Was this the future of obstacle course racing? Was it just another masterpiece put on by the folks at Spartan Race? Whatever “it” was, The Reebok Spartan Race Invitational, held at Reebok’s corporate headquarters on Sunday April 27th was nothing short of amazing. Just under 1,000 racers completed the 1.79 mile course (by my GPS watch), that was absolutely loaded with 38 obstacles. Five runners were sent every minute on the minute to tackle the course. Upon crossing the finish line you were met with a bag FULL of goodies including Spartan Fuel, Spartan Protein, and an uncensored copy of Spartan Race founder Joe Desena’s book, Spartan The Fuck Up. Finishers also received a unique dog tag style finishers medal and race specific t-shirt, add this swag to a free food ticket, free parking, free spectators and a 40% off coupon to the Reebok Store and it’s safe to say the fairly pricey $150 entry fee was worth it!
The course traveled all throughout the entire campus of Reebok’s corporate headquarters. It was EXTREMELY well marked (must add I was a course marker along with the famous Mama Hen, Sandy Rhee of the NE Spahtens) and what it lacked in terrain or elevation, certainly was compensated for in obstacles. There were numerous walls of varying heights, a rope climb, a crawling section, sand bag carry, tire flip, log carry, monkey bars, a switchback cargo net and the true gem of this course the Reebok CrossFit One course. That area included two over/under/through sections, a mud crawl under telephone poles, Hercules hoist, traverse wall, a brand new 15’ slanted wall with ropes featuring a beautiful hand painted Spartan Race mural (by Andrew Fogarty), a log balance beam, chariots of fire, another slanted wall climb and log hops. All of these obstacles were within a ¼ mile radius and really proved to be an amazing challenge.
Despite the many positive aspects of the event, there were a few negatives. No Spear Throw? This was a shock! A Spartan Race staple absolutely is a must. Brandon DuPont, the 6th place male finisher remarked, “it just didn’t seem right there not being a spear throw at a Spartan Race”. There was far too much cement/pavement running for a true OCR. A little pavement here or there isn’t a bad thing, but for a feature invitational type Olympic event, it would be much better suited on a different venue. Only having five Chariots of Fire sleds created an issue. I, myself, waited for over 2 minutes for a sled and I spoke with one other high placing elite female who was allowed to supplement a bear crawl for the chariot drag. I also spoke with another high placing elite female who completed the chariot drag. My question is simple, how can the results be counted the same if they completed a “different” course? Clearly in a first time race this isn’t such a big deal, but moving forward this absolutely would have to be addressed in order to ensure equality for all. There was no elite heat which meant all times run throughout the day counted toward placement. Great idea, however with natural bottlenecks and slight course changes its impossible to ensure all participants an equal shot. My advice would be simple, let everyone run a “qualifier heat“, then have a “championship heat” later in the day for the top 15 times for a chance at the top 10 prizes.
All in all this was a fantastic event and for a first time race format it went amazingly well. The shorter course, more obstacle heavy format is certainly very appealing to both the elite OCR competitor and the novice OCR runner and as expected Spartan Race provided another incredible and unique OCR experience! As 5th place female finisher Nikki Enberg added, “I loved the format and would definitely do more races that were like this – shorter distances and more obstacle focused”.[spartanracerate]