5 Signature Spartan Obstacles You Love to Hate

By: Steffen “Cookie” Cook

You’ve covered three miles, climbed hills, crawled under barbed wire that your shorts and skin got caught on, and even hoisted something that felt like it weighed more than you do while 50 feet in the air. You’re tired, beaten, bruised, and possibly bloodied. Before you stands the Rope Climb obstacle — staring at you like a monument to all that is punishing. You climb into the muddy pit, select a rope and stand underneath and look up to sky. That cowbell at the top that you need to ring may as well be on the moon.


1. Rope Climb

Many of you agreed on the misery and difficulty of the Rope Climb, which is why it was recently voted the obstacle the Reebok Spartan Race community loves to hate. Conquering this immovable object is simple in theory, but executing such a feat is not only difficult, but it infuriates and mocks racers in equal measure.


Reebok Spartan Race conducted a poll among the four regions of the United States (Northeast, Midwest, South, and West) and asked what obstacle they loved to hate the most. For three weeks the votes kept coming in and the results made for some very interesting reading.

When discussing the Rope Climb and the pit of water it proudly stands over, Sarah Sant-Thacker of West Jordan, Utah, surmised the frustration many racers have saying, “the rope! I climb it like a champ at the gym, but always slip at the race! Grrr!”


2. Bucket Carry

In second place, the polls showed – to the surprise of some – that the Bucket Carry was only a few votes away from the Rope Climb. Again, an obstacle that seems simple in theory remains a struggle for racers. The cumulative depletion of energy on the arms and legs put the Bucket Carry in good company with the Rope Climb. Tim Morris of Canton, Ohio expressed his displeasure for this particularly testing obstacle saying, “I assumed it would be bucket carry hands down. Just have to grind it out, but it can be grueling, especially if you do multiple laps. My lower back doesn’t care for it.”


3. Spear Throw

In third place sat the dreaded Spear Throw, or as we at Spartan Race like to call it: “The Burpee Maker.” Again, the task seems simple enough – throw a spear straight and hard enough to stick into a bale of hay. Gary Lutwen of Irvine, California recalled the ways this particular obstacle hits both extremes, “When I miss it, I’m pissed off at the universe. When I hit it, I’m happy. Then I go home and watch YouTube videos of the dude that can nail it three different ways, and, well, yeah!”


4. Clif Multi-Rig

The newcomer for most loathed obstacle was the Clif Multi-Rig, which really came out of the woodwork to nab the fourth spot – making many “frenemies” along the way. Jared Tan of Newbury Park, California says his shoulders slump when he sees it on the horizon. “That Multi-Rig is a beast,” he said. “I have only conquered it once out of two tries. I was totally wiped.”

Look out for this bad boy of an obstacle as it is sure to move up the ladder board in the next year.

5. Z-Wall

An honorable mention in fifth place goes to the Z-Wall. Ever since the Traverse Wall grew extra corners in an attempt to catch the racers off guard, it has quickly become an obstacle that demands a little more begrudging respect. David Donald Dummer of Round Lake Beach, Illinois bemoaned and attributed his frame as the reason why the Z-Wall always gifts him an obstacle failure penalty. “I’m too tall to accomplish the Traverse Wall without holding on to the top, which isn’t allowed. I go straight to burpees!”


Reebok Spartan Race is always innovating new ways to test racers to go beyond their limits so we’ll surely be revisiting this topic next year!

Which obstacle will give you the most grief? Sign up now, and find out!