SPARTANS, ARE YOU READY?! SPARTAN RACE ARRIVES IN MALAYSIA!
The World’s Best Obstacle Race
The Reebok Spartan Race is the world’s leading obstacle racing series with over 130 events in 18 countries during 2014 alone. Typically, the races feature 3 distances;
– 5km course with 15 obstacles called the ‘Sprint’
– 13km course with 20 obstacles called the ‘Super’
– 20km course with 25 obstacles called the ‘Beast’. Participants can choose to enter for the competitive Elite heats or the Open heats for all fitness levels.
The first Spartan Malaysia race would offer only the Sprint distance. “How tough can it be?” I thought as I signed-up for the inaugural Spartan Race Kuala Lumpur together with my wife, Maryati.
Whatever the outcome, we have the Sports & Youth Minister, YB Khairy Jamaluddin, to thank for bringing into Malaysia, for the first time, this world-famous obstacle challenge as part of the first National Sports Day on 10th October 2015.
Tired, Wet & Thirsty
The first few obstacles were easy as we comfortably jumped over, ducked under, and climbed through a few low obstacles. After lulling us into a
sense of false security in the beginning, later on, we were hit with a never-ending barrage of muscle-straining obstacles which took the wind out of even the fittest competitors. We had to carry heavy bags of sand up and down hills. We had to scale 6 & 8 foot walls. We had to flip unbelievably heavy lorry tires.
We had to scale two-stories high towers. We had to crawl under barb-wires. We had to slide into a mud pit and clamber back up the slippery slope on the other side. We had to hoist heavy backs of sand on a rope two-stories up.
Halfway through, I had lost my wife in the malaise of tiredness, and I was sure that my wife would have quit out of fatigue or due to some injury. Although the sky was sun-less, the afternoon heat was punishing and it slowed the racers down significantly. At this point, the thought of quitting seemed like a favourable option. To add to our hardship, there were only 2 water stations on the course and we could not hydrate ourselves adequately. Moreover, besides making only water available at the water stations, the organisers should have provided sports drinks or electrolyte drinks too in order to help the tiring contestants replace the heavy lost of salt in our bodies. Other obstacles included spear-throwing, scaling-up hill slopes using ropes, carrying buckets full of rocks, and traversing a wall which required a good sense of balance and powerful hand-grip. The two most challenging obstacles were the one-story rope climb and the monkey bars. Many contestants, including myself, had failed or skipped these two extreme obstacles, and as our penalty, we had to complete 30 burpees which was as tiring as the obstacles themselves.
Leave No One Behind
It is in our human DNA to help someone in need, and it was really uplifting to witness strangers giving a helping hand to a struggling contestant. Perhaps, this act of compassion was one of the important lessons of being a true Spartan.
About 2 km to the finish line, we had to hike up a jungle trail. The natural canopy sheltered us from the heat and kept us cooler in the shade. Almost reaching the trail summit, I saw a guy sitting on the ground, and he was grimacing in pain. He told me that he was suffering severe muscle cramps. I told him not to worry, and advised him to take deep breaths to lower his heart rate & to conserve his energy. After he had few minute rest, I put one of his arm over my shoulder to ease pressure on one of his leg, and he used a piece of wood as support for his other leg. Then, we walked slowly together to the bottom of the hill. By this time, he had recovered well enough to complete the last 3 obstacles & cross the finish line, and graduate to be a Spartan. Could this be the Spartan’s way to remind me that it is not important whether you win or lose but how you play the game? Afterall, the whole purpose of the National Sports Day is to build a fitter and healthier nation, and we cannot do it alone.
Quitting Is For Losers
After collecting my Finisher Medal and T-shirt, I was looking around for my wife. Then, it dawned on me, “what if she had not quit and she is still making her way through the course?”. Swiftly, I made my way back to the finish line.
There, I could see this female covered in mud, jumping energetically over the last fire hurdle and gleefully skipping to the finish line with arms raised and her joyful face full of relief and satisfaction. “Could it be?” – I asked myself.
As I walked closer to her, I rubbed my eyes to get a clearer view, and to my surprise, it was Maryati, almost unrecognisable from her muddy appearance. Admittedly, I felt guilty for doubting my wife’s ability to finish the course, and promised myself to not make that same mistake again. Only at that moment, I could completely relax, and bask in the glory of reaching our newfound status of Spartan. The next big task was to get ourselves cleaned-up. Fortunately, there was a big fire truck with firemen hosing down the muddy Spartans. It was refreshingly fun being hosed down by the high-pressure hose. In no time, the mud was removed from our clothing. Then, it was time to gather our belongings and take the shuttle bus back to Setia City Mall where we had parked our car.
A Microcosm of Life
When I reflect back on my first Spartan Race, I now understand why they have such a huge following around the globe. It is not only because the race pushes people beyond their comfort zones and tests our physical & mental limits. On a deeper level, their obstacles represent the challenges that we face in life. How well we progress in the race, as in our lives, will depend on how well we deal and overcome these challenges. However, unlike the inequality of life, in the Spartan arena, everyone is treated the same, and what we get out of it will depend directly on our willingness to work hard for it.
Feeling Fully Re-Charged
Having completed the Spartan Race, I feel a renewed sense of greater self-esteem and a better appreciation of my strengths & weaknesses. Based on my eye-opening Spartan Race experience, I feel that I could and should push myself more to be a better person to my family, friends and to my community.
In The News
The Star published my article on my virgin Spartan Race entitled, “Spartan suffering” on 17th October 2015 which included a comic sketch specially commissioned by Running Toons
About The Author
Gus Ghani is an internationally certified HIIT Fitness Coach and a Compressport Brand Ambassador. LIKE Happy Runner
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