Are They the Same? Australian vs US Spartan Races

It goes without saying, no Spartan Race is created equally. Each is designed to test you physically and mentally. Even if you've raced at the same location more than once, it is highly unlikely it will be the exact same race. 

I recently participated in my first US Spartan race. Before the start, I was excited and nervous. There were many obstacles I had never encountered. Some seemed incredibly intimidating (I'm looking at you A-Frame. It's not the height that scares me, it's the falling) and others I was seriously looking forward to (I'm talking about the Dunk Wall!). 



Before the race, I did not think the races would be that different. Spartan is the same company, you would expect there to be the same rules and regulations throughout. But there were some significant differences I noticed between the two countries races. 

**Some of this information may not be accurate. I have only done 1 Spartan race in the US and 6 in Australia. All accounts below are my personal experiences with Spartan thus far**

Organisation
Sorry Oz but the US Spartan races are incredibly well organised. From picking up your race packet to starting times to the finish line, the Spartan SOCAL was a well-oiled machine pumping out Spartan Warriors like they were headed to battle. 

The only downside, you couldn't sneak into an earlier heat. I made the mistake of thinking my start time was 12:30, not 1:30 and arrived at the arena super early. I tried to get into the 12:30 heat as scheduled the rest of my day around a 12:30 start time but was unable to do so. Oh well, I still had a killer time on the course!

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The Obstacles
This was probably the most exciting part. There were different obstacles between any of the Aussie races I had previously run. Obstacles that were newer to the States (Olympus, Z-Wall and the Atlas Carry), had been in Australia since I started racing. But I had never done the Bucket Brigade, A-Frame, or Dunk Wall. Please please please can the Twister come to Australia? I've been wanting to conquer this obstacle for a while but haven't had the opportunity. 

Other obstacles differences, Australia still does the Gladiators and Balance Beams. Australia also has the Fortress which is an impressive rock climbing wall you must scale up and over to avoid doing burpees. 

I also appreciated the sturdiness of the Multi-Rig during my US race. Australia tends to stick to Monkey Bars, so it was a lot of fun to tackle the Multi-Rig. Australia just announced that they would be introducing 12 new obstacles to the races, I'm beyond excited to see if any of them are obstacles I tackled during my SOCAL Sprint. 


Force a friend to run a Spartan for your birthday

The Penalties
DISCLAIMER!!! Everything I am about to say is just observation. I realise that everyone is racing their own race unless you're in the competitive or elite heats. I am in no way, shape, or form knocking people down for their decisions on how to race THEIR RACE

In Australia, if it is your first race, you're granted a Rookie Pass. This means if you fail an obstacle, you do not need to do the burpee penalties. Personally, I think this is an incredible way to welcome people into the sport. It makes the race slightly less intimidating and means people are more willing to give it a go. 

While the Rookie Pass is not offered in the US, I was a little surprised at how many people I saw completely skipping their penalties. There were very few people I witnessed actually do their penalties at any capacity. I've had to adjust my penalties and switch to squats when I busted my wrist during a race, but I still did some form of a penalty when failing an obstacle. 

In Australia, it was rare to see a person skip their penalties. There are a lot more modifications to the penalties, especially during the Sprint, but they were still done. 

At the end of the day, it's your race. You do what you're capable of while still pushing yourself. You're already a winner that you got your booty on the course and tried. 

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The Comradery
The comradery is probably the most incredible aspect of a Spartan Race. It's not every man/woman for themselves, you get through this together. The teamwork attitude was present both in the US and Australia. The only difference, at the SoCal Sprint, people waited for you to ask for help with an obstacle. In Australia, the second someone sees you struggling they offer you support. Regardless, all Spartan racers are ready to help you be the best you possible. 

Regardless of what country you're in, why not push yourself and sign up for a race. Yes, it's intimidating. Yes, it will challenge the f*ck out of you. Yes, you may cry at some point. But it will be SO worth it! If you've ever run a Spartan Race before, share your story in the comments to help encourage new racers!


And until next time...
AROO!

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22 comments

  1. This sounds like an amazing race. I think I would like to try the Australian version first because of the rookie pass and the fact that people offer help. I'm a bit shy to ask for help.

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    1. The rookie pass was my saving grace. I signed up for my first Spartan race two weeks out with no training what so ever. The ability to choose if I wanted to do the burpees or not helped get me hooked on Spartan.

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  2. Wow, I always wanted to learn more about Spartan races and now I kind of understand what is it. I guess both needed a very strong and fit to be able to join this incredible race.

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    1. That's actually a common misconception. I did my first Spartan race with absolutely zero training what so ever. Unless you're participating in the elite or age group categories, Spartan is geared to challenging yourself and pushing past your mental blocks. Even if you're not strong or fit, I highly suggest giving it a go!

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  3. I have a few friends who have done these races and love them. I am totally not fit or athletic enough but they do seem like a lot of fun!

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    1. I did my first Spartan with zero training! It's not about being fit or athletic, it's about challenging yourself. If you think you can do it, you can!

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  4. These sound like fun races. I did a dirty dash race with my teen and he loved it.

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  5. WOW!!! This sounds really interesting. I've never run a Spartan race, personally I'm not an athlete or sports sort of a person but I really enjoyed reading your article. It was different and fun. Thanks a lot for sharing!

    Rukh AZ.

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  6. Never tried to join in any race but Spartan Race looks so interesting and it looks like a lot of fun aside from that you are able to meet a lot of people from a different countries.

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    1. It is a great way to meet new people! I've made friends all over the world because of our mutual love of Spartan races. It's such a great community!

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  7. I hadn't heard of the Spartan races before. It was quite interesting reading your article on the similarities and differences between the US and Australia on the competition. Congrats to you on competing 7 times too!

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  8. I've never heard of a Spartan Race before, they sound like so much fun! I think the closes thing we have to one in the UK would be a tough mudder.

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  9. That sounds awesome! I wish we have one here. I think the races will also depend on self discipline.

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  10. Sounds really fun! I would love to do one of these races!

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  11. Oh wow - you're a warrior woman! I've always wanted to do one of these types of races... I think I should maybe try the Aussie version first though as I'd be a total rookie :)

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  12. It's not a real challenge unless there's blood, sweat and tears. Or at least sweat and tears. ;)

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  13. I've never heard of Spartan race before, now that is quite new to me. Sounds interesting and fun though I don't think I can handle this.

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  14. My sister has taken part in the Australian one. She absolutely loved it but said it was a challenge x

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  15. Sounds like fun! But this maybe too much of a challenge for me even with the Rookie Pass haha.

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  16. Congratulations! I've never attempted any race at all but you make it look so fun. :)

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  17. What a wonderful post! I don't know if I could do it, but I'd give anything a try. Thanks for sharing! :)

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  18. Youre a brave woman. I feel like these races are so intense!

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