This is Sparta!

This year, tens of thousands of people will subject themselves to:

(i) drowning and cold water; (ii) near-drowning and cold water; (iii) sprains; (iv) strains; (v) fractures; (vi) heat and cold injuries; (vii) over-use syndrome; (viii) injuries involving vehicles and caused by electrocution; (ix) animal bites and/or stings; (x) contact with poisonous plants; (xi) accidents involving, but not limited to, paddling, climbing, biking, hiking, skiing, snow shoeing, travel by boat, truck, car, encountering electrocution , or other convenience;(xii) heart attack and (xiii) the potential for permanent paralysis and/or death.

for… a generic medal or a badge?

The Spartan Race, incase you haven’t heard has blown up into a fad that everyone but your Mom is talking about. Well except my Mom who has strongly urged me on multiple occasions not to do the Spartan Race this Sunday at Mont Tremblant. “Why not just let yourself come in last?” she said this morning. I balk at the suggestion! I am the guy who as a kid on the playground would rather pull himself off the recess soccer field if I broke my leg than let the game be disturbed. I’m the guy that spent summer after summer since I was 12 training at the gym or going to bootcamps for a chance to make it to the NHL or as my hockey bros called it: “the Show.” I am also a victim of incredible new-age promotions from the marketers at Spartan Race.

They have convinced me, and many more like me, to run 5km and hop, skip and probably stumble around 10 obstacles that they won’t even tell me about. I expect something like jumping over fire, crawling through mud under barbed wire, and maybe even swinging over a mucky moat. When you sign up they say that all you will get is a t-shirt, a medal and bruises, but really all you get is a t-shirt, a medal and bruises.

Why the hell would anyone subject themselves to so much pain and discomfort? It is how the race is presented that turns off your biological danger meter and cranks up your survival clock.

Jaw-dropping HD videos with pump-up music and the most famous motivational speeches ever known to man can be found at Spartan Life. And I’m talking Ali, Rocky and that sick Al Pacino speech from Any Given Sunday. But that’s not all. Inspirational stories, and bone-bruising Workouts of the Day (#WOD) highlight the incredible website, Twitterfeed, and daily email digest. Even the white on black font screams out challenge!

No I am not being paid by Spartan Race to loft them high on a pedestal, it is out of an utter respect for their promotion, marketing and rhetoric that I am blogging about it. And, it is not Spartan Race alone that has figured out a way to get people to spend lots of money on injuring themselves. Extreme sports have done it for years. Marathons and super marathons and super duper ironman marathons speckle the map and are found in most of the world’s major cities.

Fuck yeah I ran a half-marathon. So you wanna mess? (Means nothing, nothing at all).

Yet, the way that the Spartan Race, Peak.com and the Montreal-based workout community of Training Mobs have taken it to the next level is by incorporating social networking, or more specifically, the “hey have you checked this crazy shit out!?” tactic.

#WOD are always accompanied with a Twitter hashtag. You can search on Peak.com for “people like you” in your “network,” and click on profiles of other crazy athletes. On Training Mobs, the whole site is set up to be a social network for those wanting to go for runs together or catch the odd Cross Fit workout in a warehouse near you. Most importantly, you are encouraged to do these workouts or races as a team – getting you to do the recruiting and promotions for them.

Just because these strategies get the owners of these fit sheek enterprises your money, does not mean it is a bad thing. Instead of saying go for a jog 3 days a week around the block, they are demanding that you push it with every single workout that you do.

I challenge you to try one of the WOD. Run, chin-ups, sprints, burpees, squats, sprints, repeat, repeat, repeat.

The all too famous 300 workout, by the best get fit marketers in the business Men’s Health magazine, said to be the workout done by the actors in the film 300 to get insanely jacked, is still talked about today. Do people do these workouts on a consistent basis? Probably not. But who cares what other people do. It’s “Me Against the World” as Tupac said, right?

The idea of pushing it in your workouts will carry over to the rest of your life because you know what, life isn’t that hard for most people that enter these races or competitions. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and jumping over fire is.

It must be funny to ask someone who’s life is hard. Who struggles paycheque to paycheque or even hunt to hunt in order to survive. What about those living in war torn places like Mogadishu, Somalia or in urban DRC? “Why the hell would you pay money to get bruises and risk your life for basically nothing?” I’ve been convinced by the epic marketing, now I guess I’ll know at the finish line on Sunday what the rest is all about.

Damn it! “You’ll know at the finish line” is the Spartan Race’s slogan. Sunk into the marketing genius again…

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4 thoughts on “This is Sparta!

  1. Cleve Harowicz

    What a whiny post.

    The race is composed of consenting members, who are fully aware of what their training regiments consist of. Their objective for the most part is not have a fit lifestyle, but instead to participate in something that is conspicuously marketed in a manner that encourages teamwork and the completion of silly objectives.

    Don’t compare it to wars in developing countries either. The appeal to emotion is a bleak one.

  2. This is your Mom speaking. The reason I said what I did, was you keep telling me that you haven’t had much time to train. If you want to go in the Spartan Race I wish you luck and enjoy the challenge!

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