Over my 13 years of Momming, I’ve responded enthusiastically to every inkling my three kids have to be active. It's clear to anyone who stumbles into our cleat and lacrosse-stick laden entryway, ventures into the sailboat- and kayak- storage under our back deck or attempts to mow our soccer-ball strewn backyard. Several sports have stuck—soccer, lacrosse, sailboat racing and basketball—and several haven’t (would've been nice to know before we bought the fencing gear). So when I started working with Spartan, and my five-year-old, Marlon, seeing images of muddy kids on my laptop screen, said he wanted to run one, of course, I was game.
Spartan’s largest kids-only event, the Bankwell Stamford Spartan Kids Race, takes place just a half-hour from us. Marlon’s favorite sports include throwing on costumes and performing to Marshmello songs with wild abandon, balancing on every ledge he encounters on the way to school, and bolting away from me like a long-distance runner in the endless aisles of DSW. So I suspected this kid would take to just the sort of independent adventure OBX offers. And if not, no biggie, because for once, no trip to Modell’s was required for me to find out. Plus, Marlon spends what often seems like an unfair amount of time on the sidelines at his big sibs’ events. The Spartan—open to kids 4 to 13—is something my trio could do together. I signed them all right up.
A week before the race, big brother Julian got a bone bruise (as painful as it sounds) during gym class and was down for the count. Marlon and his sis, Celeste, 11, would have to represent. Marlon had been anticipating this event like Christmas (When are we doing the Spartan? How many days left?). My kid’s great expectations mashed with my frenetic-mom-running-late-for-race-attended-by-thousands zeal meant that we had zero chill en route to Mill River Park that morning. My mind ran off en route: What if I can’t find a parking spot? What if we miss the start?
Turns out, both kids had a blast. I had no need to stress. And neither do you. Here, 7 race-related concerns you can relax about. Trust me.
Spartan Kids Training Concerns: Debunked
1. What if we miss the start?
Even if you pre-register for your race online (as you should!), you need to check-in, and that line can be a long one. Save yourself my freak out. Arrive at least 90 minutes before your race, with your printed paper waiver and a screenshot or paper print out of your registration code. But know this: The organizers hold several starts for the same age group, so even if you’re in line when the race officially kicks off, your kid will get to run!
2. Won’t my kid get hungry?
If your kid, like my kindergartner, goes tends to go from functioning to rolling on the ground hunnnnngry quicker than you can say “spaghetti legs,” don’t forget to bring a couple carby snacks with as you’re flying out of the house, in case he screeches he’s starving before you get to the start. I made that mistake and we foraged on mini-cups of Unreal dark chocolate snacks (hardly a hardship!) from one of the booths.
3. What if my kid gets lost?
It’s a reasonable concern, especially for those of us whose kids have a knack for finding hiding spots in their own house, let alone in a 30-acre park. Good news: If your kid is in the 4-6-year-old age group, you can run along with him. And if your kiddo is anything like mine, I’d recommend it. Just note that on your entry and register.
4. What if my kid leaves the race without me?
After we crossed the finish line and Marlon donned his headband, t-shirt and medal triumphantly, we had plenty of time to meander the race grounds—checking out the booths of merch, kicking around the play zone and sampling snack mixes while we waiting for Celeste to finish. I worried that without her phone (leave it in the car) she’d finish early and be looking for us, but no kids are allowed out of the finish-line area until their adult wearing a matching bracelet picks them up.
5. Won’t he get muddy and wet?
Ours wasn’t a mud race, but it did include crossing a creek—twice. This is something you want to anticipate if your kid, like Marlon, has precisely one pair of sneakers.
6. Doesn’t my kid need to train for this thing?
When I registered, I had delusions of leading practice workouts in the backyard. Didn’t happen. Didn’t matter. Adults sitting on our butts tap tap tapping a keyboard all day—we need to train. But for young, unrelentingly active kids, everyday life is still their obstacle course. Over our half-mile course, as Marlon and I climbed over barriers and crawled through the grass, locking eyes and laughing, it occurred to me, he’s been training all his life for this! Only instead of being told (okay, usually by me), to calm down, don’t get dirty, stand still, today he’s getting a medal. No wonder he asked, “When’s my next Spartan?” before we even got to the car.
Related: How to Raise Spartan Kids
7. Will he ever stop wearing his Spartan t-shirt to school?
Eventually, yes. But he’ll want to wear it the very next day along with his headband, and you probably won’t have washed it yet, and, well, who cares? The scent of laundry detergent can’t compare to the smell of victory. We know that now.