Spartan Trifecta 2014?

Beware the rant.

Within a week after my first Spartan Race, I was already signed up for another. Then 3 more.  By the end of 2012, I was already signed up for the 2013s. By the end of 2013, I hadn’t signed up for single 2014 Spartan Race. I was registered for 7 other races, between road and OCRs, but no Spartan Races. When I received an email from Spartan Race saying that the Tuxedo Sprint price was going to be increasing today, I found myself sitting there thinking about whether or not I really wanted to even bother registering for a Spartan this year. Jay and I spent a long time last night talking about our future with the OCR series that we have been so devoted to for the last 3 years. Here are some of the things that came to mind:

  • We didn’t enjoy them nearly as much in 2013 as I did in 2012. The last ones I did seemed to be a whole lot of hauling ass up and down ski slopes and a lot less of good quality obstacles. Carrying a stone a few feet, doing burpees, then carrying the stone back is not an obstacle in my book. And while on the topic of burpees: they are a punishment and should not be used as an obstacle.
  • We found the overall quality of my last Tuxedo Sprint and NJ Super to be lacking in respect to the ones of just a year prior. They were a lot easier and were more like long trail hikes then obstacle courses. My first 5 were a blast, but the last 3 really were just blah in comparison.
  • On the other hand, Mister Course Designer went in the complete opposite direction with the Vermont Beast, making it a course to ‘punish the elites’. If the elites are being punished, what the hell does that mean for the average Spartan or the person who just tore themselves off the couch to work their way up to a Trifecta?
  • If you are going to pride yourself on difficulty and the fact that, unlike other events, there are penalties for failure, how about enforcing it? There should never be participants walking around obstacles and continuing down the course while volunteers just sit there and watch them. If you walk around an obstacle, there should be someone on you making you do burpees. There very rarely is. Without that, the race is no different from a Tough Mudder.
  • Oh wait, you know where there are volunteers/staff making you do your burpees? Down where the spectators and film crews can see it. Come to think of it, that’s where all the obstacles were, too. Most of the rest of the course was just steep ascents and crumbling rock faces. Hmmm….
  • This may seem trivial or that I’m being a cheap bitch (cuz I am), but the discount codes we were given after completing our races, were a lot crappier than before. You would think that with the growing popularity and tens of thousands of new people registering, they could afford to give the returning finishers a better deal.
  • TWO Years in a row of not having enough Trifecta medals in Vermont for the amount of people attempting it. Seriously? For 2012, the rumor was that someone stole a box of the medals off the back of the truck. Sounded fishy, but I gave them the benefit of the doubt. For 2013, the guy we spoke to claimed that their computer program only generated one page of the multiple pages of people eligible for the Trifecta for the weekend, so they only ordered for that one page. What? After the drama that ensued in 2012, you would think they’d be extra concerned about getting it right in 2013.
  • On the topic of medals, they went and changed the medal design.  Each level of the race would be one wedge of a circle that would become the Trifecta medal. (Solves the problem of the missing medals.)

    From Obstacle Racing Media. Click for an entire article on the subject.

    The idea is pretty cool, but only if you intend on doing all 3 levels.  If you only do a Sprint, you have a piece of a medal with the tippy top of  a helmet on it. Now, instead of representing the huge accomplishment that it is for most people, it is a representation of what you didn’t do.  The redesign wouldn’t be such a big deal, after all, it is just a medal, but the way they went about it was not cool. They had asked the Spartan public for approval on the new medal. Every comment I saw indicated that pretty much no one liked the new design, but they changed it anyway. Why the hell did you ask our opinion if you were just going to do what you wanted anyway?

What do all these things mean? To me and Jay, it means that the goal of Spartan Race has changed from ripping people off the couch for a healthier lifestyle to ripping people off the couch because it’s easier to get to their pockets that way. It has become a sufferfest with every ounce of joy and fun taken out of it.

I don’t want to do a Spartan Race this year. If the whole thing reached critical mass and imploded in on itself, I don’t think I’d care (or be surprised, for that matter.) But we signed up last night anyway. We registered for the Tuxedo Sprint again. And since we don’t want a third of a medal hanging our from our medal displays, we’ll do a Super and a Beast, as well. Why? Because I want to prove that I am not just some dumb, weak, whiny bitch that is complaining that it got too hard (because I know that’s what some people reading this might think.) I have to find out if I changed or if the race changed.

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6 thoughts on “Spartan Trifecta 2014?

  1. I wont be doing any more Spartan Races. My first was in 2012 & it was a Super, though very tough I enjoyed the race. in 2013 I decided to do the Trifecta & my fiancee was willing to do the sprint with me. She is a fan of obstacles, but not the trudging up & down the mountains. Then came the news the AZ Sprint was being relocated, parking was miles away & the only way in was by bus and the distance went to 4.7 from 3.5 miles. She was unhappy to say the least. I persevered & got my Super in Vegas & with no real incidents. In Utah 1/2 the water stations were empty, with people dropping like flies from the unseasonably warm weather (predicted well in advance) & high altitude. The Trifecta Medal says 2012 on it, but I dont care. I am happy its over with. Many of the reasons I have for not attending a Spartan Race are the same as yours,. I am a computer geek by trade & and an Elite athlete. There are many more events out there that wont try & kill me. Events I can do with my fiancee. Events that wont give me 1/3 of a medal, unless i travel hundreds of miles to do more races to get other parts. Events that wont end up charging so much to do them because of general high prices that go up & additional fees like required insurance. So good luck, and I hope you enjoy your races & do well and that Spartan is not a disappointment for you.

    1. They ran out of water for us in Vermont, too, and also were giving away 2012 medals to some people. I’m sorry that you had to deal with that nonsense. It sucks when you finally convince someone to try something and then they end up with a bad experience.
      I hope you and your fiancee have a blast at other events. I find that my husband and I have the most fun at the smaller local runs.

    2. My 2 cents, from Joe’s Fiancé. I decided to do the Spartan Sprint with him because the Super he did at Rawhide looked like fun. My only reason for doing OCR’s is to have fun. I am not interested in being an ‘Elite’ competitor.

      Here in AZ we rarely get to 30 degrees, and of course Mother Nature decided on top of all the added challenges of change in venue and race distance, she gave us cold weather. I realize cold is a relative term for those not in AZ, but 30 degrees during the sunlight hours sucks for us. I enjoyed parts of the race just fine. Joe is amazing, he stayed with me and was so encouraging the whole time. My only issues during the race were with the some of the participants, who seemed annoyed with the ‘non-competitive’ people in their way. During the concrete drag, one decided to go around me & his concrete block bounced off my block or the ground & hit my ankle. No apologize, just grumbling. I spent most of the race, moving out of the way of these participants. It made me feel unwelcome and certainly didn’t make me want to do another one, especially as this was the Sprint.

      Honestly, I prefer to do the more themed OCR’s, where everyone is there for fun. My all-time favorite race was the RFYL/Zombie Run race last November. Despite being shafted by RFYL days before the event, Human Movement Mgmt, came in & delivered a no-frills race, that rocked. I left that race in PURE JOY. I couldn’t wait to do another race. We signed up for 2 HMM sponsored races as soon as we could. I had the complete opposite feeling after doing the Sprint.

      I wish you lots of luck in your races.

      1. We are kindred spirits, Erika. Fun is always the main priority. I had wanted to do the RFYL so badly, but yeah I guess that’s not gonna happen anymore. And the same thing happened with Hero Rush. It went out of business the weekend before I was scheduled to run. Sigh.
        PS- Even as a New Yorker, I can agree that 30 degrees is pretty darned cold to be standing outside covered in the wet.

  2. I’m happy to hear you are going to go for the Trifecta again! Stay positive and you’ll know at the finish line! I’d like to clear some assumptions up… As many points as possible so bear with me. 1) Obstacles – 2013 (compared to 2012) was a year of substantial growth not only in OCR in general but Spartan Races. This has brought some growing pains that most likely will be cleared up in 2014. Due to customer feedback, SR normalized the distance and number of obstacles for each race type. This is why you may see the same regular obstacles (fire jump, barbed wire crawl, # of walls, rope climb) from venue to venue with some exciting new ones sprinkled in. Bear in mind that obstacles are dependent on the venue. SR has created consistency for their customers so that when they sign up, they know what to expect. This build confidence for both! There are a bunch of new venues coming up next year in the Sprint and Super distances – try one of them and see if you like it as much as you liked the 2012 Tuxedo race. Also in 2013, an OCR governing body was created to set rules for all OCR companies to have consistency, race rules, safety. Expect more exciting changes to come. 2) Mister Course Designer – Feedback was VA Super and VT Beast/Ultra Beast were the hardest events of the year (and ever). Funny because everyone says that about the PA Sprint annually. The difference between last year and this year was that this year’s VT Beast was the World Championship Race! There were Olympians, Spartan Elites, and Average Joe’s racing in this race (and the Ultra Beast) and with a larger cash prize comes a better more difficult course. I can tell you that there were all different kinds of people finishing the Beast. Google: Chris Davis (2012 Beast), Amanda Sullivan (2013), Illene Boyar (2013), Todd Simpson Love (2013), Chasing Michael Mills (2013), Operation Enduring Warrior (2013) or even just the event photos on the FB Spartan Page (tons of average people crushing courses and pushing themselves farther than they ever thought they could)! Think about it… if it was the exact same VT race every year, same format, same obstacles… would you sign up? We like change and see it as a challenge, right?… so bring on VT Championship 2014! 3) Burpees and volunteers – Burpess are nothing more than lessons – truth is – if we had a clean race, there wouldn’t be a penalty. Practice and finish clean = no burpees. Burpees are equalizers. Why should someone how fails an obstacle be able to proceed as if they didn’t fail?! We are Spartans!!! Everything is an obstacle. Think about it – no water stations (Come prepared! Know you limits! Either plan to bring your own water because you will need it or don’t because you don’t need it), gels, electrolytes, athletic clothing choice, memorization tests after you’ve completed 2 miles up and down a mountain and completed 5 obstacles (mental obstacle!), the mountain (it’s a challenging, natural obstacle itself!)… I can go on and on. Is this making sense? Volunteers and policing the obstacles. If you want a real challenge, sign up for an Elite heat or two. Any failed obstacle is mandatory burpees – someone will be counting them with/for you. These heats are held to the highest standard and cheating of any kind is prohibited. If you haven’t volunteered at a race, I highly recommend it. It’s extremely rewarding and fun, but also exhausting. Since they are volunteers, not affiliated with SR, there’s not much incentive to be yelling at open wave runners for failing an obstacle and loser their voice after having been there for 6 hours in the hot or cold, wind and rain. Cut them some slack. In the open heats, they serve as a point of communication in case of emergency and they give runners instructions on how to complete an obstacle. In life there are cheaters and those who cut corners. Since volunteers cannot police every single runner (up to the thousands) in a day, there will be those who are less honest than you. The thing about SR is that it’s your race against you and no one else and based on the honor system. You make or break your day. In open waves, the points are just for fun so if you catch someone cheating… by all means call them out on it – they may or may not oblige. 4) Discount codes – Sign up early! Find a street team member for a code. Sign up to be on the street team and earn a season pass for free! Volunteer at a race in the morning and race for free in the afternoon or next day! You have so many options!! Ask me more, I’m familiar with all these or I can get you in contact with the right people. 5) Medals – SR is offering racers the option to earn the old style medal in addition to the new one. I don’t know if this will continue throughout the entire year, but in Temecula you could earn both. Trifecta medals – the process has greatly improved. There is still a chance they may not have your trifecta medal on race day (that many people are finishing their 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, trifecta!!!), but the good news is they will mail you a t-shirt and medal. No worries! 5) Ripping people off the couch – check out the new 30 day challenges offered by SR (burpee challenges, running challenges, pushup challenges, etc.). If you sign up and post daily, you can win prizes! Win Win! Exercise and prizes! I even have a friend who’s 70 year old mom raced a Beast! Her mom’s first SR was a Sprint – How awesome is that?! A good friend was morbidly obese before SR and turned his life around – finished last year’s VT Beast in 13 hours!? Amazing! The many diverse groups of people who have positively been affected by SR goes on and on. The partnerships with Reebok and The Biggest Loser have opened the door for so many more people to turn their life around. It’s not all about money. Andy and Joe really do want people to get active! They are active participants! Did you see Joe doing his 10,000 burpees at the VT Championship!?! Have you also seen the WOD and FOD? Check them out too! It’s legit! Hope this help!

    1. I understand that SR is going through growing pains and it can never be the same as it was. Every time I finished a race this year, I rattled off all these points you made, trying to convince myself and my team of them, because my husband and I were/am Street Team members and believed in the race series.

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