There’s a new game on the calendar. Some of it’s shrouded in mystery, but other parts are being yelled loud and clear. Aroo! The Spartan Race Series is on its way to Sun Peaks September 28 and 29.
Spartan races are at the forefront of the trending obstacle race tide that’s getting thousands of people onto trails, through mud, and over fire (to name some signatures of Spartan racing). Coming to Sun Peaks are the Beast, a half marathon, the five kilometre Sprint and a kids’ race.
“The Beast is really hard core, (and) we’re going to find the steepest, meanest hills we can run you up,” explains Johnny Waite, international quality control manager for Spartan. “On a Sprint we’ll run you up the green hills, on a Beast it’ll be straight up the double black diamonds, otherwise you’ll be bushwhacking. The rope climbs are higher, the weights you carry are heavier; pretty much everything antes up a little bit.”
The Beast is usually won in three hours, but taking five to seven hours to finish is realistic. Many won’t finish the race at all.
“We don’t want everyone to finish (the Beast), this is more of a ‘really go and test yourself’ event,” says Waite. “The Sprint is still challenging, but it’s a race that we set up with the intention that everyone’s going to finish. Now, having said that, some people are going to have to dig really hard to finish it.”
To help people prepare for the races Spartan publishes daily workouts, and Waite attests racers build their own obstacles to train.
The glitch to training for the races is that specific obstacles aren’t disclosed beforehand, and no two courses are ever designed the same. Racers can reasonably expect to encounter a 45 degree slippery wall to ascend, rope climbs, spear throws, traverse walls, mental puzzles and of course jumping over fire, crawling under barbed wire and mud. But as the tagline says, “You’ll know at the finish line.”
“The biggest thing I hear from people is, ‘I’m not ready,’ ” says Carrie Adams, Spartan’s content and PR program manager. “Training helps but you’ve really got to go and just do it. We want to empower people we don’t want to make challenges that are demoralizing or so crazy that no one could do that. We want to present a worthy challenge, one that gives people the ability to complete it if they stick with it.”
And sticking with it people are. Last year over 350,000 people participated in Spartan races, and this year is on target to surpass 500,000. Events take place in all sorts of markets, from the newly introduced urban stadium venues to otherwise sleepy little towns. It’s not uncommon for 14,000 racers to turn out for a Spartan event.
“If we had 2,000 people here in September that would be fantastic,” said Anne Haight, marketing manager for Sun Peaks Resort. “I’m hoping this will be a longer term relationship (that) we can build, and I hope that ultimately we could get up to 7,000 racers.”
The Spartan race crew will arrive at Sun Peaks one week prior to the event to build the courses, and will spend three days tearing them down afterwards. During the event they’ll supply the first aid and operational components, although Haight expects the Spartan organizers will work with resort staff throughout the event. They also bring a full “festival area” with them including music, vendors, and kids’ activities.
“We’re so excited to come to somewhere like Sun Peaks,” says Waite. “It’s great we can go to these huge markets and bring a pile of people, but then you get a place like Sun Peaks where the terrain is so incredible and people who might not be skiers will come to this. It really gives us an opportunity to showcase our race in incredible conditions, but also it’s our race launching pad to bring some people out who might not have been out before. It’s definitely a win-win.”