Spartan Race Types: Which Race Is Right for You? The 411 on Each One

Spartan Race Types: Which Race Is Right for You? The 411 on Each One

You can do a Spartan race. Yes, you. 

Don't believe us? Well here's the proof: More than 10 million people across the globe have crossed the finish lines at our races. They come in all shapes and sizes. Each one has a different a story, a different reason for getting off the couch, a different goal. But they all have one thing in common: They picked a date to get off the couch and committed to doing something hard. 

Yes, Spartan races are hard. We're not going to deny that fact. But they're achievable. In fact, if you can do one of these eight things, we guarantee you can crush a Spartan race. We have race types for every kind of athlete. Whether you're an endurance runner or you run the casual mile, whether you're a gym rat or you work out on occasion, there's a race type for you.

Get the lowdown on each of our races below, and find the right one for you.

Spartan Race Types: Which Race Is Right for You?

The Sprint

The Spartan Sprint is the easiest and most straightforward of our obstacle races (with the possible exception of the Stadion — more on that below). It's 5K (approximately 3.1 miles) of trail running, held on off-road terrain and featuring mud and water. Racers have to overcome 20 unique obstacles — including walls, the Barbed Wire Crawl, Monkey Bars, and the Spear Throw — or face a 30-burpee penalty. 

Your reward for finishing? Most importantly, you'll feel like an accomplished badass, on top of the world. Beyond that, you'll receive a finisher T-shirt and medal, a Spartan Sprint Trifecta wedge and lanyard, and professional photos of you carrying buckets and jumping over fire.

Why the Trifecta wedge? Because if you complete a Sprint (or Stadion), Super, and Beast (or Ultra) in a calendar year, you earn the covered Trifecta medal. The Sprint (or Stadion)/Super/Beast (or Ultra) wedges snap together to form the Trifecta medal, one of the most exclusive medals in the sport. More than just the medal, though, is the community you join once you complete your Trifecta mission. The Trifecta tribe holds a special bond that's shared for life.

Sprints are great for newbies — check out this list of the best races for first-time Spartans — but they're not exclusively for newbies. Even the most elite athletes, and Spartan pros, return to run Sprints year after year. Not only are they attempting to defeat fellow competitors, but they're also trying to best their personal records. Additionally, every Sprint course is different — different terrain, different views, different obstacles — so each one is a unique experience.

Before you take on your first Sprint, check out these four important training tips.


The Super

After you've conquered the Sprint, your next mission is the Super. The 10K Super is double the distance — approximately 6.2 miles — and features 25 obstacles, five more than the Sprint. The jump from Sprint to Super is considerable, and you can be damn sure that this will be the most challenging 10K you'll ever do. If you don't run 6 miles often, you'll likely need a pace strategy. You can also count on a more demanding elevation gain than you'd find on a Sprint course.

Of the 25 obstacles, you can expect to see the Helix, Olympus, the Rope Climb, the Beater, and Stairway to Sparta.

The Spartan Super is a true test of speed and endurance. The best training you can do for this race is a Sprint, as that will give you a feel for what to expect out on the course. We also recommend practicing with actual heavy carries and working on your overall grip strength.  

Upon finishing, you'll receive a Spartan Super finisher T-shirt, a Super finisher medal, and another wedge for your Trifecta medal.

Here are four tips to help you train for, and crush, your first Super 10K.


The Beast

Alright, no more Mr. Nice Guy. If a Sprint is challenging and a Super is demanding, a Beast is f***ing hard. We won't sugarcoat it.

We still think you can do it, though. Tens of thousands of Spartans do every single year.

The final piece of the Spartan Trifecta puzzle, the Beast is exactly as it sounds: beastly. We're talking 21K — a little over 13 miles — and 30 obstacles. You've never run a half marathon like this. Our Beasts are rarely on flat ground, so you can expect your legs to burn as you traverse brutal ascents and descents. You'll want to quit. Your soul will be crushed.

But you'll finish. And you'll feel f***ing unbelievable when you do.

Beast racers are generally Spartan veterans who are familiar with the distances and the obstacles. (A few crazies, like our very own Kelsey Wynn, made her very first race a Beast. She proceeded to crush it, like she crushes everything she does.) We recommend taking it on with friends, or with a formal team. You'll need the encouragement when the self-doubt inevitably creeps in. And besides, it's more fun racing with friends than racing solo. (At least we think so...)

You’ll need a decent aerobic base to finish a Beast. Translation: You’re OK running and walking for at least three hours. While you don’t have to run 21K in training, regular long runs are a must. Bodyweight exercises like pull-ups and push-ups, and weighted functional training, will prepare your body for the onslaught. We also highly recommend testing your nutrition and hydration strategies during training runs. Before toeing the start line of a Beast, make sure to read this first-timer's training plan to survive it. It should be your bible.

Upon finishing, well ... you know the deal by now. Beast finisher shirt. Beast finisher medal. And the wedge. Oh, that final wedge. Fit it together with the Sprint and Super wedges, assuming you have them, and consider yourself an official member of the Trifecta tribe. You are now a legend. A badass for life. Take a bow.


The Ultra

But don't take that bow for too long. If you've conquered the Beast, that means you probably want to take on something even harder. And guess what? You're in luck. We have just the race for the inner psycho in you.

The Spartan Ultra is the ultimate test of endurance. The course is 50K (just over 31 miles) and pits you against 60 obstacles. The distance is daunting. The obstacles are relentless. But that's just the tip of the iceberg. Over the course of 31 miles of pain, you can expect to contend with formidable elevation gain, darkness, extreme weather, and unexpected challenges that will test your physical and mental limits. Strong bonds are formed on this course, lifelong bonds. It's a rare breed of human who can take on, and finish, a Spartan Ultra. Once you're finished, you're transformed. You go through hell and come back the other side stronger, with more purpose, with more clarity. It sounds cliche, but it's true.

Because so few racers finish the Ultra compared to other race types, the finisher swag is truly exclusive. In addition to the coveted finisher T-shirt, Ultra finishers get a belt buckle custom-made for the race, an Ultra pinny, and an Ultra wedge that forms a rare Trifecta medal.

You'll be out on the course for many, many hours, so it's critical that you come prepared. We recommend bringing a halfway-point drop bin, waterproof layers, spare footwear and socks, sun protection, a hydration pack or vest, nutritional fuel, a headlamp, a small medical kit, and other long-haul items.

If you want to see what an Ultra looks like, check out this video of Spartan Master Coach Trevor Franklin tackling the 31-mile race in Utah. It's a good lesson in how to prepare (and how not to prepare...), and the emotional highs and lows that you can expect during the journey.

And if you want to level up your Ultra experience, you can attempt the legendary 24-Hour Ultra World Championship, open to Open racers as well as Age Groupers and Elites.


Additional Race Types: Kids, City, and Stadions

Kids Races

You didn't think we forgot about the kids, did you? Of course not.

Spartan Kids races range in distance from a half-mile to 2 miles, and they're open to children ages 4-14. They'll run, jump, climb, and crawl, and older kids have the opportunity to compete in timed heats.

Spartan Kids finishers earn a T-shirt, a finisher medal and lanyard, and a numbered headband with a matching adult wristband. Additionally, every kids ticket comes with two free spectator passes, so friends and relatives can cheer their little ones on at the finish line. There are always adult races the same weekend as kids races, so the whole family has the opportunity to hit the course.

In terms of specific distances, here's the breakdown: For kids ages 4-6, the course is a half-mile with 5-10 obstacles. For kids ages 7-9, it's 1 mile and 10-15 obstacles. For kids ages 10-14, it's 2 miles and 15-20 obstacles.

This race gets your kids outside — away from screens! — gets them moving, and gets them challenging themselves. It's also a great environment for kids to meet new friends and bond over shared experiences.


Stadion Races

Spartan Stadions are the same distance as Sprints (5K, 20 obstacles), with the added benefit of being in some of the most iconic ballparks and stadiums in America. And no, that's not hyperbole. They really are iconic. We're talking Fenway Park, AT&T Stadium, and Notre Dame Stadium, among others. (Click here to see our ranking of the most iconic Stadion venues.)

As for the race itself, it's a true test of speed, strength, and willpower. Like City and Sprint races, it's fast and intense. You will climb stairs, tackle functional fitness obstacles, run on the the warning track and through the concourse, and, in some cases, run through professional teams' clubhouses.

To prepare for the Stadion, we recommend high-intensity interval training. If you're primarily a runner, focus on strength and conditioning workouts. Don't love running? Try to build some explosive cardio with stair climbs, jump roping, and hill repeats. This 28-day Stadion training plan will get you primed and ready.


City Races

City races, perfect for first-timers, are more beginner-friendly than even Sprints. Held in the middle of major metropolitan areas, City races range in distance from 3K to 5K and feature 20 obstacles, including the Gauntlet, Jump Rope, Paracord, and the Memory Test. They're easily accessible, and the dirt-free, urban terrain makes them ideal for road runners and sprinters. The race is short and fast-paced, and it can be as intense as you'd like it to be. We recommend wearing compression apparel, which aids your explosive movements and reduces muscle fatigue. Shoes designed for pavement use will also provide comfort and enhance your speed.


Beyond OCR: Trail Running, Functional Fitness, and Tests of Endurance

If you're looking for a different kind of challenge beyond Spartan and Tough Mudder obstacle course races, there are a host of incredible options. We have trail running, functional fitness competitions (DEKA), long-distance hiking (HIGHLANDER), 60-plus-hour cultural immersions (Agoge), team-based events (Hurricane Heat), Peak Races (including the famed Death Race), mountain bike races (La Ruta), paddleboard races (M20), and wrestling tournaments.