KILLINGTON - Hurdling fire pits, throwing spear, climbing rope,
navigating across water and, of course, running trails: Spartan
obstacles can be as painful as they are unpredictable. Still, an
estimated three quarters of a million participants will cross a
Spartan finish line in 2013 taking part in the 63 events
This year's event will culminate with the naming of the world's
top male and female obstacle racers. On Saturday and Sunday, Sept.
21-22, Killington will host the Vermont Spartan Race World
Championships where thousands of top athletes from around the world
will compete for a piece of the $250,000 purse which will be
awarded to Spartan top finishers.
This is the third year Killington Resort has hosted Spartan
courses. Options for racers include a Spartan Kid Race, a half mile
course for ages 4-9 and a mile course for ages 10-13; a Spartan
Sprint, roughly 5K of trails and obstacles; the Spartan Beast, a
half marathon of trail running and Spartan obstacles; and the
world's only Ultra Beast, longer than a marathon of trail running
In 2001, Joe Desena from Pittsfield, founded Spartan Races with
seven other extreme athletes. One of the goals was to 'rip you from
your comfort zone' the Spartan website states.
"We will not spell it out for you… There is fire, mud, water,
barbed wire, and occasionally Hell on Earth," organizers state.
"There will be obstacles to catch you off guard. Curve balls, so to
speak. Get over it. We're here to rip you from your comfort zone.
If you need a road map for each step of the way, then maybe this
race isn't for you."
Unlike ironmans or triathlons, racers will not get a course map to
study. While there are some obstacles that seem to be "Spartan
staples" - a slippery incline wall, cargo net climb, barbed wire
crawl, a mud crawl, spear throw, fire jump and gladiator pit - many
are venue-specific inspired by the particular challenges of local
Uncertainty is central to the Spartan mentality. Desena often
comments about his desire to challenge the comfortable monotony of
the status quo, and he does this successfully through his Peak Race
series. Too often we spend our waking hours trying to find and stay
comfortable: We look for short cuts, gadgets, and processes to make
things easier; we believe there are defined limits to our
abilities, mental and physical, and we become conditioned to those
distinction, Desena perceives. It makes us feel secure, but it
comes at a cost too high for Desena and judging by the exponential
growth of Spartan races, many share his sentiments.
"We've forgotten that we're animals," Desena said in a 20011
interview with The Daily Item. "We climbed, jumped and crawled.
It's only the last 100 years we played basketball and football. All
the sports that seemed so natural and normal have only been around
for a short time… People touching dirt, mud, running through the
woods, climbing - that feels natural, feels right."
Spartan races, although the toughest on the planet for the elite
classes, also seek to make obstacle racing accessible to a variety
of levels, this effort is perhaps most evident in the kid and teen
divisions, which are designed to inspire health and fitness at
early ages with a variety of scaled down obstacles. The Kids Fit
Foundation is the host of the Killington Jr. Spartan (the half mile
course for ages 4-9) and Varsity Spartan races (one mile course for