This past weekend at the Citi Field Spartan Race I decided to put the multiple lap system to the test. I figured since I have run this location twice before and it’s only a few miles from my house it would be a great place to test it out. I am also an annual pass holder and here is what their FAQ says:
…AN ANNUAL PASS HOLDER! AROO!
If you are an Annual Pass Holder and would like to run a 2nd (3rd, 4th..) lap (complete with medal, t-shirt and timing chip), you will be charged $15 on site. You can only register for your 2nd lap ON SITE, on race day. You can not register for your extra laps online with your Annual Pass.”
“PLEASE NOTE: Multiple laps are NOT guaranteed, unless you have paid for a second full registration. We do try and allow multiple laps whenever possible, however specific heat times, being able to join a team, run with a particular person, etc. are NOT guaranteed. For the safety and enjoyment of our racers, there is a maximum limit of racers allowed on the course at any one time. During prime heat times (8am-noon), it is likely that your request for an extra lap may be denied to prevent bottlenecks on the course. If any spaces are available at prime heat times, Annual Pass holders will be given preference, after racers that have paid for full registrations. “
Basically I was going to show up at 8:45AM for my first lap and my goal is to get in 3-5 laps total and make it a good long distance day. What I really ended up learning was that Spartan Race volunteers will all give you different answers. I appreciate the hell out the volunteers for giving their time to something they care about and helping make these races possible. This wasn’t necessarily their fault either, they all get information from different people and it’s not like there is an intensive training course for how to do each job.
I’ll make this into a time line since it’s the best way I can explain my story:
6:30 am: Alarm goes off and I’m wondering why I am waking up so early, I remember, so I can catch the early heats and watch some elite action. Stadium sprints are one of the best ways to watch most of any Spartan Race.
7:05 am: I get there after stopping for a coffee and a muffin realizing they did start on time and I need to figure out this course fast so I can locate the racers.
7:45 am: Hunter wins for his third year in a row at Citi Field which wasn’t too surprising especially because there are many races this weekend. And well it’s his third time.
8:00 am: Time to check myself in for the 8:45 heat and ask how I get into other heats. Check in was super fast and the volunteers were really nice. I headed over to the race day registration tent where I was directed by the volunteers at registration pick up. This is the right place but I am there at the wrong time. I am told to come back after my first lap is done and I can sign up for another, a minor inconvenience but ok it’s super reasonable.
8:45 am: Race time, really easy race, done. This isn’t a race review.
9:45 am: I am back at the tents to register for my laps and they volunteer says next time I can get in is at 1:30. I sigh and say that it’ll have to work since I have a goal for the day. But I forgot my ID in my car, and my wallet, so I head back to get it.
10:00 am: Back at the tent I get another volunteer and I tell him I’d like to do another lap. He says, “Sure does 10:45 work?” Why yes it does. And while I’m talking to another guy I figure to ask him can I sign up for more laps now. He lets me know it’s not a problem and asks how many do I want to do. I pay my $14 per lap and sign up for 3 more. This is great. I was hoping to just do this at 8:00 am so I could just chain together some laps without cooling down between each one. The only downside here is that since I have timing chips for each one I can’t carry them on me and I’ll have to stash them somewhere. He gave me another wrist band for 10:45 am start time and tells me that I should be fine to just use this one for the rest of my laps. This is a really interesting interaction that I’ll follow up with more on later.
10:45 am: I’m on the starting line and off I go. Saw a friend a few starts ahead of me so I chased him down and almost got him but we had some fun with it and he got me. Lap 2 done, feeling a little sore from not cross training in many months.
12:30 pm: Third lap started and my decided last lap. The obstacles are starting to add up but the running was still easy. I ran this one again with the same friend and had a good time joking around and using a buddy on the hercules hoist for the first time was great. Lap 3 done, time to head home.
Spartan Race Lap System Summary:
What happened was the system works, not perfectly but someone with an annual pass was able to run multiple laps. I would have really been unhappy if I had to wait 4 hours between laps but luckily that wasn’t the case. Where I think things break down with they system in general is that racers can always just kind of ignore volunteers and try someone else or just walk past them depending on the situation; not their fault but it’s the difference between employees and volunteers. The point of that is that I shouldn’t have been able to keep my time bracelet because someone was supposed to cut it off when I was finished. My first lap, and second, that person wasn’t there at the finish to cut and my final lap I just walked passed them without even realizing it. I had two bands on when I left and with a late time you can always just hop into whatever heat you want.
Technically if I wanted I could have now run two more laps in addition to the ones I paid because now I had an extra band on each wrist that I could let them cut off. I didn’t do this but it was something anyone could do while paying or not. Another thing that makes this possible is the new timing chip is a shoe sticker tag that they don’t take back. As far as the people letting you into the starting line know it’s new and you are good to go.
I guess the real moral of the story is that system can be abused but don’t be a jerk and ruin it for everyone. Bandits are jerks who clog up races and take resources away from paying customers. If you want to run laps ask at the tent like their FAQ tells you to do. Pay the $14 say your pleases and thank you’s and be grateful that you are getting such a good deal. I saw one guy who wanted to sign up on race day and learned it’s $200… $14 per race is amazing.
I want to hear your experiences with running multiple laps at a Spartan Race, are you a jerk bandit? Did you have an easy or a hard time?