Have you been thinking about doing obstacle course racing for a while but don’t know where to start? It doesn’t have to be as difficult as you think it to be. When I ran my first Spartan Race 7 years ago, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. My friend peer pressured me into doing it and I have enjoyed doing these races ever since. I could have been more prepared though.
When I ran my first Spartan Race, I showed up in old basketball shoes and cotton socks with the expectation I would just throw my clothes away at the end. I could have done better. There are many things I wish I could have known going into my first race that would seem like a cheat code if I had known it back then.
Trail running shoes: Trail running shoes with good treads it probably the most important thing you could get for a race like this. It will be muddy. It might be hilly depending on your geography. If you show up in basketball shoes as I did, you will slip and potentially have your shoe come off. Spartan has a brand of trail running shoes now but honestly, most trail running shoes will do the job.
When getting trail running shoes, do not get gortex ones. Your foot will get submerged in water and water will still get in but will not be able to get out. Trust me on this one. I have done dozens of fitness events where my feet have been submerged in water and the one time I wore gortex, I felt like my foot had been in a bathtub for 5 hours.
3/4 inch leggings or shorts: Weather dependent. Dress heavier if it’s cold. Having something that will cover your knees will help them from getting beat up when doing low crawls. Wear something that is tight to the body and will wick water very well.
Tight shirt: This isn’t an event to wear a baggy cotton tee. If you do, you will feel like you’re carrying 10 lbs of mud at the end of the race.
Running Belt: If you don’t want to leave your phone in your drop bag, bring a running belt. Even though most phones are waterproof today, I would recommend covering it with something. Also bringing a running belt will help you carry the next item which is one that not a lot of people talk about.
Liquid Chalk: This item might be the greatest hack you could have for this race. If this is your first race, I suspect you’re not going to do one of the early elite heats. That means, that the obstacles and terrain will be beaten up, wet, and muddy. Your grip will be key to completing these obstacles. It won’t matter how strong your grip is, when you grab onto a wet rope or ring, you will slip.
What You Don’t ‘Need’ For The Spartan Sprint:
Hydration Pack: A Spartan Sprint is about a 5K distance. You will want to come to the race hydrated but if the weather is below 80 degrees, you probably won’t need to gear out and bring a running vest or a water bottle belt with you. If it is a scorching hot day, play it safe for sure.
You’re probably going to be running for about 1–2 hours and there will be water (and beer) at the end of the race. Bringing a big pack will weigh you down and make it tougher to do some of the obstacles.
Post Race Gear:
Change of clothes and shoes: Bring a spare change of clothes and shoes to feel refreshed after the race. You will be able to hose down and “shower”.
Bag for your clothes: This is just to keep your car clean and mud free.
2–3 Large Towels: You never know how muddy you’re still going to be going into your car. It might be nice to have a towel to put onto your car seat to keep it clean.
Shower Wipes: Even though you will be hosed down. It feels good to wipe yourself down with something a little more than water and a bar of soap.
Jug of water: Many of the Spartan races are usually a decent drive from the cities they say they’re in.
Food: If you don’t want to buy any food at the race, bring some food with you.
Obstacle course races are a lot of fun. You can come unprepared as I did and still make it through the race. You might have to do a ton of burpees but the event is full of people who want to challenge themselves in a new way. So what are you waiting for? Sign up now!