If you’re getting ready to run a Spartan Race or looking to compete in the Elite or Age Group heats. Then it’s important for you to know and understand all of the race’s rules. And while many will be obvious there are some that many racers don’t know about. These include correct burpee form, as defined by Spartan, hitting vs kicking the bell, and receiving help on obstacles. So to better help Spartan Racers all over the world. We’re going to review the Spartan Race rules & regulations you need to know before you race.
- Familiarize yourself with Spartan Race rules for a successful and enjoyable experience.
- Wave categories include Elite, Age Group, and Open, each with its own qualification and standards.
- Obstacles are classified as mandatory, multiple attempt, or single attempt, with specific rules for competitive waves.
- 2023 updates eliminate burpee penalties for most events, introducing penalty loops.
- Proper burpee form is crucial, and obstacle assistance rules vary for competitive and open waves.
- Commonly broken rules emphasize safety and fairness, including no kicking the bell and avoiding obstacle support frames.
- Know the mandatory, multiple attempt, and single attempt obstacles to prepare effectively for the race.
The Spartan Race Rules & Regulations You Need to Know
All of these have been taken from the official Spartan Race rule book, which you can read here.
Waves / Heats – There are three different wave (or heat) categories:
Elite – The Elite waves are broken down into two heats. One for men and one for women. To enter the elite wave you must qualify at another race. To qualify you must place in the top 5 in your Age Group wave at a Spartan Race in the same or previous calendar year for which you are applying.
Age Group – Anyone can sign up for the Age Group waves. There is no qualification needed. These waves are often broken down into individual waves for each group. But depending ont he total participant in a race, all Age Groups may run in the same wave. This is typical for the ultra distance where less athletes have sign up.
Open – Anyone can sign up for Open waves. They are not judged, filmed, subject to time penalties, or held to the same standard as the competitive waves. This is to make the experience more enjoyable for all athletes participating in these waves.
Note: The rules for Elites and Age Group waves are different than for open waves. Open waves are not judged and technically have a lot more leeway than the competitive waves. There are still some rules Open waves should follow and I’ll go over those below.
Obstacle Rules –
Obstacles are broken into three different categories. Mandatory, multiple attempt, and single attempt. Again, these rules apply to competitive waves. For open waves, just do you best and have as much fun as possible.
Mandatory Obstacles: Are obstacles that a competitor must complete before
progressing further on the course during a race.
Multiple Attempt (Pass/Fail) Obstacles: These are obstacles that may be attempted as
many times as needed until you successfully complete the obstacle or choose to take the penalty.
Single Attempt (Pass/Fail) Obstacles: These are obstacles that you may only attempt to complete once. If you fail you will move straight to the obstacle penalty.
2023 Update: Spartan Race has officially announced there will be no more burpee penalties moving forward for Elite and Age Group racers. At all races except Stadion events. Here is what the official announcement form the 2023 rule book says:
“All pass/fail obstacles during the elite and age group heats will only have penalty loops starting in 2023 (Except for Stadion races where the penalty will remain as 15 burpees). “
Penalty Loop Info:
There will be two types of penalty laps, a running loop or a carry. Spartan’s official rule books says they consist of:
- The standard length of all running loops will be 200 meters on flat terrain.
- Modified loops (Loops with more than 25 meters of vertical gain or including a carry) will be 100 meters.
- When the penalty is a carry the standard weight for penalty loop carries for all categories of competitors is 60lb / 27kg for males and 40lb / 18kg for females.
Open Wave Burpee Option
In the past the standard penalties for an obstacle failure at a Spartan Race is completing 30 burpees. Though at some races the penalty for specific obstacles can be changed to a penalty loop instead. If the penalty is not 30 burpees it will be stated at the obstacle. Starting in 2023 Open racers will have the ability to choose between completing burpees or the penalty loop.
Proper burpee form directly from Spartan Race:
For Elite and Age Group (competetive) waves you are not allowed to have any assistance on any obstacles.
For open waves you can have assistance on the majority of obstacles. But there are a few you can not have assistance on for safety reasons. These are most hanging and swinging obstacles and include:
Note: People have been seriously hurt trying to support / assist athletes hanging above them in completing these obstacles. So please be careful.
Frequently Broken Spartan Race Rules on Course
Some of the most common rules that are broken include:
- Kicking the bell. Using feet, legs, or knees to “kick” the bell is not allowed. You must use your hands, this is for safety reasons.
- Using an obstacle’s support frame (trusses) to help complete the obstacle.
- Competitors using their legs and feet on monkey bars / swing style obstacles. This gets the grips wet and dirt for other athletes and increases the chance of injury from a fall. *This does not apply to adaptive athletes missing a limb.
- Dropping the Herc Hoist sand bag from the top. It must be lowered down.
For competitive waves, common mistakes:
- Using an obstacle’s support frame (trusses) to help complete the obstacle.
- Attempting a single attempt obstacle more than once.
- Not doing all 30 burpees / not following the SPartan Race burpee standard (see above video)
- If you bring it on the course it must be carried through all obstacles. Example: If you are wearing a hydration vest you must take it on all the obstacles. Not take it off, complete the obstacle then put it back on.
- BARBED WIRE / CORD / SCRIM NET LOW / TUBE CRAWLS
- BUCKET CARRY
- DUNK WALL
- FARMERS CARRY
- JERRY CAN CARRY
- LOG CARRY
- SANDBAG CARRY
- SWIM / WATER CROSSING
- CHAIN CARRY
- WEIGHTED LOW CRAWL
- LILY PADS
- CLIFF CLIMB
- CARGO NET GROUND CRAWL
- STONE CARRY
MULTIPLE ATTEMPT PASS/FAIL OBSTACLES
- 4’, 5’, 6’, 7’, 8’ WALLS
- A-FRAME CARGO
- ATLAS CARRY
- THE BOX
- FIRE JUMP
- HERCULES HOIST
- INVERTED WALL
- PLATE / TIRE DRAG
- ROLLING MUD, WATER MOATS, TRENCHES, ROLLING SNOW
- ROPE CLIMB
- SLIP WALL
- SNOW QUARTER-PIPE
- SPARTAN LADDER
- SPARTAN SLED
- STAIRWAY TO SPARTA
- TIRE FLIP
- VERTICAL CARGO
- VERTICAL CARGO PLUS
- AIR BIKE
- HAY WALL
- LOG FLIP
- 10’ WALL
- SPARTAN COLUMNS
- SLAM BALL
- IRISH TABLES
- WEIGHTED BURPEE
- BOX JUMPS
- JUMP ROPE
- CAR HURDLE
- POLICE BARRICADES
- TIRE HOP
SINGLE ATTEMPT PASS/FAIL OBSTACLES
- APE HANGER
- BALANCE BEAM
- MONKEY BARS
- MULTI-RIG PLUS
- PIPE LAIR
- ROLLING EPIC
- SPEAR THROW
- TYROLEAN TRAVERSE
- Z WALL
- MONKEY IN THE MIDDLE
- MEMORY TEST
- LOW RIDER
- TARZAN SWING
Before embarking on your Spartan Race journey, it’s imperative to familiarize yourself with the race’s rules and regulations. While some rules may seem obvious, there are several lesser-known ones that could impact your performance and experience. In this article, we’ve covered key aspects of Spartan Race rules, including information about wave categories (Elite, Age Group, and Open), obstacle rules (mandatory, multiple attempt, and single attempt), and details on obstacle penalties.
Furthermore, the 2023 update brings significant changes, eliminating burpee penalties for Elite and Age Group racers in most events, except for Stadion races. The introduction of penalty loops adds a new dimension to the race’s dynamics, with varying lengths and carrying requirements.
The article also emphasized proper burpee form, obstacle assistance rules, and highlighted commonly broken rules on the course, emphasizing safety and fairness in the Spartan Race community.
By understanding and adhering to these rules, you’ll be better prepared to tackle the challenges of a Spartan Race, ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience for yourself and your fellow competitors. So lace up your shoes, train hard, and conquer those obstacles with the knowledge you’ve gained here. Good luck on your Spartan Race journey!