Spartan Race in Japan: Get Dirty, Get Strong, Get Better
Every now and then, Samurai Sports staff and friends write about their experience around Japan. From long rides to trail runs and triathlons, you'll learn the endless possibilities when it comes to exploring Japan actively.
On Saturday, the 17th of May, 2017, the very first Spartan Race took place in Japan. The Spartan Race is one of the fastest growing Obstacle Course Races (OCR) in the world with over a million people participating every year. Over 5,000 people came to experience its first edition in Japan (both locals & expatriates, some even flew in from the US to participate).
An OCR, but where?
Spartan Races usually take place in somewhat remote and wild locations to offer their participants an extraordinary and challenging course. For this particular event, the race took place at a US Armed Forces facility in Sagamihara.
Obstacles? Yes, plenty!
While the terrain was fairly flat, Spartan Race definitely gave us our money’s worth by shipping over and setting up all their classic obstacles, such as the barbwire crawl, rope climb, Hercules hoist, bucket brigade and many more.
Adapting one’s training to prepare efficiently can be difficult without previous experience, which is why I highly recommend joining one of your local Spartan Race communities. You can either join the official Spartan Race community in Tokyo led by Leo, or join one of the Spartan SGX programs led by Chris King and Marc Keen. They will all prepare you well for the race, and if you really want to go all out, you can always join several. The respective training sessions usually take place once a week.
– SGX Programs –
Leader: Chris King, certified SGX coach
Fee: None. However, you must provide proof of registration for the next race, photo ID, and a sponsor letter from Coach Chris to join the SGX Spartans because their training takes place on an US Armed Forces facility.
Reebok Heart & Beauty Spartan Training (or visit their website)
Leader: Marc Keen, certified SGX coach
Spartan Running Session
Leader: Marc Keen, certified SGX coach
Fee: ¥2,900 (¥1,900 if you are wearing Reebok apparel or shoes; includes mandatory ¥500 for first-time users of Marunouchi Bike & Run venue)
Veni, Vedi, Vici
Our team (SOGO Tokyo Spartans), showed up with a roster of more than 130 people; awarding us with the title (and prize!) of the “Biggest Team”. It can be difficult to run together with so many people, so we split into teams of four during the race to better support each other. At the end, each and every one of us crossed the fire pit with a giant leap and a smile on our faces. But no matter the size, racing in a group is always more fun! It’s free to make a team, so why not gather your friends to form your own team and fight us for the title this October?
Don’t Forget to Have Fun!
At most races, there are three kinds of participants in separate heats:
Elite: participants who start first and compete for money
Competitive: participants who follow the same rules as the elite racers, but without the prize money
Open: participants (like myself) who want to see if they can complete the course, inspire their kids, wish to start a new lifestyle, or are simply looking for a new challenge
Whichever heat you decide to register for, remember one thing: you are here because you want to be! Therefore, have fun and enjoy yourself! If you aren’t, then you might be in the wrong place… Or, as the Spartan Race says: “You will know at the finish line…”.
Part of the Spartan mentality is to support one another both on & off the course. Even if you race alone, you can always count on a fellow Spartan to get you over that 2.5m wall and lend a supporting hand* if you are struggling during the race.
* This only applies to the Open heat, as receiving help in the Elite or Competitive heats will result in disqualification
The Spartan Trifecta
Once you have finished your first Spartan race, you can aim for the Trifecta! What is the Trifecta you ask? Well, there are three levels of Spartan Race’s obstacle course races, Sprint (5~7KM), Super (11~13KM) and Beast (~24KM), each more daunting than the other. To earn a Trifecta, you need to complete one of each within one calendar year. Learn more here.
Learn to love burpees…
Before I leave you to it, one more thing: BURPEES…Each time you fail an obstacle during the race, you will get a 30-burpee penalty. For most obstacles, a referee will lovingly dole out the burpee penalty; even if you slip past their watch, you should still do the burpees! All Spartans I know simultaneously list this awesome full-body exercise as being their favorite and most hated exercise. So, learn to embrace the “suck” as they say and make them a staple of your training. It will serve you well, trust me.