This is part two in a four-part series reviewing the Spartan Race.
I recently ran Spartan Super here in Austin, Texas. Although I have run other brands of obstacle course races, this was my very first experience with the Spartan brand. I have heard so many things about the Spartan series ranging from how challenging it is to how strong the community is, and it certainly wasn’t a disappointment.
This particular article will focus on the gear that you might consider taking when you go to participate in a Spartan. I have previously done a gear review on what you might need for running a Tough Mudder. If you have read that post, this will have some similar recommendations.
There are a couple of differences in terms of gear that might be needed.
One of the big differences that I noticed was, while the Tough Mudder and the Savage both offered rinse-off stations, the Spartan didn’t seem to have any, or not at least that we could find. And so, taking a change of clothing may or may not be necessary. If you do take a change, take something you don’t mind getting coated in dirt.
Definitely take trash bags to put your dirty shoes into because the Spartan was much dirtier than any of the other races I have run before. I was completely covered in dirt and mud afterward and that wasn’t the case after other races.
In others there were a lot of water obstacles, especially toward the end, so I ended up being rinsed off a bit before completing the race. In the Spartan, the very end was quite a few obstacles with some pretty serious mud. And so, we were pretty muddy at the conclusion of the race.
Even though there wasn’t a changing area, I was able to go stand between some cars and have my boyfriend create a wall with a towel so that I could strip off my soaking wet and extremely muddy pants and shirt and put on something dry.
Taking a change of clothing is good, but you may want to leave it in the car rather than carrying it around with you.
The Spartan bag check was a little more reasonable than Tough Mudder. Tough Mudder was $10.00 a bag, and the Spartan was $5.00 a bag. But, in the Spartan, unlike the Tough Mudder, your bag is out in the elements. If it’s raining like it was when we went to do the Sprint, count on your bag getting wet. That being the case, you may want to take a waterproof bag or take a trash bag to put your bag inside of when you hand it off to the bag check people.
I did not take sunglasses, and this is the first race that I have ever done without wearing sunglasses, and I have to say I’m glad that I didn’t because, although it was a little bit sunny for part of the racing, the obstacles were much more intense that I think I probably would have lost my glasses at some point.
I did, however, wear a sun visor, my trusty sun visor that I love so much, and I was able to put the Spartan headband over the sun visor which both helped keep it on my head and allowed for my headband to be clearly visible. In the Spartan, you are given your number in the form of a headband that everybody wears during the race.
Do take baby wipes because you will have mud in places you cannot believe. My eyes, ears, and nose were all full of dirt after the Spartan, and I was able to put my baby wipes to good use to try to get some of the chunks of dirt and mud out of my nose and ears before we got in the car to head home.
Also, take some money because the Spartan festival area is definitely much bigger and much more lively than any of the other races I have done, and you may end up wanting to buy some gear. They also have drinks and different things for sale, so it’s good to have a little bit of cash with you or cards, just in case you think that you might end up wanting to get something.
I was kind of surprised by how much bigger the festival area wasthan any of the other races I’ve done. You can buy Spartan gear as well as other kinds of gear, and there are other businesses with samplings of different things like kombucha tea and even massage items.
The Spartan venue had marking stations with heavy-duty permanent markers, so you can get your number put on your arm. But my advice would be to put your sunscreen on after because writing a number on your arm with a permanent marker is not as effective if you already have your sunscreen on. You would probably be better layering your sunscreen over the top of that.
Take lots of energy sources with you. The Tough Mudder and Savage both offered a couple of energy packs or bananas along the course of the trail, but Spartan had only one stop that had an energy source, and it was one chew. It was one of those energy chews, so it really wasn’t much.
They did, however, have plenty of options for hydration which I was pretty impressed by. So, there was enough points of hydration that I didn’t need my own hydration pack and was able to just drink every time I hit one of the hydration stations which was pretty nice. It means you have less to carry.
I wore pants and I saw a lot of girls in short shorts. I am not one to say, “Don’t wear whatever you want to wear and be comfortable.” It’s your body and your choice, but I was pretty surprised by how short some of these shorts were, especially considering there was a significant patch of sticker burrs. I had sticker burrs all in my pants, so I cannot imagine what the people in short shorts felt like.
Also, you’re climbing a lot of things, so your legs can potentially get pretty scraped up, so I was happy to have on pants to keep my legs from getting scratched on walls and all of the many differen
t kinds of climbing things there were which was a lot of walls.
Definitely take sunscreen. If you’re doing anything beyond the sprint, you’ll be outside for a bit and would like to have some sunscreen available to you, I’m sure. The sprint is a shorter amount of time and you might be able to get away with sunscreen, but I double-layered my sunscreen and still got some sun on my body. Not a burn, but enough that I was happy that I put on two layers of sunscreen.
You definitely want to take clean shoes. Take a good pair of flip-flops with you so that you can change out of your muddy shoes and put flip-flops on. And then, be sure you have something to put your muddy shoes into like a plastic bag.
I threw everything into one plastic bag. When we got home, we dumped it all out, rinsed everything down with a water hose outdoors, and then took things inside and still had to wash our clothes two times to be able to get off all of the dirt.
Here is my bag pack list:
- 3 trash bags (one for trash, one for clothing, one for shoes)
- a baggie (just in case)
- Visine for getting mud out of eyes
- protein bars
- water for before and after race
- a snack for after the race (apples, sandwiches, nuts)
- energy gels for the race (bring more than you think you might need just in case)
- glide for preventing blisters
- Kinesio tape (for covering up anything you don’t want to scrape during the event
- sun visor
- sunglasses (optional)
- gloves to protect your hands while racing (personal preference)
- sunscreen of choice (I double layer mine; one layer of thick sunscreen and then a spray-on over the top of that)
- cash for parking and bag check
- photo ID so you can check in for the race
- change of clothes
- flip flops
I hope all of this helps you to be as prepared as possible for your Spartan race day. Have fun out there!