A couple of weeks ago I read a post about the Spartan Race Vermont Beast (Relentless Forward Commotion) and it got me thinking. (Well, a lot of things get me thinking...but I digress!) Every obstacle race, Spartan race in particular because of the dreaded burpee penalty, is subject to racers cheating or, in their minds, simply skipping the brutal parts. And no, I'm not talking about the elite racers here at all. That's a whole different story...with no shortage of posts, FB rants and drama. When you're racing for money the rules are the rules....period. The fact is though, that Spartan Race has been having to deal with two diametrically opposed markets for a few years now. After all, in the end it's a business and you have to keep your customers happy....all your customers!
|Vt Beast 2013 gps map courtesy of Paul Jones|
In the first group, you have the serious non-elite racers looking for the next challenge. They may be running a few races a year (and if they show up for the Vermont beast, multiple races is all but guaranteed!) and they're paying too much money to be running a course that "I've already done.......twice!". Personally, I almost skipped the Spartan Sprint at Tuxedo this year for that very reason. (Spartan Sprint at Tuxedo.....Round 4.....Expecting the Unexpected). I mean, how many times can you get a thrill proving yourself on the same mountain? If you don't change up the course and make it a bit more challenging for these racers they'll find something else to do.
So in the end, what we may actually be left with is a brilliant move by Spartan Race (or possibly a "New Coke formula" stroke of luck...who knows?). But by not enforcing the rules they are, in a way, meeting somewhere in the middle. Serious racers can do all the obstacles, the penalties and know that they've truly completed a tough course. At the same time, the casual racer can have some fun and feel a sense of accomplishment without having to endure the STFU punishment typically associated with a race. Can't help feeling like this is a win-win...and the old-schoolers will have to get passed the fact that some people are just not that into "embracing the suck"!
For those interested, here are my thoughts on what Spartan Race was thinking by building such a brutal Vermont course in 2013 (Vermont Beast - 2013 - And Who Were They Building This Course For Anyway?!). Now, I'm off to the Everglades for some relaxing photography work.