This was my first European spartan race. The Spartan Race Europe in Kosice, Slovakia on July 9, 2016. With about 3500 participants, the race took place inside the old city, with most of the running on cobblestones and pavement. The total distance for this Sprint was 6.5km (that’s just over 4 miles to the Americans) with very little elevation gain. There were no single tracks, so in this race, it was easy to pass people if needed!
When I arrived at the venue, there were already many participants at registration. The lines for registration were very long, but it seemed Spartan had everything under control.
KOSICE OBSTACLES vs. NORTH AMERICAN OBSTACLES
1. Wooden inclined balance beam; I found this easy as there was no mud and the way it was constructed, the balance beam was solid and not wobbly.
2. The bucket carry, which was a pre-filled plastic trash bin with sand inside. The good thing about this was all participants had the same amount to carry. It was really light compared to American Spartan Races, and the travel distance with the bucket was only like 100 meters.
3. Inclined and declined monkey bars. As all these obstacles were made on pavement, I would have expected to see some hay or padding on the ground, because I did see people falling and some even got hurt when landing on the hard surface.
4. Sprint memorization test, which I have only experienced in the longer races. This was where you memorize a variation of numbers and letters according to the last 2 digits of your bib number.
5. Lastly, they had a multi-rig. This was probably the hardest obstacle for most participants, especially in the rain. Since everything was announced in Slovakian, I’m not sure how the rules worked if you are able to kick the bell or not. After watching multiple athletes attempt, I saw one Athlete kick the bell, but he was still required to do burpees.
One thing I did not like was how non-strict the volunteers were at some of the obstacles. I witnessed a participant from the first heat attempt the rig and at the very end he placed his foot on the ground. He then kept doing the obstacle and hit the bell and went to the finish line. That would not pass in an elite race in America.
Finally, the organization of the venue. The festival area was really good. The medic area, results area, merchandise area, and finish/start line were all close together. The timing chips that were used were bracelets and worked very well. After the finish line, the gladiator girls gave the sprint medal and sprint pie piece along with the Kosice medal. The volunteers cut the timing chips, and the start time wristbands. Each finisher received a shirt, banana, water, and beer!
The starting line was organized very well. There were two security helpers making sure only the racers with the correct heat times were able to race.
There was also a Charity heat where racers raised money for a cause and were given a yellow charity shirt to race in. This generally only happens at the Spartan World Championships in America. Once they crossed the finish line, they were given a yellow charity spartan medal. I liked this idea, as I’ve never seen it done this way before.[spartanracerate]
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