Sometime in July last year, I strong-armed (if only my arms were actually strong) my reluctant friends into joining the inaugural Spartan Race by signing them up for it despite their protests and then paying for their registration fees, just so I could have buddies to suffer with. In the few short months since, the race has come a long way – and hopefully so has Team Chapalang!
For the uninitiated, the Reebok Spartan Race is an obstacle race with more than 240 races taking place in 25 countries around the globe each year. The Spartan Sprint we joined in November 2015 was the shortest course this race has to offer, featuring 5+ kilometres and 20+ obstacles.
This year, we took part in the Spartan Super, a course that boasts 13+ kilometres, 30+ obstacles and – very importantly – a tougher terrain, and boy did they finally deliver on that front.
I loved, loved, loved this year’s choice of location. Last year’s race flagged off at Nicoll Highway and was a relatively flat and mud-free affair (though it was scenic – I have to give them that), and I never really felt like the mud-covered participants I saw on the website when I registered.
This year’s Super had us jumping across dirt trenches, carrying sandbags up and down hills, sliding down sandy slopes on our asses and then quickly losing our footing on muddy uphill climbs in quick succession. If you think it sounds like a recipe for cuts and bruises and twisted ankles, you’re absolutely right – but we all signed up for this, no?
Overall, it was hugely entertaining and a far more unique and challenging experience than a quick sprint through the city, which most other races in Singapore already offer anyway.
DIFFICULTY LEVEL (WAH SO HEAVY!)
The only phrase I said more than ‘Eh run so fast for what. Chill la, chill.’ during last year’s Sprint was ‘Huh? That was lighter than I expected leh’. I don’t have a point of reference outside of this race to compare the Super with, except, perhaps, some crossfit experience, but I was genuinely surprised by how light all the weights were last year. I remember being surprised when I overestimated the weight of the sandbag on the Hercules Hoist; I let out a truly ugly laugh when the sandbag flew halfway up to the pulley with one pull.
Well, they didn’t let us off that easy this year, and they showed us that they meant business as early as the first couple of obstacles with the Atlas Carry. And what I mean is that it basically kicked my overconfident ass. I couldn’t even lift the thing until I rolled it vaguely downhill into my waiting arms. Even then, I struggled.
I really enjoyed the Tire Pull too; it wasn’t by any means easy at all – when I got to the station I saw three girls tagteaming one of those stubborn buggers and it flat out refused to budge, and self-doubt started creeping in before I even wound the rope around my hands. It was TOUGH as heck, especially if your tire decides to make itself comfortable in a pothole, which mine did. But I managed to complete the obstacle, minor rope burns and all, and I’ve been feeling great about it ever since.
My meandering and anecdote-heavy point is: I appreciate that they challenged us a little more this time round. The reason why gruelling obstacle races like these are so popular is because people want to suffer and come out of it feeling stronger and like they’ve accomplished something. Can’t brag about it if everyone else can do it, right…
This is a HUGE deal for me. If you were at the race last year, chances were your bag got lost in the shameful disaster that was the baggage check-in area. The joke among my friends as we queued for nearly an hour to retrieve our bags last year was that it was the final and biggest obstacle of the race, and holy hell did it manage to get my blood pressure up. I was essentially told that they couldn’t find my bag because ‘black is a very common colour’ and was left hanging for another twenty minutes as they served people behind me. I ended up barging into the tent (much to the dismay of the staff) when it became apparent that they just gave up on looking for my shit, and as it turned out, they never bothered to arrange the bags in numerical order. And to top it all off, my bag was dumped on the floor outside of the tent along with a bunch of other bags. What even!
But! I have nothing but praise for how this year’s baggage check was run. Organised and efficient, the race organisers clearly took our feedback seriously and improved on whatever needed working on. I chucked all my stuff into my brother’s bag to avoid another scene like last year but I clearly didn’t have to worry because there was barely a line at the claim area when we were done with the race. We were off to take jubilant post-race selfies and eat Thai food in less than a minute.
A+ effort all around! Now just don’t skimp on the race pack and we’re golden.
This bodes very well for the next Spartan Race. From the route to the obstacles to the quality of event organising, Reebok seems to take feedback seriously and tries its hardest to give its participants the best race experience possible. This beats my Spartan Sprint experience hands down and I’ll definitely be back to claim my green medal when the opportunity next arises.
For those of you who don’t mind travelling a little to complete their Spartan Trifecta, there’s an upcoming Spartan Beast race in Malaysia this 9 October. And so much cheaper too because of the exchange rate! Very good for buff cheapos.
Was your Spartan Race experience as super as mine?
EDIT [12 MAY 2016]: Seems like it’s time to get our #BEASTMODEON. An email announcing the Beast and Sprint races in Bintan just showed up in my inbox today. It features a ‘beastly 20+KM & 40+ obstacles of sheer exhilaration on an epic terrain’ and will happen on the 19th – 20th of November this year! I’m pretty psyched to get sand in my bra as I get my ass kicked all over the beach. EXCITING.
Seems like a long shot to be yelling into the void that is the internet like this, but who’s going?