Are you signed up for your first Spartan run? Still wondering if this is a good idea? The answer to this question is short. Definitely yes!
Regardless of whether your name is already on the starting list or you are still on the fence about it, we know you have questions: How to Prepare? What to wear on race day? What to bring? What shoes to wear? We'll be answering some commonly asked questions in this article so strap in and get ready. We will not discuss training and nutrition issues at this point. That comes next. For now, we will focus more on the technical side of things.
What to wear?
Taking part in a Spartan race is definitely not akin to a fashion show, but the right outfit will make a big difference for your racing experience.
Firstly, take into account the time of the year and weather that you'll face on race day. Technical fabrics that wick away moisture and allow air to pass through and work great for most of the year. It'll keep you cool in hot weather and on colder days it'll help you avoid being burdened by materials soaked in sweat or rain. Also take into account that you will probably face water obstacles, such as swimming or a dunk wall, or even crossing a mountain stream. Classic tracksuits or a cotton T-shirt will work against you in such conditions. These materials will become heavy, uncomfortable and will make you feel colder in cold weather. Many competitors in the summer decide to start without a shirt, and some women run in crop tops / sports bras and shorts. This is fine, as long as you are not afraid of abrasions on your stomach, back and legs, after overcoming walls, crawls or the rope climb. High socks can be helpful. Compression socks, will protect your legs and help achieve better muscle condition, which will be important especially over longer distances. However, if you don't want to expose your body to the elements, a classic short-sleeved running T-shirt and short or long, but thin leggings are a good option. If it's cold during your run, long-sleeve thermo-active t-shirts will work well. You can put on an additional layer in the form of a raincoat / windbreaker or a warmer running jacket. Layering can be useful in changing weather conditions. However, remember not to overdo it.You still need to be able to move freely, and clothing that is too thick will restrict your movements and be problematic on obstacles. Even if you feel a bit chilly at the starting line, once you start running, you will warm up! On colder days, it is worth having a multifunctional scarf, headband or hat and gloves, and a cap with a visor for hot weather. Spartan races very often take place in the mountains, and the weather up there can surprise you. The climate from the starting point to the highest point of the route can change many times. Contrary to appearances, even the simplest items of clothing, such as underwear and socks, can make a difference. For your own comfort, wear things that you know are comfortable for you. Nobody likes chafing while running. Socks should be suitable for running. Even if you don't get the rest of your clothes wet on the run, your feet have a good chance of getting soaked. Cotton socks will remain wet for a long time, it may move and roll, causing a lot of discomfort and abrasions. Avoid underwear with lace or other decorations, choose seamless types for your comfort. Racers should also be aware that your clothes may get damaged along the way, so choose clothes that you don't mind this happening to.
A matter that will surely keep you awake at night.
First of all, you need running shoes. For longer distances, they should also have good shock absorption. Unsurprisingly, but it still needed to be said: Fancy sneakers or trekking shoes will not work for you. You don't have to invest in the most expensive and professional trail running shoes from the get-go. However, if you decide to go a longer distance and the weather conditions suggest that the route will be muddy, for your own safety and that of other competitors, we recommend footwear with a tread, designed for trail running. It will provide better grip on downhill runs, and is often additionally reinforced in the vicinity of the toes, which will protect the feet from possibly bumping against stones or protruding tree roots. If you don't want to invest in such footwear right away, standard running shoes will also do the job. It is important that they are sized well and comfortable for you. If you've just unpacked a brand new pair and are planning to use them for the first time on race day, we strongly advise against doing that.
Additional equipment - What else might be useful? Basically, apart from when doing an Ultra, there is no mandatory equipment that you need to have with you. Try not to take too many things. During a short run, it probably won't weigh you down, but on a long distance, every extra gram will feel heavier the further you run. Gloves can be useful, especially if it will be wet on the route. It's good that the gloves are not too thick, which will worsen your grip, an additional plus is anti-slip coating on the inside. In this case, you do not have to invest in expensive OCR gloves. The plain, gray ones from the DIY store should work. If you want the gloves to be dry, it is worth packing them in a string bag. They will not get wet in the event of a dunk or rain, although it will take some time to get them out of the pouch.
For longer distances, it is worth having a small running backpack with a water bag, a vest or a waist belt with a bottle or a soft water flask. Additional pockets will also be useful for energy gels, bars or other snacks. At Sprint or even Super distances, additional water will not necessarily be needed, it will also depend on the prevailing temperature. For longer runs, such as Beast or Ultra, additional water and food supplies are recommended. Adequate hydration and energy supply will be key to maintaining a high level of energy and well-being during and after your run. The supply of water and electrolytes will be especially important at high temperatures, because you will lose them with sweat. However, you don't have to take the water with you for the whole distance. You will be able to replenish it at the points with water on the route. Backpack, vest or waist belt? The belt will not fit much, so it will be better for shorter distances. For longer journeys, a backpack with a water bag or a vest with pockets for soft water bottles (the so-called water flask) will work well. The more fitted the equipment, the better so it wont disturb you running or interfere with obstacles.
The food you take on the route cannot be guess work. It is not worth experimenting and exposing yourself to possible gastric pains. So take proven gels and bars that you are familiar with. Make them rich in carbohydrates, they can be enriched with electrolytes, but they do not contain a lot of fiber. You can also get a few patches, a pill for pain relief or against diarrhoea, if needed. The longer the distance, the greater the chance that one of these will be useful, although it is still not a necessity.
A list of recommended equipment will be included in the Athlete Guide, which will be emailed to you a few days before departure. It's worth getting acquainted.
We also recommend that you prepare your outfit and everything you want to take with you the day before. Also consider whether you will leave something in the bag check and pack it immediately in a separate backpack. You will avoid unnecessary searching and stress in the morning. The only thing left for you to do is eat a proper breakfast, get dressed, pick up your starter package, deposit your belongings and show up in the starting area with enthusiasm and a smile on your face. You already know everything. Now it's time to pack up and head to the starting line or sign up for a run. If you have more questions, feel free to contact your local Spartan customer service team.
At the event site, you will also find volunteers and ambassadors who will be happy to help you!
See you on course! AROO!