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Spartan athletes train hard and build a community

By Tori Taylor, August 2 2019 —

Spartan is a world-class obstacle course event that will test a contestants physical and mental stamina. This is not a race for just anyone. From off-trail rocky and hilly terrain to deep mud-filled drop-offs, anyone brave enough to run this course will come out feeling victorious. Spartan prides itself on community. There is inner and outer strength to be found in the confidence-building unity that is promoted worldwide. Calgary holds Spartan races in August — one of the last dates for Canadian races. This obstacle course is so much more than a race. Spartan strives to be a philosophy, family, competitive sport and lifestyle.  Many of their sponsored athletes offer training and nutritional programs. 

I raced in the Spartan Sprint last year. It was a game-changer. I have never trained so hard and felt so proud of my hard work’s pay-off when I crossed the finish line. I had the opportunity to interview Krystal Jackart — an athlete who has run in 13 races and placed on the podium for the last four years straight. 

“My step-sister asked me if I wanted to try one out six or seven years ago,” said Jackart. “That first race kicked my ass. It ignited a desire to prove that I could do better — to myself and anyone who doubted me. I’ve shown up every year since — ready to run faster, harder and stronger than the year before.” 

Spartan offers races for the entire family to participate in. You can enter as a team with family and friends. It doesn’t need to be competitive or intimidating if you’re not someone who enjoys the intensity but still wants to participate. 

“I think Spartan puts on a fantastic event. Whether you’re really competitive or you want to do something active with friends or family, you can run in a race that suits you. The courses are always changing, the obstacles are fun. And you can decide how difficult you want it to be. The terrain chosen for each race location offers its own unique challenges. The race directors that map out each annual course utilize the terrain in Calgary to its prime. The course is always well-marked and there are lots of water stations. The awards for finishers and the participant t-shirts are high quality. There are many awards given out.” 

As the point of Spartan races is to test its athletes physically and mentally, Calgary’s weather plays a big role in this race. Mid-August can mean all sorts of weather obstacles. The year I ran was cold and incredibly windy. It was smokey and dusty and I had to bring my inhaler to play it safe. Standing at the starting line, I would have loved to keep my hoodie on and not dive head first into a puddle of mud. Running eight kilometres in mud-caked soaking wet clothes takes commitment and grit when that cold-ass wind rips across your wet skin. 

“You never know what you’re going to get in August — weather wise,” said Jackart. “Some years it’s dry, blistering heat and others it can be cold sheets of rain slamming your face. Personally, I hate the heat – I feel like I’m choking on the dust as it’s kicked up on the track. I struggle to maintain my pace.  Although, the wet cold is also really hard because you can lose your grip strength. Without cold wet hands it is next to impossible to crush the monkey bars, rings, and z-walls.”

If you’ve had this race on your radar and are contemplating trying it out, don’t hesitate. Spartan races are exactly what you make them out to be. It is a phenomenal opportunity to train hard and get yourself in the best shape. Trying brand new types of training is fun and will keep your body healthy and strong without physical plateau. 

Jackart uses multiple methods to train for her races. 

“I like to mimic the races during my training. Sometimes when I go running. I will stop and do body weight or plyometric exercises — like push ups in the river to get used to the wet and cold — box jumps at a picnic table, burpees in a field, or monkey bars in a playground,” she said. “ Another favourite workout is using a Home Depot bucket filled with rocks and carrying it up and down steep hills. This definitely prepares you for the hill climbs and heavy carries that you’ll face during the race.”

Spartan races are offered throughout Canada. Participants have the opportunity to race in more than one if it is something you love and want to excel at. Some athletes race in multiple races during the summer. If you’re needing a confidence-boost or some spice to your summer — and love kicking your ass as preparation — look for a Spartan race to compete in. You will not regret it. Let’s be honest. There is not much that feels more powerful than screaming, “THIS IS SPARTA” at the top of your lungs as you power across a starting line with a group of family and friends — except of course getting your butt across that finish line.


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