I’ve had the privilege of running more than a few races with first time runners. First time racers are by far some of the funnest to run with. But before we hit the course, they all have one question. What type of obstacles are in a Spartan Race?
And while they change at each race and there are too many obstacles to prepare for in all. I thought I put together an overview of the types of obstacles you will be seeing. This should help you get a better idea of what you are in for, and what you should train for.
What Type Of Obstacles Are In A Spartan Race
Spartan Race loves to incorporate natural obstacles that come unique to the venue. This can be anything from using the terrain like mountains, deep ruts, steep hills where there is no trail, crossing creeks, swimming across small lakes, and climbing over, under, and around fallen trees. For example, Killington is known for a lake swim to ladder climb, to a rope rig under the resort’s lake bridge. An obstacle completely unique to the venue. And if there are stairs anywhere near the location, the Spartan Race course designers will find a way to send you up them.
Obstacles Include: Mountains, Steep Hills, Creeks, Lakes, Streams, Logs, anything unique to the course’s location.
Hurdles and Walls
One of the most common obstacles on the Spartan Race course are hurdles and high walls. While these may seem like the easy obstacles on the course. They are there for a reason. To break you down slowly over the course. Having to jump and landing from heights of 4ft+ takes its toll on your legs over the course of a race. And these dynamic movements can lead to cramping later in the race. Mixing in some burpees and box jumps will help you prepare for the dynamic movements. And bar and ring dips will help with the hurdles and walls.
Obstacles Include: Hurdles, Walls, and Slip Wall
One of the Spartan course designer’s favorite ways to add a bit of suffering into a course is with heavy carries. Most courses will have more than one, and you can count on the fact they will incorporate any hill/mountain they can find. These long and short carries place a heavy load on the legs and often force athletes to change their stride. Make sure to incorporate farmers’ carries, sand bags, and weighted vest walks to get yourself prepared.
Obstacles Include: Bucket Carry, Atlas Stone, Sandbag Carry, Log Carry, Armer, Farmers Carry, Chain Carry
There are only a few heavy lift obstacles on the course. But they can make or break your race day if you’re not ready. One of the most feared heavy obstacles is the Tire Flip. Many elite athletes just touch the tire and burpee out of the obstacle. It can be that hard. And the Atlas Carry, while not overly challenging on most days. Can get stuck in the mud at wetter venues, adding weight a suction to fight the stone up. So make sure to work your deadlifts and deficit deadlifts.
Obstacles Include: Tire flip, Atlas Carry, Armer
Pullup Style Obstacles
For some racers, the pullup style obstacles will be some of the toughest obstacles on the course. Some of these will be more straightforward, like the rope climb, high walls, and inverted walls. While others will take a bit more focus and skill, like the dreaded Bender and Box. Make sure you work your pullups, negatives, and rope climb technique. And bar and ring dips will help build the triceps strength to push yourself over hurdles and walls.
Obstacles Include: Rope climb, Stairway to Sparta, Bender, The Box, High Walls, Inverted Walls
Traditional Grip Obstacles
Traditional grip obstacles are those requiring grip strength, without having to pull your bodyweight up over anything. Many involve momentum or lateral movements. And while that may make them sound easier than polluting obstacles. Over the course of the race these will become increasingly harder. Slowly eating away at your grip, and often being combined in sequence with more complex grip obstacles in a short series of grueling grip obstacles.
Obstacles Include: Monkey bars, Cargo Net Climb, Helix, Hercules Hoist, Ape Hanger
Complex Grip Obstacles
These obstacles take grip and a twist. In some cases, literally. A couple of the ones you will typically see on most courses include Beater. Which is a giant set of monkey bars with two sections that spin like egg beaters. Forcing you to use momentum to get the bars swing to make the next transition. And the classic, Twister. One long bar with several sets of handles that spin as you transition up on them. Forcing you to move much more deliberately and precisely with your hands.
Obstacles Include: Twister, Beater, Multi-Rig, Olympus
These are the obstacles that take a bit of skill to accomplish. And with the right technique, some people will even make them look downright easy. The Spear Throw (AKA the burpee maker) is one that comes to mind. If you have the technique down, it can be an easy obstacle. And one that gets a lot of people in the Z-wall. The gripps are narrow and often slick, so while you can make it more technical that grip intensive. With these technical obstacles, sometimes slowing down and doing it write will end up being much faster than doing 30 burpees.
Obstacles Include: Spear Throw, Z Wall, Tyrolean Traverse
These obstacles are going to force you to get down low, keep your balance, even hold your breath! The barbed wire crawls are known for being long and grueling. And obstacles like Pipe Layer and the Dunk Wall will get you maneuvering through small areas. The consistent mix of getting down and up will throw you off your running game. And hit your muscles just a little differently. Make sure you are practicing your burpees!
Obstacles Include: Barbed Wire Crawl, Pipe Layer, Balance Beam, Dunk Wall, Fire Jump, Burpees
Obstacle Links For Spartan Race
So what type of obstacles are in a Spartan Race?
Here is a link to Spartan Race’s official website obstacle listHere
Link to Obstacle Weights and Info