Madness? This is the Spartan Race!

Here at Eastern University, we do a lot to encourage the same sort of intellectual training that has its roots in the city of Athens. We value civil discourse, asking important questions, and establishing things like the Agora Institute. But it should also be remembered that Athens lost the Peloponnesian War against their militaristically-fit neighbors, the Spartans. Perhaps we should begin to focus some of our energy in a sort of different training, lest we someday fall helpless to our militaristically-fit neighbors!

A rising craze in running may provide us with such an opportunity. A few weeks ago, I ventured up to the Green Mountains of Vermont to participate in what is known as a Spartan Race.

The concept of a Spartan Race is simple. You take your typical road race runners, like Dr. Pauley and Dr. Huddell, and place them on a muddy obstacle course. As if a half-marathon or 5k were not difficult enough, Spartan Races incorporate mud pits, barbed wire, and ten-foot retaining walls to navigate.

There are some basic elements characteristic of Spartan Races–such as a spear throw, a jump through a fire, and a run through a gauntlet of Spartan warriors beating you with glorified Sock ‘n Boppers–but each race also includes its own surprises. The Vermont race featured an uphill sandbag carry, chariot of fire pull, and a delightful one-rope bridge dangling over frigid water. Races also are a variety of lengths. While some are doable in under two hours, Spartan Race Vermont took my crew around 6 brutal hours to complete and we were required to run with a water and nutrient source on our person.

Spartan Races occur year-round, all over the U.S. and select places outside the U.S., like Slovakia, for example. You should consult their website for more information. The next run in the Tri-state area isn’t until June, so you have plenty of time to run off that cushion you’ve acquired, courtesy of Sodexo. Also, Spartan Races are not the only type of unnecessarily intense, masochistically muddy obstacle runs. Tough Mudder and Warrior Dash are their competitors (there’s a Tough Mudder in New Jersey in early October) and for our Humans-Vs-Zombie pals, there’s even a zombie-themed variety of obstacle running that, no doubt, includes running through the woods from zombies, or whatever it is you people do. Y’all can check out if you’re really serious about zombie apocalypse training.
I don’t tell you all this to try to convince you how cool I am or anything; I do it to encourage the typical road runners, like Dr. Pauley and Dr. Huddell, or the ordinary EU students who struggled through their biokenetics requirement to do something different. Tonight you dine in Sodexo, tomorrow…

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