2014 Indiana Spartan Sprint Review

Indiana Spartan RaceOne hour ago I was sitting in an ice bath, teeth chattering, starting the recovery from a race that is a veritable terror to knees, hamstrings, and IT bands.  Five and a half hours ago I watched my daughter and dozens of other kids give everything they had on their own 1 mile obstacle course.  Eight and a half hours ago I was doing burpees – my penalty for missing what I thought was one of the easier Spartan spear throw obstacles I’ve ever seen.  About that time, Brakken Kraker was winning the men’s race and Amelia Boone followed soon thereafter as the female winner.  Nine and a half hours ago, I cautiously began my first race in 6 months and the first real challenge that my rehabbed hamstrings and IT Bands had faced.

I’ve said before that the Indiana Spartan Sprint course is one of my favorites and it remains as such.  The course path changed.  The order and types of obstacles changed.  The terrain didn’t change.  This almost 5 mile course wound up and over and through ravines – about a thousand times!  Slight exaggeration, but not overly so.  I think most racers would describe the course as series after series after series of short ascents and descents.  While my strategy of starting slowly may have been beneficial to my still healing “knee area”, it took away one of my strengths – racing downhill.  There were plenty of downhills, but I found myself behind too many people to get up to full speed.  These downhill ascents were not only downhill, but they curved frequently and sometimes sharply and were strewn with loose and jagged stone.  The few times when I attempted to pass people, I would inadvertently bump them as my momentum carried my through the curves (not around them).  I didn’t want to be “that guy”, so I backed off a little.

The signature Spartan obstacles were there – spear throw; over-under-through walls; rope climb; 6 and 8 foot walls; sandbag carry; traverse wall; inverse wall; barbed wire crawl; cargo net;  herculean hoist; tractor pull; and slippery wall.  No bucket brigade.  No log carry.  No Hobie Hop. No atlas carry.  No rolling mud.  There was however, a short water crossing and a couple of shoe-eating mud obstacles.  The rope climb area doubled as a dual obstacle with a ladder-type climb up the sides of the stacked storage bins and a beam walk across the open area from where the ropes hung.  The obstacle was very safe due to the various cross beams and cage-like structure to prevent anyone from actually falling through.  It did however cause a few racers to pause before going across.  For the open heats, there was a “Gamble” option.  Racers could choose to either climb a short steep hill or run down a creek bed and complete 10 burpees at the end.  Overall, this year’s course seemed to check in lower on the brutality scale.  Perhaps it just felt that way because I didn’t go full throttle.  Goal number one for me was to not re-injure myself in a way that would further delay any comeback training.  I think I met that one.

In the 6 months I have been absent from racing, Spartan has stepped up it’s game with regard to the non-race experience.  Different and better shirts.  Finishers received not only water and a banana, but also a protein shake and a protein bar from new sponsors, Core Power and Clif Bar.  Overall food choices were better and there appeared to be more activity in the festival area.  Of course the medals are new.

It’s a cliche’, but today I ran my own race.  For one of the very, very few times I was not overly-competitive.  I tested strategy.  I tested my body.  I tested technique.  While nowhere near my best race, I’m satisfied that I gained some useful knowledge for the future.  Goal number two (qualify for the OCR World Championships) was accomplished and I gained a little more confidence in my body’s ability to withstand racing again.  I am on my way back and more importantly, I think I will be back better.

110 PlayHarder Playmaker Jeff Cain
Thanks 110% PlayHarder for the recovery gear!





  1. Great review Jeff,
    I thought the race was great and the staff/vols did a great job. Ther only complaint is on timing chips. My buddy and I crossed together but the official time said I finished 20 mins after him. Not a huge deal since I am not the next Hobie. lol. I just wish I new what my acctual time was. Once again hanks for the review. Aroo!

    • @Jason, I’ve had something similar happen to me before. Sometimes they can figure it out and correct it if you bring it to their attention. Congrats on the finish!

  2. I ran in the 9:15 heat with a few friends. At the finish line, we all had about the same time when we checked out the readings on the tablets they had right afterward.

    The postings on the website are crazy, though. I shaved an hour off of what my actual time was. I’m a little irked. Not too sure if anyone else has had that issue.

  3. I ran in the 9:15 heat with some friends. We all finished about the same time, and even checked the tablets they had right at the finish to see what our times were. After checking the times posted on their website, though, I found mine to have an hour taken off what my actual time was.

    Was curious if anyone else had experienced this?

    • With a hat tip to Erik Samaro who emailed Spartan regarding the incorrect finishing times, here was Spartan’s response.

      “Thank you for your email and I apologize for the issues you are having with your results. Please note we are aware of issues with the posted results including some racers results missing altogether. Not to worry though as we have all the accurate results in our internal system, however an error occurred when transferring them to Athlinks for posting. We are working on getting this taken care of as quickly as possible. Please note it can take up to 1 week for all results to be posted however we are hoping the posted results will be corrected in the next 24 hours.”

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