The Internet really lit up a few weeks ago when Spartan announced rule changes. I've seen arguments on both sides.People are upset and some are happy.
What does it really mean?
What is the reality of these changes?
And why even have the changes?
Yesterday I got to participate in the West Point Spartan Sprint, you my recap here. It was one of the first two racesunder the new rules. The other race was, of course, the North American Championship in West Virginia.
Since I got to actually experience the new rules, I will tell you what I think about them and what I really thinkSpartan it trying to accomplish.
The main goal, I think, is to make the race is a little bit faster and avoid some areas of congestion. They are alsofurther clarifying how some obstacles must be completed and of course reviews are handled. FInally, these changesmake the race just a little more accessible to newcomers.
If you know anything about obstacle course races, especially in open class heats and sometimes even an age group,congestion around some obstacles could be problematic. For example, when I reached the Blue Mountain sandbag carrythere was a 5+ minute wait for sandbags.
Let's go look at the Atlas carry. Traditionally, the atlas carry has been:
- pick up the big stone ball (now rubber ball in the stadium series)
- carry it roughly 15-20 feet
- drop the ball.
- do 5 burpees
- picked the ball back up
- carry back to the start
It takes time, a lot of time to complete these requirements. I've the done the math on the time. It typically take 30to 45 seconds for me to complete. For the record I can do 15-20 burpees a minute during a race.
I can see a lot of open class people taking a minute, maybe minute and 1\2 to complete the obstacle.
By eliminating the burpee step, it takes out 15-30 seconds for the average racer to complete. Plus, you no longerneed to lift the ball a second time.
By speeding the obstacle completion time it frees up stone. What happens during the busy part of the Spartan day,typically early open class timeframe, the atlas carry can get kind of backed up because people have to sit and waitfor enough stones to be available. I have had this happen to me a couple times when I've been taking open classheats over the last couple of years, so I appreciate the change.
Yes, it's less of an actual challenge, I get that. But it's all about, trying to be able to get the flow of the racegoing so the majority has a good experience.
The next big change is the bucket carry. Spartan has not allowed us to carry the buckets up on our shoulders like wedo the sandbags and logs.
The rumor on the Internet is that not carrying on your shoulder keeps you from pinching a nerve or artery/vein orsomething like that. Obviously, if you pinch an artery blood can't flow to your brain, you're gonna pass out, andthat's not good. If you pinch a nerve that can have evidently long lasting effects, not to mention hurt.
I guess the they finally figured out that that wasn't really high probability. Plus, they're already letting us carrythe sandbags and the logs on our shoulders, and nothing really has happened there.
What I actually thought the reasoning might be is a higher chance people will drop the buckets and they'll roll downa hill, taking out a number of racers. I think that's just pure me, anecdotally trying to theorize.
Before I went to West Point I practiced doing the bucket carry on my shoulder for the first time at
So what was the race reality?
Well, the bucket carry loop at West Point started off on a nice gravel road, which I was able to move down veryquickly. The course then took you through the woods a little bit.
In the woods I found it was easier to carry the bucket the traditional way in front of you. You have just a littlemore control over the bucket while you're trying to negotiate the loose rocks and and get get around the tree limbsetc.
Once I got clear of technical terrain I just threw the bucket back in my shoulder for the last 100 feet or so tocarry it back.
I am really excited about the bucket carry change. Just being able move the bucket around to reposition it a littlebit helps so much. I think I won't have to put the bucket down on most courses.
Again this will relieve some course congestion. But I also think it makes this obstacle more approachable andacheiveable to OCR noobs, which Spartan and other OCR brands must keep attracting.
Do I recommend carrying a bucket on your shoulder? When its terrain feasible and of course, switching around asneeded.
Spartan has also made the dunk wall mandatory. I never knew it was optional. But I guess I can see why it andpossibly the A-Frame have not been required. Some people just are too afraid of going under water, just like theyare afraid of heights.
You want to do the dunk wall folks, it makes for great photos!
Another rule clarifications is that you cannot climb up the vertical sides of the trusses on rigs like the multi-rig,Twister and monkey bars and so forth. You can use anything that's horizontal. This also goes for the A-frame, so youcan't technically grab the vertical truss to climb up.
I would say the A-Frame clarification stems from a Ryan Woods situation at Jacksonville this year. I think that'swhat got him in trouble at end of that race. I thought I saw myself actually do it during my open class lap. Inormally grab the vertical straps and was hugging the vertical truss in the middle. I was just instinctivelygrabbing the vertical strap and noticed I was actually grabbing the that the vertical trust
You can step on the horizontal, anything horizontal All the rigs have horizontal truss bars to get started.Evidently, using the vertical supports on rigs is a problem with people trying to climb up the vertical sides of thetruss like a ladder. Personally, I've never seen anyone do it.
Herc hoist got a rule clarification. I don't think this will really change anything as far as I can tell. But youhave to keep your hips below the fence surrounding the obstacle. I guess there have been a few athletes more or lessusing the top of the barriers as leverage to bring the rope down.
By that I mean they must almost stand on the fence and drop their bodywieght all the way down. Its a pretty riskymove if you ask me.
Another rule change, that really just applies to elites and age group competition is no third party video review.This has come up a few times publically and I have to think many other times we don't know about.
Spartan has actual officials and cameras on the course. They will let those resources the actual arbiters of 'didthey break a rule or not' kind of thing?
You can think about this as if fans in the stands at a major league or NFL game ran to the umpires or referres withtheir phones demanding they change a ruling from the video they took.
I got to experience the new rule changes at West Point this weekend. I have to tell you they made the race moreenjoyable and eliminated some areas of congestion.
I would love to hear what your thoughts are on these changes. Hit me up on social media or send a comment thorugh thesite and let me know what you think about the late summer 2019 Spartan Race rule changes.