an obstacle race only cheats one person – yourself. You are the one that has to lay in bed, stare at the ceiling, and asterisk your own race finish, right?

Now It’s Your Turn

So I ask the community, how much cheating do you see? How has it affected you or your race, and better yet, what can we do to curb it? Let us know in the comments below. Remember the OCR community is YOUR community and rest assured that the race directors are watching and reading.

Speak up to drive change.


Cranky Bastard is a weekly editorial feature of Obstacle Racing Media, written by a member of the OCR community, to share personal thoughts, experiences and opinions regarding obstacle racing. Got an opinion? Let ’em have it. 

Cranky Bastard

…And I race obstacles.

No, I’m not a mud runner. I am an obstacle racer.

Yes, it matters; and yes, there is a difference.

I love the sport, love racing and love being part of this fast-growing community we call obstacle course racing, but I can’t help but pick out everyday examples that I find odd, inconsistent or contrary to the true vibe of the sport of OCR, as I see it.

Cranky Bastard articles are full of arrogance, elitest, prima donna attitude, but hopefully, plenty of points to make those in our community think, and perhaps drive change where change is needed.

Latest posts by Cranky Bastard (see all)

  1. Unless I am an elite racer, with money in the line, if someone cheats, why should I let it effect me? They know they cheated, it’s not changing my race. Have I skipped obstacles? Yes. 99.9% of the time I’ve at least attempted every one. I have to modify burpees because of a former injury, should I just never enter a race because I can’t?

    1. Because you affect other people’s time and rankings for their age and gender. Those are the rules. Hey i ran a marathon last week but i really hate doing the last 4 miles so i hopped a cab. My race right, i can get a medal right?!? Rules are rules. There are plenty of “fun mud runs” that dont have rules.

      1. Please tell me how modifying a burpee by not shooting out my foot which yes, takes a hell of a lot longer to do, will mess up anyone’s rankings? I’ll never be first, but I’ll always finish. Whether I’m last or not.

        1. My response was to your comment “Unless I am an elite racer, with money in the line, if someone cheats, why should I let it effect me?”

          I like to rank myself among women my age. Next year i’d like to do better. I’m not elite just trying to compete. That’s what Spartan Races are. I can’t tell you how many times i’ve need cheaters finish ahead of me. That affects me and my enjoyment of a Spartan Race as it is intended to be.

          I agree 100% with Cranky Pants, “I would say, that yes, you should not enter a Spartan Race if you are not willing, nor cannot, complete the tasks expected of participants.”

          To compare to a road race again…would you compete in a marathon if you couldn’t run 26.2 miles? Seems absurd but it’s the same thing. Those are the rules of the race.

          1. @Tanya

            Preach it, girl. Your marathon example is perfect and indicative of the difference between established sports, and those sports that are still trying to find themselves. OCR is still trying to find itself in many ways.

            Ask the race director if you can skip the volcano in next year’s Fuego Y Agua Survival Race because it’s very hard, will slow down your time, and might prohibit you from finishing the race. See how that goes over…

            Good comment.

          2. I’ve done a marathon. Im doing my second in october. And just completed my 11th half today, so the question is null.

          3. Some people walk in a marathon when they can’t run…then they run again when they can. It’s not your business. It’s not your journey. Worry about your own self and quit being a control freak.

          4. @Sarah: Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts, but I don’t think that analogy of marathon runners is even remotely relevant. There is nothing in the rules preventing a participant from walking, nor is there anything in Spartan Races that requires running vs. walking.

            However, a marathon does have rules, such as a time limit, for example. Fall behind the time limit and the SAG wagon pulls you off the course. Similarly, Spartan has rules at certain obstacles calling for a 30-burpee penalty before being allowed to continue competing in the race.

            A participate goes into the event knowing these rules. Choosing to say “F the rules,” and doing whatever you want shows a lack of character, integrity, and is, as the article states, cheating.


            – Cranky.

          5. I saw this article because of a person who did the Tough Mudder and was using it to say the same about the TM. I did the TM with this person who considers themselves quite superior to several on the team (myself included). I absolutely challenged myself more than I would ever have believed possible and will be doing another to try to do better. This is promoting an elitist attitude if you are applying it to the TM which does NOT have rules that state it is ‘cheating’ to go around an obstacle. People make that choice for different reasons and I will thank no one to judge me for mine. Incidentally, things I thought would be hard were easy and things I thought would be easy were hard and there is no reason I should not do the next TM even though this time I will NOT do the Arctic Enema because of my body’s extremely bad reaction to the first one. People have different abilities and it does not mean one cannot get stronger and better through learning more by experiencing it. I don’t need someone acting judge & jury over me…if I pay my money & do what I feel is the best I can after training as hard as I can …no one’s business but mine. Now if the Spartan Race has all kinds of different rules that are more strict than the Tough Mudder, then I guess the SR officials should be alerted to people ‘cheating’. But honestly, what this article sounds like is like my friend with the superiority complex. Is that person stronger, faster & more inclined to conquer all fears the first time? Sure. But that does not negate what MY accomplishment is and it does not give anyone the right to ‘police’…leave that to the race people. As you said, in a marathon, you have a certain length of time. This same friend of mine disagrees with the Galloway method (run a mile walk a minute) Acc. to this friend I didn’t really run a marathon. I am so sick of people acting sanctimonious. You can be an encourager or a person with a superiority complex. Leave the officials the job of policing and enforcing rules.

          6. @Sarah – nope, TM was not mentioned because Tough Mudder does not impose obstacle penalties; however, I would argue that from an event integrity perspective, a participant should at least try each obstacle. That being said, that’s a matter of personal opinion, and individual participant experience, and I am not considering TM obstacle skippers cheaters. Personally, I believe TM caters more to the team mentality, and attracts that kind of participant more so than Spartan, which, while it does toss a nod towards teams, caters more to individual competition with others, or the course itself.

    2. @Jessica

      Hi jessica, thanks for commenting.

      You asked, “…should I never enter a race because of it?”

      I would say, that yes, you should not enter a Spartan Race if you are not willing, nor cannot, complete the tasks expected of participants. Especially when there are a number of races out there without penalties. Not all races ask for burpees upon obstacle failure and I’m guessing they choose this more lenient approach to cater to those in the same, or similar, predicament.

      Now, before I have Spartan screaming at me, this is my individual opinion (and a few others), and I am a cranky you-know-what, so…

      1. I guess I shouldn’t get my Trifecta on Saturday then. I should probably not respond since I am also cranky, and probably should have skipped the article altogether.

        1. would you enter a marathon and ask for finisher time when doing only 30k out of the 42? or do you train properly for the 42k?

          Same thing here.

        2. There is a lot of comments but I have to say if you skip a penalty then you didn’t finish. I read this post about a guy that got his trifecta and was so happy about it. But in his blog he gave details on each event and there was a trend that he would skip a obstacle because of some reason. It was to muddy it was to cold. I had to keep up with the group. Bla Bla Bla. If you try a obstacle and fail just to the penalty. Don’t show off saying you did the trifecta and had to skip burpees and obstacles because you thought you where going to hurt your self by falling off of a rope climb a d it was two muddy. Or you couldn’t get a grip. That’s just something you should have put into account. Do I have enough grip strength. So if your a cheater have fun for real that’s what’s it’s all about but but don’t consider it a completion. Say you finished. That blogger cheated in every one even the sprint. And has that stupid medal hanging in his room like a trophy. Have fun and be honest.

      2. SR allows, and even promotes amputees to complete their races. If you are missing limbs, then you can’t do a “correct” burpee. So you’re basically saying that if your body isn’t fully functional, then you shouldn’t push yourself as far as you can? Or are you just viewing her situation differently because she has a smaller injury? Sorry, I think you’re full of crap with that point, and possibly a little discriminatory against people with disabilities…

        1. @Amanda

          It’s ok to think I’m full of crap, but I take your attempt at throwing me under the amputee bus as a very cheap and opportunistic shot.

          First, I applaud the amputee participants. A huge fan of Team Extreme, for example. I’ve watched them at many races, parachuting in, and completing the race in gear, rucks, and of course the buddy-carry that gets shared all over the social networks.

          This post is in no way tossing stink eye in that direction, and I am pretty sure that no one is taking it that way – but perhaps I shouldn’t assume.

          Lastly, again having watched Team Extreme, they do everything they can – EVERYTHING – to complete an obstacle, AND their penalties, with no complaint. I’ve never seen such creative manipulation to overcome such limiting factors.

          I think there is vast difference between those obstacle-skipping / burpee-hiding, and those amputees and Biggest Losers folks who are all participating in mostly the same heat, and thus the expectation is far different.

          Good try, though.

          1. I think a distinction should be made between people who have a permanent physical impairment from completing the penalty/obstacle and people who do not have a permanent physical impairment.

            It’s important to distinguish between permanent disability, temporary injury, and lack of physical conditioning. Modifications for permanent disability are ok, not for temporary injury or physical conditioning.

            Probably the difference I would make, would be that for competitive heat athletes with disabilities need to have Mods pre-approved by the race director, and non-competitive heat athletes simply be trusted on their honor to carry the Spartan/Tough Mudder/whatever spirit in making up their own modification.

            I’d be pissed if I found out I had a lower age/group place than someone who sprained their wrist 4 days before just skipped every obstacle that used 2 hands and swapped 8 count burpees for air squats. But I’d be inspired by someone who ran faster than me who lost their hand in Afghanistan.

          2. @David S

            >>”I’d be pissed if I found out I had a lower age/group place than someone who sprained their wrist 4 days before just skipped every obstacle that used 2 hands and swapped 8 count burpees for air squats. But I’d be inspired by someone who ran faster than me who lost their hand in Afghanistan.”

            Well said.

          3. burpees can be share with the team and team extreme is always doing all the burpees

          4. I wasn’t sticking up for people who are “obstacle skipping/burpee hiding”. I was hoping you could take your blinders off and see that sometimes people have to make modifications to complete the challenge. Someone who has a lifelong knee injury (for example) may not be able to jump back when completing a burpee. They may have to walk one leg back. I think they deserve props for getting out there and completing it, and not told that they aren’t good enough to run the same race.

            Now if they are just UNWILLING, then I agree with you. But if they are physically unable to – that is what I disagree with. For example, I messed up my knee really badly at one race – about halfway through. I kept going (maybe I shouldn’t have, but I was too stubborn). I couldn’t complete the walls, but I did 30 modified burpees where I walked my legs out instead of jumping. I worked harder at that race then I have at any other race, and I don’t think I didn’t earn it because I wasn’t “physically able” to complete that obstacle/100% correct burpees.

            I do think that it is a little off that you can give an exception to some people, but not others when it comes to their physical ability. I’m pretty sure most people are there to prove something to themselves and not be judged by you… But I guess you disagree.

      3. And El Fuego is not an event I’d participate in unless I was able to do it. That’s not even remotely comparable to me. I’d never try to race elite because that is not something I would be ready for any time soon. I’d like to point out, I never said anything about being worried about how long it took to complete the race.

    3. I’m with you Jessica! There are newer participants out there who are doing this for the first time. This is their goal they’ve worked up to and just making it to the finish line will be a challenge let alone the 60-90% of obstacles they’ll actually succeed at. If they modify or cheat their burpees but still push their limits and give it everything they have then they’ve earned their medal. Each person’s challenge is unique. I did my burpees at the Sprint, but skipped or modified many at Super because I ran the event with a stress fracture and didn’t want to further break it due to the pressure you put on your foot when you drop down into a plank. Since my foot is almost healed – burpees and me and going to get real intimate before my Beast this fall but that doesn’t mean I’m going to put down or get snarky at anyone I see skipping theres come race day.

      1. @Jessica #2

        Ummm… am I going to be the only person who points out the ‘stress fracture’ participation element of this response?

        The ‘special treatment’ mentality coming across in some of these comments is mind-boggling to me as an athlete. I just don’t think that way, but it doesn’t make me right. It’s just my perspective on sport.

        1. I BROKE my ankle (not a small fracture, but clean through) at a Spartan Beast race, and still completed the remaining 12+ miles of the beast and every penalty burpee, modified to keep the broken ankle off the ground during the pushup, and then jumped on one leg to finish. There is no excuse for not doing the penalty if physically possible and without doing further injury to oneself – you do the penalty to the BEST of your ability. Skipping burpees to catch up with friends or because you are tired, etc is unacceptable, even in open waves – let your friends wait on you. It’s not just your position in this race – Spartan gives points in the OPEN waves, and people compete against others over the season as well. If you can’t complete the race properly, run the race and DQ yourself to not negatively affect others. Anyone not doing a race by the rules is CHEATING others, not just themselves. Others have paid money too, to see how they compare to the competition, otherwise we would all be running in the rain at our local trails for free.

        2. Some of these comments amaze me. Now I know where the “everybody gets a trophy” or “there will be no winners or losers” mentality that seems to be invading youth sports today.

        3. So cranky I just did 2 5ks and a10k my first obstacle race ever is going to be a warrior dash this July 29th and after that me and a few others will be doing a Spartan super run Sept 9 since it’s in Michigan this year I’m excited to sign up for a Spartan race but a bit nervous I know I’m not going to do as well on some obstacles I’m just going to give it my best

      2. I understand part of what Jessica is saying, that we shouldn’t discourage people from trying races that perhaps they cannot physically finish correctly. The problem comes when I check my own ranking among women in my age group and know that that rank doesn’t necessarily ring true because some people have cheated. I would really like to know where I stand with other athletes in my group, but cheating makes it not really possible. How can this be resolved?

      3. I’m doing my first Spartan race since it’s coming to Michigan I’m two things excited but a little scared I watched videos on Spartan racing it looks like a blast I did 2 5ks and a 10k and my first obstacle race is July 29 a warrior dash and the Spartan super run is what me and a few friends are doing Sept 9 I just want to do my best and try not to hold up my team lol

    4. Don’t do a spartan race if you don’t want to do Burpees simple as that. There are many other mud runs out there were you don’t have penalties. I compete as an elite and try to place, if you skip out on your Burpees and do them half ass you will hear it from me. I’ve been at so many obstacles seeing people. Kick there feet back thinking its a Burpee. I 100% agree with cranky pants and this has been a huge topic between a group of us.

      1. So if one person can’t do a burpee because there struggling you look down on that Jen some people are not super fit and have a hard time but they give there money away and say ya I want to do this race I did 2 5ks and a10k my first obstacle race is a warrior dash in July and I’m doing the Spartan super in Sept and yes I’m nervous and excited I just lost 40lbs I might struggle a little but I want to finish for sure

    5. I agree, I’m a participant not a competitor. I try them all and if I fail I do as many pees as I can. Then move on. Im 60 and truly wish I could do 120 but pees from the 4 obstacles I
      Can’t physically do to injuries from combat of just 40 years in the military.

  2. Everyone’s journey is their own. I agree that in the elite heats where there is sponsorship and money involved that there should be accountability. But if you want OCRs to just be about the “uber fit” and make it a closed group and diminish the number of participants then your idea of making every participant to 30 perfect burpees for a failed obstacle is a great idea. I want these races to be inclusive and if that means that on their fitness journey this is their first race and they can only achieve 5 burpees or 15 burpees then good for them. Who am I to judge.

    1. @Nancy

      Ah, the “individual journey” response. I do love these, and while I will agree with you 100% that everyone’s journey is their own, it misses the point.

      The point comes down to race expectations. Looking at the Sacremento Beast race participant guide, it clearly states, “30 full burpees (with push-up) is the penalty for failing to complete an obstacle. Not squat thrusts. Your chest must hit the ground at the “bottom” of the movement and your feet must leave the ground at the ‘top’ of the movement.”

      There is not much ambiguity in there.

      Burpees are for ANYONE, and can be completed by ANYONE. The margin of difference is related to the speed in which 30 burpees can be completed.

      My contention is that anyone can do 30 burpees, but depending on strength, ability, fatigue, and/or a number of other factors, it will simply take some people MUCH longer than others – that, in and of itself, is not a valid reason for skipping them. It makes your race completion time truly indicative of how long it takes you to complete the course. The same course and rules as everyone else.

      Individual journey shouldn’t be confused with, “I can do whatever I want to, regardless of the parameters given to me.”

    2. Maybe have the Elite heat bibs different and have those at 30, and the rest of us non-super humans do 10 or 15. There are ways to do it, IF you are in the $ runs then those need to be done right, both number and form, if you are just out to have fun and prove something to yourself, then so be it.

      1. If you want to have fun then do a race without time (ToughMudder) or a race without penalties (Mud Hero). Races have rules. I suck at Burpees. Takes me a while to pump out 30 at the end of the Spartan Beast. But I do it. I do it because I want to actually earn my medal and because those are the rules. I do it because I want to know how I actually stack up against the competition who is doing the same thing. No short cuts, no special treatment, NO CHEATING.

        1. Exactly. I do the burpees for the same reason I don’t cut half a mile ahead when I see the racers ahead of me off on another trail. For the same reason I wouldn’t say I finished a marathon if I ran 22 miles and drove 4.2. EVEN if 22 miles was giving it everything I had.

          It’s a sport, there are rules. I don’t get how this is so hard to understand for some people. If someone gets injured in a marathon and are unable to continue moving forward, they DON’T get a finish.

          However, if someone signs up for a non-competitive heat (not 8:00 am) and is taking over 4 hours anyway I don’t care. Doing most of a Spartan Beast is still tough. If I am behind that person I am probably not competing anyway.

    3. I 100 percent agree with you on all that I have do 2 5ks and a 10k my first obstacle race is a warrior dash in July and I’m signing up with others for the Spartan super run which is in September 9 in Michigan so I’m excited and a bit nervous I know I’ll struggle a little but I’m sure going to do my best to finish everyone should be able to run any race without people looking down at them I just lost 40lbs and I’ll still be like oh I hope that if I have to do them which I’m sure I will lol there good enough burbees some people just have a hard time that’s all

  3. I also compete in the Elite heats and was shocked and pissed that while I was doing proper burpees 2 people next to me were not doing the push up. What made it worse was that the volunteers did not say a thing. I wish that the volunteers would enforce proper form in the Elite heats.

    1. @Wayne

      Hello Wayne. I feel ya, but herein lies the problem – they are just volunteers.

      We love’em. Without volunteers, we wouldn’t be able to race in the woods, so I’m a fan of singing volunteer praises whenever I get the chance; but we can’t expect them to engage athletes, especially ones that may appear intimidating, during an event.

      I will do it. I’ll call out athletes cheating all day long, but I have a few screws loose and don’t really fear repercussion because I know I am doing the right thing.

      We must police ourselves. Or at the very least, it’s a great place to start.

    2. I am guilty of not doing the jump at the end of the burpee. I do the push-up part but as the race wears on the jumps wore down a good bit

      1. There is no rule or expectation on height of jump with Spartan. Feet just need to leave the ground. And although it’s not written a ton of the course marshalls will tell you hands have to get by your ears too. You can do it!

  4. I agree with where your heart is, but I take exception with two points.
    First, Spartan Race ensures that a high ranking paid staff member personally counts every burpee of at least the top 15 elite runners, both male and female. You are not getting a podium without doing legit burpees. I usually man the spear throw, the one place elites fail regularly, and I’ve been called some nasty things when I don’t count a bad rep.
    Second, if the only person being cheated is yourself, as you state, then why do you care?

    1. @Todd:

      Thank you for the info on the top 15 and thank you for working in the behalf of the athletes. This is good information to know, although I have heard statements to the contrary at the podium level.

      Regarding the second question, “why do I care?” – well, for a couple of reasons, but most importantly, I believe it compromises the integrity of competition and limits growth. It’s not a free-for-all play date in the mud, it’s a competition. For our sport to ever be taken seriously, beyond turkey legs, 40 ounces and body casts of mud, there will need to be enforcement of standards.

    2. about the only person being cheated, I do agree, but (love butts) I also race to improve, marathon or OCR, I try to up my %age etc… cheaters are blocking the way artificially when there is a lineup etc..
      And if they cannot win the race, then why cheat? hate burpees? hate the obstacle? then why sign up to begin with?

      I was expecting this at the sprints, but at the supers and beasts?

      1. Does your ranking even mean anything though? A lot of racers compete as part of teams, and really, you’re only beating the weakest link of that team. I ran the Illinois Spartan rash beast solo knowing full well there were others in my age group that could have gotten a better time than me had they not been hindered by their teammates. I don’t really feel like I beat them, regardless of what the results say, I just beat whoever was holding them up, which affects my % ranking in the race.

  5. There is one exception to attempting every obstacle that I think should be considered. There are water obstacles that I could make it through safely when I’m fresh, but if its past the 10 mile mark I may not be able to complete it safely. There is no dishonor in knowing that you don’t have enough left to do this safely, do your burpees and go on.
    The fact that I am not absolutely certain I can safely attempt every obstacle no matter what state of fatigue I am in should not relegate me to an easier race. If I can handle every obstacle but one of a Spartan Beast, why should I be limited to a Warrior Dash? For that matter, what pleasure is there in a challenge that you know you can crush easily? The glory is in doing things that you didn’t think you could do.

  6. To be honest I am too focused on my own race to worry about counting somebody else’s efforts. You cheat and get a medal and you will always know you cheated. As long as you and your team are doing your best who cares what others are doing? I have probably “lost” places in a race doing the burpees or cheering the rest of my team to finish theirs who cares? I had a good time and I pushed myself.

  7. at the spartans I see most people do 5 to 10 burpees sometimes with good form, most times not.
    I myself believe that the whole thing about going through the obstacle is similar to the run. cannot run 5k, then obviously you wont sign up for a marathon! cannot do monkeybars.. I’ll do three bars next time and four the one after? are you kidding me? And then I have to wait in line behind you!

    The issue is mostly over hype, many people want to do it and they are ok with failing 5 out of 15 obstacles.

    As for burpees, usually volonteers are telling you on how many you have to do (I slipped on the last monkeybar in the last super spartan, volunteer told me to do 10, and that’s the only obstacle I ‘failed’ )

    THe main problem lies in the cheer number of people doing these race, there will never be enough volunteers to check the participants and see if they fail AND count the burpees! and trust me at the spartans they do have a lot of volunteer unlike some other races, which is why IMO less popular races do not even try.

    I guess that optionnaly failing an obstacle could be switched to an additional 500 meter loop, that would probably be easier to check, though it would be a nightware to prepare the routes…

    Not sure if there is an easy answer on this one, and with recent cash incentives (250k for the killington beast…. trust me you will not see 30 burpees with proper form)

  8. Cheating is cheating. Do the burpee or at least there should be a time penalty enforced to equalize the field/effort.

  9. I can’t say that I’ve always done my 30 burpess but by God I do as many as I can (and that includes with a sprained wrist at the last race) and if I’m attempting and I only get 18 done before I know that I physically can’t do anymore…well, at least I’m out there off my ass doing something to improve my life.

    I can’t stand the word cheating. YES, if this was an actual sport and we weren’t paying to do it then you can call it whatever you want. But this is for the love of mud, for getting up and getting fit and doing the best you can to improve yourself for the next race so you can do even better.

    Are you saying if we can’t do 30 burpees for a penalty than we should be excluded from the Spartan race?

    This isn’t the first time I’ve seen the word “Cheat” used in regards to this and it just irks the hell out of me. I race as many weekends as I can and I bust my butt out there and watch others do the same thing. KUDOS to those who get up and get moving!

    1. @Lilo

      I was wondering how long it would take for someone to admit it. Thank you, Lilo.

      It’s an amazing study in sociology to see how many people throw out how many excuses without ever coming right out saying, “yea, I’m guilty.”


      >> “Are you saying if we can’t do 30 burpees for a penalty than we should be excluded from the Spartan race?”

      Cranky says yes. If you are not willing or able to satisfy the requirements of obstacle failure, then yes, you should select a different event. One that does not impose such penalties. Sorry, it just makes logical, sound sense to me.

      Now, I too applaud those getting out there and busting their humps on race day, but one can ‘bust their humps’ in training, first. Then, get to the point where they can satisfy the demands of the race.

      A race is not designed to be your training day. It’s designed to test your preparation for the designed course.

      1. I agree here too. Spartan is a Race, not a fun run. Great on anyone trying to bust their humps and do the race. But like cranky said you need to be up to par race day. I can’t compare this enough to road races. If I train for a half marathon and try my best but call it quits at 10 miles cause I rolled my ankle. I dont get a medal. Period. This is the problem with society. We dont want to offend anyone do trophies for all!!! Yes it’s CHEATING when you dont follow the rules.

    2. I think a lot of the aggravation is not against the people who “can’t”, but the people who “won’t”. I’ve seen several “unfit” people running these races, and I have no problem with them skipping burpees after they’ve done what they feel they can do. I’m going to pass them anyway somewhere and their race will not affect mine or my percentile. However, I’ve also seen many “fit” people skip or cheat on the burpee count just so they can keep moving. It’s these people who may affect my percentile, and I am trying to keep an honest track of how I improve or not in each race. “Cheating” is just not the spirit of these races.

      1. This I can understand. To me, no matter what the OCR is, it’ll always be fun for me. I’m not there to compete, or give a crap about my time. I’m there to push myself, and get dirty. I help people along the way, and encourage people that just want to quit. I only care about my time for road races. But, why he says is because I need to modify, I never said skip, my burpees, I don’t belong there. Which is bullshit.

        1. Never said you don’t belong, if you enjoy running the race that way all the pwoer to you. All he is saying, and most people here, is that you shouldnt be considered a finisher if you modify the rules stated by the RD. It is a slippery slope of what is fair modification.

          Run the race, have fun, be fit, stay in shape, push yourself, help friends, help strangers, but if you modify elements of the race obstacles than you should end up with a DNF, pretty simple.

    3. Paying an entry fee doesn’t give you carte blanche to decide how to interpret rules to best suit you.

      I’ve heard this argument to before. “I’m paying to do this so I can do what I want!”- Nope. That’s not how it works. Your entry fee allows you the opportunity to compete withon the RULES set by the race organizers.

    4. Not doing the burpees IS cheating. Why do I do Spartan Race instead of the other OCRs? BECAUSE it is a competition. My race a few days ago – I failed the LAST obstacle after completing 90% of it. I did 5 burpees and rested. Six times. I couldn’t do even 10 – which is why I rested and then continued.

      Just because some people don’t like to compete doesn’t change the fact that it is a competition, and many people ARE competing.

    5. So you can only do 18 burpees, but can still continue on and do other obstacles and eventually cross the finish line? Right. Sounds like you just didn’t feel like doing any more burpees.

  10. I participated in the Worlds Toughest Mudder at Raceway Park, New Jersey last year and was ashamed to see someone look around then jump the fence to shorten up up the race for himself.

    Terrible to see that when the fee to enter the 24 hour race was over $400.00.

  11. Honestly, I am all for enforcement of the burpee penalty. Strictly. But for elites only. If you’re in an open heat and you don’t want to do the burpees, why should it bother me? It’s on you. Your race is an experience that is uniquely yours. If you want to skip your burpees go right ahead. I’ve been trying to get my dad to do a Spartan Race for a while but he’s worried he would have to do too many burpees. Should that deter him from trying it once? Or anyone else for that matter? I would say no. I’d say, I want him racing whether he does the burpees or not, because it’s a unique experience he should have in life. And, if down the road he races again and does burpees, that would be ideal. But I wouldn’t force him to.

    And how do we determine proper burpee form. By your standards, my burpees probably don’t count as reps. Spartan Race says chest touches the ground, feet leave the ground. There’s a lot of room for interpretation there. My burpees don’t always look nice, but they are always within the confines of those rules.

    But back to the topic at hand. If you’re racing a competitive heat and your placement impacts rankings, points, cash prizes etc, then you know you’d better be honorable. I can’t think of anything worse than a race that gives out money handing it out to a cheater. But at the end of the day, they have to look themselves in the mirror. They know they aren’t on a level playing field with everyone else. It bothers me, but it should make them sick.

    1. @David (and others with similar sentiment)

      This kind of feels like politics, and camps seem to develop around entitled to it vs. earn it.

      The comment,“If you’re in an open heat and you don’t want to do the burpees, why should it bother me? It’s on you. Your race is an experience that is uniquely yours.” is simply flawed in my brain.

      It’s not YOUR race. It’s the race director’s race. The rules are not made up by YOU, but by the race director and staff. The rules apply to both elite and open participants. Being less advanced in your athletics does not spare you from obstacle penalty.

      Regarding your dad, why is it so important he do Spartan? Why not Rogue Runner, or Warrior Dash, or anything else without penalty?

      Thank you for sharing.

      1. I think we both know why it’s so important he do a Spartan Race. Because it’s a vastly superior event in every way. From the challenge of the terrain to the obstacles themselves to the planning that goes into the event to ensure there aren’t major parking or traffic issues (that’s for you up TM). If I’m going to bring my dad to do an obstacle race, I’m going to give him the best experience possible. And I want him to experience something that has meaning personally to me. Spartan revived my racing career and reinvigorated me. I want him to feel what I experienced my first time racing one. And regarding your comment about it being the race director’s race, the race director only makes the race. He doesn’t feel what the competitors feel or experience the emotional journey they take over the course of a race. Spartan Race produces a top of the line product and I’d like to see as many people experience it as possible. Now you may argue that they aren’t getting the full experience. But I believe the experience they get, even sans burpees, trumps all other races.

        1. “I think we both know why he should do a Spartan Race…” because it has standards! And it’s for more competitive, elite, better trained people because of this. Everyone is always more impressed when you complete Spartan Race than other OCR’s because it’s harder. A major part of that is the penalty system, AND YOU KNOW IT. My goal today at PacWest Sprint was top 100 in elite heat (eventhough I finish in top 20 and 10 at other branded OCR’s) and because I had to do 3 sets of burpee penalties I didn’t make it. I could’ve done less than 90, there’s always time when the marshall isn’t looking. Again, what if somebody else’s goal matched my own and he only failed 2 obstacles? Do I cheat him? Nope.

      2. I must agree about the Burpee cheating. Squat Thrusts and Burpees are two completely different animals. Squat Thrusts take a lot less out of you physically and a lot less time to do, therefore, times will be affected.

      3. I agree 100% with if you cant do the obstacle and/or complete the penalty then you should have payed to do something else, and if you get hurt and cant complete the race then try again at the next one. I do, however, think that Spartan has a problem with regulating the obstacles and penalties and it has basically grouped itself into the category with the other races. ( savage,warrior,TM, etc) I think the money making aspect has trumped the competition aspect of the race… They need a low volume elite race, that has the proper officials at all levels of the course to insure fair competition..i do not think that volunteers are cutting it at some of these obstacles….. and to be honest i still think that money made is going to rank higher on their list than getting into it with a racer who wants to make their own rules….. just my thoughts ..thanks

  12. I agree with you for the most part, but ” if you KNOW you cannot swim, don’t sign up and just skip the swimming obstacle. Instead, find another race”. There’s a well know race that threw in 2 “surprise” triathlon length swims; a race that announced 1 month prior to the event that they would be adding a lengthy swim . . . and of course no refunds to athletes that would not have registered had they known earlier.

    Maybe your next cranky article can be about RDs that make significant changes to the race after they’ve already accepted registration money.

    1. If you can’t swim they always have the option of doing 30 Burpees so do the Burpees if you can’t swim, it’s all part of the race.

  13. The unfortunate answer Jessica, in my opionion, is yes. If an injury prevents you from completing a certain element of a race than you should not enter the race or be required to complete that certain elemement. That is like saying, “I have an injured meniscus, so shouldnt I be able to modify the marathon to just 22 miles so that I can finish it?” Absolutely not. You either run the 26.2, or you step down to a half, or you don’t finish the race. Same with a triathalon. If you can’t swim you don’t sign up. Its simple really.

    I think you should be allowed to run the course, but you shouldnt be a finished of any race unless you complete the course. That may mean you have to take a 10 minute break to continue your burpees. If so than your time will suffer, as is only fair.

    There is another side to this, which is that the races should provide their own oversight on things like burpees and keep better counting, including no repping people when needed. It will clean it up quick. Alternatively, a penalty running loop could be used of 1/4 mile or 1/2 mile for failed obstacles as well.

    There are plenty of solutions, and both involve A)more organization from the races and B)an understanding from racers that if you are entering a competiive race, there is a stricter standard than a fun mud run.

    1. And again I say, I never said anything about speeding them up for time purposes. Completion is my goal, not time. Also, being that I also participate with a large group who help various strangers thought these races, my time doesn’t matter to me.

      1. If you don’t do your Burpees you shouldn’t get a medal, like everyone has said if you run a marathon and don’t do the last km do you really think you will get your medal? No same with spartan no Burpees no medals. I don’t get why so many people think its ok to not do their Burpees, I’m pretty sure it says if you don’t do an obstacle 30 Burpees not 10. If you don’t feel you can do Burpees you should train then decide to do a spartan race.

    2. There is a flaw in the marathon analogy. If you can walk all or part of a marathon… a modification of running. … and you complete 26.2 miles under the cut off you are a bonafide marathon finisher.

      For the record in the 2 spartan races I have done I completed every burpee as directed for each race. One race specified the pushup the other did not. Even the burpee instruction sign did not have that step. They were ugly as hell. Probably not Cranky Bastard proof but I was proud to complete each and everyone with complete effort and commitment. It was a helluva lot slower. I had to rest between every few burpees sometimes. So I definitely did not mess up anyone’s completion times! 🙂 That would just be rude. 🙂
      Perfect burpees or not. My integrity is intact. I am Spartan! I get better and stronger every race. I train continuously. I follow every rule. I aid my fellow racers at every opportunity. And I expect I will belt out Cranky Bastard proof burpees in the future. I will not call out the cheated missing burpees of my fellow racers though. A racer who would walk away from them would not care what I said to them. Not worth my expending the emotional energy.

      1. @Jill

        Nice comment. Whenever you use my pen name in reference, it makes my ego swell.

        >> “Probably not Cranky Bastard proof…”

        I never said I had the perfect burpee. But I’m pretty close. 🙂 back at ya.

        >> ” I will not call out the cheated missing burpees of my fellow racers though. A racer who would walk away from them would not care what I said to them. Not worth my expending the emotional energy.”

        This is the, “I don’t vote because it wouldn’t matter” argument. I’ve called out burpee and obstacle cheaters a bunch. Typically they are so shocked, they do everything they can to disappear. Like the Wu Tang says, “you can see the weakness of a man right through his iris.” BUT, there will be a couple of people who take it as encouragement. They are glad you did not let them quit or fail, and they’ll shrug their shoulders, drop down, and get’em done. And from that point on, might always be that way.

      2. There is no flaw in the marathon analogy because the walk vs run a marathon is like doing 30 burpees quickly….or 30 burpess slowly. Just simply slowing down is not a modification at all, so the analogy still holds water.

        Skipping or changing the structure of burpees is akin to shaving miles of a marathon or strapping on some roller blades.

  14. I agree, if an event has penalties and you fail an obstacle, do the penalty, fully and correctly. Personally I would like to see all of the events have some kind of penalty for failing. Granted in some cases the dunk into the cold water is a penalty in itself, but a lot of times I see people skip obstacles, not even attempt them, then bragging it up at the end, “I got a faster time then you”. Sure a trail run will always be faster than an OCR, but you signed up for an OCR so why skip the obstacle.

    1. @Paul

      That is a very good point. A lot of chest-thumping on the ol’ social networks rarely includes, “…but I skipped the cold water and rope later monkey bars”

      Why is that? hmmmm….

  15. I just see a bunch of whining here. There are people who “cheat” or don’t always do things the right way but I’m sure 99% of the time they don’t affect the people who place. Some people just can’t swim and I think they should be allowed to participate, maybe not win. But to be kicked out all together, that’s pretty sad of you to say when you suggest “OCR is a supportive community.” Also, your written version of a burpee is slightly off, but who am I to correct you. Seems like you know it all.

    1. @Jeffrey

      Here’s my question back to you – using your example regarding swimming, and recognizing the huge number of races that exist, wouldn’t it make most sense for the individual in this position to select a race that doesn’t include swimming as an obstacle?

      If one race has more advanced obstacles than another, shouldn’t the athlete with less advanced skill, first conquer those races?

      Thanks for reading and responding.

  16. and to all the people saying it’s ok not to do part of the obstacle, would you be ok with an extra 5 minute penalty to your time instead of doing 30 burpees?
    I’m sure most would do the burpees instead of taking a 5 minute penalty.

      1. many would though.
        what CB was mostly aiming for in his rant is the able athletes who just decide to quit the burpees for no other reason that it takes time, it’s tedious when your heart rate is already going through the roof. and then brags with a time that is IMO not valid

        1. I see his article differently. Especially being told I shouldn’t enter because I have to modify my burpees.

          1. still makes sense, you are injured and should recover, I had a knee issue this year and did not do the beast, and in turn will not get a trifecta. had I done only the running part I could have ‘finished’. Instead I decided to take care of my injury and not run in something I could not do as required

        2. It’s permanent. My foot was broken years ago, and do not heal correctly. So it’s not going away.

    1. I would take the 5 min penalty. I do my best every race and push myself to the limits. my times are very slow and do not impact anyone else placement. Infact i walk nearly half the time (and yes i always stay to my right and get out of the way of the much faster racers)

  17. Hey there!
    I totally agree on you article and share the same opinion.
    Maybe and at the end of the day it’s everyone’s problem what they do and how they finish the race. The most important is how I finish and how I make my race honest and complete. I know and it kinda sucks to see people that don’t really care about these “rules” and attend more these events because they just want to make a big show off with their medal at the end and post it all over the social networks, just to gain everyone’s attention. These kind of races have become a real big thing and “trend” right now. Specially in Mexico. I’m a huge fan and obstacle race lover (even if I have done only a few by now), but really think a lot of those people shouldn’t even show up. I just bothers me that not only this, but all kind of things become kinda “trendy” and people really forget the real meaning of why the things are there, why they race, and what the whole purpose of this is. The problem would rely on that. So I guess the few of us who still defend that and really care about the real meaning of the race, the philosophy, etc. will be just a few. 🙂
    But at the end of the day everyone’s free to run and do as they please. One good thing though is that it might be already a big achievement that so many people show up and have at least some kind of intention to “do spot” and leave a more “lazy and unhealthy” life behind…

  18. I agree 110% on the cheating. After I finished my last Spartan Sprint I went back to the top and watched a father and son skip the tire flip, monkey bars and I forget the name but the rope with a weight and pulley system. I was actually really upset that no one said anything at all three obstacles. The other upsetting thing is how the tire flip changed from four flips to two flips depending who was monitoring it. I’d suggest that you use a snow fence to create a cattle corral and make sure people are directed to the obstacle- if you skip you are forced to do burpee’s or take a time penalty by having your bib number taken down and penalty assessed at the end. Another possibility could be to have a non-timed wave that runs for the challenge and fun that’s a little less expensive. This way I don’t drop from 6th to 16th by people cheating in my age bracket when I’m competing against myself and my bracket. It’s frustrating and I was really surprised at the amount at this years PA Spartan Sprint at Blue Mountain. You might not realize the harm that it does when you skip an obstacle or burpee’s but it greatly affects someone placement both overall and bracket and it stinks to work so hard.

  19. I can see both sides of the fence on this. Lets face it we are only talking about one series here… Spartan. Let me start by saying I am NOT an elite racer, & do not run elite heats. On the other hand I am competitive & aspire to win my age group in open waves. Best finish, top 10, Sunday @ the Poison Ivy race a few weeks ago. Elite waves should be policed to the fullest. Burpees should be counted out by marshals and or dedicated volunteers. Failure to comply should result in time DQ. They are running for points & money. Open waves on the other hand you have people like me that do take it seriously, & those that are there to say they did it but aren’t really ready for what a Spartan really is. Who am I to tell those people they cant do the race? No one, that’s who, no one. They have the right to participate also. They are not going to beat my time & they don’t affect me. However I do believe that the volunteers need to be more commanding & assertive in some situations. There were some obstacles at the Midwest on Sunday that were completely out of control. (Hoist & Sand Bag carry.) I DO believe the volunteers should have pen & paper or something to record bib #’s for obstacle skipping & shorting un-legit burpees. These people should be allowed to have their time, but not any open wave points, & be deemed ineligible for Trifecta medals. Just for the record if this was the case I would have to give my Trifecta for this year back & try next season. My second OCR ever was the 2012 Glen Rose Beast. I was not ready. I failed 4 obstacles & My burpees sucked. These races are for sport & to test your metal. If your ok with poor sportsmanship & having tin foil for metal that s on you. It wont affect me.

    1. @JB

      Tough to read with no paragraph breaks, brother, but I did (just for you).

      The point I’d like to make in response is that this is not just a “Spartan” series problem, only. Every other race series I have run, I have experienced some form of cheating whether it was skipping sections of barbed wire, skipping water obstacles, or skipping huge chunks of obstacles altogether.

      It’s true, there are only a couple of burpee penalty races, but skipping is rampant across all races.

    2. JB that is like saying “Who am I to tell someone they can’t jump in a cab for a few miles during the Boston Marathon?”

      If you dont want any restrictions on obstacles and be allowed to pick the ones you want to do, go run a race that is untimed and doesnt care if you skip them. If you decide to run a race with a given set a rules, then you should have to follow those rules.

      I love that OCR gets people off of the couch, but this expectation that everyone should be able to run the most competitive and challenging race offered without being prepared for it is rediculous.

      1. I have a cousin who calls himself a Tough Mudder. He even has a framed picture of himself looking grim and encrusted with mud in his living room. He admitted that he skipped two obstacles. If I had done such a thing because I was not prepared, or got injured, I would continue, but not cross the finish line. I would not accept a medal and I certainly would not call myself a Tough Mudder.

        1. Reading through the comments, it seems the issue is that some people see value in getting to the end of the course without completing it.

          While others point out correctly that it isn’t fair, if they move ahead of other participants in the rankings, when those other participants followed the rules.

          The answer should be simple, if you see value in getting to the end without completing the course – then there should be a category of untimed, non-ranked participants.

          I have never run a Spartan, I just came across this website as I was googling the word ‘burpee’ since I didn’t know what that was….

          But I do run 5k runs. In my last trail run, the kids were cheating the trail run by cutting through the woods to shorten the distance.

          LOL, what is the point, just sign up for a shorter race. Some people understand cheating, some don’t. I really don’t see the reason to say you came in 34th instead of 48th…by cheating. But obviously it made some sense to the kids who did it.

  20. I agree with most of the previous comments, even the ones that contradict one another, because each of us runs the OCRs for our own, personal reasons; so therefore our opinions of cheating vary depending on what we’re striving to achieve. Elite racers in the money competitions should be policed regularly to prevent cheating and thus, “stealing” the money from non-cheating competitors who don’t cheat but place lower.
    But my entire, personal reason for racing is to gauge my own level of fitness, regardless of where I finish. if I fail an obstacle and have to do 20 burpees (like in my last race) I am going to do the full range of the damn burpee and I’m going to do all of them, even if I feel like I’m gonna puke. in my age division I was 3rd by 4 minutes. If I had cheated the burpees (I had to do 2 sets of 20 each) I could have shaved off those 4 minutes and placed second. But would I have been as proud of a Cheating 2nd place versus an honest 3rd Place? Not a chance!

  21. The Super Spartan in Temecula was my first OCR. Actually it was my first race or any competitive event for that matter. I was not there expecting to win but I was in the mindset that I would kick ass. There was a line for the spear throw about 5 minutes long. I saw racers opt out and do their burpees. After a while I wanted to do the same but a fellow racer convinced me on how cool it is to throw a spear. I missed the throw and had to pay my dues anyway. I don’t think it would be cheating if I skipped the 5 minute wait and just ate the burpees like other racers did.

    1. @Richard

      Another good point of discussion, and one in which I am not yet sure of where I am on the fence.

      On one hand, I see the strategy of “burpee-ing out” to avoid long lines (dude, run the elite heats). On the other hand, is it “opportunistic skipping”, and thus, could be construed as cheating? I’m not sure yet, but as I improve in my ability to string together burpees, I can certainly see the intrigue.

  22. I do not get in the Elite portions and just do theses races to keep me motivated . I have had 2 surgeries on my shoulder and the last Mudder I fell off the wall helping someone so I did not do the other walls but did everything I could do one armed . I did not do any Mudders this year and will do a Warrior Dash this weekend and will do all the obstacles . At 54 I hope to be able to do more Mudders in the future , if I cant do the whole thing I will not sign up .

    1. But again Tough Mudder is NOT a timed competition. This article does not apply there. Tough Mudder is an untimed challenge. It’s up to you for those. That is you-vs-you. This article is discussing timed races.

  23. I know I’m never going to be on the podium – I run to beat my last time. I do my burpees and I think everyone else should too. I also think elite heats should be held to the highest of high standards.

    But to the people complaining that it throws off rankings, etc….I also stop and help people with obstacles. It is a point of pride and sheer joy for me to do so. I add minutes upon minutes to my time doing this. And other do the same darn thing to help me over obstacles (Damn inverse walls). So – we mess up the “rankings” anyway, making the “I want a proper ranking” argument moot.

    1. I stop and help people too. All the time. My ranking argument is not moot. Every course is different. Even the same venue is different form year to year. The best way to see how i’m doing is to see how i’m doing compared to my peers. Women in my age group. But alas, i see them cutting the course, skipping out on obstacles and burpees. That’s the race rule. Plain and simple. There are plenty of fun runs with no penalty rules and timing to be had.

  24. I believe if you fail an obstacle, you shouldn’t be eligible to podium and win money. My idea is to give the elite racers 3 shots at an obstacle. Can’t stick the spear, get across the log hop, or traverse wall in 3 attempts, then you are DQ’d. How can you claim to win a race with a rope climb, yet can’t get up the rope?

    1. that is somehow right and wrong, two athletes could fail one obstacle but not the same and do burpees which will test their overall fitness, but DQ on obstacle would limit the creativity..

  25. Wow. This article is entirely too black and white in an arena that is obviously still very gray. The problem I see is organization. I know there are different heats but it doesn’t sound like they are enforced. Insisting that the race be limited to only those who know up front they can complete every obstacle is absurd. If that were the case, why the discussion about penalties?

    Second, comparing not finishing a marathon to not completing obstacles is off the mark. A better comparison is someone who had to stop and walk the marathon. For all the talk about those who can’t complete the course AS PRESCRIBED (ie, don’t sign up for a race with a swim if you can’t swim), it’s apparently okay for him to sign up admitting most people don’t get the target throw? So, it’s okay to not be able to do the one skill where he’s lacking but any one else’s “weakness” makes them not worthy to run the course?

    Third, burpee penalties are a joke! Who came up with that? Someone in the OCR/functional fitness arena who knows “everyone hates burpees.” Even the suggestion of taking a few laps (or whatever physical penalty) is off. Maybe I can do an attempt plus thirty burpees in 2 minutes but I know the obstacle will take 15? Even if I do perfect burpees, am I cheating by choosing them instead of the obstacle?

    Perhaps a time penalty? Either way, it all comes back to the heats. Compare that to a marathon. 1) Qualify for the elite heat somehow. Forget penalties. If you didn’t complete every obstacle, you didn’t finish. You don’t do 30 burpees in an elite marathon for each mile you don’t complete. 2) Enforce the standards of each heat! However, the standards can be different and unless you are sandbagging, be damn proud that YOU did your best by the standards of YOUR heat.

    The takeaway: Never, ever discourage someone up to challenge themselves. I respect that person who signed up scared to death and shows up anyway a ton more than the guy who took it on easily (without his ego in check at that) set out to complain about how his standing was knocked a few spots.

    1. @PTlife

      >>”Insisting that the race be limited to only those who know up front they can complete every obstacle is absurd.”

      No one said that. The stance in the editorial is one where an athlete should attempt every obstacle, and in cases where they are allowed multiple attempts, do so. If the race offers penalties for failure, do the penalty. If the race does not, move along.

      The problem illustrated is that its waaaay to easy for people to skip one or many obstacles, and obstacle penalties, with no recourse, and the net effect is a reduction in overall rankings for racers who ran to standard. (not to mention the whole integrity of the race, thing.)

      If you KNOW you cannot do burpees, due to injury, let’s say, then no you shouldn’t enter Spartan Race where that same injury will probably mean you will be almost certain to get burpees.

    2. NO one is saying you cant attempt the race unless, and we are all for people pushing themselves. BY all means get otuside your comfort zone. But once you are there, if you can’t follow the regulations and requirements of that race that you shouldnt be considered a finisher. You get your DNF and you come back next time to try again, probably with more resolve to improve.

      If that is too “mean”, than choose a race that doesnt have such strict regulations.

  26. I did 120 burpees in my first spartan event at the sprint in Austin. I was running along side one of the UFC fighters in the elite heat and we both missed the spear. Commence burpees and he got to 14 and said F… This and got up and ran with his go pro camera recording it all. I completed mine and caught him, but didn’t confront him for some cowardly reason. 🙂 we all want to see how we stack up and that is what it boils down to, but we need an equal measurement and you have to be willing to put yourself to the full test. I was exhausted at the end of the sprint and was only able to do reps of 5 burpees then catching my breath, but I did all 30 each time.
    Maybe they should surrender their timer chip? A lot of the people don’t consider OCR a real sport, but something fun to just get outside and do. I hold it on a level of any other triathlon, or marathon, of which i plan to do running, not on roller blades because it would be easier :).

    1. @Jerrod

      I think we’d be friends.

      Good for you. I, too, have found myself wanting to skip burpees under horrible fatigue. In Mississippi, they made us do 30 burpees to finish. Not a penalty, no way to avoid it. It was, in essence, an obstacle. I guarantee you no one skipped those – why? – becuase it was required to finish.

      I love the following quote and find it applicable, “The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.”

  27. Sounds like cranky bastard needs to register for the Olympics noone’s skipping a burpee there, guarantee it. You gotta earn your way into the race not just the registration fee.

  28. I have raced the Spartans and a handful of other OCR events. I am far from elite and do not place in my age group. I train all year and consider my training geared towards my OCR races. I have done my share of penalty burpees and done all 30 unless I miscounted 1 or 2 due to being delirious from lack of oxygen but anyway, that is not my point. I come to every race with permanent deficits/nerve damage/chronic injuries and would never expect any modifications or leeway. In fact, my injuries are what actually drove me to obstacle course races and specifically to my first being a Spartan just to prove to myself that I could do it. I have attempted every obstacle, even those that I have never been successful on in training, for example, the rope climb. I will take my rope burn and maybe even a strained calf muscle to keep myself honest. But I will say this, the two Spartan sprint races I have attended so far, to date, many volunteers have specifically told me that I did not have to do the push up ( this was because I WAS in fact doing them in proper form and they wanted to make sure I knew it was not necessary) and I did just that, dropped the push up so I could move on to the next section of the course. I assumed that the others before me were following the same expectations and therefore did not feel in anyway, I was skating out on my responsibilities as a legitimate OCR participant. I think some things you have to expect and accept due to the growing popularity of this sport and the fact that it is run primarily by volunteers, some of which that do not even participate in these types of events. That is my 2 cents. Happy Racing!!!

  29. I agree with the article. I am a stickler for following the rules to a T and pride myself on good form through my burpees. Next season, I will be running in the Elite Series, but for now I am still in the Opens and trying to keep tabs on my progress with each race. There are a huge number of participants who will never be elite, but still want an accurate reading on their performance. How is it fair to them when there are those who “cheat”? It’s not just about cheating yourself. Age Group points are awarded in the Opens, so it is somewhat of a big deal if everyone is NOT doing the same race and end up placing higher because of it.

    I think a possible solution is to be strict with the penalties in maybe the first several Open Waves… say up to 10am, in which a lot of participants are likely to be going for time. After that, it can be less strict for those with injury (permanent or temporary) and those who are not in condition or unwilling to perform everything that is required. In the later heats it’s harder to place well anyways, due to lines, crowding, etc. While not perfect, I see it as a good solution to minimize the issue.

    1. @Stephen

      Thanks for the response and ideas towards a solution.

      With more and more wanting to run ‘elite’, it seems almost impossible to believe that will always be an ‘option’ for any registrants. I believe we will see a requirement of proof (in terms of previous race times) in order to qualify to start in these heats.

      Most likely, the same will happen in the early open heats.

      The World’s largest 10K race, the Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta, Georgia, staggers racers like this and it does make a lot of sense.

  30. I participated in the Spartan at Fenway and boy did I see a lot of cheating! I trained for the race and it took 3 of us (we worked as a team) about 1.5 hours or maybe a bit longer. I tried it all and I am 46. I failed at the block pull, spear throw, ball toss and traverse wall (not easy for short ladies, I fell right before the end uggh!).I attempted them all. The last 3 mentioned were consecutive obstacles and yes I did 30 full and proper burpees after each! There were also a few burpee stations built in so do the math lol! There was no way I was going to say I ran a Spartan if I didn’t do it all to my best. I knew there was a burpee penalty so I prepared for the race by running, cross training, weights, boot camp and personal training and I of course got friendly with the burpees in case . When we trained we did burpees with push ups so those during the race were not as taxing! I was surprised that one would pay to participate and then cheat! I am even more surprised to hear that there is cheating in the Elite heats! Geeze you have no business competing in that heat and skipping burpees. One might fail at an obstacle but skipping the penalty is just wrong . Why would you cheat yourself of participating fully?Tough Mudder is fine with skipping but it is not timed so it is whole other beast.

  31. Im quite familar with how you compete in the Olympics. The point is that if you are looking for a competition that measures your physical fitness, skills, and athleticism against others in a sport, a race that allows anyone of legal age to participate provided he or she registered in time, is not the most accurate way of doing so. Until race directors better enforce the rules of competition and/or validate results , there will always be some doing a more challenging OC race than others whether intentional or not. If you feel slighted in your ranking I suggest honing obstacle skills so that you wont have to do burpees or sign up for a more regulated race. OCR races want to make money and disqualifying anyone that cant or wont do every obstacle or burpee from participating would likely mean a big revenue loss. Especially since most wont know their limits until they participate. Personally, I lose sleep if I dont live up to or surpass expectations in OCRs so, ive done many a burpee in a race and I’d be willing to bet ateast 99% of those registered are the same. Its not likely a lot of people start a race with intentions of “cheating”. So,if you are truly affected by burpee dodgers, then you should post a vent towards the race directors/organizers not the participants.

  32. I think you are spot-on for the Elite heats. But for the non-Elite heats, I think you should embrace anyone who tries it. If you can’t swim, attempting to Walk the Plank is just plain stupid. But missing out on a fun-filled day with your team, challenging yourself in so many other ways would be a shame. I say go for it! There is no shame in skipping obstacles and there are 100 legit reasons to do so. If I’m nursing a sore ankle, I will feel confident running slowly and crawling and swinging through the air, but I’m not going to do the 10 foot wall with the 10 foot drop on the other side. I registered for an OCR for FUN, which is why I’m not in the Elite heat. That said, I still do 30 full burpees when I miss the spear throw, though many of my friends are not yet fit enough to do 30. I would not have them skip the Spartan just because they won’t be able to complete their “penalty”. Just showing up for an OCR got them off their couches and for that I am proud of them.

    1. Agree 100%, but if they cant complete the obstalces you shouldnt be a finisher or get a medal or an official time.

  33. Very interesting discussion. Personally I’ve never run a Spartan, I do know when I’m out of my league, but to say to not sign up if you can’t do all obstacles isn’t very supportive to people that want to at least try…and to put that restriction out there would seriously cut into the number of entries-at least I would think. (Also, I can’t help but think the ‘fun’ reward yourself with beer races get tangled in with ALL other races, no matter how different from each other they might be. Like it or not, that sets up a precedent of not taking them too seriously for a lot of people.)

    My husband and I started OCR racing to do something together, he’s ex-military, and we’re both a little older, but I have little hope of ever getting to his skill level. He stays with me and helps me over the obstacles, but despite that, there are times I cannot complete one. When that happens though, I take issue with calling it cheating-I guarantee you I tried, and believe if you’ve done your best, you have not failed. (Now, we have not been in a race that had penalties, so I won’t even begin to try to take on that discussion, but if they were there, I’d still do my best to complete them-that doesn’t mean they would be done to CBs standard, tho.)

    Having said that, I agree with the elite runs-you shouldn’t be allowed to win, place or show if you haven’t legitimately completed the requirements-and were I competing at that level I’d be very ticked to see the rules not being enforced.

    When I run my dogs in agility competitions, I can choose to run “preferred”, which ultimately means I’m trying to finish, not going for placements. It’s the choice I make with a ‘green’ or young dog. If I wonder if a choice like this was put out there, with a diff bib type, if it might help distinguish the ones who really want that competition time…just a thought.

    Be great, everyone. 🙂

    1. @Caren

      >>”but to say to not sign up if you can’t do all obstacles isn’t very supportive to people that want to at least try”

      Sometimes, I think people read what they want to read, not what the words say.

      Cranky has no problem with people signing up and ‘trying’, and then, as I’ve said 25 times now, if they fail, they do the failure penalties. If no penalty, even better, and this is most likely the race for that athlete if penalties couldn’t be completed.

      Simply walking (or running) around an obstacle, because it looks daunting, or might interfere with your current nagging injury, is not acceptable.

      Simply cheating your penalties, is not acceptable.

      1. Agreed! Ive failed the rope and some times just look at it but i do the penalty cuz its what i signed up for… i dnt get ppl who would not attempt an. Obsticle y then think its ok to just run on… not the Point of a Spartan.

  34. I work for a timing company that times various ocr’s, triathlons and marathons all over the country. I think the races that use our timing system should be strict on people cheating and skipping obstacles, because when one person does that it really does affects everyone’s rankings and placement. And this is frustrating because you are paying to enjoy these statistics and its being skewed because of cheaters.

    We need to let people know that the timed races are a bit more serious and that you should train harder than usual to compete in one of these, and try to keep away the ones who are going for just a good time la dee da walk in the woods. So it is important to have the fun ocr’s but be able to differentiate the crowds that come to the more serious, timed races.

  35. I don’t think anyone has mentioned the inclusion of electrical shock as an obstacle. That is not a challenge (not even a mental one) it is just asking for pain for the sake of pain. I’m glad Spartan doesn’t subject it’s racers to such cheap gimmicks otherwise I would do a burpee penalty every time. It takes a lot longer to do burpees than run through shock.

    I have done the shock, would do it again if I was in the position for money or felt challenged by it (I would support hock if there was a slow/challenging way to do it without having to be hot), but other than that it does not present a challenge Sobieski have no qualms in skipping.

    1. The shock “obstacles” are in Tough Mudder, which is non-competitive, un-timed, and whose organizers outright tell participants to skip obstacles they’re not comfortable with. And theres’s no penalties. So…

  36. One of the largest barriers with effectively policing the burpees is that those enforcing it are volunteers. While OCRs would not survive without volunteers; weather it’s for fun, the charity aspect, to earn a free T-shirt, or the earn a free race entry.. It is their responsibility to maintain consistency through out.

    OCRing is about camaraderie. My response to the girl you referenced who cut corners to catch up with her friends is : Whether she formed a team or signed up to run with a group of friends, they should be working as a team. If she couldn’t complete the obstacle it was because her team did not assist her. Therefore the whole team should be obligated to complete the burpees instead of moving on without her.

    As far as tracking obstacle completion. I believe the Starting Line and Finish should not be the only touch points to the timing chip. Place those sensors at the top of the walls so that when the participant throws their foot over the other side it logs completion of that obstacle. Those who take their shoe off to toss it over the obstacle like through their high school uprights will then have wasted just as much time as they would have completing it. And in the end if your timing chip doesn’t have a time ping from each obstacle marked then you are entered as DNF.

    1. In addition. If you have no intentions of at least attempting each obstacle then you should leave you timing chip in your SWAG bag with gear check. By tying that chip on, whether you are aiming for the money or are just hoping to cross the finish line in one piece, you have committed to a level of equality.

  37. Opinion from a non-obstacle racer, so take it for what it is worth- It seems like obstacle racing participants fall into a few categories including those who race to compete (against others) and those who race to have fun, compete against themselves, or be social in an active way. My thinking is that certain races or even heats should be separated into very strict races/heats and relaxed races/heats. The first group can race in strict races/heats and have an absolutely zero tolerance for cheating or not completing obstacles and the second group can race in the relaxed races/heats and just have a good time/do their best with it.

  38. I understand your main assertion CB and I agree that racers should accept and execute all penalties and that rules should be enforced to ensure race integrity…but I also believe there has to be a balance between ensuring race integrity and veering into non-inclusive territory. I personally think it’s bad form to discourage potential OCR applicants to not sign up for ANY race. How will the OCR community grow if it gets the reputation of being non-inclusive and cliquey like other “trendy” fitness programs (yes, I’m looking at you Crossfit). Should people adibe by the rules and regulations of each race? Absolutely. Is it necessary for the OCR community to police itself with Gestapo-like zeal? Absolutely not. There has got to be a balance. Until race organizers decide that cheating has become a big enough problem to address by creating non-timed heats, I really don’t see that there’s much that any racer can really do other than ensuring that they themselves are abiding by the rules and regs.

    1. @Greg R

      >> “I personally think it’s bad form to discourage potential OCR applicants to not sign up for ANY race. “

      What makes one’s interest in OCR automatically qualify them for every OCR race? Because you can run, you don’t automatically qualify for difficult mountain ultramarathons. Because you train CrossFit, you aren’t automatically qualified to compete in the games. Because you can do ring dips, it doesn’t mean you are qualified to compete in a gymnastics meet.

      1. Perfectly said Cranky….this “everyone gets a trophy and a medal” crap just for showing up is absurd.

        Anyone should be able to try, no exclusion whatsoever. But why is it that in one of the most competitive races in the sport it is considered mean or rude to say to someone…”great effort, you gave it your all, but you didnt complete the race. Come back next year and give it another shot.” We have to give them a medal now?

        When I walk into a job interview and im not capable of getting the job, I don’t get a paycheck anyway.

      2. CB: I think you may have taken my comment out of context. In no way am I saying that some OCRs aren’t more challenging and competitive than others. My point is that the organizers of these competive races are responsible for establishing and enforcing registration criteria and race rules and regulations. The “everyone gets a trophy” remark should be directed at race organizers who make and enforce the rules of the race.

        To my knowledge, there is no restriction criteria for non-competitive registrations for the Spartan Race. If, after completing an event (to standard) in a non-competitive wave, a person wanted to try to qualify for a timed/competitive event, then by all means go for it. Consider also that elite OCR competitors represent a very small percentage of OCR registrants. It is a growing competitive activity but presently, the majority of participants fall squarely into the “casual racer” category. In my humble opinion, the death knell for OCRs will sound when/if race organizers make the decision to screen out casual racers from the relatively few elite-class participants at the point of registration (I’m talking about the more popular OCRs, not the races that were designed for advanced/elite competitors who meet specific pre-requisite qualifications).

        I love participating in OCRs and I want to see the sport grow but not at the expense of the camaraderie and sportsmanship that are inherent to these events. It seems to me that what you’re calling for is sort of a “closing of the OCR ranks”. Please correct me if I’m off-base here.

        1. All registrations for Spartan RACES are competitive. Everyone — open and elite — are provided timing chips. Timing chips=race=competitive

          1. Fair enough. Here’s an idea: If you (or anyone) REALLY wants to do a competitive OCR, why don’t you just sign up for the Death Race in VT and leave the “fun runs” to the casuals? We can all debate until we’re blue on the face about what REEBOK should and shouldn’t with their event. At the end of the day, REEBOK is concerned with turning a profit from the Spartan Race. They can’t accomplish that by only catering to elite/competitive runners; SR would go belly up in under a year. So, by your logic, you’d be just as happy throwing the baby out with the bathwater??

          2. To Greg R (there’s no reply button):

            As is, Spartan is not set up as a “fun run”. It just isn’t. In fact, anything that is chip timed and awards points is not a “fun run”. People may have fun doing it, but they should be expected to have fun within the constraints of the rules.

            As I mentioned elsewhere, they need to get rid of the illusion that the open heats are actually competitive, eliminate the penalties, timing and points and pour resources into strict enforcement of the rules for the elite heats. This allows a venue for competitors to really rank themselves and a venue for the fun runners to have an “experience” (and get that photo to put on facebook).

            But that’s not the way it’s currently structured. So we have people breaking clearly defined rules (you know there’s a rule book, right?) while others are finishing within the letter of the rules. Spartan needs to enforce the rules already on the books or change their structure to properly represent its participants.

            As as for the Death Race reference… so let me understand your logic. Would you also suggest that competitors in other sports only jump to the echelon of their sport’s competition? Because all other levels need to be fuuuuuun? So there’d be no room for the competitive in the races put on by my local track club? It’s Olympics or nothing? Pffft.

            Races are about competition. Competition requires rules. People who break the rules are cheaters.

  39. This is why Spartan shouldn’t provide timing chips, points, or the same finishers medals to the open group.

    I enter the elite division despite not being a terribly fast runner (give me enough time and I might outlast you, but you’ll probably beat me at a 5k). I am good at climbing, hauling, throwing, pushing, pulling and so many other physical requirements for OCRing. But I enter elite because I don’t want to wait for obstacles and because I expect a higher level of competition and accountability in the elite heats.

    Sorry, but if you’re slogging through a RACE, picking and choosing what RULES apply to you, you don’t deserve the same accolades as those of us who finish exactly according to the RULES.

    Like it or not, Spartan RACE is a RACE. If you are unable or unwilling to complete the obstacles AND/OR the penalties, you should not enter. Stick to Tough Mudder or Warroir Dash or Dirty Dash or whatever event.

    Sometimes you have to get real with yourself and realize that some events are maybe not the best fit for your abilities. Not everyone is entitled to “experience” a Spartan Race – particularly if you don’t abide by the RULES. It cheapens the meaning of being a finisher.

    1. My issue with this is that the elite heats cost significantly more than the open heats. I train hard, do every burpee even if it meant adding 20+ minutes added to my time as it did last year. It’s the rules and they should be followed. But Elite heats are often ineligible for the 20% and 30% off coupon codes, as well as costing more before the coupon codes to begin with.

      The reason I do more Spartan Races than other OCRs is because they time everyone & have penalties that increase the challenge level. By shopping savvy I can often prereg with a price that I think is fair, thanks to Spartan Race’s aggressive couponing, living social, etc that are not applicable to the elite heats. Quite frankly if the cost of registration goes up much more, I’d have to leave Spartan Race behind.

      I’m a competitive runner, I try to run for PRs and put 100% out there on race day, but I’m not an elite runner who is capable of claiming a title spot. To be frank, if if people like me who finish in the top 20%-top 33% of the open heats were to move to the elite heats, we’d just clog up the obstacles.

      Elite really should only be top 5% or top 10% of runners. But that doesn’t mean the rest of the 95% or 90% doesn’t care about their finish at all. Between the people that openly admit they do not care about their finish time and Hobie Call, there are people that are running as hard as they can, and want a time so they can compare themselves to how they ran last year or next year.

      Noting exceptions for people with permanent physical impairments or saftey concerns, I think open contestants should be expected to run the same course and same rules as the elites. There are plenty of other mud runs that don’t time at all for people that just want an experience.

      Don’t cheapen all the open contestants just because some want to cheat.

      1. Well, then Spartan needs to step up and enforce the rules for the open division. There has to be some way of enforcement within the constraints of volunteers and large numbers of participants. I don’t buy it that enforcement is impossible.

        Until the RULES are enforced, I’ll pay extra for the elite heats to deal with less B.S.

        1. “Well, then Spartan needs to step up and enforce the rules for the open division.”


  40. I hope all of you that think that anyone who can’t do the obstacles or burpees shouldn’t come to the race are prepared to pay 300 dollars a race for your perfect world.
    You may not like the masses that walk the course, skip obstacles and cheat burpees, but they outnumber you and subsidize your race. Without them, your races would all cost several hundred dollars, if not more.

    Those of you who think the swims are skippable, Spartan Race provides full vest life jackets at every swim obstacle., Too tired and can’t swim are not acceptable excuses. Put on the jacket and doggy paddle your way across.

    To those of you claiming that once you do X numers of burpees, you just can’t do anymore (I recall reading 18) you are being disingenuous. You can always do more, the question is are you willing to do what’s right and wait until you recover enough to do more.

    I personally witnessed a very large woman, who had already spent about ten hours on a sprint course, fail the very last obstacle as she had so many others. She still did her thirty burpees, it took her over a minute to do each one. We watched for FORTY MINUTES while she did thirty burpees. I don’t want to hear can’t from anyone, what you mean is won’t.

    1. “I hope all of you that think that anyone who can’t do the obstacles or burpees shouldn’t come to the race are prepared to pay 300 dollars a race for your perfect world.
      You may not like the masses that walk the course, skip obstacles and cheat burpees, but they outnumber you and subsidize your race. Without them, your races would all cost several hundred dollars, if not more.”


      If the masses who skip obstacles and cheat burpees never registered in the first place, would Spartan Race even be around today? I think a strict enforcement policy would stop too many of the casual racers from even signing up, leading to higher registration fees for everyone and possibly affecting Spartan Race’s ability to put on any events.

      1. Then Spartan needs to eliminate the timing, points system, and recognition for the open division – along with the rules. Let the walkers walk, the obstacle skippers skip, get rid of the penalties and competitive farce and let those who just eant an experience of their own making have at it.

        Then Spartan needs to spartan up and enforce the RULES for the elite competitive heats. Yeah, those of is who are mediocre runners are probably never going to podium, but wouldn’t it be a truer gauge of our abilities?

        I would rather place in the middle of the pack knowing that EVERYONE finished under the same set of RULES than end up in the top 10 not knowing who did what.

        1. I think OCR is kind of unique for running races in that it may be either an individual or a team effort, but everyone is timed, awarded points, and recognized individually. In the rules, it’s OK to give and receive assistance, but some people need it, some don’t.

          It’s the Spartan way to assist others, but should those who get over obstacles quickly with help be judged differently from those that struggle to get over obstacles by themselves? A good runner with poor upper body strength may beat the mediocre runner just by being on a decent team or among helpful people, while without the team, the good runner would lose to the mediocre runner. Would it be OK to be in the middle of the pack if you thought 20% of those in front of you may not have have beaten you without the legal help they received? Is getting help a method of cheating allowed by the rules?

          1. It has been my understanding that in the elite heats the racers are supposed to clear obstacles without assistance.

            I’m a mediocre runner who banks on being able to out-brute the T-Rex-Armed elite runners when it comes to the obstacles. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. That’s what I like about OCRing.

  41. Im definitely not encouraging burpee dodgers
    But there are ways an organizer /director could ensure obstacles/penalties were completed by those wishing to compete for the podium or points. Ive done a few races or competitions that require a check ( a bracelet a flag, etc) given for each obstacle or penalty completed. If theres any checks missing, you dont get ranked/scored. Its a system that works well if theres resources available to manage but at a race the size of a Spartan it would be a challenge Then again, spartan created the rules so it is up to them to manage.

    Also, skipping the event if an injury prevents one from doing an obstacle is easier said than done. When refunds for neither the race, the airfare nor the hotel booked are given , it makes it hard to make that decision when the injury happened after registration and travel arrangements have been paid. If a broken limb means i can do most of race but have to skip a penalty or obstacle, im doing the race rather than lose all that money . And most are more concerned about getting their money’s worth and preserving their health rather than someone elses ranking. Priorities!

    1. I dont think anyone is saying you should skip an event because you may not be able to do every obstalce. I think what people, inlduing myself, are saying is that in order to be considered a finisher, you should have to attempt and complete every obstacle or the penalty. Like Todd said, burpess are always possible, if you can do 1 you can do 30. All that matters is how long you have to wait to do them to recover.

      To be fair, just as much responsibility goes back to the race organizers though in enforcement or adjustment of the rules for different waves. Elite, competititive open, open, disability, etc… Its not hard to have race bids or armbands be different colors. They did it at the Beast/Ultra Beast last year to distinuigh the UB runners.

  42. This is a topic that I’ve gotten some heat for in the past. It is very frustrating to hear completely competent people say “F that, I’m tired, I’m not doing my burpees” and then then finish before you. Then the other extreme, you see the the exhausted or injured racers with lots of heart. They are completing their burpees anyway they can, not caring how long it takes them. They get it done and earn their medals. IDK, maybe instead of everyone getting timing chips and being ranked, only have them included for the racers that intend on running the race as it was designed. It can be an option at registration. If you are just doing what you can and running it for fun, then don’t opt for the chip. Then you won’t be ranked and included in the stats. In addition, maybe there could be a fast lane (as was done in one of the stadium races as well) and a fun lane. If you want to take your time and take pictures on top of a wall or cargo net, that is fine. Just stay in the “fun lane”. It drives me crazy when you are waiting your turn for an obstacle and people are just playing around. I realize it is supposed to be fun and not everyone can complete the obstacles easily and it is important to celebrate your accomplishments. I do this to challenge myself and always wonder how much better I could have done if I didn’t have to wait at obstacles. As others have stated, Spartan is the most difficult race out there and every level is not designed for everyone. If you cannot complete your penalty burpees, maybe you shouldn’t sign up for a Super or Beast!

  43. 90% of people who do these arent really in shape and weekend warriors anyways. I do agree you do the burpees or dont run the race. Take your training seriously like some of us do. Plus big deal if you just finish it, there are people finishing it that cant even do one lousy pull up! I aim to finish top 10% in any obstacle race i run. I train seriously and have found a good amount of people who say they are fit arent lol. These people skip obstacles and burpees. Completing something medico-rely is not my definition of a accomplishment. You weekend warriors stop watching so much realty tv shows put in at least 10 hours a week of cross training and stop exercising 2 hours a week and thinking you are fit. I want finishing a race to mean something not a race where skipping obstacles and not doing your burpees is allowed. Get off your fat ass cross train hours a week running, hitt, body weight, Tabata, sprints, heavy lifting etc etc then run the spartan. Damn weekend warriors. Hey Hey i got my trifecta, cool what were your times, i placed top 60% lol BIG FREAKIN DEAL THEN WHO CARES?

    1. During my last “race”, I stopped frequently and moved off the trail to let the “real competitors” not have to consider me an obstacle. I even cheered them on…because I feel great when folks cheer me on. It upsets me to think that I may have cheered for you.

  44. I love this post and couldn’t agree more! I just did the Spartan Race in Amesbury MA and was frustrated by the number of people who failed an obstacle and did not complete there burpees! By the monkey bars I hear a guy counting in 10s “10..20..30.. ok I’m done” 3 burpees and off he goes. Some skipped them all together. Also, by the spear throw another guy says to the volunteer ” I have a bad hip I can’t do the burpees” Are you kidding me? But you’re running this race. I all call BS!

    They need to be more strict about this. How do I know how well I placed amongst a bunch of cheaters?

    1. @Chrissie

      Just scream obscenities at them and claim you have “bad Tourette syndrome”. Just kidding, Cranky would never advocate screaming at people because then people would email founder-Matt and say all kinds of frustrating things to him like, “we won’t read your site anymore”, and RDs might not want the ORM tent on location because Cranky Bastard is mean.

      So nevermind. Don’t yell. Just hate on ‘em in silence.

      Actually don’t hate. Go pet a kitten.

  45. LOL at this whole thread. Racing snobs always seem to show up as long as there is a finish line somewhere and people to get attention from. If you`re blowing past obstacles to save time, then shame on you! If you fail one obstacle but don’t do your burpees…and your 5k course time is an hour and a half, then who cares? If this is an issue for you, then go back to running marathons! You can even stop occasionally and do some burpees!

  46. I’ll probably get crucified here but what the hell…
    My thought is: I pay to be in the race, if I decide I don’t want to do 30 burpees, I’m not doing 30 burpees. I’m not an elite racer, I’m not worried about my ranking. That’s not to say I won’t do some burpees, but when I’ve had enough of them I’m done.

    I stress again, I paid to be at the race. I was not invited to participate, I am not sponsored, there is no prize money or fame and fortune hanging on my performance. The race is there for my enjoyment. I’m sure I would feel differently if I was paid to race, if it was my livelihood and my rankings determined my pay, but again I say, I PAID to be at the race.

    While I agree that if you skip the obstacles completely you’re missing the point of the course, I feel that if you at least attempt all of them (success or failure) you’ve met the spirit of the race.
    I understand that people get frustrated and consider those who do less than they do cheaters.
    Great! that’s your opinion and you’re certainly entitled to it. If someone is out there for the experience of doing Spartan then let them have their experience. Unless you are making your money running the race, calm down. Life is far too short to be getting bent out of shape over something that ultimately has very little relevance in the universe.

    1. >> “My thought is: I pay to be in the race, if I decide I don’t want to do 30 burpees, I’m not doing 30 burpees.”

      Herein lies the separation between integrity and “i’ll do it my way”

      Why even have rules? Why even make up penalties? If dudes like Rob are just going to approach the event however suits them, rules make no sense.

      You ‘pay’ for the top-notch organization, the race staff, all the logistics, and so the RD can actually make a little money to do it again and feed his family. You don’t pay for the privilege to define the event.

      I know I’m cranky, but these attitudes flat-out amaze me.

      1. As I said in my comment, you are entitled to your opinion, as I am mine. I see your point of view, truly I do but I disagree.

        You said “You ‘pay’ for the top-notch organization, the race staff, all the logistics, and so the RD can actually make a little money to do it again and feed his family. You don’t pay for the privilege to define the event.” I have to say you’re only partially correct.

        Sure I pay for the org, the staff, logistics and to help RD make his living, but by paying and participating I do pay to define the event. If no one paid to race there would be no event.at all.

        I like the idea of penalties and rules, but I also am of the belief that this is a for fun competition, so if I feel a penalty is too harsh, It’s my right as a customer to make it appropriate. The old adage “The customer is always right” comes into play here.

        Rules should exist to set a s basic framework for the competition and to ensure safety. They should not however restrict a patron from enjoying their experience. They are rules, not laws and rules are meant to be bent, changed and broken.

        As I stated in my original comment, if this were a competition where I was getting paid depending on my performance it would be a different story. I firmly believe that If I pay for an experience I am allowed to tailor it to fit my liking. I know you disagree, but we can have different opinions and still have a discussion without getting “Cranky”.

  47. Ok, I am going to start by saying, my first Spartan last year sometime was an AWESOME experience. I wasn’t disappointed by the race at any means.. But let me tell you what I was disappointed in:
    Apparently, I cannot and have never been able to do a rope climb.. so I attempted and failed and started doing my 30 burpee penalty. As I am on the ground on my 6th burpee, I see someone else not even attempt and then just start running. As I continue my burpees, I just think.. wow.. is your time so important that it ruins your ethical values as a Spartan!? Then I think hmm..Oh well, at least I crossed the finish line knowing that I am a true Spartan.

    1. I experienced some of the same things at the SS I ran this past weekend. Like you, I felt the exact same way when I finished the event. In the end, what else can you do, you know? 🙁

  48. What did King Leonidas say to Ephialtes when he tried to become a Spartan?

    There are basic requirements to be a Spartan. Unfortunately, this politically correct society will raise hell and call wanton discrimination if any event made such requirements mandatory.

  49. I ran my first Super Spartan this weekend at the Wintergreen Ski resort in Central VA. I’ve completed six OCRs before this one and let me tell you…this was BY FAR the most grueling, well-organized OCR that I’ve completed, thus far. My team ran an early heat so the course was fairly untouched. When one of us failed to complete an obstacle, that person did the 30 burpees and continued on; there were no questions or arguments. We ran an honest race and it felt great to cross the finish line with that in mind. We saw people (presumably entire teams) who failed obstacles and and didn’t complete their penalty burpees. Hell, we saw one team willfully skip entire obstacles with no regard for sportsmanship. The volunteers, for the most part, called the burpee-skippers out but didn’t stop them from continuing on; how could they really? My point is this: A small number of people will find a way to cheat at ANY competitive endeavor; it’s human nature. My team decided, before we even set foot on the event grounds, that we were going to run an honest race, no matter how long it took us. We collectively made that choice. We really didn’t worry about what any other person or team did and we were better off for it. That’s my advice to anyone running an OCR: Abide by the rules that are laid out by the race organizers as long as doing so doesn’t present a safety risk to you or others and to not worry about what anyo