My story: From staying fit, to Spartan fit (Joseph Lee)

Australian Obstacle Racing News   |   Jan 14, 2017

Of all the goals I wish to accomplish in life, completing an obstacle race was not one of them. In the past, I lived a sedentary life and would rarely venture into the outdoors. But after spending 4 years living and studying in America, I was influenced by healthy peers. When I started going to the gym 3 times a week, I quickly noticed a difference in my physical and mental stamina. Even after moving back to my home country Malaysia, I continued to work out every morning at 5.30am before spending the rest of the day in an office cubicle. With a consistent exercise routine in place, I decided to push myself further and started my first 14km run and not long after that my first Spartan race. This article is about my personal experience completing the Spartan Race Trifecta in Malaysia, Singapore, and Australia.

I began 2016 with the first Spartan Race Super in Malaysia. Even though it was chaotic at the baggage check, the obstacle course itself was fantastic! The terrain was flat but interesting as it takes participants through tall grasses, muddy rivers, and a couple of dug up grounds (mostly filled with mud). The climate was at about 41°C which was the hottest time of the year! While participants were being roasted throughout the race and especially crossing through the heated wall traverse, there were many other obstacles that involved diving into the mud. The hardest obstacle for me was the complex monkey bars which involved grabbing on to different angled bars, rings, ropes, and dodging a tennis ball hung in the middle of nowhere! Additionally, it was hard to find a grip due to the equipment being stained by participant’s muddy hands. There was also a challenging obstacle which started with a climb onto a platform, followed by another climb onto a 20 foot high ladder, then crossed horizontally on a barrier net, and finally climbed down a ladder. It was probably the scariest obstacle there, due to the height as well as the gaps on the net being wide enough for a person to fall through 20 feet high with no cushioning below. Under the barrier net was a pathway for new participants to run past at the start of the race. I was told that this 20 feet obstacle was new and never introduced elsewhere.

What really stood out for me throughout the Super course in Malaysia were the participants itself. Despite the intense climate and obstacles, local as well as international participants carried the spirit of camaraderie. Participants were offering assistance, cheering, giving out high-fives throughout the race. The atmosphere was very positive and it played a big part in helping me finish the race strong.

Following the positive experience with Spartan Super Malaysia, I decided to try Spartan Sprint in Singapore. Even though it cost way more than the one in Malaysia, I chose to do it for the sake of experience and atmosphere. Sadly, the experience was just mediocre. The terrain was a mildly hilly with not much of a scenery. It was a dry course throughout with only the standard obstacles (wall climb, barb wire crawl, rope climb, bucket carry etc.). The only new thing they had different was a memory test which involved memorizing a set of six characters mix of alphabets and numbers. Other than that it felt repetitive and a little boring. Participants there were also reserved and not as enthusiastic as the ones in Malaysia. Overall, the experience was ordinary, but the beer at the end was good!

With Sprint and Super done, it was an easy decision to finish Spartan Beast before the year ends. I decided to sign up for Spartan Beast in Australia as I was in the process of migrating here. The Beast was held in Bright and it took participants through the mountain twice! It was taxing but rewarding as participants were able to enjoy the scenery throughout the course. The obstacles were spread out nicely throughout the mountain which makes the trail run shorter. There were not many international participants, but I did notice a diverse age groups amongst participants. The participants were similar to the ones in Malaysia, very positive and enthusiastic throughout the course. The obstacles themselves were also more diverse than the ones they had in Malaysia/Singapore. Some similar obstacles were presented differently. For instance, the spear throws in Bright involved throwing a blunt stick through a tire while the ones in Singapore/ Malaysia were actual spears thrown through a foam board. The obstacles involving lifting heavy loads in Bright were mostly water filled bags/ball as compared to concrete ball, bucket carry and tire flipping in Malaysia/Singapore. Like Malaysia, Bright had a unique obstacle. It involved climbing on a rotated "Z" shaped wall before reaching up to a cargo net and then climbing down a ladder on the opposite side. The whole Bright experience was perfect and it is the best one of the three! I’m glad I was able to convince my younger brother to join me on this journey. It was his first obstacle race so here is a shout out to Quincy! If there were any room for improvement for the Bright experience, it would be including some free high resolution photos like how they did for Malaysia and Singapore races.

The year 2016 was an amazing transformation for me from staying fit to Spartan fit! I’m still amazed how one race led me to complete the other races internationally. It is an experience I am happy to repeat and would recommend others to try as well! 2017 has just begun and it looks like a promising year. I plan to go for more obstacle races internationally and look forward to meeting new people in the process!

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