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January 22nd, 2012: MUSCLE-BOUND: THIS IS SPARTAN!


So in last week’s issue, I mentioned taking my health and fitness in a new direction for 2012, and that my goal was to participate in the Spartan Race. Well… the Spartan Sprint to be precise. What’s the difference, you ask? Well I’m glad I asked on your behalf, but we’ll get to that in a sec.

Like many people in this age of viral awareness, I first heard about the Spartan Race through my friend and former Ubi coworker, Geiger. Now, Geiger is a fun and creative soul who makes social ADD look hip. He’s always scary a pleasure to talk to and the only person I know who does a hysterical impersonation of Christopher Schwarzenegger Walken. That’s right… he knows how to do an impersonation of their unholy lovechild who sounds like them both. It’s truly frightening.



So the pics you see in this blog are courtesy of Geiger and his 2011 run through the Spartan Sprint in Ottawa, with his consent, of course.

The Spartan Race began in 2005 when Joseph DeSena, Richard Lee and Selica Sevigny organized a 48 hour “Death Race” that would serve as the launch platform for the international Spartan Races a few years later. It included running, jumping, swimming, crawling through obstacles and what I can only assume was a lot of crying. Take one part SEAL Training, one part American Gladiators, two parts the Book of Revelations, and you get the idea. It was a test of endurance and strength, and the point wasn’t to win… it was to finish.

Fast-forward to 2010, when the smaller, supposedly less gruelling Spartan Race is held in Vermont, drawing 500 competitors, and a fitness event is born. Wait, event or experience? Well, whichever is more 2012, that’s what you have. Now, 36-50 Spartan events are held across North America and in England, each for one of four categories.  Anyone who completes the race gets a Spartan medal, a t-shirt, a beer and bragging rights. The top placers get free admittance to the bigger races. Everyone gets to celebrate at the BBQ and party afterwards.

This is Geiger!

This is GEIGER!

The Spartan Race itself is the blanket term for the four individual events. So… what are the four events?

> Spartan Sprint: Depending on which horizon of the Americas you live on, the sprint is a 3-mile or 5-6K race, with about 10 obstacles. The top placers in this category get free admittance into a Super Spartan of their choice and the website promises that 99% of participants will finish the race. See… being in the 1% still isn’t hip, but I digress.

> Super Spartan: This 8-mile/13K run takes you through 15 mud-soaked obstacles. This is not for the weak, and the top three men and the top three women earn the additional prize of free entry into the Death Race. Hold on, wait… that’s a prize?

> Spartan Beast: This is a 10-12-mile/16K race with numerous obstacles and a promise to winnow the fit from the insane.

> Death Race: This 48-hour marathon is a test of endurance that promises a 90% fail rate. There is no set mileage or obstacle count. There is only survival and, I surmise, cannibalism.

Geiger: The Running Man


Now, I know what you want to ask… just what sort of obstacles are they promising, Lucien? The obstacles vary and are only revealed on the day of the race. With heats running every half-hour to handle the number of participants, you can arrive early and watch others go through the experience first, or sign up for an early heat and enjoy the mayhem after from the comforts of the finish line.

According to friends of mine who participated, and from what I’ve read, the obstacles can include:

- Crawling under barbed wire in mud

- Cross mud pits

- Carrying heavy rocks a small distance

- Running past men with padded poles who are trying to trip you

- Jumping a fire pit

- Climbing a sloped wall

- Climbing a rope

- Scaling cargo netting

- Etc.

Getting the picture? It’s boot camp, but without the attempt to humiliate you. If you can’t complete an obstacle, they make you do 10 or 20 burpies from what my coworker Mateo Lopez told me (Burpies are dropping down into a pushup position, doing a pushup, vaulting to your feet, jumping up and then dropping back down).

How many participate in this thing? Last year, New England saw 2,000 racers and Montreal over 3,200. Globally, we’re talking over 100,000 racers anticipated for 2012, and the number is growing. Most people hear about it through word of mouth but the website offers you locations, dates, sign-up sheets and videos, so I encourage you to visit:



And thus we come full circle except for one last question I can hear some of you asking…

…why are you doing this?

Because it’s scary. And because I needed a new goal. Training without goals can turn exercise into a tedious experience. Thing is, my weight-training program wasn’t going to be enough, and the Spartan Race offered me the opportunity to reboot my program and give me a new direction. I jumped at the chance and interviewed a trainer who graduated in Kinestheology from university. Her credentials? She runs marathons, triathlons and Iron Man competitions….

Next week, we’ll get into my new program and I’ll introduce you to my trainer, Lisa.

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