Even though you’re running about 85% of the time in a Spartan race, obstacles can make a big difference in your finish time. For the Elites, there’s no doubt that it’s all about maximizing proficiency, or being able to shave off every millisecond. For Age Group beginners, completion itself is more likely an issue. But for the competitive Age Groupers, while completion could still be a potential issue, it’s more likely a proficiency issue like the Elites. And more likely than not, there's room for improvement.
So, whether you’re looking to make the jump to Elite racing someday, want to podium in your Age Group, or just want to improve your own PR, some of this year’s Age Group winners from the first-ever Age Group-focused U.S. National Series, presented by USANA, have fundamental tips for getting over and through those obstacles faster.
Spartan Race Obstacle Tips from Age Group Hometown Heroes
1. The Tyrolean Traverse: Use Your Calves, Not Your Feet
According to Jacksonville's Sprint and Super first-place winner in the 55-59 Age Group Joe Rivera, proper technique with your hands and feet is critical on the Tyrolean Traverse (and even more so, your foot placement). The biggest mistake he sees is placing the heel of your foot on the rope instead of your calf.
“Fixing this will allow you to move efficiently on the rope which translates into faster speed,” he explains.
2. The Multi-Rig: Hit the Park
There are three keys to the Multi-Rig, Jacksonville's Sprint winner in the 35-39 Age Group, Catalina Brasil, says: full-body control, momentum, and grip strength.
“My advice is simply to practice,” she says.
That means, if you’re not simulating this obstacle in training, you’re missing out on the potential to improve. Dead hangs and pull-ups will help, but going through the actual motions is even better. Run to your nearest park and start putting in the work on the monkey bars.
3. The Olympus Wall: Take off Your Shoes
Access to an Olympus wall isn’t widely available. But according to Bruce Jackson, the first-place, 45-49-year-old male Sprint winner at Jacksonville, if you do have access, you’re at a huge advantage. The key?
“Do it in your socks,” Jackson says. “That will mimic the race conditions that you will most likely see in the actual events."
4. The Rope Climb: Save Your Upper Body
One way to climb a rope is to simply pull yourself up with brute strength, but according to Shane Terry, Jacksonville's Sprint winner in the 35-39 Age Group, you’re wasting energy doing it that way, and would benefit from learning how to climb using a foot lock method. Regardless of if it’s the “S” or the “J” method — that choice is yours — using your feet will help you preserve energy on the Rope Climb.
“Save your upper body strength,” he says. "That will reward you when taking on other obstacles."
5. The Twister: Don’t Lose Momentum
There are a lot of different ways to get the Twister done, Chrisa Dustman, the first-place Sprint winner in the 45-49 Age Group at Jacksonville, says. Practice all of them — sideways, backward, and forward — but focus on the one you’ll do on race day the most.
“Find your swinging rhythm and keep your momentum,” she says.
Need to know how else you should be training? Check out these 30+ training secrets from Spartan Age Group winners.