Recently Spartan mentioned that they would be adding a second “short course” to the World Championships in Vermont, that the top 20 men and women would compete in just hours after finishing the Beast race. Here is the statement:
“After the Beast the top 20 men and women from the elite category will run multiple laps on a short course that will be very obstacle heavy. The person who finished in 20th place will have the shortest rest time before being forced out into the next course” -Joe Desena (page 36 of the August edition of Spartans digital magazine)
In the interest of preserving the health of the elite athletes I would like to petition Reebok Spartan Race to reconsider this “Sprint” race for the elites.
It was said by one person that this is akin to taking the top 20 people from the Boston marathon and having them run a 5k time trial hours later.
Another person noted: “At the Wintergreen event this last weekend, which is easier and about half the distance of the Vermont Beast, a number of the top 20 finishers had injuries and only gutted through the finish based on sheer willpower. Asking them to go back out and run another event would simply not be possible.
Hunter McIntyre busted up his ankle and drove himself to a second place finish. But I saw him an hour later and he was struggling to walk. How could he have gone out and run another race?”
And another: “The problem here is that Spartan is creating an atmosphere where the odds of getting injured are VERY high. TOO high. Athletes wanting to earn money in this sport shouldn’t be put in that position.”
The Vermont Spartan Beast is one of the worlds premiere athletic events, and short, spectator friendly Obstacle Races are desperately needed for television to introduce the the industry to the world, but combining them in this particular way is not healthy for the athletes. The physiological response to hours of brutal exercise such as will be required by those “racing” the Vermont Beast, followed hours later by a maximum intensity short sprint course will be disastrous.
I predict that if indeed the top 20 men and women do “race” the Beast, and then also attempt to truly “race” the sprint course afterward, that half of them will end up injured. An expected 50% injury rate is simply irresponsible, and as far as I’m concerned, abusive.
There has been quite the lively discussion on the matter on facebook concerning this, and the opponents to my position basically have 3 arguments:
(1) STFU and just do whatever Spartan says, no one hired you to be the safety director anyway.
(2) you don’t know that half of the athletes will get injured.
(3) this is an extreme sport, there are supposed to be risks involved. If you don’t like it, stay home.
To them I say:
(1) No, I haven’t been hired to be concerned with athletes health. Obviously no one has, and no one else is willing to take the job on, so I stepped up because I care to see this “sport” thrive, and that can’t happen if the athletes aren’t reasonably taken care of.
(2) Will 50% of the athletes walk away injured? No, because they won’t truly race both events. Most will pace themselves through the Beast intentionally saving some strength and energy for the sprint course. This will diminish the glory of the Beast and cause it’s own set of problems, but that’s a whole other issue…..
But, if they did try to “race” both events, then yes, 50% would get injured. I challenged anyone to dispute that claim by asking the top 20 athletes from last years Beast, and this years Virginia Super if their bodies would have held up if they would have had to “race” a short sprint course just hours later. No one took the challenge. I even directly asked a couple of top athletes that were opposing my concerns, and they refused to dispute my claim.
(3) Yes, there are risks, as with anything in life. But to create something designed to injure half of your competitors is not healthy. Could we just choose to stay home? Absolutely, yes we could, but the last time I checked, Spartans Mission was to get people off of their couches, not send them back to them.