By: Steffen Cook
Here at Reebok Spartan Race, we take our time with obstacle design. Obstacles that greet you with impish glee and jagged grin aren’t there as an afterthought or something that was thought up during a lunch break. No, our obstacles are conjured up and it may surprise you to learn that hidden away from the public gaze, we have our own research and design headquarters where obstacles are tested before the outside world gets a taste of what’s in store. Design, test, redesign, retest — it’s blur of activity and a finely-tuned process.
We’re impressed with what we see in new locations and implement obstacles accordingly. There is no advance warning, no heads-up, just the placement of what we believe will be the most strategically-punishing obstacle so our course designers can see how racers will cope. Reebok Spartan Racers have a responsibility to get over, through or under the obstacle, and some of them do so in impressive fashion.
But what if the roles were reversed and you told us what you wanted to be challenged with? What if the racers were given carte blanche of what they think would be a good challenge on our courses? Well, we asked and you replied.
Justin Scholl replied quickly by saying, “I would like to see a tunnel through mud that ends in a water slide to a pond or lake.” Many agreed with the theme of more water and mud. It seems Spartan racers are keen on to get wet and muddy and maybe even being submerged. Phillip Bossant agreed that not only should there be more water, but the method of entry should be one of high-octane excitement stating, “Jumping from a high spot down to water!”
Jesse Aguilar and Craig Johnson were just two of many experienced Spartans who made mention of a Peg Board obstacle that could test (fry) the forearms and shoulders — two areas that Spartan racers love to train.
Memories of years gone by came flooding back as many racers remember the gladiators that would greet you at the end of each race with their pugil sticks. While there are no plans to see these warriors come out of retirement, we can certainly look back and remember how sometimes they were the difference in finishing in first or second place.
Interestingly, with the advent of American Ninja Warrior’s rising popularity, thanks in no small part of various well known Spartan Elites and staff, there were numerous calls for a Spartan take on the “Salmon Ladder.”
Coming from a different angle, Katie Unruh Vang wanted something that tested not just her body, but her mind, too. “I’d like to see some more puzzles and brain teasers. Spartans can be smart too, you know!”
Samantha Roe was in total agreement saying, “If you are able to use your brain while [being] dog tired, it brings out the Spartan in us all. Even warriors had to think logically and strategically on the battlefield.” While some disagreed saying it was all about the physical, Ted Kielley argued that mental sharpness is and should remain part of training, suggesting that Spartans were tough physically and mentally.
Calls for traverse ropes, again, over mud or water, rang out along with more rope climbs — it appears that your upper bodies, J-Hooks and S-Hooks are all being finely-tuned!
Perhaps the most interesting element (yet not surprising) about the responses is the fact our racers are constantly pushing equally as hard as we are to make Reebok Spartan Race the best it can be. Our racers are true competitors who welcomes challenges (and a bit of torment)and we’re proud to accommodate such guile in our in participants.
Like all things Spartan, it’s merely not enough that we ask you to carry heavy buckets, climb ropes and crawl under hundreds of yards of barbed wire because our competitors want more. Our competitors want to be pushed further and tested harder than ever — and we couldn’t be happier to oblige. We’ll keep working behind the scenes with creating new challenges. You keep pushing those limits!