The Spartan Race – what happened when Healthista writer Lisa Buckingham tried the tough adventure obstacle race

Have you mastered marathons? Do you envy the children on the playground equipment? Lisa Buckingham tells us about her experience doing the Spartan Race over obstacles and through rough terrain

I could have spent my Sunday having a nice roast dinner, taking the kids to the playground, ambling in the sunshine. Instead, I chose to crawl under barbed wire and do an open-water swim in my full running kit. I did the Reebok Spartan Race.

spartan for post

A worldwide obstacle race series, you can choose from Sprint (3+ miles; 20+ obstacles), Super (8+ miles; 24+ obstacles on tougher terrain) and Beast (12+ miles; 30+ obstacles). I chose the Super and persuaded three girlfriends to make up a team with me. You can race as an individual but there’s something so much better about sharing groans and admiring each other’s strength as you carry an enormous log around a field, try to shimmy up a rope, throw javelins and claw your way up a muddy slope carrying a bag of gravel.

Why, why would you do this, I hear you say. Because it’s so much fun. Honestly.

Why, why would you do this, I hear you say. Because it’s so much fun. Honestly. Running through the woods with friends, wet and grubby, and sliding about on mud that was sometimes deep enough to lose a shoe in was like being a child again.

Don’t be put off by the images of muscled men if you visit the website. As long as you’re not an elite who’s aiming to win, there’s no time pressure, and you just need to be fit enough to get around the course. I run 5-10K three times a week and that was enough to get me around.

The friendly, having-a-laugh atmosphere of the race also means that fellow racers are more than willing to help each other over obstacles

You will need a certain amount of upper-body strength, though, and part of the appeal of the race was expanding my usual weekly runs by adding upper body work. Many runners are fit and strong, but lack upper body strength, so it’s the ideal motivator for adding in a few press-ups after a run, and practicing pull-ups (I found a bar to do these on at the local playground).

There were a few obstacles that we failed (who knew monkey bars were so hard?), and we did the penalty burpees, but there was no shame in that. The friendly, having-a-laugh atmosphere of the race also means that fellow racers are more than willing to help each other over obstacles, and we all stepped on a fellow competitor’s hand for a leg-up over a vertical wall or shoved someone’s bottom up a slippery slope.

spartan 2 post

The only downside was a 40-minute queue for one obstacle, but the organisers have promised to review that for next year.

We finished with an exultant leap over fire (yes, actual fire) and there was much elation as we posed, filthy and tired, for a photo with our impressively chunky medals. We are now officially Spartans. You could be too.

spartan final


More from Lisa Buckingham:

11 summer health and fitness products that ACTUALLY work

REVIEWED: Sleek Technique the new ballet barre fitness workout

Do compression tights REALLY work? We test the best

The triathlon YOU could do

Lisa-buckingham-230x300Lisa Buckingham is a health and fitness journalist for national newspapers and magazines. Follow her on Twitter at @lisabuckingham1



< Back

Also in this week’s magazine

sarah lindsey FEATURED

9 benefits of weight training this celebrity PT wants you to know

From serious fat loss to an increased metabolism, celebrity PT and former Olympian Sarah Lindsay of Roar Fitness, explains why weight training is just. so. important 

winter essentials featured

12 winter fitness gear essentials

From the £30 toastie warm jacket to the must have fleece leggings, we have you properly covered in the cold

Postnatal Yoga - a 40 minute routine from super-yogi Hannah Barrett FEATURED

Postnatal Yoga – a 40 minute routine for new mums

As part of our exciting new Healthista Expert Collective, top London yoga teacher has a delicious practice for new Healthista mums

Dina's Transformation week 6 FEATURED (1)

How to break a weight loss plateau – Body transformation week 6

Dina is half way through her 12 week body transformation and has now lost a total of 6.8 kilos, that's over a stone in just six weeks.

Dina's Transformation week 5 FEATURED

What to eat to lose weight – transformation week 5

Dina Hinar has lost almost six kilos in five weeks on her body transformation with trainer Terry Fairclough - here is exactly what she eats to lose weight 


Yoga for anxiety – a 20 minute routine from super-yogi Hannah Barrett

This yoga for anxiety routine from yoga teacher Hannah Barrett aka Yoga Girl London takes just 20 minutes and will calm your nerves fast

Latest Video Series


Wellness Weekly

I agree to my personal data being stored and used to receive the Healthista newsletter.