The Trek and Run Team were supported during this event by;
Words by Steve Kimberley
Photos by Epic Action Imagery
Sitting at my desk, still smeared with a generous coating of mud whilst using my 2016 Spartan Trifecta plate as my coaster, you could say that I’m pretty well-versed in the ways of the Spartan. So when our UK-editor called me a few weeks back to say that we were back at Spartan Race for the UK launch of their 2018 series, I was very excited to see how they were changing things up.
The new location, out in the leafy gardens of Kent, was easy enough to find and fairly well signposted. However, before we had even parked, it was clear that there was a great deal more people attending than I have become used to. This didn’t really cause a problem as parking was very well managed considering the number of cars, and after only a few minutes we were slopping our way through the mud and into the race village.
We were lucky enough upon entering to grab a quick moment from the endlessly-busy General Manager of Spartan Race UK, Sam Lansdale, who told us that Spartan are “investing heavily in the race day experience.” We also learned that the weekend had garnered some considerable international attention, with athletes of varying levels from over twenty countries in attendance.
Amongst the other changes brought in by Spartan race in 2018, is the introduction of prize money to some of their races, with a total of £12,000 spread across the series. More significantly, we learned that Spartan now offers specific ‘elite’ waves for athletes hoping to qualify for Spartan European and World championships, along with “specific age groups to allow people who aren’t elite racers to compete against racers within their age bracket.” Personally, I think that this is a very positive move by Spartan Race, and will help to keep Spartan events as a serious competitive sport for the elite athletes, whilst also keeping it totally accessible to anyone taking part for the pure enjoyment of it.
Despite the weather, the general atmosphere was very positive and the race village itself was very well organised. It was clear almost right away that the demographic of attendees has undergone a bit of a shift. For starters, there was a good deal more families, bringing everyone and the dog to the event. I think that this is a result of Spartan Kids races becoming increasingly popular over the last few seasons. Sam told us that, “I think this growth in popularity has come at a good time in the sense that there’s currently a big push on getting kids active and a focus on spending time with ones family.”
The course itself was certainly trying, with the terrain making things especially difficult from the very start. The highlight of course was the obstacles, most of which were very similar to recent series but with a few little surprises thrown in. The marshals (as always) were outstanding and give you just the right level of support or banter that you might need to give you that little boost.
Don’t get me wrong: Spartan races are tough. I think anyone who manages to complete the course has achieved something and certainly gets my respect. I mean, I’m currently writing this while covered with a plethora of bruises, cuts and grazes that I earned on my way around the course. The amount of uphill struggling, downhill sliding and endless things to trip over meant that this wasn’t really much of a run- more a constant test of endurance and grit. Anyone particularly fond of the running element or more experienced in OCR, would probably prefer one of the longer options like a Spartan ‘Super’.
The UK and Ireland Spartan season is now live! Visit www.spartanrace.uk/en to find out more and to sign up… AROO AROO!!