Spartan racing helps athletes battle challenges


Spartan Racing

Steps to Success advisor Melissa Sirin jumps over a flaming bed of wood during a spartan race. According to Sirin, she loves this sport because it is constantly challenging her in new ways.

Tina Little, Sports Editor

Eight-foot wall climbs, 20-foot rope climbs, barbed wire crawls, monkey bars, swinging rings. One of the few places you will find these daunting obstacles is in a Spartan Race.

Spartan races are obstacle course competitions held all over the US and in 42 countries around the world. Within Spartan racing, there are three types of competitions: a sprint, which is around three miles; a super, which is around eight miles and a beast, which is around 13 miles. For competitors at the high school, participating in Spartan Races changes their mindset and impacts different aspects of their lives.

Steps to Success adviser Melissa Sirin is an accomplished Spartan racer, ranking top 20 worldwide and top five in the US. Sirin started Spartan racing in 2015 after a friend recommended it, and her first race was a beast on Mount Killington.

“I just fell in love with it and I started CrossFit a couple months later to get stronger,” Sirin said.

According to Sirin, CrossFit improved her upper-body strength. She runs every other day, including a long run on the weekends and hill running.

Sophomore and Spartan racer Lance Boyer said good grip-strength helps with obstacles like bucket-carries and monkey bars. According to Boyer, training can be difficult because athletes cannot train for specific obstacles since competitors are not told what will be at the race.

“It’s a very cool sport because it’s constantly changing and it’s very new,” Boyer said. “There’s not one specific way to train for it everyone has their own way of doing it.”

According to Bridge Alliance teacher Brendan McCarthy, training for Spartan races is different because it is based on self-motivation.

“You might run with a few friends but it’s not like you and your friends are together everyday, training together,” McCarthy said. “You have to set your own schedule and create your own workout routine.”

In terms of school work, Boyer said training does not negatively impact his routine.

“After training, studying becomes a lot easier because you don’t have anything else to do anyways and your brain’s working a lot faster,” Boyer said.

Boyer trains by running, doing volume training like weight lifting and cardio. He started Spartan racing in 8th grade when his uncle took him to his first race.

“No training at all [my uncle] just pulls me into Fenway and we do a 5k version,” Boyer said. “I just got hooked on it.”

In fact, Sirin believes that Spartan racing encourages people to move and is great for motivation.

“I know so many people that have done one Spartan Race and it’s changed their mindset,” Sirin said. “It’s gotten them out of depression, it’s gotten them out of obesity, it’s just a really amazing concept.”

For Sirin, Spartan racing has helped her overcome difficult aspects of her life. She started after her dad passed away in 2015 and used racing as a sort of therapy.

“It was a way for me to say to myself, ‘Wow, my dad couldn’t breathe for an entire year and didn’t tell any of us that he was sick and here I am on top of Mount Killington huffing and puffing and I can’t breathe,’” Sirin said. “It makes me push harder when I think of my dad and the struggles that he went through.”

McCarthy said that one of the best parts of Spartan racing is the sense of accomplishment once you have finished it. One time, he finished a race after spraining his ankle part of the way through.

“I sprained [my ankle] pretty early on, right after the first mile, but I really wanted the “Spartan finisher” T-shirt and the pride of finishing it,” McCarthy said. “So I finished it but I had to hobble throughout the whole thing.”

Overall, Sirin says she relates the obstacles on the Spartan racing course to obstacles people face in real life.

“I don’t want people to think that they have to be half marathoners or heavyweight lifters,” Sirin said. “If you can believe that you can do something, you can do it.”