A Bunch of Cheaters

How to do burpees

Cheaters suck.

In competition, there is little that is more frustrating than losing to someone who has cheated.

For Obstacle Racing to become a legitimate “sport” and a valid test of competitive superiority among its athletes, there must be standards that are met by all participants. When participants take it upon themselves to ignore the rules of competition, chaos ensues, doubts are raised, and conflicts develop.

Don’t be a cheater.

Attempt Every Obstacle

If you sign up for an obstacle race, you should expect to attempt every obstacle. In this writer’s opinion, if you KNOW you cannot swim, don’t sign up and just skip the swimming obstacle. Instead, find another race.

There is no shame in failing; but there is plenty of shame in first, glancing around to see if anyone is looking, and then, waddling past a 8-foot wall because you don’t want to make a fool of yourself struggling up the obstacle like a stranded seal in San Francisco Bay.

OCR is a supportive community. If you are willing to try, there a hundred athletes behind you, all ready to help you achieve that goal. If that means squatting on all fours and creating a step-ladder for you to get over that wall, or cupping the hands to give you a lift, or even collecting a group to toss your big ass over, athletes in the community will be there for you.

Even better, they’ll high-five you on the other side, tell you what a great job you did, and move on.

That’s the experience you came for when you signed up for an obstacle race, isn’t it?

Complete Your Obstacle Penalties

Most races do not have obstacle penalties. I could write an entire piece about this subject as in my humble opinion, a race with no penalties is no valid race at all – it’s just a trail run.

Spartan Race is probably the most well-known obstacle race series in which penalties can be a major factor in race performance and finish time. Typically, failing or skipping a major obstacle in a Spartan Race will result in the participant being ushered to the sidelines to complete thirty [30] full-range burpees.

They key here is “30”, and “full-range”, but what is really going on is anything but.

Is Counting To 30 An Obstacle?

It sure seems that way.

Next race, meander on over to a monkey bar obstacle, rope climb, or wall traverse and watch the crowds of obstacle failures attempt their set of burpees. Let me know if you find more than 1 out of 5 that are actually completing their obstacle penalty, because I’ve never seen it.

Why should that seemingly fit girl in purple tights get to short her burpee count, when a far less fit athlete, is struggling through her burpees, as instructed?

At one race, I informed a girl from the sidelines, “hey – that was only 14 burpees.”

Her response? “I have to catch up to my friends.”

There’s something wrong with that, isn’t there?

A Burpee Is Not A Squat Thrust

There is almost an infinite number of videos on YouTube displaying proper burpee form, but in short, the bottom of the burpee should have the athlete on the ground, full legs, hip, and torso contact, with the top of the movement consisting of an open hip, and controlled jump into the air.

That is a legit burpee.

You’ll find people who throw their legs behind them, into a high-butt plank, and then jump right back up, and do it again.

That’s not a legit burpee. No rep.

You’ll find people who flop to the ground, roll side-to-side to get themselves up, and then with a muted hip, start the process over. No open hip, no jump, and in my opinion, no rep.

Who Cares, Cranky?

I care.

I’m hardly an elite racer and I’ve never seen the podium in OCR, but I do run the elite heats, and in these heats more than anywhere, I expect a higher level of competitive integrity. The problem stems from the the top, to the back of the pack, and I would like to see our community police it more, and especially when there is money involved for the top finishers.

Look at every OCR race web site out there. What is the overarching theme?

“Toughness.”

“Dig deep and challenge yourself.”

“Achieve the seemingly impossible.”

I have yet to see a race that promotes,

“Super easy obstacles.”

“30 burpee penalty (unless you don’t want to).”

“Anyone can do it!”

Why? Because most obstacle course races want to be viewed as true tests of one’s physical, mental, and emotional capability under the duress of challenging competition – whether vs. oneself or other racers.

Cheating in an obstacle race only cheats one person – yourself. You are the one that has to lay in bed, stare at the ceiling, and asterisk your own race finish, right?

Now It’s Your Turn

So I ask the community, how much cheating do you see? How has it affected you or your race, and better yet, what can we do to curb it? Let us know in the comments below. Remember the OCR community is YOUR community and rest assured that the race directors are watching and reading.

Speak up to drive change.

 

Cranky Bastard is a weekly editorial feature of Obstacle Racing Media, written by a member of the OCR community, to share personal thoughts, experiences and opinions regarding obstacle racing. Got an opinion? Let ’em have it. 

Latest posts by Cranky Bastard (see all)

Comments

  1. Unless I am an elite racer, with money in the line, if someone cheats, why should I let it effect me? They know they cheated, it’s not changing my race. Have I skipped obstacles? Yes. 99.9% of the time I’ve at least attempted every one. I have to modify burpees because of a former injury, should I just never enter a race because I can’t?

    • Because you affect other people’s time and rankings for their age and gender. Those are the rules. Hey i ran a marathon last week but i really hate doing the last 4 miles so i hopped a cab. My race right, i can get a medal right?!? Rules are rules. There are plenty of “fun mud runs” that dont have rules.

      • Please tell me how modifying a burpee by not shooting out my foot which yes, takes a hell of a lot longer to do, will mess up anyone’s rankings? I’ll never be first, but I’ll always finish. Whether I’m last or not.

        • My response was to your comment “Unless I am an elite racer, with money in the line, if someone cheats, why should I let it effect me?”

          I like to rank myself among women my age. Next year i’d like to do better. I’m not elite just trying to compete. That’s what Spartan Races are. I can’t tell you how many times i’ve need cheaters finish ahead of me. That affects me and my enjoyment of a Spartan Race as it is intended to be.

          I agree 100% with Cranky Pants, “I would say, that yes, you should not enter a Spartan Race if you are not willing, nor cannot, complete the tasks expected of participants.”

          To compare to a road race again…would you compete in a marathon if you couldn’t run 26.2 miles? Seems absurd but it’s the same thing. Those are the rules of the race.

          • @Tanya

            Preach it, girl. Your marathon example is perfect and indicative of the difference between established sports, and those sports that are still trying to find themselves. OCR is still trying to find itself in many ways.

            Ask the race director if you can skip the volcano in next year’s Fuego Y Agua Survival Race because it’s very hard, will slow down your time, and might prohibit you from finishing the race. See how that goes over…

            Good comment.

          • I’ve done a marathon. Im doing my second in october. And just completed my 11th half today, so the question is null.

          • Some people walk in a marathon when they can’t run…then they run again when they can. It’s not your business. It’s not your journey. Worry about your own self and quit being a control freak.

          • @Sarah: Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts, but I don’t think that analogy of marathon runners is even remotely relevant. There is nothing in the rules preventing a participant from walking, nor is there anything in Spartan Races that requires running vs. walking.

            However, a marathon does have rules, such as a time limit, for example. Fall behind the time limit and the SAG wagon pulls you off the course. Similarly, Spartan has rules at certain obstacles calling for a 30-burpee penalty before being allowed to continue competing in the race.

            A participate goes into the event knowing these rules. Choosing to say “F the rules,” and doing whatever you want shows a lack of character, integrity, and is, as the article states, cheating.

            Thanks.

            – Cranky.

          • I saw this article because of a person who did the Tough Mudder and was using it to say the same about the TM. I did the TM with this person who considers themselves quite superior to several on the team (myself included). I absolutely challenged myself more than I would ever have believed possible and will be doing another to try to do better. This is promoting an elitist attitude if you are applying it to the TM which does NOT have rules that state it is ‘cheating’ to go around an obstacle. People make that choice for different reasons and I will thank no one to judge me for mine. Incidentally, things I thought would be hard were easy and things I thought would be easy were hard and there is no reason I should not do the next TM even though this time I will NOT do the Arctic Enema because of my body’s extremely bad reaction to the first one. People have different abilities and it does not mean one cannot get stronger and better through learning more by experiencing it. I don’t need someone acting judge & jury over me…if I pay my money & do what I feel is the best I can after training as hard as I can …no one’s business but mine. Now if the Spartan Race has all kinds of different rules that are more strict than the Tough Mudder, then I guess the SR officials should be alerted to people ‘cheating’. But honestly, what this article sounds like is like my friend with the superiority complex. Is that person stronger, faster & more inclined to conquer all fears the first time? Sure. But that does not negate what MY accomplishment is and it does not give anyone the right to ‘police’…leave that to the race people. As you said, in a marathon, you have a certain length of time. This same friend of mine disagrees with the Galloway method (run a mile walk a minute) Acc. to this friend I didn’t really run a marathon. I am so sick of people acting sanctimonious. You can be an encourager or a person with a superiority complex. Leave the officials the job of policing and enforcing rules.

          • @Sarah – nope, TM was not mentioned because Tough Mudder does not impose obstacle penalties; however, I would argue that from an event integrity perspective, a participant should at least try each obstacle. That being said, that’s a matter of personal opinion, and individual participant experience, and I am not considering TM obstacle skippers cheaters. Personally, I believe TM caters more to the team mentality, and attracts that kind of participant more so than Spartan, which, while it does toss a nod towards teams, caters more to individual competition with others, or the course itself.

    • @Jessica

      Hi jessica, thanks for commenting.

      You asked, “…should I never enter a race because of it?”

      I would say, that yes, you should not enter a Spartan Race if you are not willing, nor cannot, complete the tasks expected of participants. Especially when there are a number of races out there without penalties. Not all races ask for burpees upon obstacle failure and I’m guessing they choose this more lenient approach to cater to those in the same, or similar, predicament.

      Now, before I have Spartan screaming at me, this is my individual opinion (and a few others), and I am a cranky you-know-what, so…

      • I guess I shouldn’t get my Trifecta on Saturday then. I should probably not respond since I am also cranky, and probably should have skipped the article altogether.

        • alderaic says:

          would you enter a marathon and ask for finisher time when doing only 30k out of the 42? or do you train properly for the 42k?

          Same thing here.

        • There is a lot of comments but I have to say if you skip a penalty then you didn’t finish. I read this post about a guy that got his trifecta and was so happy about it. But in his blog he gave details on each event and there was a trend that he would skip a obstacle because of some reason. It was to muddy it was to cold. I had to keep up with the group. Bla Bla Bla. If you try a obstacle and fail just to the penalty. Don’t show off saying you did the trifecta and had to skip burpees and obstacles because you thought you where going to hurt your self by falling off of a rope climb a d it was two muddy. Or you couldn’t get a grip. That’s just something you should have put into account. Do I have enough grip strength. So if your a cheater have fun for real that’s what’s it’s all about but but don’t consider it a completion. Say you finished. That blogger cheated in every one even the sprint. And has that stupid medal hanging in his room like a trophy. Have fun and be honest.

      • SR allows, and even promotes amputees to complete their races. If you are missing limbs, then you can’t do a “correct” burpee. So you’re basically saying that if your body isn’t fully functional, then you shouldn’t push yourself as far as you can? Or are you just viewing her situation differently because she has a smaller injury? Sorry, I think you’re full of crap with that point, and possibly a little discriminatory against people with disabilities…

        • @Amanda

          It’s ok to think I’m full of crap, but I take your attempt at throwing me under the amputee bus as a very cheap and opportunistic shot.

          First, I applaud the amputee participants. A huge fan of Team Extreme, for example. I’ve watched them at many races, parachuting in, and completing the race in gear, rucks, and of course the buddy-carry that gets shared all over the social networks.

          This post is in no way tossing stink eye in that direction, and I am pretty sure that no one is taking it that way – but perhaps I shouldn’t assume.

          Lastly, again having watched Team Extreme, they do everything they can – EVERYTHING – to complete an obstacle, AND their penalties, with no complaint. I’ve never seen such creative manipulation to overcome such limiting factors.

          I think there is vast difference between those obstacle-skipping / burpee-hiding, and those amputees and Biggest Losers folks who are all participating in mostly the same heat, and thus the expectation is far different.

          Good try, though.

          • I think a distinction should be made between people who have a permanent physical impairment from completing the penalty/obstacle and people who do not have a permanent physical impairment.

            It’s important to distinguish between permanent disability, temporary injury, and lack of physical conditioning. Modifications for permanent disability are ok, not for temporary injury or physical conditioning.

            Probably the difference I would make, would be that for competitive heat athletes with disabilities need to have Mods pre-approved by the race director, and non-competitive heat athletes simply be trusted on their honor to carry the Spartan/Tough Mudder/whatever spirit in making up their own modification.

            I’d be pissed if I found out I had a lower age/group place than someone who sprained their wrist 4 days before just skipped every obstacle that used 2 hands and swapped 8 count burpees for air squats. But I’d be inspired by someone who ran faster than me who lost their hand in Afghanistan.

          • @David S

            >>”I’d be pissed if I found out I had a lower age/group place than someone who sprained their wrist 4 days before just skipped every obstacle that used 2 hands and swapped 8 count burpees for air squats. But I’d be inspired by someone who ran faster than me who lost their hand in Afghanistan.”

            Well said.

          • alderaic says:

            burpees can be share with the team and team extreme is always doing all the burpees

          • I wasn’t sticking up for people who are “obstacle skipping/burpee hiding”. I was hoping you could take your blinders off and see that sometimes people have to make modifications to complete the challenge. Someone who has a lifelong knee injury (for example) may not be able to jump back when completing a burpee. They may have to walk one leg back. I think they deserve props for getting out there and completing it, and not told that they aren’t good enough to run the same race.

            Now if they are just UNWILLING, then I agree with you. But if they are physically unable to – that is what I disagree with. For example, I messed up my knee really badly at one race – about halfway through. I kept going (maybe I shouldn’t have, but I was too stubborn). I couldn’t complete the walls, but I did 30 modified burpees where I walked my legs out instead of jumping. I worked harder at that race then I have at any other race, and I don’t think I didn’t earn it because I wasn’t “physically able” to complete that obstacle/100% correct burpees.

            I do think that it is a little off that you can give an exception to some people, but not others when it comes to their physical ability. I’m pretty sure most people are there to prove something to themselves and not be judged by you… But I guess you disagree.

      • And El Fuego is not an event I’d participate in unless I was able to do it. That’s not even remotely comparable to me. I’d never try to race elite because that is not something I would be ready for any time soon. I’d like to point out, I never said anything about being worried about how long it took to complete the race.

    • Jessica I says:

      I’m with you Jessica! There are newer participants out there who are doing this for the first time. This is their goal they’ve worked up to and just making it to the finish line will be a challenge let alone the 60-90% of obstacles they’ll actually succeed at. If they modify or cheat their burpees but still push their limits and give it everything they have then they’ve earned their medal. Each person’s challenge is unique. I did my burpees at the Sprint, but skipped or modified many at Super because I ran the event with a stress fracture and didn’t want to further break it due to the pressure you put on your foot when you drop down into a plank. Since my foot is almost healed – burpees and me and going to get real intimate before my Beast this fall but that doesn’t mean I’m going to put down or get snarky at anyone I see skipping theres come race day.

      • @Jessica #2

        Ummm… am I going to be the only person who points out the ‘stress fracture’ participation element of this response?

        The ‘special treatment’ mentality coming across in some of these comments is mind-boggling to me as an athlete. I just don’t think that way, but it doesn’t make me right. It’s just my perspective on sport.

        • Robert Blenis says:

          I BROKE my ankle (not a small fracture, but clean through) at a Spartan Beast race, and still completed the remaining 12+ miles of the beast and every penalty burpee, modified to keep the broken ankle off the ground during the pushup, and then jumped on one leg to finish. There is no excuse for not doing the penalty if physically possible and without doing further injury to oneself – you do the penalty to the BEST of your ability. Skipping burpees to catch up with friends or because you are tired, etc is unacceptable, even in open waves – let your friends wait on you. It’s not just your position in this race – Spartan gives points in the OPEN waves, and people compete against others over the season as well. If you can’t complete the race properly, run the race and DQ yourself to not negatively affect others. Anyone not doing a race by the rules is CHEATING others, not just themselves. Others have paid money too, to see how they compare to the competition, otherwise we would all be running in the rain at our local trails for free.

        • Some of these comments amaze me. Now I know where the “everybody gets a trophy” or “there will be no winners or losers” mentality that seems to be invading youth sports today.

        • Steve finfrock says:

          So cranky I just did 2 5ks and a10k my first obstacle race ever is going to be a warrior dash this July 29th and after that me and a few others will be doing a Spartan super run Sept 9 since it’s in Michigan this year I’m excited to sign up for a Spartan race but a bit nervous I know I’m not going to do as well on some obstacles I’m just going to give it my best

      • I understand part of what Jessica is saying, that we shouldn’t discourage people from trying races that perhaps they cannot physically finish correctly. The problem comes when I check my own ranking among women in my age group and know that that rank doesn’t necessarily ring true because some people have cheated. I would really like to know where I stand with other athletes in my group, but cheating makes it not really possible. How can this be resolved?

      • Steve finfrock says:

        I’m doing my first Spartan race since it’s coming to Michigan I’m two things excited but a little scared I watched videos on Spartan racing it looks like a blast I did 2 5ks and a 10k and my first obstacle race is July 29 a warrior dash and the Spartan super run is what me and a few friends are doing Sept 9 I just want to do my best and try not to hold up my team lol

    • Don’t do a spartan race if you don’t want to do Burpees simple as that. There are many other mud runs out there were you don’t have penalties. I compete as an elite and try to place, if you skip out on your Burpees and do them half ass you will hear it from me. I’ve been at so many obstacles seeing people. Kick there feet back thinking its a Burpee. I 100% agree with cranky pants and this has been a huge topic between a group of us.

      • Steve finfrock says:

        So if one person can’t do a burpee because there struggling you look down on that Jen some people are not super fit and have a hard time but they give there money away and say ya I want to do this race I did 2 5ks and a10k my first obstacle race is a warrior dash in July and I’m doing the Spartan super in Sept and yes I’m nervous and excited I just lost 40lbs I might struggle a little but I want to finish for sure

    • I agree, I’m a participant not a competitor. I try them all and if I fail I do as many pees as I can. Then move on. Im 60 and truly wish I could do 120 but pees from the 4 obstacles I
      Can’t physically do to injuries from combat of just 40 years in the military.

  2. Everyone’s journey is their own. I agree that in the elite heats where there is sponsorship and money involved that there should be accountability. But if you want OCRs to just be about the “uber fit” and make it a closed group and diminish the number of participants then your idea of making every participant to 30 perfect burpees for a failed obstacle is a great idea. I want these races to be inclusive and if that means that on their fitness journey this is their first race and they can only achieve 5 burpees or 15 burpees then good for them. Who am I to judge.

    • @Nancy

      Ah, the “individual journey” response. I do love these, and while I will agree with you 100% that everyone’s journey is their own, it misses the point.

      The point comes down to race expectations. Looking at the Sacremento Beast race participant guide, it clearly states, “30 full burpees (with push-up) is the penalty for failing to complete an obstacle. Not squat thrusts. Your chest must hit the ground at the “bottom” of the movement and your feet must leave the ground at the ‘top’ of the movement.”

      There is not much ambiguity in there.

      Burpees are for ANYONE, and can be completed by ANYONE. The margin of difference is related to the speed in which 30 burpees can be completed.

      My contention is that anyone can do 30 burpees, but depending on strength, ability, fatigue, and/or a number of other factors, it will simply take some people MUCH longer than others – that, in and of itself, is not a valid reason for skipping them. It makes your race completion time truly indicative of how long it takes you to complete the course. The same course and rules as everyone else.

      Individual journey shouldn’t be confused with, “I can do whatever I want to, regardless of the parameters given to me.”

    • Paul Mitas says:

      Maybe have the Elite heat bibs different and have those at 30, and the rest of us non-super humans do 10 or 15. There are ways to do it, IF you are in the $ runs then those need to be done right, both number and form, if you are just out to have fun and prove something to yourself, then so be it.

      • If you want to have fun then do a race without time (ToughMudder) or a race without penalties (Mud Hero). Races have rules. I suck at Burpees. Takes me a while to pump out 30 at the end of the Spartan Beast. But I do it. I do it because I want to actually earn my medal and because those are the rules. I do it because I want to know how I actually stack up against the competition who is doing the same thing. No short cuts, no special treatment, NO CHEATING.

        • Exactly. I do the burpees for the same reason I don’t cut half a mile ahead when I see the racers ahead of me off on another trail. For the same reason I wouldn’t say I finished a marathon if I ran 22 miles and drove 4.2. EVEN if 22 miles was giving it everything I had.

          It’s a sport, there are rules. I don’t get how this is so hard to understand for some people. If someone gets injured in a marathon and are unable to continue moving forward, they DON’T get a finish.

          However, if someone signs up for a non-competitive heat (not 8:00 am) and is taking over 4 hours anyway I don’t care. Doing most of a Spartan Beast is still tough. If I am behind that person I am probably not competing anyway.

    • Steve finfrock says:

      I 100 percent agree with you on all that I have do 2 5ks and a 10k my first obstacle race is a warrior dash in July and I’m signing up with others for the Spartan super run which is in September 9 in Michigan so I’m excited and a bit nervous I know I’ll struggle a little but I’m sure going to do my best to finish everyone should be able to run any race without people looking down at them I just lost 40lbs and I’ll still be like oh I hope that if I have to do them which I’m sure I will lol there good enough burbees some people just have a hard time that’s all

  3. Wayne Tucker says:

    I also compete in the Elite heats and was shocked and pissed that while I was doing proper burpees 2 people next to me were not doing the push up. What made it worse was that the volunteers did not say a thing. I wish that the volunteers would enforce proper form in the Elite heats.

    • @Wayne

      Hello Wayne. I feel ya, but herein lies the problem – they are just volunteers.

      We love’em. Without volunteers, we wouldn’t be able to race in the woods, so I’m a fan of singing volunteer praises whenever I get the chance; but we can’t expect them to engage athletes, especially ones that may appear intimidating, during an event.

      I will do it. I’ll call out athletes cheating all day long, but I have a few screws loose and don’t really fear repercussion because I know I am doing the right thing.

      We must police ourselves. Or at the very least, it’s a great place to start.

    • I am guilty of not doing the jump at the end of the burpee. I do the push-up part but as the race wears on the jumps wore down a good bit

      • veganedge_ocr says:

        There is no rule or expectation on height of jump with Spartan. Feet just need to leave the ground. And although it’s not written a ton of the course marshalls will tell you hands have to get by your ears too. You can do it!

  4. Todd Sedlak says:

    I agree with where your heart is, but I take exception with two points.
    First, Spartan Race ensures that a high ranking paid staff member personally counts every burpee of at least the top 15 elite runners, both male and female. You are not getting a podium without doing legit burpees. I usually man the spear throw, the one place elites fail regularly, and I’ve been called some nasty things when I don’t count a bad rep.
    Second, if the only person being cheated is yourself, as you state, then why do you care?

    • @Todd:

      Thank you for the info on the top 15 and thank you for working in the behalf of the athletes. This is good information to know, although I have heard statements to the contrary at the podium level.

      Regarding the second question, “why do I care?” – well, for a couple of reasons, but most importantly, I believe it compromises the integrity of competition and limits growth. It’s not a free-for-all play date in the mud, it’s a competition. For our sport to ever be taken seriously, beyond turkey legs, 40 ounces and body casts of mud, there will need to be enforcement of standards.

    • alderaic says:

      about the only person being cheated, I do agree, but (love butts) I also race to improve, marathon or OCR, I try to up my %age etc… cheaters are blocking the way artificially when there is a lineup etc..
      And if they cannot win the race, then why cheat? hate burpees? hate the obstacle? then why sign up to begin with?

      I was expecting this at the sprints, but at the supers and beasts?

    • Why? Because someone else’s cheating affects my % ranking in the race.

      • Mister Gor says:

        Does your ranking even mean anything though? A lot of racers compete as part of teams, and really, you’re only beating the weakest link of that team. I ran the Illinois Spartan rash beast solo knowing full well there were others in my age group that could have gotten a better time than me had they not been hindered by their teammates. I don’t really feel like I beat them, regardless of what the results say, I just beat whoever was holding them up, which affects my % ranking in the race.

  5. There is one exception to attempting every obstacle that I think should be considered. There are water obstacles that I could make it through safely when I’m fresh, but if its past the 10 mile mark I may not be able to complete it safely. There is no dishonor in knowing that you don’t have enough left to do this safely, do your burpees and go on.
    The fact that I am not absolutely certain I can safely attempt every obstacle no matter what state of fatigue I am in should not relegate me to an easier race. If I can handle every obstacle but one of a Spartan Beast, why should I be limited to a Warrior Dash? For that matter, what pleasure is there in a challenge that you know you can crush easily? The glory is in doing things that you didn’t think you could do.

  6. Liz Brown says:

    To be honest I am too focused on my own race to worry about counting somebody else’s efforts. You cheat and get a medal and you will always know you cheated. As long as you and your team are doing your best who cares what others are doing? I have probably “lost” places in a race doing the burpees or cheering the rest of my team to finish theirs who cares? I had a good time and I pushed myself.

  7. alderaic says:

    at the spartans I see most people do 5 to 10 burpees sometimes with good form, most times not.
    I myself believe that the whole thing about going through the obstacle is similar to the run. cannot run 5k, then obviously you wont sign up for a marathon! cannot do monkeybars.. I’ll do three bars next time and four the one after? are you kidding me? And then I have to wait in line behind you!

    The issue is mostly over hype, many people want to do it and they are ok with failing 5 out of 15 obstacles.

    As for burpees, usually volonteers are telling you on how many you have to do (I slipped on the last monkeybar in the last super spartan, volunteer told me to do 10, and that’s the only obstacle I ‘failed’ )

    THe main problem lies in the cheer number of people doing these race, there will never be enough volunteers to check the participants and see if they fail AND count the burpees! and trust me at the spartans they do have a lot of volunteer unlike some other races, which is why IMO less popular races do not even try.

    I guess that optionnaly failing an obstacle could be switched to an additional 500 meter loop, that would probably be easier to check, though it would be a nightware to prepare the routes…

    Not sure if there is an easy answer on this one, and with recent cash incentives (250k for the killington beast…. trust me you will not see 30 burpees with proper form)

  8. Cheating is cheating. Do the burpee or at least there should be a time penalty enforced to equalize the field/effort.

  9. I can’t say that I’ve always done my 30 burpess but by God I do as many as I can (and that includes with a sprained wrist at the last race) and if I’m attempting and I only get 18 done before I know that I physically can’t do anymore…well, at least I’m out there off my ass doing something to improve my life.

    I can’t stand the word cheating. YES, if this was an actual sport and we weren’t paying to do it then you can call it whatever you want. But this is for the love of mud, for getting up and getting fit and doing the best you can to improve yourself for the next race so you can do even better.

    Are you saying if we can’t do 30 burpees for a penalty than we should be excluded from the Spartan race?

    This isn’t the first time I’ve seen the word “Cheat” used in regards to this and it just irks the hell out of me. I race as many weekends as I can and I bust my butt out there and watch others do the same thing. KUDOS to those who get up and get moving!

    • @Lilo

      I was wondering how long it would take for someone to admit it. Thank you, Lilo.

      It’s an amazing study in sociology to see how many people throw out how many excuses without ever coming right out saying, “yea, I’m guilty.”

      Bravo.

      >> “Are you saying if we can’t do 30 burpees for a penalty than we should be excluded from the Spartan race?”

      Cranky says yes. If you are not willing or able to satisfy the requirements of obstacle failure, then yes, you should select a different event. One that does not impose such penalties. Sorry, it just makes logical, sound sense to me.

      Now, I too applaud those getting out there and busting their humps on race day, but one can ‘bust their humps’ in training, first. Then, get to the point where they can satisfy the demands of the race.

      A race is not designed to be your training day. It’s designed to test your preparation for the designed course.

      • I agree here too. Spartan is a Race, not a fun run. Great on anyone trying to bust their humps and do the race. But like cranky said you need to be up to par race day. I can’t compare this enough to road races. If I train for a half marathon and try my best but call it quits at 10 miles cause I rolled my ankle. I dont get a medal. Period. This is the problem with society. We dont want to offend anyone do trophies for all!!! Yes it’s CHEATING when you dont follow the rules.

    • I think a lot of the aggravation is not against the people who “can’t”, but the people who “won’t”. I’ve seen several “unfit” people running these races, and I have no problem with them skipping burpees after they’ve done what they feel they can do. I’m going to pass them anyway somewhere and their race will not affect mine or my percentile. However, I’ve also seen many “fit” people skip or cheat on the burpee count just so they can keep moving. It’s these people who may affect my percentile, and I am trying to keep an honest track of how I improve or not in each race. “Cheating” is just not the spirit of these races.

      • This I can understand. To me, no matter what the OCR is, it’ll always be fun for me. I’m not there to compete, or give a crap about my time. I’m there to push myself, and get dirty. I help people along the way, and encourage people that just want to quit. I only care about my time for road races. But, why he says is because I need to modify, I never said skip, my burpees, I don’t belong there. Which is bullshit.

        • Never said you don’t belong, if you enjoy running the race that way all the pwoer to you. All he is saying, and most people here, is that you shouldnt be considered a finisher if you modify the rules stated by the RD. It is a slippery slope of what is fair modification.

          Run the race, have fun, be fit, stay in shape, push yourself, help friends, help strangers, but if you modify elements of the race obstacles than you should end up with a DNF, pretty simple.

    • Paying an entry fee doesn’t give you carte blanche to decide how to interpret rules to best suit you.

      I’ve heard this argument to before. “I’m paying to do this so I can do what I want!”- Nope. That’s not how it works. Your entry fee allows you the opportunity to compete withon the RULES set by the race organizers.

    • Not doing the burpees IS cheating. Why do I do Spartan Race instead of the other OCRs? BECAUSE it is a competition. My race a few days ago – I failed the LAST obstacle after completing 90% of it. I did 5 burpees and rested. Six times. I couldn’t do even 10 – which is why I rested and then continued.

      Just because some people don’t like to compete doesn’t change the fact that it is a competition, and many people ARE competing.

    • So you can only do 18 burpees, but can still continue on and do other obstacles and eventually cross the finish line? Right. Sounds like you just didn’t feel like doing any more burpees.

  10. I participated in the Worlds Toughest Mudder at Raceway Park, New Jersey last year and was ashamed to see someone look around then jump the fence to shorten up up the race for himself.

    Terrible to see that when the fee to enter the 24 hour race was over $400.00.

  11. David Magida says:

    Honestly, I am all for enforcement of the burpee penalty. Strictly. But for elites only. If you’re in an open heat and you don’t want to do the burpees, why should it bother me? It’s on you. Your race is an experience that is uniquely yours. If you want to skip your burpees go right ahead. I’ve been trying to get my dad to do a Spartan Race for a while but he’s worried he would have to do too many burpees. Should that deter him from trying it once? Or anyone else for that matter? I would say no. I’d say, I want him racing whether he does the burpees or not, because it’s a unique experience he should have in life. And, if down the road he races again and does burpees, that would be ideal. But I wouldn’t force him to.

    And how do we determine proper burpee form. By your standards, my burpees probably don’t count as reps. Spartan Race says chest touches the ground, feet leave the ground. There’s a lot of room for interpretation there. My burpees don’t always look nice, but they are always within the confines of those rules.

    But back to the topic at hand. If you’re racing a competitive heat and your placement impacts rankings, points, cash prizes etc, then you know you’d better be honorable. I can’t think of anything worse than a race that gives out money handing it out to a cheater. But at the end of the day, they have to look themselves in the mirror. They know they aren’t on a level playing field with everyone else. It bothers me, but it should make them sick.

    • @David (and others with similar sentiment)

      This kind of feels like politics, and camps seem to develop around entitled to it vs. earn it.

      The comment,“If you’re in an open heat and you don’t want to do the burpees, why should it bother me? It’s on you. Your race is an experience that is uniquely yours.” is simply flawed in my brain.

      It’s not YOUR race. It’s the race director’s race. The rules are not made up by YOU, but by the race director and staff. The rules apply to both elite and open participants. Being less advanced in your athletics does not spare you from obstacle penalty.

      Regarding your dad, why is it so important he do Spartan? Why not Rogue Runner, or Warrior Dash, or anything else without penalty?

      Thank you for sharing.

      • David Magida says:

        I think we both know why it’s so important he do a Spartan Race. Because it’s a vastly superior event in every way. From the challenge of the terrain to the obstacles themselves to the planning that goes into the event to ensure there aren’t major parking or traffic issues (that’s for you up TM). If I’m going to bring my dad to do an obstacle race, I’m going to give him the best experience possible. And I want him to experience something that has meaning personally to me. Spartan revived my racing career and reinvigorated me. I want him to feel what I experienced my first time racing one. And regarding your comment about it being the race director’s race, the race director only makes the race. He doesn’t feel what the competitors feel or experience the emotional journey they take over the course of a race. Spartan Race produces a top of the line product and I’d like to see as many people experience it as possible. Now you may argue that they aren’t getting the full experience. But I believe the experience they get, even sans burpees, trumps all other races.

        • veganedge_ocr says:

          “I think we both know why he should do a Spartan Race…” because it has standards! And it’s for more competitive, elite, better trained people because of this. Everyone is always more impressed when you complete Spartan Race than other OCR’s because it’s harder. A major part of that is the penalty system, AND YOU KNOW IT. My goal today at PacWest Sprint was top 100 in elite heat (eventhough I finish in top 20 and 10 at other branded OCR’s) and because I had to do 3 sets of burpee penalties I didn’t make it. I could’ve done less than 90, there’s always time when the marshall isn’t looking. Again, what if somebody else’s goal matched my own and he only failed 2 obstacles? Do I cheat him? Nope.

      • I must agree about the Burpee cheating. Squat Thrusts and Burpees are two completely different animals. Squat Thrusts take a lot less out of you physically and a lot less time to do, therefore, times will be affected.

      • whichdocktore says:

        I agree 100% with if you cant do the obstacle and/or complete the penalty then you should have payed to do something else, and if you get hurt and cant complete the race then try again at the next one. I do, however, think that Spartan has a problem with regulating the obstacles and penalties and it has basically grouped itself into the category with the other races. ( savage,warrior,TM, etc) I think the money making aspect has trumped the competition aspect of the race… They need a low volume elite race, that has the proper officials at all levels of the course to insure fair competition..i do not think that volunteers are cutting it at some of these obstacles….. and to be honest i still think that money made is going to rank higher on their list than getting into it with a racer who wants to make their own rules….. just my thoughts ..thanks

  12. I hate swimming says:

    I agree with you for the most part, but ” if you KNOW you cannot swim, don’t sign up and just skip the swimming obstacle. Instead, find another race”. There’s a well know race that threw in 2 “surprise” triathlon length swims; a race that announced 1 month prior to the event that they would be adding a lengthy swim . . . and of course no refunds to athletes that would not have registered had they known earlier.

    Maybe your next cranky article can be about RDs that make significant changes to the race after they’ve already accepted registration money.

  13. The unfortunate answer Jessica, in my opionion, is yes. If an injury prevents you from completing a certain element of a race than you should not enter the race or be required to complete that certain elemement. That is like saying, “I have an injured meniscus, so shouldnt I be able to modify the marathon to just 22 miles so that I can finish it?” Absolutely not. You either run the 26.2, or you step down to a half, or you don’t finish the race. Same with a triathalon. If you can’t swim you don’t sign up. Its simple really.

    I think you should be allowed to run the course, but you shouldnt be a finished of any race unless you complete the course. That may mean you have to take a 10 minute break to continue your burpees. If so than your time will suffer, as is only fair.

    There is another side to this, which is that the races should provide their own oversight on things like burpees and keep better counting, including no repping people when needed. It will clean it up quick. Alternatively, a penalty running loop could be used of 1/4 mile or 1/2 mile for failed obstacles as well.

    There are plenty of solutions, and both involve A)more organization from the races and B)an understanding from racers that if you are entering a competiive race, there is a stricter standard than a fun mud run.

    • And again I say, I never said anything about speeding them up for time purposes. Completion is my goal, not time. Also, being that I also participate with a large group who help various strangers thought these races, my time doesn’t matter to me.

      • If you don’t do your Burpees you shouldn’t get a medal, like everyone has said if you run a marathon and don’t do the last km do you really think you will get your medal? No same with spartan no Burpees no medals. I don’t get why so many people think its ok to not do their Burpees, I’m pretty sure it says if you don’t do an obstacle 30 Burpees not 10. If you don’t feel you can do Burpees you should train then decide to do a spartan race.

    • There is a flaw in the marathon analogy. If you can walk all or part of a marathon… a modification of running. … and you complete 26.2 miles under the cut off you are a bonafide marathon finisher.

      For the record in the 2 spartan races I have done I completed every burpee as directed for each race. One race specified the pushup the other did not. Even the burpee instruction sign did not have that step. They were ugly as hell. Probably not Cranky Bastard proof but I was proud to complete each and everyone with complete effort and commitment. It was a helluva lot slower. I had to rest between every few burpees sometimes. So I definitely did not mess up anyone’s completion times! 🙂 That would just be rude. 🙂
      Perfect burpees or not. My integrity is intact. I am Spartan! I get better and stronger every race. I train continuously. I follow every rule. I aid my fellow racers at every opportunity. And I expect I will belt out Cranky Bastard proof burpees in the future. I will not call out the cheated missing burpees of my fellow racers though. A racer who would walk away from them would not care what I said to them. Not worth my expending the emotional energy.

      • @Jill

        Nice comment. Whenever you use my pen name in reference, it makes my ego swell.

        >> “Probably not Cranky Bastard proof…”

        I never said I had the perfect burpee. But I’m pretty close. 🙂 back at ya.

        >> ” I will not call out the cheated missing burpees of my fellow racers though. A racer who would walk away from them would not care what I said to them. Not worth my expending the emotional energy.”

        This is the, “I don’t vote because it wouldn’t matter” argument. I’ve called out burpee and obstacle cheaters a bunch. Typically they are so shocked, they do everything they can to disappear. Like the Wu Tang says, “you can see the weakness of a man right through his iris.” BUT, there will be a couple of people who take it as encouragement. They are glad you did not let them quit or fail, and they’ll shrug their shoulders, drop down, and get’em done. And from that point on, might always be that way.

      • There is no flaw in the marathon analogy because the walk vs run a marathon is like doing 30 burpees quickly….or 30 burpess slowly. Just simply slowing down is not a modification at all, so the analogy still holds water.

        Skipping or changing the structure of burpees is akin to shaving miles of a marathon or strapping on some roller blades.

  14. Paul Mitas says:

    I agree, if an event has penalties and you fail an obstacle, do the penalty, fully and correctly. Personally I would like to see all of the events have some kind of penalty for failing. Granted in some cases the dunk into the cold water is a penalty in itself, but a lot of times I see people skip obstacles, not even attempt them, then bragging it up at the end, “I got a faster time then you”. Sure a trail run will always be faster than an OCR, but you signed up for an OCR so why skip the obstacle.

    • @Paul

      That is a very good point. A lot of chest-thumping on the ol’ social networks rarely includes, “…but I skipped the cold water and rope later monkey bars”

      Why is that? hmmmm….

  15. I just see a bunch of whining here. There are people who “cheat” or don’t always do things the right way but I’m sure 99% of the time they don’t affect the people who place. Some people just can’t swim and I think they should be allowed to participate, maybe not win. But to be kicked out all together, that’s pretty sad of you to say when you suggest “OCR is a supportive community.” Also, your written version of a burpee is slightly off, but who am I to correct you. Seems like you know it all.

    • @Jeffrey

      Here’s my question back to you – using your example regarding swimming, and recognizing the huge number of races that exist, wouldn’t it make most sense for the individual in this position to select a race that doesn’t include swimming as an obstacle?

      If one race has more advanced obstacles than another, shouldn’t the athlete with less advanced skill, first conquer those races?

      Thanks for reading and responding.

  16. alderaic says:

    and to all the people saying it’s ok not to do part of the obstacle, would you be ok with an extra 5 minute penalty to your time instead of doing 30 burpees?
    I’m sure most would do the burpees instead of taking a 5 minute penalty.

    • I wouldn’t care about adding 5 minutes.

      • alderaic says:

        many would though.
        what CB was mostly aiming for in his rant is the able athletes who just decide to quit the burpees for no other reason that it takes time, it’s tedious when your heart rate is already going through the roof. and then brags with a time that is IMO not valid

        • I see his article differently. Especially being told I shouldn’t enter because I have to modify my burpees.

          • alderaic says:

            still makes sense, you are injured and should recover, I had a knee issue this year and did not do the beast, and in turn will not get a trifecta. had I done only the running part I could have ‘finished’. Instead I decided to take care of my injury and not run in something I could not do as required

        • It’s permanent. My foot was broken years ago, and do not heal correctly. So it’s not going away.

    • I would take the 5 min penalty. I do my best every race and push myself to the limits. my times are very slow and do not impact anyone else placement. Infact i walk nearly half the time (and yes i always stay to my right and get out of the way of the much faster racers)

  17. Chriz Scherf says:

    Hey there!
    I totally agree on you article and share the same opinion.
    Maybe and at the end of the day it’s everyone’s problem what they do and how they finish the race. The most important is how I finish and how I make my race honest and complete. I know and it kinda sucks to see people that don’t really care about these “rules” and attend more these events because they just want to make a big show off with their medal at the end and post it all over the social networks, just to gain everyone’s attention. These kind of races have become a real big thing and “trend” right now. Specially in Mexico. I’m a huge fan and obstacle race lover (even if I have done only a few by now), but really think a lot of those people shouldn’t even show up. I just bothers me that not only this, but all kind of things become kinda “trendy” and people really forget the real meaning of why the things are there, why they race, and what the whole purpose of this is. The problem would rely on that. So I guess the few of us who still defend that and really care about the real meaning of the race, the philosophy, etc. will be just a few. 🙂
    But at the end of the day everyone’s free to run and do as they please. One good thing though is that it might be already a big achievement that so many people show up and have at least some kind of intention to “do spot” and leave a more “lazy and unhealthy” life behind…
    cheerz

  18. I agree 110% on the cheating. After I finished my last Spartan Sprint I went back to the top and watched a father and son skip the tire flip, monkey bars and I forget the name but the rope with a weight and pulley system. I was actually really upset that no one said anything at all three obstacles. The other upsetting thing is how the tire flip changed from four flips to two flips depending who was monitoring it. I’d suggest that you use a snow fence to create a cattle corral and make sure people are directed to the obstacle- if you skip you are forced to do burpee’s or take a time penalty by having your bib number taken down and penalty assessed at the end. Another possibility could be to have a non-timed wave that runs for the challenge and fun that’s a little less expensive. This way I don’t drop from 6th to 16th by people cheating in my age bracket when I’m competing against myself and my bracket. It’s frustrating and I was really surprised at the amount at this years PA Spartan Sprint at Blue Mountain. You might not realize the harm that it does when you skip an obstacle or burpee’s but it greatly affects someone placement both overall and bracket and it stinks to work so hard.

  19. I can see both sides of the fence on this. Lets face it we are only talking about one series here… Spartan. Let me start by saying I am NOT an elite racer, & do not run elite heats. On the other hand I am competitive & aspire to win my age group in open waves. Best finish, top 10, Sunday @ the Poison Ivy race a few weeks ago. Elite waves should be policed to the fullest. Burpees should be counted out by marshals and or dedicated volunteers. Failure to comply should result in time DQ. They are running for points & money. Open waves on the other hand you have people like me that do take it seriously, & those that are there to say they did it but aren’t really ready for what a Spartan really is. Who am I to tell those people they cant do the race? No one, that’s who, no one. They have the right to participate also. They are not going to beat my time & they don’t affect me. However I do believe that the volunteers need to be more commanding & assertive in some situations. There were some obstacles at the Midwest on Sunday that were completely out of control. (Hoist & Sand Bag carry.) I DO believe the volunteers should have pen & paper or something to record bib #’s for obstacle skipping & shorting un-legit burpees. These people should be allowed to have their time, but not any open wave points, & be deemed ineligible for Trifecta medals. Just for the record if this was the case I would have to give my Trifecta for this year back & try next season. My second OCR ever was the 2012 Glen Rose Beast. I was not ready. I failed 4 obstacles & My burpees sucked. These races are for sport & to test your metal. If your ok with poor sportsmanship & having tin foil for metal that s on you. It wont affect me.

    • @JB

      Tough to read with no paragraph breaks, brother, but I did (just for you).

      The point I’d like to make in response is that this is not just a “Spartan” series problem, only. Every other race series I have run, I have experienced some form of cheating whether it was skipping sections of barbed wire, skipping water obstacles, or skipping huge chunks of obstacles altogether.

      It’s true, there are only a couple of burpee penalty races, but skipping is rampant across all races.

    • JB that is like saying “Who am I to tell someone they can’t jump in a cab for a few miles during the Boston Marathon?”

      If you dont want any restrictions on obstacles and be allowed to pick the ones you want to do, go run a race that is untimed and doesnt care if you skip them. If you decide to run a race with a given set a rules, then you should have to follow those rules.

      I love that OCR gets people off of the couch, but this expectation that everyone should be able to run the most competitive and challenging race offered without being prepared for it is rediculous.

      • John Sparks says:

        I have a cousin who calls himself a Tough Mudder. He even has a framed picture of himself looking grim and encrusted with mud in his living room. He admitted that he skipped two obstacles. If I had done such a thing because I was not prepared, or got injured, I would continue, but not cross the finish line. I would not accept a medal and I certainly would not call myself a Tough Mudder.

        • Robert Dupuy says:

          Reading through the comments, it seems the issue is that some people see value in getting to the end of the course without completing it.

          While others point out correctly that it isn’t fair, if they move ahead of other participants in the rankings, when those other participants followed the rules.

          The answer should be simple, if you see value in getting to the end without completing the course – then there should be a category of untimed, non-ranked participants.

          I have never run a Spartan, I just came across this website as I was googling the word ‘burpee’ since I didn’t know what that was….

          But I do run 5k runs. In my last trail run, the kids were cheating the trail run by cutting through the woods to shorten the distance.

          LOL, what is the point, just sign up for a shorter race. Some people understand cheating, some don’t. I really don’t see the reason to say you came in 34th instead of 48th…by cheating. But obviously it made some sense to the kids who did it.

  20. Tony Ferrantewhere says:

    I agree with most of the previous comments, even the ones that contradict one another, because each of us runs the OCRs for our own, personal reasons; so therefore our opinions of cheating vary depending on what we’re striving to achieve. Elite racers in the money competitions should be policed regularly to prevent cheating and thus, “stealing” the money from non-cheating competitors who don’t cheat but place lower.
    But my entire, personal reason for racing is to gauge my own level of fitness, regardless of where I finish. if I fail an obstacle and have to do 20 burpees (like in my last race) I am going to do the full range of the damn burpee and I’m going to do all of them, even if I feel like I’m gonna puke. in my age division I was 3rd by 4 minutes. If I had cheated the burpees (I had to do 2 sets of 20 each) I could have shaved off those 4 minutes and placed second. But would I have been as proud of a Cheating 2nd place versus an honest 3rd Place? Not a chance!

  21. Richard Loza says:

    The Super Spartan in Temecula was my first OCR. Actually it was my first race or any competitive event for that matter. I was not there expecting to win but I was in the mindset that I would kick ass. There was a line for the spear throw about 5 minutes long. I saw racers opt out and do their burpees. After a while I wanted to do the same but a fellow racer convinced me on how cool it is to throw a spear. I missed the throw and had to pay my dues anyway. I don’t think it would be cheating if I skipped the 5 minute wait and just ate the burpees like other racers did.

    • @Richard

      Another good point of discussion, and one in which I am not yet sure of where I am on the fence.

      On one hand, I see the strategy of “burpee-ing out” to avoid long lines (dude, run the elite heats). On the other hand, is it “opportunistic skipping”, and thus, could be construed as cheating? I’m not sure yet, but as I improve in my ability to string together burpees, I can certainly see the intrigue.

  22. David Hritsko says:

    I do not get in the Elite portions and just do theses races to keep me motivated . I have had 2 surgeries on my shoulder and the last Mudder I fell off the wall helping someone so I did not do the other walls but did everything I could do one armed . I did not do any Mudders this year and will do a Warrior Dash this weekend and will do all the obstacles . At 54 I hope to be able to do more Mudders in the future , if I cant do the whole thing I will not sign up .

    • veganedge_ocr says:

      But again Tough Mudder is NOT a timed competition. This article does not apply there. Tough Mudder is an untimed challenge. It’s up to you for those. That is you-vs-you. This article is discussing timed races.

  23. I know I’m never going to be on the podium – I run to beat my last time. I do my burpees and I think everyone else should too. I also think elite heats should be held to the highest of high standards.

    But to the people complaining that it throws off rankings, etc….I also stop and help people with obstacles. It is a point of pride and sheer joy for me to do so. I add minutes upon minutes to my time doing this. And other do the same darn thing to help me over obstacles (Damn inverse walls). So – we mess up the “rankings” anyway, making the “I want a proper ranking” argument moot.

    • I could hug you

    • I stop and help people too. All the time. My ranking argument is not moot. Every course is different. Even the same venue is different form year to year. The best way to see how i’m doing is to see how i’m doing compared to my peers. Women in my age group. But alas, i see them cutting the course, skipping out on obstacles and burpees. That’s the race rule. Plain and simple. There are plenty of fun runs with no penalty rules and timing to be had.

  24. I believe if you fail an obstacle, you shouldn’t be eligible to podium and win money. My idea is to give the elite racers 3 shots at an obstacle. Can’t stick the spear, get across the log hop, or traverse wall in 3 attempts, then you are DQ’d. How can you claim to win a race with a rope climb, yet can’t get up the rope?

    • alderaic says:

      that is somehow right and wrong, two athletes could fail one obstacle but not the same and do burpees which will test their overall fitness, but DQ on obstacle would limit the creativity..

  25. Wow. This article is entirely too black and white in an arena that is obviously still very gray. The problem I see is organization. I know there are different heats but it doesn’t sound like they are enforced. Insisting that the race be limited to only those who know up front they can complete every obstacle is absurd. If that were the case, why the discussion about penalties?

    Second, comparing not finishing a marathon to not completing obstacles is off the mark. A better comparison is someone who had to stop and walk the marathon. For all the talk about those who can’t complete the course AS PRESCRIBED (ie, don’t sign up for a race with a swim if you can’t swim), it’s apparently okay for him to sign up admitting most people don’t get the target throw? So, it’s okay to not be able to do the one skill where he’s lacking but any one else’s “weakness” makes them not worthy to run the course?

    Third, burpee penalties are a joke! Who came up with that? Someone in the OCR/functional fitness arena who knows “everyone hates burpees.” Even the suggestion of taking a few laps (or whatever physical penalty) is off. Maybe I can do an attempt plus thirty burpees in 2 minutes but I know the obstacle will take 15? Even if I do perfect burpees, am I cheating by choosing them instead of the obstacle?

    Perhaps a time penalty? Either way, it all comes back to the heats. Compare that to a marathon. 1) Qualify for the elite heat somehow. Forget penalties. If you didn’t complete every obstacle, you didn’t finish. You don’t do 30 burpees in an elite marathon for each mile you don’t complete. 2) Enforce the standards of each heat! However, the standards can be different and unless you are sandbagging, be damn proud that YOU did your best by the standards of YOUR heat.

    The takeaway: Never, ever discourage someone up to challenge themselves. I respect that person who signed up scared to death and shows up anyway a ton more than the guy who took it on easily (without his ego in check at that) set out to complain about how his standing was knocked a few spots.

    • @PTlife

      >>”Insisting that the race be limited to only those who know up front they can complete every obstacle is absurd.”

      No one said that. The stance in the editorial is one where an athlete should attempt every obstacle, and in cases where they are allowed multiple attempts, do so. If the race offers penalties for failure, do the penalty. If the race does not, move along.

      The problem illustrated is that its waaaay to easy for people to skip one or many obstacles, and obstacle penalties, with no recourse, and the net effect is a reduction in overall rankings for racers who ran to standard. (not to mention the whole integrity of the race, thing.)

      If you KNOW you cannot do burpees, due to injury, let’s say, then no you shouldn’t enter Spartan Race where that same injury will probably mean you will be almost certain to get burpees.

    • NO one is saying you cant attempt the race unless, and we are all for people pushing themselves. BY all means get otuside your comfort zone. But once you are there, if you can’t follow the regulations and requirements of that race that you shouldnt be considered a finisher. You get your DNF and you come back next time to try again, probably with more resolve to improve.

      If that is too “mean”, than choose a race that doesnt have such strict regulations.

  26. I did 120 burpees in my first spartan event at the sprint in Austin. I was running along side one of the UFC fighters in the elite heat and we both missed the spear. Commence burpees and he got to 14 and said F… This and got up and ran with his go pro camera recording it all. I completed mine and caught him, but didn’t confront him for some cowardly reason. 🙂 we all want to see how we stack up and that is what it boils down to, but we need an equal measurement and you have to be willing to put yourself to the full test. I was exhausted at the end of the sprint and was only able to do reps of 5 burpees then catching my breath, but I did all 30 each time.
    Maybe they should surrender their timer chip? A lot of the people don’t consider OCR a real sport, but something fun to just get outside and do. I hold it on a level of any other triathlon, or marathon, of which i plan to do running, not on roller blades because it would be easier :).

    • @Jerrod

      I think we’d be friends.

      Good for you. I, too, have found myself wanting to skip burpees under horrible fatigue. In Mississippi, they made us do 30 burpees to finish. Not a penalty, no way to avoid it. It was, in essence, an obstacle. I guarantee you no one skipped those – why? – becuase it was required to finish.

      I love the following quote and find it applicable, “The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.”

  27. Florence Johnston says:

    Sounds like cranky bastard needs to register for the Olympics noone’s skipping a burpee there, guarantee it. You gotta earn your way into the race not just the registration fee.

  28. I have raced the Spartans and a handful of other OCR events. I am far from elite and do not place in my age group. I train all year and consider my training geared towards my OCR races. I have done my share of penalty burpees and done all 30 unless I miscounted 1 or 2 due to being delirious from lack of oxygen but anyway, that is not my point. I come to every race with permanent deficits/nerve damage/chronic injuries and would never expect any modifications or leeway. In fact, my injuries are what actually drove me to obstacle course races and specifically to my first being a Spartan just to prove to myself that I could do it. I have attempted every obstacle, even those that I have never been successful on in training, for example, the rope climb. I will take my rope burn and maybe even a strained calf muscle to keep myself honest. But I will say this, the two Spartan sprint races I have attended so far, to date, many volunteers have specifically told me that I did not have to do the push up ( this was because I WAS in fact doing them in proper form and they wanted to make sure I knew it was not necessary) and I did just that, dropped the push up so I could move on to the next section of the course. I assumed that the others before me were following the same expectations and therefore did not feel in anyway, I was skating out on my responsibilities as a legitimate OCR participant. I think some things you have to expect and accept due to the growing popularity of this sport and the fact that it is run primarily by volunteers, some of which that do not even participate in these types of events. That is my 2 cents. Happy Racing!!!

  29. I agree with the article. I am a stickler for following the rules to a T and pride myself on good form through my burpees. Next season, I will be running in the Elite Series, but for now I am still in the Opens and trying to keep tabs on my progress with each race. There are a huge number of participants who will never be elite, but still want an accurate reading on their performance. How is it fair to them when there are those who “cheat”? It’s not just about cheating yourself. Age Group points are awarded in the Opens, so it is somewhat of a big deal if everyone is NOT doing the same race and end up placing higher because of it.

    I think a possible solution is to be strict with the penalties in maybe the first several Open Waves… say up to 10am, in which a lot of participants are likely to be going for time. After that, it can be less strict for those with injury (permanent or temporary) and those who are not in condition or unwilling to perform everything that is required. In the later heats it’s harder to place well anyways, due to lines, crowding, etc. While not perfect, I see it as a good solution to minimize the issue.

    • @Stephen

      Thanks for the response and ideas towards a solution.

      With more and more wanting to run ‘elite’, it seems almost impossible to believe that will always be an ‘option’ for any registrants. I believe we will see a requirement of proof (in terms of previous race times) in order to qualify to start in these heats.

      Most likely, the same will happen in the early open heats.

      The World’s largest 10K race, the Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta, Georgia, staggers racers like this and it does make a lot of sense.

  30. I participated in the Spartan at Fenway and boy did I see a lot of cheating! I trained for the race and it took 3 of us (we worked as a team) about 1.5 hours or maybe a bit longer. I tried it all and I am 46. I failed at the block pull, spear throw, ball toss and traverse wall (not easy for short ladies, I fell right before the end uggh!).I attempted them all. The last 3 mentioned were consecutive obstacles and yes I did 30 full and proper burpees after each! There were also a few burpee stations built in so do the math lol! There was no way I was going to say I ran a Spartan if I didn’t do it all to my best. I knew there was a burpee penalty so I prepared for the race by running, cross training, weights, boot camp and personal training and I of course got friendly with the burpees in case . When we trained we did burpees with push ups so those during the race were not as taxing! I was surprised that one would pay to participate and then cheat! I am even more surprised to hear that there is cheating in the Elite heats! Geeze you have no business competing in that heat and skipping burpees. One might fail at an obstacle but skipping the penalty is just wrong . Why would you cheat yourself of participating fully?Tough Mudder is fine with skipping but it is not timed so it is whole other beast.

  31. Florence Johnston says:

    Im quite familar with how you compete in the Olympics. The point is that if you are looking for a competition that measures your physical fitness, skills, and athleticism against others in a sport, a race that allows anyone of legal age to participate provided he or she registered in time, is not the most accurate way of doing so. Until race directors better enforce the rules of competition and/or validate results , there will always be some doing a more challenging OC race than others whether intentional or not. If you feel slighted in your ranking I suggest honing obstacle skills so that you wont have to do burpees or sign up for a more regulated race. OCR races want to make money and disqualifying anyone that cant or wont do every obstacle or burpee from participating would likely mean a big revenue loss. Especially since most wont know their limits until they participate. Personally, I lose sleep if I dont live up to or surpass expectations in OCRs so, ive done many a burpee in a race and I’d be willing to bet ateast 99% of those registered are the same. Its not likely a lot of people start a race with intentions of “cheating”. So,if you are truly affected by burpee dodgers, then you should post a vent towards the race directors/organizers not the participants.

  32. I think you are spot-on for the Elite heats. But for the non-Elite heats, I think you should embrace anyone who tries it. If you can’t swim, attempting to Walk the Plank is just plain stupid. But missing out on a fun-filled day with your team, challenging yourself in so many other ways would be a shame. I say go for it! There is no shame in skipping obstacles and there are 100 legit reasons to do so. If I’m nursing a sore ankle, I will feel confident running slowly and crawling and swinging through the air, but I’m not going to do the 10 foot wall with the 10 foot drop on the other side. I registered for an OCR for FUN, which is why I’m not in the Elite heat. That said, I still do 30 full burpees when I miss the spear throw, though many of my friends are not yet fit enough to do 30. I would not have them skip the Spartan just because they won’t be able to complete their “penalty”. Just showing up for an OCR got them off their couches and for that I am proud of them.

    • Agree 100%, but if they cant complete the obstalces you shouldnt be a finisher or get a medal or an official time.

  33. Very interesting discussion. Personally I’ve never run a Spartan, I do know when I’m out of my league, but to say to not sign up if you can’t do all obstacles isn’t very supportive to people that want to at least try…and to put that restriction out there would seriously cut into the number of entries-at least I would think. (Also, I can’t help but think the ‘fun’ reward yourself with beer races get tangled in with ALL other races, no matter how different from each other they might be. Like it or not, that sets up a precedent of not taking them too seriously for a lot of people.)

    My husband and I started OCR racing to do something together, he’s ex-military, and we’re both a little older, but I have little hope of ever getting to his skill level. He stays with me and helps me over the obstacles, but despite that, there are times I cannot complete one. When that happens though, I take issue with calling it cheating-I guarantee you I tried, and believe if you’ve done your best, you have not failed. (Now, we have not been in a race that had penalties, so I won’t even begin to try to take on that discussion, but if they were there, I’d still do my best to complete them-that doesn’t mean they would be done to CBs standard, tho.)

    Having said that, I agree with the elite runs-you shouldn’t be allowed to win, place or show if you haven’t legitimately completed the requirements-and were I competing at that level I’d be very ticked to see the rules not being enforced.

    When I run my dogs in agility competitions, I can choose to run “preferred”, which ultimately means I’m trying to finish, not going for placements. It’s the choice I make with a ‘green’ or young dog. If I wonder if a choice like this was put out there, with a diff bib type, if it might help distinguish the ones who really want that competition time…just a thought.

    Be great, everyone. 🙂

    • @Caren

      >>”but to say to not sign up if you can’t do all obstacles isn’t very supportive to people that want to at least try”

      Sometimes, I think people read what they want to read, not what the words say.

      Cranky has no problem with people signing up and ‘trying’, and then, as I’ve said 25 times now, if they fail, they do the failure penalties. If no penalty, even better, and this is most likely the race for that athlete if penalties couldn’t be completed.

      Simply walking (or running) around an obstacle, because it looks daunting, or might interfere with your current nagging injury, is not acceptable.

      Simply cheating your penalties, is not acceptable.

      • Agreed! Ive failed the rope and some times just look at it but i do the penalty cuz its what i signed up for… i dnt get ppl who would not attempt an. Obsticle y then think its ok to just run on… not the Point of a Spartan.

  34. I work for a timing company that times various ocr’s, triathlons and marathons all over the country. I think the races that use our timing system should be strict on people cheating and skipping obstacles, because when one person does that it really does affects everyone’s rankings and placement. And this is frustrating because you are paying to enjoy these statistics and its being skewed because of cheaters.

    We need to let people know that the timed races are a bit more serious and that you should train harder than usual to compete in one of these, and try to keep away the ones who are going for just a good time la dee da walk in the woods. So it is important to have the fun ocr’s but be able to differentiate the crowds that come to the more serious, timed races.

  35. I don’t think anyone has mentioned the inclusion of electrical shock as an obstacle. That is not a challenge (not even a mental one) it is just asking for pain for the sake of pain. I’m glad Spartan doesn’t subject it’s racers to such cheap gimmicks otherwise I would do a burpee penalty every time. It takes a lot longer to do burpees than run through shock.

    I have done the shock, would do it again if I was in the position for money or felt challenged by it (I would support hock if there was a slow/challenging way to do it without having to be hot), but other than that it does not present a challenge Sobieski have no qualms in skipping.

    • The shock “obstacles” are in Tough Mudder, which is non-competitive, un-timed, and whose organizers outright tell participants to skip obstacles they’re not comfortable with. And theres’s no penalties. So…

  36. One of the largest barriers with effectively policing the burpees is that those enforcing it are volunteers. While OCRs would not survive without volunteers; weather it’s for fun, the charity aspect, to earn a free T-shirt, or the earn a free race entry.. It is their responsibility to maintain consistency through out.

    OCRing is about camaraderie. My response to the girl you referenced who cut corners to catch up with her friends is : Whether she formed a team or signed up to run with a group of friends, they should be working as a team. If she couldn’t complete the obstacle it was because her team did not assist her. Therefore the whole team should be obligated to complete the burpees instead of moving on without her.

    As far as tracking obstacle completion. I believe the Starting Line and Finish should not be the only touch points to the timing chip. Place those sensors at the top of the walls so that when the participant throws their foot over the other side it logs completion of that obstacle. Those who take their shoe off to toss it over the obstacle like through their high school uprights will then have wasted just as much time as they would have completing it. And in the end if your timing chip doesn’t have a time ping from each obstacle marked then you are entered as DNF.

    • In addition. If you have no intentions of at least attempting each obstacle then you should leave you timing chip in your SWAG bag with gear check. By tying that chip on, whether you are aiming for the money or are just hoping to cross the finish line in one piece, you have committed to a level of equality.

  37. Opinion from a non-obstacle racer, so take it for what it is worth- It seems like obstacle racing participants fall into a few categories including those who race to compete (against others) and those who race to have fun, compete against themselves, or be social in an active way. My thinking is that certain races or even heats should be separated into very strict races/heats and relaxed races/heats. The first group can race in strict races/heats and have an absolutely zero tolerance for cheating or not completing obstacles and the second group can race in the relaxed races/heats and just have a good time/do their best with it.

  38. I understand your main assertion CB and I agree that racers should accept and execute all penalties and that rules should be enforced to ensure race integrity…but I also believe there has to be a balance between ensuring race integrity and veering into non-inclusive territory. I personally think it’s bad form to discourage potential OCR applicants to not sign up for ANY race. How will the OCR community grow if it gets the reputation of being non-inclusive and cliquey like other “trendy” fitness programs (yes, I’m looking at you Crossfit). Should people adibe by the rules and regulations of each race? Absolutely. Is it necessary for the OCR community to police itself with Gestapo-like zeal? Absolutely not. There has got to be a balance. Until race organizers decide that cheating has become a big enough problem to address by creating non-timed heats, I really don’t see that there’s much that any racer can really do other than ensuring that they themselves are abiding by the rules and regs.

    • @Greg R

      >> “I personally think it’s bad form to discourage potential OCR applicants to not sign up for ANY race. “

      What makes one’s interest in OCR automatically qualify them for every OCR race? Because you can run, you don’t automatically qualify for difficult mountain ultramarathons. Because you train CrossFit, you aren’t automatically qualified to compete in the games. Because you can do ring dips, it doesn’t mean you are qualified to compete in a gymnastics meet.

      • Perfectly said Cranky….this “everyone gets a trophy and a medal” crap just for showing up is absurd.

        Anyone should be able to try, no exclusion whatsoever. But why is it that in one of the most competitive races in the sport it is considered mean or rude to say to someone…”great effort, you gave it your all, but you didnt complete the race. Come back next year and give it another shot.” We have to give them a medal now?

        When I walk into a job interview and im not capable of getting the job, I don’t get a paycheck anyway.

      • CB: I think you may have taken my comment out of context. In no way am I saying that some OCRs aren’t more challenging and competitive than others. My point is that the organizers of these competive races are responsible for establishing and enforcing registration criteria and race rules and regulations. The “everyone gets a trophy” remark should be directed at race organizers who make and enforce the rules of the race.

        To my knowledge, there is no restriction criteria for non-competitive registrations for the Spartan Race. If, after completing an event (to standard) in a non-competitive wave, a person wanted to try to qualify for a timed/competitive event, then by all means go for it. Consider also that elite OCR competitors represent a very small percentage of OCR registrants. It is a growing competitive activity but presently, the majority of participants fall squarely into the “casual racer” category. In my humble opinion, the death knell for OCRs will sound when/if race organizers make the decision to screen out casual racers from the relatively few elite-class participants at the point of registration (I’m talking about the more popular OCRs, not the races that were designed for advanced/elite competitors who meet specific pre-requisite qualifications).

        I love participating in OCRs and I want to see the sport grow but not at the expense of the camaraderie and sportsmanship that are inherent to these events. It seems to me that what you’re calling for is sort of a “closing of the OCR ranks”. Please correct me if I’m off-base here.

        • All registrations for Spartan RACES are competitive. Everyone — open and elite — are provided timing chips. Timing chips=race=competitive

          • Fair enough. Here’s an idea: If you (or anyone) REALLY wants to do a competitive OCR, why don’t you just sign up for the Death Race in VT and leave the “fun runs” to the casuals? We can all debate until we’re blue on the face about what REEBOK should and shouldn’t with their event. At the end of the day, REEBOK is concerned with turning a profit from the Spartan Race. They can’t accomplish that by only catering to elite/competitive runners; SR would go belly up in under a year. So, by your logic, you’d be just as happy throwing the baby out with the bathwater??

          • To Greg R (there’s no reply button):

            As is, Spartan is not set up as a “fun run”. It just isn’t. In fact, anything that is chip timed and awards points is not a “fun run”. People may have fun doing it, but they should be expected to have fun within the constraints of the rules.

            As I mentioned elsewhere, they need to get rid of the illusion that the open heats are actually competitive, eliminate the penalties, timing and points and pour resources into strict enforcement of the rules for the elite heats. This allows a venue for competitors to really rank themselves and a venue for the fun runners to have an “experience” (and get that photo to put on facebook).

            But that’s not the way it’s currently structured. So we have people breaking clearly defined rules (you know there’s a rule book, right?) while others are finishing within the letter of the rules. Spartan needs to enforce the rules already on the books or change their structure to properly represent its participants.

            As as for the Death Race reference… so let me understand your logic. Would you also suggest that competitors in other sports only jump to the echelon of their sport’s competition? Because all other levels need to be fuuuuuun? So there’d be no room for the competitive in the races put on by my local track club? It’s Olympics or nothing? Pffft.

            Races are about competition. Competition requires rules. People who break the rules are cheaters.

          • @Ding: Are you an elite competitor?

  39. This is why Spartan shouldn’t provide timing chips, points, or the same finishers medals to the open group.

    I enter the elite division despite not being a terribly fast runner (give me enough time and I might outlast you, but you’ll probably beat me at a 5k). I am good at climbing, hauling, throwing, pushing, pulling and so many other physical requirements for OCRing. But I enter elite because I don’t want to wait for obstacles and because I expect a higher level of competition and accountability in the elite heats.

    Sorry, but if you’re slogging through a RACE, picking and choosing what RULES apply to you, you don’t deserve the same accolades as those of us who finish exactly according to the RULES.

    Like it or not, Spartan RACE is a RACE. If you are unable or unwilling to complete the obstacles AND/OR the penalties, you should not enter. Stick to Tough Mudder or Warroir Dash or Dirty Dash or whatever event.

    Sometimes you have to get real with yourself and realize that some events are maybe not the best fit for your abilities. Not everyone is entitled to “experience” a Spartan Race – particularly if you don’t abide by the RULES. It cheapens the meaning of being a finisher.

    • My issue with this is that the elite heats cost significantly more than the open heats. I train hard, do every burpee even if it meant adding 20+ minutes added to my time as it did last year. It’s the rules and they should be followed. But Elite heats are often ineligible for the 20% and 30% off coupon codes, as well as costing more before the coupon codes to begin with.

      The reason I do more Spartan Races than other OCRs is because they time everyone & have penalties that increase the challenge level. By shopping savvy I can often prereg with a price that I think is fair, thanks to Spartan Race’s aggressive couponing, living social, etc that are not applicable to the elite heats. Quite frankly if the cost of registration goes up much more, I’d have to leave Spartan Race behind.

      I’m a competitive runner, I try to run for PRs and put 100% out there on race day, but I’m not an elite runner who is capable of claiming a title spot. To be frank, if if people like me who finish in the top 20%-top 33% of the open heats were to move to the elite heats, we’d just clog up the obstacles.

      Elite really should only be top 5% or top 10% of runners. But that doesn’t mean the rest of the 95% or 90% doesn’t care about their finish at all. Between the people that openly admit they do not care about their finish time and Hobie Call, there are people that are running as hard as they can, and want a time so they can compare themselves to how they ran last year or next year.

      Noting exceptions for people with permanent physical impairments or saftey concerns, I think open contestants should be expected to run the same course and same rules as the elites. There are plenty of other mud runs that don’t time at all for people that just want an experience.

      Don’t cheapen all the open contestants just because some want to cheat.

      • Well, then Spartan needs to step up and enforce the rules for the open division. There has to be some way of enforcement within the constraints of volunteers and large numbers of participants. I don’t buy it that enforcement is impossible.

        Until the RULES are enforced, I’ll pay extra for the elite heats to deal with less B.S.

        • “Well, then Spartan needs to step up and enforce the rules for the open division.”

          Yup!

  40. Todd Sedlak says:

    I hope all of you that think that anyone who can’t do the obstacles or burpees shouldn’t come to the race are prepared to pay 300 dollars a race for your perfect world.
    You may not like the masses that walk the course, skip obstacles and cheat burpees, but they outnumber you and subsidize your race. Without them, your races would all cost several hundred dollars, if not more.

    Those of you who think the swims are skippable, Spartan Race provides full vest life jackets at every swim obstacle., Too tired and can’t swim are not acceptable excuses. Put on the jacket and doggy paddle your way across.

    To those of you claiming that once you do X numers of burpees, you just can’t do anymore (I recall reading 18) you are being disingenuous. You can always do more, the question is are you willing to do what’s right and wait until you recover enough to do more.

    I personally witnessed a very large woman, who had already spent about ten hours on a sprint course, fail the very last obstacle as she had so many others. She still did her thirty burpees, it took her over a minute to do each one. We watched for FORTY MINUTES while she did thirty burpees. I don’t want to hear can’t from anyone, what you mean is won’t.

    • Precisely! Well said.

    • Mister Gor says:

      “I hope all of you that think that anyone who can’t do the obstacles or burpees shouldn’t come to the race are prepared to pay 300 dollars a race for your perfect world.
      You may not like the masses that walk the course, skip obstacles and cheat burpees, but they outnumber you and subsidize your race. Without them, your races would all cost several hundred dollars, if not more.”

      This.

      If the masses who skip obstacles and cheat burpees never registered in the first place, would Spartan Race even be around today? I think a strict enforcement policy would stop too many of the casual racers from even signing up, leading to higher registration fees for everyone and possibly affecting Spartan Race’s ability to put on any events.

      • Then Spartan needs to eliminate the timing, points system, and recognition for the open division – along with the rules. Let the walkers walk, the obstacle skippers skip, get rid of the penalties and competitive farce and let those who just eant an experience of their own making have at it.

        Then Spartan needs to spartan up and enforce the RULES for the elite competitive heats. Yeah, those of is who are mediocre runners are probably never going to podium, but wouldn’t it be a truer gauge of our abilities?

        I would rather place in the middle of the pack knowing that EVERYONE finished under the same set of RULES than end up in the top 10 not knowing who did what.

        • Mister Gor says:

          I think OCR is kind of unique for running races in that it may be either an individual or a team effort, but everyone is timed, awarded points, and recognized individually. In the rules, it’s OK to give and receive assistance, but some people need it, some don’t.

          It’s the Spartan way to assist others, but should those who get over obstacles quickly with help be judged differently from those that struggle to get over obstacles by themselves? A good runner with poor upper body strength may beat the mediocre runner just by being on a decent team or among helpful people, while without the team, the good runner would lose to the mediocre runner. Would it be OK to be in the middle of the pack if you thought 20% of those in front of you may not have have beaten you without the legal help they received? Is getting help a method of cheating allowed by the rules?

          • It has been my understanding that in the elite heats the racers are supposed to clear obstacles without assistance.

            I’m a mediocre runner who banks on being able to out-brute the T-Rex-Armed elite runners when it comes to the obstacles. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. That’s what I like about OCRing.

  41. Florence Johnston says:

    Im definitely not encouraging burpee dodgers
    But there are ways an organizer /director could ensure obstacles/penalties were completed by those wishing to compete for the podium or points. Ive done a few races or competitions that require a check ( a bracelet a flag, etc) given for each obstacle or penalty completed. If theres any checks missing, you dont get ranked/scored. Its a system that works well if theres resources available to manage but at a race the size of a Spartan it would be a challenge Then again, spartan created the rules so it is up to them to manage.

    Also, skipping the event if an injury prevents one from doing an obstacle is easier said than done. When refunds for neither the race, the airfare nor the hotel booked are given , it makes it hard to make that decision when the injury happened after registration and travel arrangements have been paid. If a broken limb means i can do most of race but have to skip a penalty or obstacle, im doing the race rather than lose all that money . And most are more concerned about getting their money’s worth and preserving their health rather than someone elses ranking. Priorities!

    • I dont think anyone is saying you should skip an event because you may not be able to do every obstalce. I think what people, inlduing myself, are saying is that in order to be considered a finisher, you should have to attempt and complete every obstacle or the penalty. Like Todd said, burpess are always possible, if you can do 1 you can do 30. All that matters is how long you have to wait to do them to recover.

      To be fair, just as much responsibility goes back to the race organizers though in enforcement or adjustment of the rules for different waves. Elite, competititive open, open, disability, etc… Its not hard to have race bids or armbands be different colors. They did it at the Beast/Ultra Beast last year to distinuigh the UB runners.

  42. This is a topic that I’ve gotten some heat for in the past. It is very frustrating to hear completely competent people say “F that, I’m tired, I’m not doing my burpees” and then then finish before you. Then the other extreme, you see the the exhausted or injured racers with lots of heart. They are completing their burpees anyway they can, not caring how long it takes them. They get it done and earn their medals. IDK, maybe instead of everyone getting timing chips and being ranked, only have them included for the racers that intend on running the race as it was designed. It can be an option at registration. If you are just doing what you can and running it for fun, then don’t opt for the chip. Then you won’t be ranked and included in the stats. In addition, maybe there could be a fast lane (as was done in one of the stadium races as well) and a fun lane. If you want to take your time and take pictures on top of a wall or cargo net, that is fine. Just stay in the “fun lane”. It drives me crazy when you are waiting your turn for an obstacle and people are just playing around. I realize it is supposed to be fun and not everyone can complete the obstacles easily and it is important to celebrate your accomplishments. I do this to challenge myself and always wonder how much better I could have done if I didn’t have to wait at obstacles. As others have stated, Spartan is the most difficult race out there and every level is not designed for everyone. If you cannot complete your penalty burpees, maybe you shouldn’t sign up for a Super or Beast!

  43. 90% of people who do these arent really in shape and weekend warriors anyways. I do agree you do the burpees or dont run the race. Take your training seriously like some of us do. Plus big deal if you just finish it, there are people finishing it that cant even do one lousy pull up! I aim to finish top 10% in any obstacle race i run. I train seriously and have found a good amount of people who say they are fit arent lol. These people skip obstacles and burpees. Completing something medico-rely is not my definition of a accomplishment. You weekend warriors stop watching so much realty tv shows put in at least 10 hours a week of cross training and stop exercising 2 hours a week and thinking you are fit. I want finishing a race to mean something not a race where skipping obstacles and not doing your burpees is allowed. Get off your fat ass cross train hours a week running, hitt, body weight, Tabata, sprints, heavy lifting etc etc then run the spartan. Damn weekend warriors. Hey Hey i got my trifecta, cool what were your times, i placed top 60% lol BIG FREAKIN DEAL THEN WHO CARES?

    • During my last “race”, I stopped frequently and moved off the trail to let the “real competitors” not have to consider me an obstacle. I even cheered them on…because I feel great when folks cheer me on. It upsets me to think that I may have cheered for you.

    • @Ross: It’s precisely this attitude that will kill this sport. No question.

  44. I love this post and couldn’t agree more! I just did the Spartan Race in Amesbury MA and was frustrated by the number of people who failed an obstacle and did not complete there burpees! By the monkey bars I hear a guy counting in 10s “10..20..30.. ok I’m done” 3 burpees and off he goes. Some skipped them all together. Also, by the spear throw another guy says to the volunteer ” I have a bad hip I can’t do the burpees” Are you kidding me? But you’re running this race. I all call BS!

    They need to be more strict about this. How do I know how well I placed amongst a bunch of cheaters?

    • @Chrissie

      Just scream obscenities at them and claim you have “bad Tourette syndrome”. Just kidding, Cranky would never advocate screaming at people because then people would email founder-Matt and say all kinds of frustrating things to him like, “we won’t read your site anymore”, and RDs might not want the ORM tent on location because Cranky Bastard is mean.

      So nevermind. Don’t yell. Just hate on ‘em in silence.

      Actually don’t hate. Go pet a kitten.

  45. LOL at this whole thread. Racing snobs always seem to show up as long as there is a finish line somewhere and people to get attention from. If you`re blowing past obstacles to save time, then shame on you! If you fail one obstacle but don’t do your burpees…and your 5k course time is an hour and a half, then who cares? If this is an issue for you, then go back to running marathons! You can even stop occasionally and do some burpees!

  46. I’ll probably get crucified here but what the hell…
    My thought is: I pay to be in the race, if I decide I don’t want to do 30 burpees, I’m not doing 30 burpees. I’m not an elite racer, I’m not worried about my ranking. That’s not to say I won’t do some burpees, but when I’ve had enough of them I’m done.

    I stress again, I paid to be at the race. I was not invited to participate, I am not sponsored, there is no prize money or fame and fortune hanging on my performance. The race is there for my enjoyment. I’m sure I would feel differently if I was paid to race, if it was my livelihood and my rankings determined my pay, but again I say, I PAID to be at the race.

    While I agree that if you skip the obstacles completely you’re missing the point of the course, I feel that if you at least attempt all of them (success or failure) you’ve met the spirit of the race.
    I understand that people get frustrated and consider those who do less than they do cheaters.
    Great! that’s your opinion and you’re certainly entitled to it. If someone is out there for the experience of doing Spartan then let them have their experience. Unless you are making your money running the race, calm down. Life is far too short to be getting bent out of shape over something that ultimately has very little relevance in the universe.

    • >> “My thought is: I pay to be in the race, if I decide I don’t want to do 30 burpees, I’m not doing 30 burpees.”

      Herein lies the separation between integrity and “i’ll do it my way”

      Why even have rules? Why even make up penalties? If dudes like Rob are just going to approach the event however suits them, rules make no sense.

      You ‘pay’ for the top-notch organization, the race staff, all the logistics, and so the RD can actually make a little money to do it again and feed his family. You don’t pay for the privilege to define the event.

      I know I’m cranky, but these attitudes flat-out amaze me.

      • As I said in my comment, you are entitled to your opinion, as I am mine. I see your point of view, truly I do but I disagree.

        You said “You ‘pay’ for the top-notch organization, the race staff, all the logistics, and so the RD can actually make a little money to do it again and feed his family. You don’t pay for the privilege to define the event.” I have to say you’re only partially correct.

        Sure I pay for the org, the staff, logistics and to help RD make his living, but by paying and participating I do pay to define the event. If no one paid to race there would be no event.at all.

        I like the idea of penalties and rules, but I also am of the belief that this is a for fun competition, so if I feel a penalty is too harsh, It’s my right as a customer to make it appropriate. The old adage “The customer is always right” comes into play here.

        Rules should exist to set a s basic framework for the competition and to ensure safety. They should not however restrict a patron from enjoying their experience. They are rules, not laws and rules are meant to be bent, changed and broken.

        As I stated in my original comment, if this were a competition where I was getting paid depending on my performance it would be a different story. I firmly believe that If I pay for an experience I am allowed to tailor it to fit my liking. I know you disagree, but we can have different opinions and still have a discussion without getting “Cranky”.

  47. Ok, I am going to start by saying, my first Spartan last year sometime was an AWESOME experience. I wasn’t disappointed by the race at any means.. But let me tell you what I was disappointed in:
    Apparently, I cannot and have never been able to do a rope climb.. so I attempted and failed and started doing my 30 burpee penalty. As I am on the ground on my 6th burpee, I see someone else not even attempt and then just start running. As I continue my burpees, I just think.. wow.. is your time so important that it ruins your ethical values as a Spartan!? Then I think hmm..Oh well, at least I crossed the finish line knowing that I am a true Spartan.

    • I experienced some of the same things at the SS I ran this past weekend. Like you, I felt the exact same way when I finished the event. In the end, what else can you do, you know? 🙁

  48. What did King Leonidas say to Ephialtes when he tried to become a Spartan?

    There are basic requirements to be a Spartan. Unfortunately, this politically correct society will raise hell and call wanton discrimination if any event made such requirements mandatory.

  49. I ran my first Super Spartan this weekend at the Wintergreen Ski resort in Central VA. I’ve completed six OCRs before this one and let me tell you…this was BY FAR the most grueling, well-organized OCR that I’ve completed, thus far. My team ran an early heat so the course was fairly untouched. When one of us failed to complete an obstacle, that person did the 30 burpees and continued on; there were no questions or arguments. We ran an honest race and it felt great to cross the finish line with that in mind. We saw people (presumably entire teams) who failed obstacles and and didn’t complete their penalty burpees. Hell, we saw one team willfully skip entire obstacles with no regard for sportsmanship. The volunteers, for the most part, called the burpee-skippers out but didn’t stop them from continuing on; how could they really? My point is this: A small number of people will find a way to cheat at ANY competitive endeavor; it’s human nature. My team decided, before we even set foot on the event grounds, that we were going to run an honest race, no matter how long it took us. We collectively made that choice. We really didn’t worry about what any other person or team did and we were better off for it. That’s my advice to anyone running an OCR: Abide by the rules that are laid out by the race organizers as long as doing so doesn’t present a safety risk to you or others and to not worry about what anyone else is doing as long they don’t pose a danger to you or other racers. I firmly believe that when other racers take it upon themselves to be “race police” it takes away from the enjoyment of the event for EVERYONE; honest and dishonest racers alike. A fledgling sport like this can’t grow if a militant and dishonest few (these are, IMHO, the two extremes we’ve been discussing on this thread) ruin things for everyone, especially over something that no one outside of race organizers have any control over.

  50. Gil, Ametuer athelete OCR enthusiat says:

    I would not sign up for a marathon because I know I am not ready to COMPLETE one. Its not fair to me or to the people that busted their butt training for a marathon. Same goes for a triathlon. I can however run a 5k or 10 obstacle course because I know for a fact that I can complete one and that includes penalty burpees in proper form. It would piss me off that someone that I passed on the course got a better time than me because they decided to skip the penalty which is a known violation!
    If you cant to the penalty don’t run the race and try to get a better time than me. Those are my bragging rights I busted my butt for. Try to skip the swim in a triathlon and watch how fast you get pulled off the course and sent home.

  51. This wont become a real sport till they even out the strength to endurance ratio required. Like Hobie Call said a last place elite marathoner would beat a 1st place crossfit by 5 minutes. They need to put real weight in these races. 600-700 lbs tractor tires, farmer walks, etc.. if you cant do them you get a time penalty or the standard burpees. Right now all these are gonna be won by elite runners. Nothing in the Spartan Races require above average strength in the slightest. This needs to change. It should be more about overall fitness not who is a elite runner.

    • Christian Griffith says:

      @Jacobs

      I approved your comment, however, I changed the case from ALL CAPS, to ‘proper case’. It’s best not to write in all caps – according to forum etiquette it implies screaming.

      Thanks.


      Christian Griffith

    • I would be interested to know Joe D’s opinion on this topic! =)

  52. If you are going to skip an obstacle, not do burpees properly, not do the required amount of burpees, or skip them all together – DON’T WEAR A TIMED CHIP! This way, you run “your” race, but it doesn’t affect me/my ranking. I run the elite heats and I also can’t stand it when people in my heat get help. Rules (in Spartan) state elites can’t get any help for any obstacle.

    • I actually like this idea, or even a seprate type of chip for i guess the “casual” runner. I push myself and attempt everything even if i fall on my face. But, (not going to lie) I am one of those people who will push out 15 burpees before my arms give in. I do not do these races for time nor rank. My times have always been very slow and i defiantly am not someone who impacts someone who wants to rank. In fact i walk more than half of the time, BUT i will always stay to the right or even stop and make sure the people whoare running get passed me so i do not screw up there times.

  53. I’m so glad I found this post because, man, I was steaming about this and wondering if it was just us. I did my first Spartan Sprint this past weekend, which also was my first OCR. I had a *blast* but even beforehand I researched burpees – and found out the way I’d been doing it wasn’t the Spartan Way – you know, I was missing the push-up. I did this before the race.

    At the race I tried every obstacle except one – the rope climb – which was at the end and after I’d already pissed off an ab muscle helping another Spartan up the mud hill. I still did my burpees, between that and the failed obstacles I had 150 total.

    What I found, though, is that I was one of the few I saw doing them “right”, and probably even of the fewer who actually did 30. Why does this matter to me? My wife and a buddy that came with us, we were pretty disappointed when we saw we ranked in the bottom 20% of the rankings. Then it really started to piss me off.

    You see, if I would have skipped burpees, or cheated on areas that had shortcuts, I bet we would have ranked high in the middle. Or conversely – if those who skipped their burpees would have been forced to do them – that would have leveled it for us. So we look at the results and get really dismayed and angry because the cheaters are all likely way ahead of us in time. I saw one dude at the spear throw who is way more fit than me start his burpees the same time I did, and had left after I’d gotten maybe 3 or 5 done. There’s no way he did any more than the same 3-5 I did.

    And I’ll admit on that last set I only did 20 or 25, I can’t remember because my abs were searing in pain. On those last two sets I also modified the burpees not to drop all the way to the ground, but I did 95 without modification, and 65 of those in a ton of pain.

    You know what? I *still* feel guilty for doing the modified ones and skipping my last 10. REALLY guilty. I just don’t understand how someone can skip everything and then say they finished, plus bringing my results down. Next year I’ll be doing the Sprint again and I can guarantee you I’ll be training in the next 10-12 months to ensure that I can nail those burpees again.

    So for you trying to defend your actions, no it’s not cool and I don’t care what the problem is. Next time if you can’t do the burpees take a 5 minute rest each time. Do jumping jacks for 5 minutes. It just really makes it suck for the rest of us who put in the hard work, who push through the pain (mostly) but who have to see a “crappy time” because you skipped out.

    Not cool.

    • Patriot's Fan says:

      Ben,
      You sound like a total hypocrite for doing the same thing you are criticizing! It doesn’t matter if you had a sore ab, maybe the “cheaters” had a sore body part too. Take your own advice and “Next time if you can’t do the burpees take a 5 minute rest each time. Do jumping jacks for 5 minutes.” Because you are just as guilty of achieving a better race time by skipping on your burpees too.
      I’m sure you were happy with completing your challenge of a Spartan Race just like many others that may have to skip out on a few burpees to complete the course.

  54. Patriot's Fan says:

    Bottom line is that these races are big money makers for the RD and associates. If you aren’t elite, you don’t have to qualify in advance for the race. So really anyone can register and pay the $100.00+ for the experience. If those so called “cheaters” knew that they would be policed on every obstacle and penalty they probably would not sign up much to the satisfaction of “CrankYpants” and other responders.
    However, I think that $$$ talks and if participation dropped in half or more only to include hard core competitors it would not be a profitable venture. It seems until there is strict enforcement, the race will include people that are just going to do what they can to complete the race – like it or not.
    I do see your point though and perhaps they should have different levels of competition with beginners, intermediate and elite with the beginner entrants racing together so not to effect the experienced and serious racers times. Because honestly most beginners just want to complete the course and don’t care about time.

  55. drummerwayne says:

    “A Burpee Is Not A Squat Thrust

    There is almost an infinite number of videos on YouTube displaying proper burpee form, but in short, the bottom of the burpee should have the athlete on the ground, full legs, hip, and torso contact, with the top of the movement consisting of an open hip, and controlled jump into the air.

    That is a legit burpee.”

    This is not true. The namesake of a burpee comes from a physiologist in the 1930’s.
    According to Oxford Dictionaries Online, the exercise was named in the 1930s for American physiologist Royal H. Burpee, who developed the burpee test. He earned a PhD in applied physiology from Columbia University in 1940 and created the “burpee” exercise as part of his PhD thesis as a quick and simple way to assess fitness.
    The burpee, also known as the squat thrust, is a full body exercise used in strength training and as an aerobic exercise. The basic movement is performed in four steps and known as a “four-count burpee”:

    Begin in a standing position.
    Drop into a squat position with your hands on the ground. (count 1)
    Kick your feet back, while keeping your arms extended. (count 2)
    Immediately return your feet to the squat position. (count 3)
    Stand up from the squat position (count 4).

    Everything else is a variant, that has added components to increase fitness and training levels. Any variant would need to be well defined by a race director.

    • Got it, professor; however, I believe its generally accepted that burpees, in 2014, not 1930, should be done chest-to-ground, and with the plyo jump at the end.

      • generally accepted by who? You? Clearly science has proven what a burpee is and its still not good for you.

        Whether its chest to ground or squat thrust, they still do some variant and that should be good enough for you.

        your whiney complainy blog is terrible….

  56. I just ran a 12 mile or race sperunking sanding challenge in crystal city mo. A lo sand and water was in 6th place but 5 people cut across the course at place where it looped back on its self and pushed me to 11th. One guy even placed by cheating the other 2 who legitimately placed. Where like where the f did this guy come from he was nowhere near us. I might have been 3rd in my age group without the cheaters. I’ve trained so hard for this race and have been getting better and better each race. This was the longest race I have Ran and I ran the fastest pace per mile I have ever done even with the longer distance. So all my hard work did not pay off because of cheaters. I am not built to be a runner and never will be I am 5’9 175 lbs and my 5’2 wife’s waist is the same height from the ground Is mine. So yes it hurts the sport and it will never become a real sport or survive with all the cheating going on. If you have noticed attendance is going way downhill at most or races and lots heave started shutting down and that is the number 1 reason they will fail. I will never run an ice race a 2nd time that allows this to happen and does not disqualify cheaters. Shoot different guysfinished with sub 3 minute per mile times (physically impossible) per mile for 12 miles in the sand. With obctacles.

    Seize the day each and everyday-Are Jay

  57. Agree with the article.

    Cheating is cheating. Is it that hard to understand and follow the rules? Anyone can do 30 burpees it might just take a while. Which is the whole point. Do the obstacle or do the burpees. Otherwise you didn’t do the course.

    Perhaps 3 levels are need. Elite. Amateur. Cheaters 🙂 With elite and amateur being timed and policed, and earn a medal on completion. And the cheaters left to run around doing whatever the hell they want, un-timed, and get a participation ribbon.

  58. I know there seems to be a lot of backlash, but I do view the halfhearted burpees some people crank out as cheating. Now, to be very clear, I only view it as cheating for the people who are seemingly in good health but still seem to feel the need to not do a proper “8 point bodybuilder burpee”. Which is exactly what Joe de Sena says is the penalty for a failed or skipped obstacle.

    As a for example, I ran with my fiance at the Indiana Spartan Sprint this spring. She doesn’t have the greatest upper body strength and really struggles with burpees at times, but she pushed through all the penalty burpees she incured, proper 8 point body builder burpees. I am extremely proud of her for that. But at the rope climb I watched several very strong looking healthy guys pushing out 4 point burpees. This was absolutely cheating-despite being an open heat.

    Will I say that someone who needs to modify an exercise because of injury or needs to skip an obstacle because of lack of ability shouldn’t race? Absolutely not! Otherwise you’d have to tell a ton of people not to sign up because they can’t do a rope climb. Also, you need to factor in that Spartan Races are a surprise to the racers-there is no course map until you’re running it.

    For me it comes down to a point of personal pride to do a correct burpee when one is necessitated. As to cheating, the only person being cheated in an open heat by a poor form/skipped burpee is the person who does the poor form/skipped burpee.

  59. I know this is an old conversation, but it has me leaning towards not attempting my first Spartan Sprint. After skimming through the comments, I have a few thoughts.

    1. It’s about the money. Like another commenter said, the Spartan race directors could police burpees and kick people off the course who refuse to complete proper burpees. But they won’t because they would start to lose a lot of money. I think if they wanted to keep the integrity of these races intact they would DQ people not doing proper burpees and/or change the rules like others have said so that the sprint race requires fewer than 30 burpees per obstacle. They could even put something on their website about not signing up for the race if there is possibility you won’t be able to complete all of your burpees. They won’t do that because they don’t want to discourage their paying customers from putting down the $$$.

    2. As an average athlete who has done some long distance running and consistently works out, I have no idea if I would be able to complete the required # of burpees. Why? Because there is no way to know how many burpees would be required of me. If I can go out and run 5 miles and then do 60 good burpees, am I ready? What if I can do 90? What if there is no way to simulate how tired I will be during the race? Should I not sign up? If I go to muscle failure and literally cannot do another pushup should I quite the race? If I knew for sure I would be kicked off the course if I was up to 100 burpees and couldn’t do them properly anymore, I probably wouldn’t give them my money to begin with.

    3. I am still confused about how to do a proper burpee. The Spartan rule about your chest touching the ground is confusing to me because I have never done them that way before. Even the picture at the to of this article does not show the person touching her chest to the ground. A pushup does not require you to put your chest to the ground, and when I put my chest to the ground, I am no longer performing a proper pushup because I need to either use my whole body to lift up off the ground or I am no longer keeping my body in a straight line which compromises the integrity of the pushup. The whole movement feels odd to me. This ambiguity further leads me to the conclusion that I should just find a different race to do.

    • Hi Debbie:

      Yup, old thread, but I’d still love to respond to your points.

      1. Yes, I know it’s about the money. It’s always about the money, right? But it comes down to personal responsibility. The intent of the article is not to help races maintain their revenue levels, it was to make people think about how they conduct themselves at races.

      2. Like one commenter said, “if you can do one burpee, you can do thirty.” — you might find yourself at failure for a brief moment, but that won’t last long. It just means it takes you longer. What I was exposing, and continue to see, are people who are not even close to tapped-out, just saying, “%^%$* it!” and moving on because it’s unpleasant. Participants chose the event to test themselves. Then cheat themselves when the going gets tough. I don’t get that.

      3. I understand your desire to do them correctly, and also understand the perceived ambiguity. Everyone seems to have an opinion on this, but it is generally accepted that the movement include a squat (down), legs out, complete pushup, legs back underneath the body, explode at the top with a jump. I believe chest-to-ground is mandatory, but again, it’s mostly about just doing them. My form is complete crap after a bunch of burpees, and I expect others will be, too – but getting up and walking off after 14 legit, or non-legit burpees, is just weak. Period.

      I hope you don’t avoid Spartan because of this editorial. Spartan is a great race.

      • Thanks for the replies Cranky, good to see people actually take the time to respond.

        I’m a bit puzzled by the burpees as well, especially the pushup part. If your whole body is on the floor, it’s actually a lot easier than a (in my view) proper pushup: e.g. not allowing any body part to touch the floor other than your hands and feet, while keeping your back straight. You should go down until your chest ALMOST hits the floor, and then push out again. This way, you carry your whole weight and don’t just crash on the floor and rest.

        What’s your view?

  60. Has anyone watched the spartan race series I think on msnbc sports? The first episode showed an elite runner clearly not doing complete proper burpees. His jump at the end of the burpees was mediocre at best and not straight up. The ref right beside him didn’t even flinch.

  61. There is not good answer and there never will be. It is about the money and if you limit the participants to only those who can or will do 30 burpees, the Spartan Race will no longer exist and the point will be moot..

    I hate burpees and had to do my first ones at Wintergreen. At one time, I have had pain in the back of my knees that kept me from thrusting them out, so I just pushed back at a speed that didn’t cause me pain. Would Spartan tell me not to join a race because of that? Hell no. They want and NEED the money to keep solvent. You are NEVER going to win the cheating argument.

    Almost all of us that are serious about fitness have had issues at one time or another, We hurt ourselves pushing our limits. I love doing the Spartan races and I’m sure I will have to regrettably half-ass my way through something once in a while because I never want to stop and I’m hurt. I fell of the Inverse Wall and was very surprised since I have never done that. I got back on and climbed over. At the time, it didn’t occur to me to do burpees. I just got back on. Shame on me, but I did do the obstacle.

    When I golf, I sometimes can’t find my ball, but I don’t go back to the tee and start over, It’s a public course and others are playing, According to the rules I should. But in don’t keep score either. The course manager isn’t going to tell me not to come back because the need my money.

    Just like you can’t have TV at an affordable price without commercials, you can’t Spartan races without the money from non-competitive runners that are not going to do the right things.

  62. An old conversation… argued time in and time out. I hate complaining without being able to offer a solution. I just finished another race (NJ Super) and TWO SOLUTIONS to this problem smacked me in the face so I thought I’d share them:

    The first one is so simple I can’t believe that no one mentioned it:

    1) If you are in the “Its my race I’m not cheating anyone” camp then do us a simple favor. Leave the timing chip in your bag. DO the race, get your medal, cheat… whatever. Just leave your chip behind.

    2) If you find that you can’t finish or find that you have to modify the rules… do the honorable thing and take your chip OFF. Give it to a volunteer. Again… you get your medal, your honor is intact, you FINISH on your terms and you don’t screw over people concerned about placement.

    Now I have a thought on format. I thought about this slogging up the last hill after tractor pull. I had some time (sheesh it got hot)… The burpee penalty doesn’t work. A time penalty wouldn’t really work either. What they COULD do is have a requirement that a minimum number of obstacles be completed. How do you enforce this?

    Example:
    a) Have 30 obstacles, and have a volunteer give a poker chip with a number on it at each obstacle. (number one at obstacle 1, number 2 at 2 and so on)

    b) When you complete your obstacle you give up your chip (you start with a 0) and get a new chip with a higher number.

    c) You leave your lower number chip behind.

    d) At the end of the race you need to have a chip with a 25 or higher on it to be placed.

    e) If you don’t have the required number you STILL get your medal! Your chip is simply held in a box and doesn’t cross the finish mat until all other racers are DONE.

    e) For every number HIGHER than 25 you get a time BONUS. You can subtract 2 minutes from your time.

    What you have now is a race where strategy, a fair assessment of one’s capability and a bit of gambling takes place. All racers are incentivized to do all the obstacles but you can still finish if you don’t. There are no penalties to asses and an easy method for having the volunteers police for fairness. Reward excellence instead of penalizing failure. The race is hard enough. This allows the format to be inclusive of all types of people…

    Think about it. It is brilliant. There are clearly some logistical issues to sort out but nothing so hard as having a series of 5 gallon pails full of numbered chips on hand (each obstacle would require having 10 buckets. 1 full and one empty for each preceding 5 numbers or in the case of the first 5 a ). Picture Spartan medallion like wooden nickels. The best part is if someone keeps one because they like it then they can’t get their next nickel and further can’t get on the podium! A quick simple search shows me that you can have enough wooden nickels printed for a single Spartan race for about $20k. Spartan pays hundreds of millions annually in advertising. This is a drop in the bucket. You also now have a new merchandising scheme. They could have venue specific nickels to stem cheaters. Could reuse for some races could also have 10 sets of nickels or even have new #25-#30 for each venue.

    Seriously… I just came up with this. Someone in the know… send it to Joe DeSena! AlI ask that I get a season pass for life. 🙂

    Now you have an Olympic sport. Done.

    • I just completed “The Beast” in Vermont. This was my first attempt and second Spartan race. As discussed before, I was completely disgusted by the amount of cheaters. Į actually overheard one guy say “if I would’ve done the sandbag I never would have finished”. Are you friggin kidding me? He was still on the course and probably finished ahead of me. My time was 9hrs 15mins so by no means am I an elite athlete. I also did my 180 burpees due to not completing obstacles that I attempted. So what if I look like a fool falling off the platinum rig. I’d rather look like a fool than walk with the shame knowing I cheated. The cheaters passed me in droves at the second spear throw, most just walking on by, not even attempting it (this is probably after failing to complete rope climb too). So 60 burpees??? Nah we’ll just skip those. One woman actually motioned to my girlfriend (as we banged out miserable burpees), and sort of whispered “you don’t have to do those”. She replied with “why the $^+# wouldn’t I?” She should be ashamed of herself for crossing that finish line high fiving everyone.

      As for a solution, I don’t think you could ever fully eliminate cheaters. They’re like rats, they’ll keep coming back, but maybe one way is to have volunteers monitor each obstacle, observe, and randomly select racers. Select the racers without their knowledge and count their burpees, almost like a random drug test, volenteer writes down bib number, turns in his cheater list at the end of the day, those racers never get a finishing time. Just the fear of “getting caught” may dissuede a potential cheater into doing the right thing. Probably no fix all solution, but to watch cheaters walk parallel outside the barbed wire crawls was infuriating.

    • I agree. I say honor the course, and the challenge for what it offers you: a chance to improve your quality of life.

      Why in the world would you shortchange yourself?

  63. I’ve only done 3 races before (all obstacle-style), and signed up for the Spartan Sprint because my friends said it would be fun.

    In signing up, nowhere did it mention these penalty burpees; I only found out about it a month after signing up, and googled “Spartan race burpees”, which led me here.

    I am not fast, and have no intention of placing. I am now pretty terrified that this will indeed not be a fun race and people will be throwing my vomit-covered, bloody and bruised body some serious shade as I drag myself through a standard 4 point burpee and still take 2 hours to finish.

    I want to do these things because they are fun, and I do like a challenge. I am so not coming to place in any race. I hear your POV, and personally, I think there should have been clear warnings about this when I signed up. It seems to be a thing that only people who already know or have done the Spartan know about. Which totally sucks for someone like me, running in the afternoon for fun, who would not have signed up if I knew about a 30 burpee penalty. 30 is a pretty daunting number to a casual obstacle person like me, especially if I “fail” more than one obstacle.

    I mean, I’m not going in planning on failing any, but if it winds up being more than 1, I’m probably going to die. I’ll still do my best, and try to have fun as I planned, but it’s really annoying that if people take it this seriously (which I totally would if I were a good athlete) that they don’t make it clear when you sign up for the Spartan. I feel very tricked.

  64. What a bunch of whiney cry babies….waaaaaaaaaaaaa i cant tell how good i am, waaaaaaaa i cant tell how much better i am because you skipped your 29th burpee. Put on your big boy and big girl pants and suck it up. That’s why the events have elite waves, so you can go first and show the world how good you are.

    I cant swim but will still enter and take my burpees. I skipped to events at a tough mudder and that didn’t make it a trail run for me…I still gave it everything I had, and earned my damn headband. If you think otherwise frankly you can kiss my ass.

    Stop bitching.

    • Exactly what I wanted to say. For Pete’s sake it’s entertainment, we paid for this stuff and we’ll have fun doing it. If you’re so damn great you get pissed that someone wants to run with friends and skip the hard stuff, so what. People want to have fun. Get over it. What a bunch of babies. Oh I mean Spartan babies.

      • Christian Griffith says:

        Hawaii Jack – clearly, judging by your pen name, you are a fun-lovin, whimsical guy. Thats cool, and a major part of the sport – but so is the spirit of competition and the intergrity of sport. Why do we even have rules at Spartan races. If people don’t really need to adhere to the rules, then why even have rules, or rankings, or a podium?

  65. All I can say is this… I’ve finished 2 Ironman triathlons. I’ve run several marathons. I’ve also competed in many, MANY tris, 5ks, 10ks, and Half Marathons. Now – now that I’m 46 and have undergone 3 (three – yes three) hip replacement surgeries, sustained several broken toes, undergone 2 discectomy back surgeries, lived through 17 (yes, that says seventeen) left hand tenosynovectomy/debridement and reconstruction surgeries, and one crazy free vascular fibula graft (yep – they sliced my calf open – sawed out a good 7 inches of my fibula and then spliced it into my femoral head), oh yeah, and an ACL reconstruction surgery – all can profess is this… you are what you are… you are only what you accomplish and what you are able to set your mind to complete. These races are for fun, but also for a challenge. Don’t cheat. Don’t fake it. I can tell you this – hear me please – I will most certainly finish close to last, if not DEAD LAST on 11/2/2014 in Dallas (Glen Rose), but – BUT – I will absolutely finish the race and will relish in the fact that I am making myself a better physical person, refusing to cheat success and that I, with all my faults and my fat, will know that I got my rear end out of bed, drove to the course and participated in a wildly challenging event and that (even when I come in last) will know that I was there, in the moment, and that I gave my all to finish the challenge of the day. I was not at home asleep. I was not complaining about the constant and ongoing pain somewhere in my body. I was not “consume with work”. I was not hung over. I was not being lazy. I was not telling my kids to “go outside an leave me alone”. I was, in a nutshell, taking a few hours to humble myself and remind myself that without the support of those I love (and, at a Spartan Race those fellow competitors who will selflessly help me push myself to the finish, perhaps even at the detriment of their “personal best” time) I would be lost and without hope. This race is a race… it’s not a life ending matter; however, it may just be a life changing event for some. So – practice your burpees (I know I’ll do at least 120 and my hear rate will be pushing 180) and then grit your teeth and then PUSH, PUSH, PUSH. When it’s done (and please always remember this is for fun, you don’t need to shove me into the trees because you want to save 7 seconds – hey, dude on San Fran, yes I’m talking to you), you will be SPARTAN. You will be all smiles and all kinds of proud, as you very well should be. I can’t WAIT to put myself to the challenge!!!
    See you on the course. I’ll be the one you pass at least once… but the one that WILL NOT QUIT.
    When you see me at the finish line, and you are already showered an drinking beer, remember, sometimes toeing the line and just finishing is a huge victory.
    Save me a beer and a sandwich my brothers and sisters!!!

  66. One thing is quite obvious from reading the countless posts here – many people just aren’t prepared to to take on Spartan. Plain and simple. If you do plan on taking on a challenge like this you should know what the minimal requirements are and more importantly prepare yourself to meet them if it comes down to it.

  67. there are many “everyones a winner” races you can play in.This isnt one of them. If you can’t compete, don’t.

  68. I’m getting into this conversation a little late but here is my two cents. I competed in (and finished) the Spartan Beast in Temecula on Jan 17th. Due to a shoulder injury from the barb-wire crawl, I couldn’t do 30 full burpees and quit at about 24 or so. Technically I was a cheater but it was alot better than girls sitting on their boyfriends shoulders and going through the motions on the monkey bars.

  69. Spartan Man says:

    There needs to be better oversight on these races. By all means, have fun, run the course and if you can’t complete the obstacles, or you refuse to burpee out than your time should not be included within the final finishers. I’m not suggesting people shouldn’t be allowed to run in the race if they can’t complete the obstacles or refuse to do the burpees, but their scores should not be included in the final scores as it creates a very inaccurate scoring. With that said, if you can’t complete any of the obstacles or do burpees, why do the race?

    I do a number of triathlons and when you can’t finish in time , it simply states DNF (did not finish). That person is more than welcome to finish and can still go home having felt they’ve accomplished it. This should be no different than the Spartan races and other mud races. Run the course, have fun, get your Spartan finisher trophy, but I don’t think it’s appropriate that your score is included in the final scoring that’s all. If you get injured and you can’t finish the obstacles than take the penalty, rest, recover and try it again a few months later after you’ve healed.

  70. I hate the cheaters in the warrior dash. Warrior dash has given up too it seems. Last race in MTN City GA had one competitive heat, no timing chips, no one taking numbers of the cheaters just skipping obstacles. The “runners” that finished high skirted all the swimming obstacles and anything that didn’t have a course manager (most obstacles).

  71. I read this article several months ago initially and I was so disheartened that I just had to ignore it and go on because I had just signed up for all 3 spartan races with a good friend of mine and I didn’t even know what I was waking in to. I think that it’s highly unjustified to tell people that if they can’t complete the course like you think they should that they shouldn’t do it. In the past I’ve done many mud runs and obstacle courses so I wasn’t entirely blind, but I knew the Spartans were going to be much different. If I had listened to articles like yours and then decided that I shouldn’t sign up for the races, I would have missed out on one of the best experiences ever.

    I just completed a Sprint and I have a Beast coming up in a few weeks. Can I get through all the obstacles? Nope! Did I try every one? Yup! Did my girlfriend and I help one another out? Damn straight! And if there was something we couldn’t do, you could be damn sure we at least gave it a try, regardless of how pathetic we looked, and then crawled over to do our grueling burpees. We did a LOT of burpees, and we had some of the worst finish times for our age group but we crossed the finish line with our integrity intact and I can’t wait to do it again.

    More importantly, just because I’m not, nor will ever be anywhere close to an elite racer, and just because there are some obstacles I know I’ll never be able to complete, doesn’t mean I shouldn’t sign up for these OCR’s. I fought and survived lymphoma, and after a YEAR! cancer free, I do OCR’s to prove to myself that there is still so much life to live. I do it to remind myself that if you just push hard enough and long enough, you can get through anything. We each fight our own battles and we each have different reasons for doing Spartans (or any OCR’s for that matter) and while I realize you’re entitled to your own opinion, I am equally entitled to think that you’re wrong in your approach to it. But at the end of the day, all I can say is thank goodness the vast majority of Spartan racers are a massively supportive community instead of like this.

    • @Lynn
      I think you missed the whole point of the article – you are a perfect example of what every single participant should be, you are honest with yourself, the course and the other racers. You have integrity. You got down and did your burpees like a champ, you kicked ass just like you did the cancer.

      The problem arises when there are people that refuse to do the penalty associated with failing an obstacle. Should they still get a medal, sure whatever. Should they have their time posted as being an hour faster than if they had done all their burpees – hell no. There are more cameras on the Spartan courses now to ensure racers do all their burpees but until I hear Spartan has actually added time penalties to the people that do 10 squat thrusts and leave then it’s hard for me to really know if my placement is accurate or not.

      Is it possible to monitor every single racer that comes through the course? Unfortunately not. Some races reduce prices if you’re not looking for a timing chip, maybe that’s an option. Maybe you don’t get added to rankings until you’ve made a verbal statement to honor the course. Maybe in the future timing chips will be more technologically advanced and able to count your burpees so the race only needs to say this person failed the obstacle and a computer can say obstacle fail & burpees completed or obstacle fail & burpees cheated (time penalty).

      If everyone could have Lynn’s integrity on the course we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

  72. Well this post was originally written in 2013, fast forward to 2015 and we now see battle frog race and savage race not to mention OCR world championships using the wristband method. You try an obstacle over and over until you complete it you keep your wristband, there are no Burpee’s, there is no penalty except if you fail an obstacle you lose your wristband. You can then claim with pride upon full completion of the course with a wristband, and your time is only compared to those others that have kept their wristbands. I’d like to see spartan race go in this direction, I have failed obstacles at spartan race after single attempt and would have killed to stay at that obstacle to claim success. In order to do this however Spartan would have to make its heats smaller and thus lose revenue.

  73. Jeremy Steele says:

    I challenge myself every race. If there are penalties for not completing an obstacle (only ones I have done a penalty is Spartan and Battlefrog) I make sure to do that penalty correctly, fully, and to the full count. If I do not, I am not executing what I train hard for and I am not giving my all. The last Spartan race I did I had to do 120 burpees, with some of my wife’s as well. I wouldn’t and couldn’t finish the race if I didn’t do them the right way. I will not cheat myself. Like you said, if you don’t want to the penalties correctly, stay with the non-penalty races.

  74. Personally I think the Burpee should be replaced with the 8-Point Push-up.

    It’s a much more structured exercise which is much easier to critiqued. Plus you would only need 20 of them to achieve the same level of fatigue and time penalty as Burpees.

    The problem with Burpees is that there are just way too many interpretations. To be honest I don’t even agree with your description Cranky. If we let your thighs and hips touch the ground during burpees back when I was in the Army there would have plenty of “Remedial PT” after work that day. Plus we were always taught that Burpees had a tuck jump at the top of the movement.

    When it comes to elite’s my opinion is that if they are unable to complete an obstacle after 3 attempts they should be out of the running – end of story. If you aren’t able to complete all obstacles you probably shouldn’t be racing in the elites.

  75. A couple of points here.

    I think first we need to make a distinction between physically challenged athletes and all others (not training or being injured is not a qualification for being considered physically challenged) in an actual RACE. I will use Ironman Triathlons as an example as it is a world I know well and more akin to OCR. In the Ironman Triathlon Race there are rules (a lot of them) and divisions for PC athletes and a separate set of rules and divisions for non-PC athletes as well as rules that apply to both equally. The PC athletes are required to follow ALL of the rules and the non-PC althletes are required to follow ALL of the rules otherwise they are assessed penalties or DQed. Failure to follow the rules and serve the full penalty when assessed results in disqualification. IM is very serious about this and I have seen athletes disqualified. Spartan Race should consider an Open/Elite division for PC athletes and define a set of rules to govern that. Spartan Race NEEDS to correct this in real fairness to the PC athletes AND if they want to be considered a real race. They do have allowances for PC athletes like sharing burpees and accepting help on the course. This does of course require many of the PC athletes to have a team. What it doesn’t do though is give the PC athletes a division to compete in.

    Second…back to our analogy. Completing a Full Ironman Tri requires swimming 2.4 miles, cycling 112 miles, and running 26.2 miles in 17 hours. Individuals that aren’t up to swimming, or biking, or running each of those distances don’t simply get to choose not to do one of those or cut them short or hitch a ride, take a boat, or ride a motorcycle because they feel like it or they are hurt. Failure to complete the distance in the method described by the rules for PC and non-PC athletes results in FAILURE. It is a race it has the rules of a race, failure to follow the rules is a DNF (Did Not Finish ). Do people cheat and get a away with it? Sometimes, but they only get away with collecting a medal and NOT with getting an official time because there are timing mats EVERYWHERE and refs. They know they failed, they know they aren’t really an “Ironman”. People who show up to Ironman and don’t finish are not then an “Ironman” period. This is why it is prestigious to be an Ironman because you have to earn it and everyone knows it. If you go out to any REAL race with times and rules and penalties and you fail then it is a call to either quit or try harder next time, not call yourself a title you did not earn. At the end of the day you KNOW you did not earn it, that you aren’t the same as the people that did. Spartan Race and OCRs that have rules and assess penalties are races. In OCR this is distinct from Tough Mudder and the loads of other OC events that don’t. People who are not up to a Spartan or Battlefrog should NOT show up, or they should show up go out fail, admit failure and figure out how to achieve success so that they can EARN their finish.

    Third… now comes the hard part. When you sign up for AN ACTUAL RACE and you don’t follow the rules and pay the FULL penalties, you did not finish the race. You failed, pure and simple. What does this mean? Failure IS an acceptable outcome. Too many people today think that it was not them that failed but rather the race was too hard, or they were injured, or the rules too stringent, or the weather too hot, or whatever and they use that to JUSTIFY getting away with whatever they can so they don’t have to FACE the consequence of failing. No one learns anything from avoiding their failures. All it does it reinforce the “I deserve” and the over used “It’s not fair” mentality. Some things in life really aren’t fair, like getting run over, or having a limb blown off, or being born with a physical impairment. Failing at a race because you did not train hard enough for whatever comes IS fair, it IS deserved. Refusing to fail by not following the rules is NOT fair to those who do or to yourself.

  76. Cranky Bastard, I read your article and about half of your responses. I completely agree with what I read so far. However, I highly doubt people are going to join together in mass and suddenly have outstanding character and logic. Arguing with people is a waste of time. So, the solution involves taking the racers out of the equation. Here are two viable, simple solutions:

    1. Employee people (or instruct volunteers) to catch cheaters to force the cheaters to complete penalties; and
    2. If the cheater clearly does not complete the obstacle or the penalty, then the cheater must take a lengthy time penalty that will be added to their finish time.

    Having said that, the skipping of a penalty must be egregious. If the racer just has terrible burpee form, then a time penalty should NOT be assessed for that. The rules of the burpee need to be so simple that any mindless judge can make the call. Based on what I read about the rules for a burpee in the Spartan race, the rules are simple enough.

  77. Taiji Tamura says:

    I have the ugliest burpee form ever. I love and hate them at the same time. that said, I do burpees as part of my regular day because I hate them more than I love them. It makes it so that when, yes WHEN, I fuck up on an obstacle, that I will be able to do them. When I am exhausted and have nothing left, my burpees are ugly as sin but I throw myself on the ground and stand back up and “jump” with what little I do have left. I don’t know that anyone by the end of a Spartan has good burpee form, but for me, if they hit the ground chest and all, get back up, and get maybe a 1-inch vertical on their jump, I’m good with it.

  78. I’m 53, overweight but down 60 lbs from my high, and going to do my first Spartan Sprint with my 29 year old daughter….some father/daughter bonding time. I have bad arthritis in both shoulders. I can do many obstacles…I think, but monkey bars cause intense pain.
    I’ve tried monkey bars many times to get ready…it is just not possible. I’m willing to pay the burpee penalty, but don’t see any reason to just up on the monkey bars prior to doing them, just to say I tried the obstacle.

  79. IntenseRegard says:

    In regards to the Spartan Race, You Have Different Classifications Ergo Sprint, Super, Beast, Ultra Beast, Etc. If your on a team your Team can assist you, So is that a form of Cheating? I hear people saying “I want to Classify Myself and my Score To Compare with Other People.” But in reality Even if someones Does every Single Obstacle, (Some You Can’t Assist of Course Just because of the Obstacle Itself, Not because People can’t or Won’t Help for Example Monkey Bars Over Water). Does that mean that they are in the same class as you? Cheaters are going to Cheat regardless but the rules of the Spartan race do not say “Don’t Help Your Teammates” In Reality it Says Quite the Opposite Contrary to Popular Belief. This is why they have an Elite in the Morning before the Race. These are those who train Specifically for that race and do it in about 2 hours or so. Cheaters are Only Cheating themselves. They have Paid their Money for their shirt and Medal and can boast all the want but in their own hearts they know they failed. Spartan Race is all about SELF Improvement and how you fair against Yourself not others. The Classification of your times can give you a General Idea of your age group etc. But in reality, Whats the Difference between someone who does an incorrect Burpee or someone who got Help Climbing a Wall? Did the Person who could not Climb the Wall Cheat, Because their teammate helped them? or Did the Guy that gave his ALL to Climb the Wall and failed and his muscles were so exhausted that he was unable to complete “30” Correct Burpees Cheat? Thats why its all about SELF Achievement. I Saw Ex Military with Missing Limbs in the Race, Tell Them Their Cheating Cause they Can’t Do a Burpee. Tell that individual who is trying to lose weight because their life depends on it that they can’t Enjoy a Spartan Race because they can’t do a Burpee. So all you Whiners out there talking about your Stats. If you REALLY want to Compete? Then Run with the Elites in the Morning. Other than that, Have Fun, Enjoy Yourself in your own way as everyone else that paid their Money is going to do, and STOP Worrying about who is Cheating and who is not Cheating. I finished a Super With one Arm when i got injured after Mile 4. I Still Did what I was supposed to do, Even When the Officials told me to just give my Best Effort and that I didn’t have to Complete the Entire Obstacles I Still DID, Regardless of How much Pain I was In, I saw People Perfectly Healthy Failing an Obstacle and not doing their Burpees like they are supposed to. But Who Cares.. I Know I did What I had to do, even with One Arm and Even when i wasn’t able to Complete an Obstacle, Like the Monkey Bars Due to the Arm Injury. I Still Did One Arm Burpees to the Best of my Ability because that’s who I AM. Doesn’t Matter what anyone else Does. So Stop thinking this is an Olympic Event. Just Do the best you can for YOURSELF and let others worry about themselves.

  80. Red Spartan says:

    I’d like to be able to compare my non-elite (i.e. open) race time to others and have the ranking mean something. Our race fee’s include a timing chip which comes with the implicit understanding that you will be timed in a fair and even manner. If other races do not complete the obstacles or burpees, then their times and rankings don’t have any meaning. That DOES NOT mean those people should be discouraged from racing and giving it their all, only that their time and my time are apples and oranges.

    There seems to be a couple of simple solutions I’d love some feedback on if anyone reads this:

    1) Add an opt-in check box on the registration website that indicates your desire to receive a timing chip and acknowledgement that you will attempt all obstacles and/or do the requisite penalty (burpees) fully and completely regardless of the time it takes, etc… This alone should solve a lot of the problem. I think most people that are there just to have fun and give it a try will have no problem NOT having a timing chip. Those who are a bit more competitive will feel they are being pitted against like-minded individuals.

    2) Instruct the race marshalls to record the bib numbers of anyone who violates the rules and either assess a time penalty or simply DQ them. This is non-confrontational and very easily implemented. Anyone that skips burpess will still have their race time, but they would not be included in the ranking. This way they can run their own race without taking anything away from anyone else.

    Thoughts?

    • Spartangirl says:

      @red Spartan: Excellent ideas! Look, if you want to run Spartan and not be a jerk (i.e. Cheater), do 30 true burpees a day for a month or two prior to your race. It’s called training. Would you attempt a marathon without training? Spartan is a race, not a fun run. Hence the chip. So get off your ass and train so the rest of us who did train and can do all their burpees can get a fair time. What ever happened to personal integrity?! Pathetic. I’d be ashamed to skip my burpees.

  81. William Kus says:

    This is how the world is. People cheat in business, school, sports, whatever. It sucks to feel like a shmuck because you lose every time to someone who cheats.

    The reason people can cheat is because there are shmucks like us out there who try to do it the right way.

    But like you said, they are only cheating themselves. Their physical fitness will not be as good as it can be. They will lack integrity and character. Yeah!!! That’s little consolation, though.

    And unfortunately, in cases like this, the only thing you can feel proud of is knowing you did do everything in your power to be ethical and have integrity. It really builds character to be able to succeed despite cheaters being all over the place. It makes you work harder. It makes you stop caring about what other people might be doing and you learn to take pride in yourself.

    Because you can’t control other people, and trying to only hurts you, not them. It’s a good lesson.

    • William Kus says:

      And you get in really good shape and build that mental toughness. Same with school. You can cheat through school and get that degree, or you can actually learn the stuff they are teaching and better yourself. You can rip someone off in business, you or can make an honest buck and feel good that you are treating people the way you would like to be treated and the way you would like to see the world be.

  82. Yeah, it’s your race but skipping parts then continuing on to others is like skipping your vegetables and eating your desert and claiming you finished your meal. Do you burpees and pull out after the last mile or two but either way don’t claim you finished. In my opinion having someone lift you over an obstacle doesn’t constitute clearing it and also affects others’ rankings.
    You’ll never catch me at a mud ra$e.

  83. Maybe the solution is as simple as adding x-number of minutes for a skipped obstacle. Dunno. About to do my first Sprint and will be completing penalties as instructed.

    This thread might be better suited to compare to a gold stroke. I take every single penalty the rules demand, where some of my buddies are good with “gimmes”, and don’t take a stroke for balls out of play. Defeats the purpose 100%.

  84. JUST DO IT says:

    Judge all you want, but you cannot take my accomplishment away from me. I was over 300 pounds a year ago. I started working out at a gym and a few people decided that they wanted to do a spartan race. They convinced me to commit to with them, even though I could barely walk up my driveway without getting winded, let alone a 5 mile course up and down a ski mountain. Oh yeah – throw in some obstacles as well. I lost a lot of weight and still have a lot to lose. I had nothing to lose by attempting the Spartan race.

    Going in, I KNEW there was no way I could do any of the things like rope climb, monkey bars, etc. I just don’t have the strength to weight ratio. But, I still ATTEMPTED the obstacles. I did not do the burpees on those obstacles. Sorry – but I was just happy to be there and doing the 4-5 miles. PLUS some tough obstacles. I got to the top of the slippery wall – and then slipped. All the way down. I landed flat on my back. Got the wind knocked out of me for a few seconds. I got back up and started to try again. I slipped after a few steps – and then moved on. No burpees. The fall was punishment enough, thank you. Another fall off of the inside of the inverted wall. No burpees. I didn;t want to keep up with anybody else. I did need to conserve my energy to do finish the course. I did burppes on the spear throw – that is something that I “should” be able to doubt just missed. Yes – I did 5 burpees. They sucked. But screw you and your judgement – I was out there DOING this. TRYING this. getting way out of my comfort zone.

    Then – the fire jump. I can’t jump that high on a good day when I’m not exhausted. It must have taken me about 10 minutes and 5 aborted attempts, and a few tears before I went for my “jump.” Kinda jumped over the last log on the side. Barely made it. I FINISHED. A year ago, I could not even consider doing something like this.

    I signed up for another one. My goal is to beat my time – and be able to do the fire jump over the middle. Go ahead. Laugh. Judge. And go screw yourself if you do.

    I finished in just under 3 1/2 hours. 20 of my friends from the gym were there to cheer me across the finish line.

  85. Kristine Scott says:

    Maybe they need to figure out different classes. I understand the article, but I understand those that do their best but are technically still cheating or as the author says…the Biggest Loser types. Kudos to them for moving. But like I said, I do understand the point of the article. So maybe a beginner level until they reach a certain time, but that still relies on an honor code for burpees.

  86. This is an interesting blog….. I just came back from Hawaii, where I “participated” in the 2017 Spartan Trifecta Weekend. Yeah, I said, “participated.” I’m 59 1/2 and almost died of a heart condition several years back. As part of my recovery regime, I started doing mud runs last year. I was doing the 5k runs, until I did two 10k Marine Corps mud runs at Camp Pendleton and one Spartan Sprint. When I decided to sign up for the Hawaii Trifecta, the Beast and the Super were at distances I have never done before. I signed up in the “Competitive” wave, not to compete with the “Spartan Studs,” but because I needed to buy myself the four (4) extra hours of sunlight!

    I take heart medication and prepped myself beforehand, although I couldn’t take any medication up on the Race Course. I completed the Saturday Beast in about 10 1/2 hrs (I don’t think I got in the way of any of the Elite runners.) The next morning, I was feeling the effects of my medical condition. My wrists, knees and ankles had swollen to twice their normal size. I took 1400mg of ibuprofen, slapped on knee braces and headed out to complete the Super and Sprint. Now, Spartan does have disclaimers at each obstacle, stating that, “if you have a condition… you can choose not to participate.” I got to the Bucket Brigade (which I completed during the Beast) and one of the volunteers stated he was an EMT and asked if I had sprained my wrists. When I said, “No,” he looked at my ankles and asked if I had a heart condition. I told him I did and he suggested I not do the Buckets. He even cut off my “Free beer” wrist bands, which were now cutting into my swollen wrists. Unfortunately for me, I believe one of the “split timers” was on the Bucket loop, so I may have been DQ’d (not sure,) because I can’t find my times on the website. I also skipped the Buckets on the Sprint. At one point, I was so dizzy, I went off course a bit to get to a water station. Then I got back on course and kept moving on. I did choose not to do a few remaining obstacles because I was in a bit of duress and trying to get off the mountain. I do these races alone, so I had no one to help me if I “crashed.” I did cross the finish line and got a “Finishers” Medal. If they post my times, you’ll see I’m at the back of the pack. But I did not quit!

    I got a good sense of my limitations, although I don’t like to use that word. It’s not easy getting old and having medical conditions. The Spartan Race is the ultimate test, but I don’t think it should be open to “Elite” athletes only. Run in an “Open Wave,” and you’ll see people struggling with personal demons (fear of heights) and people trying not to allow physical and emotional challenges stop them from competing. I did not complete the course as it was set up. But, I was not “cheating,” for me, “finishing” was the biggest challenge and the goal.

    I’ll continue to enjoy the challenges of these OCR’s . I can’t find any of my friends, especially at my age, who will participate with me, so I will continue to run alone. I’m trying to beat age and medical issues and these OCR’s have become personal and are my “road” back to health recovery. So share the course and the mud with the rest of us, and next time you see me on the trail, yell, “on your left” and I’ll move out of your way as you blow past me.

Trackbacks

  1. […] back, I wrote an article about cheating in obstacle races, and more specifically, the huge number of participants not performing their burpee penalties […]