Spartan Race Balls

They think they have balls, and it may look like they have balls, but they don’t because they haven’t yet figured out how to use them.

I am not speaking metaphorically here, but rather about the new(ish) softball attachments on their Rigs. In theory, it’s a good idea to make the obstacle tougher and introduce some more variety, but in practice…different story.

What I saw at the first SRUSCS was a very mixed bag. I saw Ryan (and maybe Hobie – tough to see with the camera angle) using the balls as they are meant to be used i.e. grabbing the ball, not the chain above it. Done that way, it is a tough piece of apparatus. In fact, Ryan’s advice to Lindsay, as she ran towards the Rig, was that the balls were slippery and tough to grip and that very likely both she and Alyssa would fail, so she should just tag the Rig and start burpees.

As we all saw, Alyssa cleared the Rig and went on to her first Series win. However, it appeared that she was grabbing the chain and using the ball as a backstop. Done this way, it’s even easier than a nunchuk or short rope attachment, because you can’t slip off. Before y’all jump down my throat, I am NOT tossing any accusations at Alyssa nor any other racer. I have no idea what, if any, rules were communicated to the racers and marshals regarding acceptable methods for negotiating the softballs. I am assuming that Alyssa did it properly since there was nothing said by the marshals on the course nor by race officials after the event.

However, that flies in the face of what Ryan did, and especially what he said to Lindsay. He clearly thought that racers needed to grab the balls and could not grip the chains. So which is it?

Spartan needs to address and clarify this ASAP in order to make future races fair. There is a huge difference in difficulty between the two techniques. If the intent is to make the Rig tougher, then using the chain needs to be strictly forbidden and – even more importantly – consistently enforced. Yes, I know this means even more marshals making judgement calls that can decide races. In this case, however, I think a simple design change of the ball attachment could solve the problem.

Or, this being Sparta…

Peter Dobos

Researcher / Community Manager / Writer at Obstacle Course Training
I am lucky enough to work with the best OCR racers on Earth: Ryan Atkins, Jonathan Albon, and Matt Murphy.
I am a Knowledge Junkie, Adventure Racer, Writer, Procrastinator, Coach, and Online Research Ninja.
My evidence-based Realism is tempered by Hope.
I am a Secular Humanist who hates labels and loves Irony.
I live in Canada and don't own a hockey stick.

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