The very first Spartan Stadium Race in UK happened just a couple of days ago in London. The Allianz Park Arena, used by the Saracens rugby team for training and matches, hosted thousands of people who wanted to experience a more concrete race setting (pun intended) instead of the typical muddy challenge. Extreme humidity and swampy fields makes this country perfect for mudraces, but big, open-air sports stadiums are a rarity across Europe. So from the beginning it was a big question of whether the UK Spartan Race team, under the command of R. Pringle, could make this urban race just as memorable as the muddy trenches that lead to the best, reborn-again showers.
The final result was quite expected – the race course was a hybrid with plenty of stairs to climb but also including not too wet and considerably clean woods and fields to run through. Around 40% of the course was contained within the Allianz Park stadium, whilst the rest utilised the surrounding fields, small hills and additional rugby club buildings. Quite a creative solution to what seemed like limited available options. In the end, this set up made, what some would call, the minimum effective dose for an immersive and challenging experience.
Compared to other sprints this race was much shorter and perhaps covered around 3k instead of the typical 5k. However, on the positive side the course seemed to be packed with obstacles following one after another – it was hardly a grind of a run before you would find yourself hustling throw ropes and carries again.
The Spartan medals given at European races used to be different from the US medals, but now we’re glad to see these markets more unified. It seems to have made quite a few athletes happy and getting a chunk of a trifecta medal immediately might just be the best inspiration to go all out and complete the Super and Beast part of the equation.
Personally, I am very proud of our team and the people I encouraged to sign up, coached to participate and to complete this race. With mixed levels of fitness they dominated the race grounds and forged unseen levels of grit as Finishers. Most of them will continue to train and race in order to complete the whole trifecta and hopefully they’ll inspire others to do the same.
The UK Spartan community, led by Rich Pringle, is the closest and most transparent we’ve experienced. For one, they’re very welcoming to beginners, keeping the tribe growing. The supercharged and friendly training camps they’ve been organising since the beginning of the year are another great way to stay in t0uch and stay in Spartan shape throughout the year, race season or no race season.
Despite all the good and fresh stuff this stadium race introduced to the UK market, some of the boo moments and general/competitive racing problems were:
- – Sadly, too many people are still not aware of the proper burpee form. Everyone faces their own battles on the course, but taking a shortcut in executing these or simply skipping the burpee penalty rewires ones brain to keep doing it rather than to persevere and achieve more, which is what obstacle racing is all about.
- – Following the point above: race marshalls should be clones of Joe De Sena counting people’s burpees and, more importantly, showing them how do a burpee correctly.
- – Lack of water stations. Perhaps the short course was what led to this decision, but people kept asking if there is any water after an obstacle or two.
- – A small and very crowded festival area on the stadium grounds as well as very limited parking options. We are keeping in mind that the race took place in the crowded London, however this still caused major inconvenience to those tight with their time and schedule.
All in all, we can’t wait for the next stadium race, which presumably will follow next year! Meanwhile, check out our action footage of some of the race highlights: