First Spartan Race attracts 3200 to Wonthaggi

Australian Obstacle Racing News   |   Mar 5, 2013

Competitors run the gauntlet at the end of the gruelling Spartan Run, but it was all in good fun.

WELL over 3200 people arrived in Wonthaggi last Saturday to compete in, or watch, the Reebok Spartan Race at the Wonthaggi MotoCross Track – but hardly anyone in the local area even knew they were there. Many of the 2651 registered competitors came from the Melbourne metropolitan area and a high proportion of them were associated with city fitness gyms or personal training groups. In fact, on the Spartan Race website, the Wonthaggi event is listed as a ‘Melbourne Sprint’ course over 7km with 15 obstacles. There were some local people involved, notably the local ‘I Choose Awesome’ gym which had a team of 14 local people complete course. But many of the competitors and their supporters, including hundreds of children competing in the ‘Kids Spartan Race’, arrived at the venue via Lower Powlett Road, without even entering the town. They came in that way and most of them left that way. Great if it’s low impact you’re looking for but not much value if you’d like to see an economic boost to the town.

Make no mistake. These events are big money. The ‘Melbourne Super’ Spartan Race, for example, over 14km and 20 obstacles at a venue to be announced, on October 6, 2013, costs $95 (early birds), $110 (normal) or $125 (late) to enter. Work it out, that’s potentially $300,000 for a one day event. If you think you’re in the wrong business, you’re probably right!

The Wonthaggi event itself was a beauty and even the easterly wind that blew dust into the competitors’ faces as they started the 7km course in and around the motocross track, and then blasted them again later as they scaled the monkey bars and ran the gauntlet of the gladiators, was all part of the challenge. There were rope climbs, a grappling net and climbing wall to be scaled, a muddy dam to be swum, enemies to be speared and other obstacles to be passed in a gruelling but fun circuit. There were many fit, buff torsos on show and lots of high fives and other team bonding displays in evidence but even those carrying some extra beef, doing it on their own seemed to complete the course without much trouble and with only a modest sprinkling of injuries for local ambulance officer Duncan Roney and the Eventaid team to treat. Eventaid had a team of ten medical officers on hand, ranging from first aiders right up to doctors, and they were seen treating a few sprained ankles on the uneven ground and a gash across a well-formed bicep which looked nasty. More than 50 people were employed to work on site.

While the actual Spartan course was the focus of attention, resembling a real-life version of the popular TV show Gladiators, complete with a dude who looked like John Seru’s character ‘Vulcan’, leading a group of three in the Gauntlet, at the end; there was a lot more going on. There were stalls selling food, Spartan merch and promoting the fitness industry while there were side competitions for the super fit and strong for the mere mortals of fitness to marvel at.

Altogether it was a huge, and apparently successful event, but did Wonthaggi and Bass Coast miss out on a chance to promote the town and the region? A spokesperson for the Bass Coast Shire said the shire offered advice, traffic management and processed the private operator’s application for a public event but other than that, they didn’t do much. “It was a first time event, so it was a bit of a wait and see approach. We’re not sure if they’ll do it again next year or not.


From the South Gippsland Sentenial Times – Tuesday 05 March, 2013


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