Contestants potentially to face fire, barbed wire and rope climb in obstacle course
The Spartan Race — one of the most prominent obstacle races in the world — is returning to Calgary for the fourth time Aug. 16-17.
Dean Stanton, the Western Canada director of the Spartan Race, says Canada is one of many nations in the world that currently hosts this unique test of human endurance. Germany, Italy, the Czech Republic and South Korea are a few of the countries that have held a Spartan Race.
Stanton says the obstacles are what makes the Spartan Race more compelling than a traditional foot race.
"Adding the obstacles certainly adds an element of theatricality and drama and that makes it a more interesting experience for the audience," says Stanton.
The event, held at Calgary's Wild Rose Motocross Park—located on Burbank Cres. SE— will see contestants stare down a five-kilometre sprint while tackling 15 oddball obstacles.
While participants are warned to expect to face anything from fire to barbed wire to spear throwing — even a mud pit — racers don't actually know what obstacles they will have to overcome until they hit the starting line.
Organizers make no apologies for the race being unpredictable, with the race website saying: "There will be obstacles to catch you off guard. Curve balls, so to speak. Get over it."
Stanton says the terrain at the motocross park will inspire some of the obstacles, and that no Spartan Race course is ever the same.
Even though the challenge sounds daunting, Stanton says nearly everybody that starts the race finishes well.
According to the Western Canada director, more than 9,000 people have registered for the two-day event. Counting volunteers and spectators, organizers are expecting 15,000 will descend on the park.
The race begins at 8 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 16. Every half-hour, heats of about 250 people will be released onto the course. The first race of the day will see some of the top-ranked Spartan Race athletes battle for glory.
While some heats will be extremely competitive, the Spartan Race is also a family event with a special tilt called the Spartan Junior Race available for kids aged 5 to 10.
Both the Spartan Junior Race and five-kilometre sprint have found a home in Calgary at the motocross park. This is the third year the event has taken place there, after the Spartan Race debuted at Canada Olympic Park in 2011
There are bigger Spartan events, such as the 13-kilometre Spartan Super Race featuring 21 obstacles, and the 20-kilometre Spartan Beast Race with 26 obstacles. It has been hard to find locations in Calgary or, apparently, anywhere in Alberta willing to host these longer, more challenging races.
"We have always had difficulty in finding locations in Alberta to host these events, and I don't know why that is," says Stanton.
Only Red Deer is hosting a Spartan Super Race in 2014 (on Sept. 6), while no Alberta locale is hosting a Spartan Beast Race this year.
However, the Spartan Sprint Race is expected to do well again in Calgary this year. As of Aug. 9, the Spartan website lists all the registration spots for competing in the Aug.16 races as sold out, while 75 per cent of the spots being filled for Aug. 17. Stanton says there's potential that last-minute on-course registrations can be accepted on both days though.
Top finishers in the elite (8.a.m) race will earn a plaque along with photo opportunities and other prizes. Prizes vary with each race, but every Spartan Sprint victor will receive a free entry into a Super Spartan Race of their choosing. All competitors will receive a ranking post-race.
For more information on registration, prizes, rankings, and other Spartan events visit http://ca-en.spartanrace.com/FAQ-Western#q38
- By Quinton Amundson