I was at Target, picking out a fitness tracker to help me keep up with my mileage, when I spotted Travis and Hannah, a couple both sporting Spartan Race t-shirts.
This was reason enough to amble over and say, “Hi. I couldn’t help but notice your t-shirts. So, you’ve done a Spartan Race?”
The couple looked at each other. I don’t think I was the first person to walk up to them to ask.
We talked for probably 10 minutes. Last year, they’d run a couple of Spartan Races, but had also done Tough Mudder races (A different brand of obstacle race). Both looked like they were in ok shape, but didn’t look like the people I keep seeing in Spartan Race promotions.
It’s looking more and more like they hired a few models or actors, which is fine. Not everybody is photogenic. Doing all the crunches in the world can’t fix it if you look like a velociraptor.
They told me:
- They like the Tough Mudder races better.
“It’s more of a community,” Hanna said. “People will help you, if you need them, too. It’s about everyone getting across the finish line.”
2. Spartan Races have better swag.
“You get a better head band and it’s a good t-shirt,” Travis said.
3. The mile markers at Spartan Races might become scarce.
Hannah told me, “We stopped seeing them after a while and when you’d ask the volunteers, ‘How much farther? They’d always say, just another couple of miles.”
And the miles just rolled on.
4. Bring water, snacks and mustard.
I didn’t know this, but, apparently, you can wear a Camelback water bottle and take race refreshments with you –like Gatorade chews, Gu packs and even Cliff bars. This was also not apparent in the photos I’d seen of races.
I knew about Gu packs –they’re basically sugar and electolytes, sometimes with caffeine and protein. Long distance runners, cyclists and triathletes use them. I’d seen Gatorade chews at the grocery store and I eat Cliff Bars regularly (My fave is the Peanut Butter crunch).
Mustard was new, but Travis said, “Yeah, you see empty mustard packs all over the place. People will carry them.”
“Uh, why?” I asked. Eating mustard straight out of the packet seemed gross.
“It helps with cramps,” Travis said.
According to a couple of websites, yeah, that’s what it does. Mustard contains properties which will help prevent or ease cramps in the case of dehydration.
5. They believed I could handle the race.
“I’m not much of a runner,” Travis said. “But that’s not all that important.”
You never run that far, he explained. There is always another obstacle to get to. The obstacles are the thing, not the distance.
His wife didn’t entirely agree.
“Some of the obstacles are the running,” she said. “You might run straight up a mountain for a mile and a half.”
But it could be done –as long as I paced myself and kept my head.
“You can do this,” she said. “And there’s beer afterwards. It’s the best beer you’ve ever had.”