This will be the first time I’m entering a Spartan Race so I really have no idea what I’m in for. Sure, I’ve researched photos and videos to get an idea of the obstacles I might be facing, but that isn’t the same as being there on race day.
What will I need to get through the race? That’s the other topic I’ve been researching feverishly since I signed up for this race. What I’ve learned so far is that there is no “right” equipment for everyone. Every Spartan racer has their own opinion about what works and what doesn’t.
So what do you do when the advice is contradictory? You have to read between the lines and apply what sounds best for your own situation. And this is what I think applies to me…
The main take-away points most people seem to agree on are these:
Some people reckon as little as possible but I don’t think that will work for me. Given that these clothes are probably going to be trashed on the day, I didn’t want anything too expensive so I got these when Under Armour was on sale at Sports Direct:
I’ve been debating whether to get waterproof socks since we’re likely to be drenched in muddy water for most of the race. In the end, I decided not to waste the money and use the Kalenji socks from Decathlon instead. The advice from my OCR trainer was to get thin socks. Well, any thinner and I’ll have to start looking in the pantyhose section.
For shoes, I ended up getting a pair of Adidas Galaxy Trail from Sports Direct. They were the cheapest pair of trail running shoes I could find that had the toe-grip my OCR trainer recommended. I didn’t see the point of paying top dollar for an expensive pair of trail running shoes I am going to trash and possibly never use again.
Some racers say “no gloves”. Given that I suffer from hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating disorder), I figured I definitely can’t do without gloves. On a regular day, the normal state of my hands is clammy. When I’m nervous, it’s like I’ve just washed my hands and forgot to dry them.
Finding the right pair of gloves was tricky. There were a lot of websites with recommendations for “best OCR gloves”:
- Best gloves for an obstacle course race
- Best gloves for a Spartan race – Spartan Race Warriors
- Best Mud Run gloves
- Best gloves for a Spartan race – OCR Insight
Mad Grip gloves appeared in most of these listings and I was sorely tempted to order a pair from Amazon since they are not available locally. In the end, I didn’t because I’d read a few reviews that they didn’t help much for wet grip.
I made a spontaneous purchase of FitFour Gloves because they were on a lot of OCR instagram accounts. After trying them out at the playground, I’m not sure I like them. Maybe I bought the wrong size but I found they didn’t fit me very well. My gripes:
- They don’t cover the thumbs at all. The thumb hole opens when I fold my fingers over to grip the bar.
- Fingerless – I realised a little too late that fingerless don’t really work for me because my fingers sweat, too.
After that, I went looking for a cheap pair of complete cover sports gloves and found this pair on Lazada:
The good thing is that they’re light weight and airy. As far as grip goes, it feels okay on the monkey bars in the park. Unfortunately, there are a few problems with these gloves:
- Not tight enough so I will have to tape them down at the wrists if I plan to use them.
- No padding on the palms so I will have to tape my hands before wearing them.
With the race approaching quickly, I didn’t dare order any more online. So I started looking at Decathlon and Sports Direct and found two full-cover pairs of gloves that might work:
The pros and cons:
- Muddyfox – offers padding on palms and silicon grip on the padding. I didn’t get to try out the grip, so I don’t know if they’re effective. I’m also assuming that since they are intended for mountain biking, they should be able to handle some mud and water. I won’t know for sure until I test them out on race day.
- Gul – is made of neoprene fabric so it does offer some padding. It’s obviously meant to cope in wet conditions since it’s made for water sports. The entire palm is covered with silicon grip. It also has the best fit of all the gloves I’ve tested so far. The only downside of these gloves is that my hands feel really hot inside them. I guess that’s because they’re meant to keep you warm in the water.
I haven’t got a conclusion on the gloves, yet, but it looks like either Sendiya, Muddyfox or Gul.
My OCR Trainer suggested that I test out the gloves in wet conditions. Now that’s an idea! Why didn’t I think of that? So I did. I tested every single pair of gloves I had. They’re all lousy in wet conditions. Well, they’re better than sweaty palms, but they’re not “grippy” the way they are when dry.
How do you make gloves stickier so they hold up in wet conditions? Well, I remembered reading somewhere about how one gymnast used to apply honey onto his hands so he wouldn’t lose his grip. Maybe I could apply something to the gloves to make them stickier?
I googled “how to make gloves sticky” and found a lot of stuff for “football gloves”. Of course, a football goalkeeper would need sticky gloves that hold up in wet conditions so they don’t accidentally let the ball slip out of their hands. So what about football gloves?
Cutters boasts having the stickiest football gloves around with their revolutionary C-TACK Performance Grip Material providing extreme grip in all weather conditions. They also promise light-weight, flexible gloves that provide support and form fit. Unfortunately, it’s a little late in the day to give these a go, but perhaps I’ll try them out for the next OCR.
So what else could I do to modify my existing gloves? Well, if a gymnast can use honey to make his hands stickier, what could I apply to my gloves to make them stickier? A bit more searching revealed “Grip Boost” which you can apply like a hand sanitiser. Unfortunately, it’s only intended for football gloves. D’oh!
As a climber I used to use sports tape on my hands – a lot. They protected me when I had finger injuries and they were great for crack climbs. Given the number blisters I have popped since I started training for Spartan, I figure I’m going to need more palm protection.
During one of my training sessions, I tested the Sendiya gloves with tape around my knuckles. I had tape on one hand and nothing on the other and I could really feel the difference. So I guess it will be tape on the day.
Water – to carry or not to carry, that is the question. The general recommendation is to carry water for Spartan Beast and maybe for the Spartan Super. No one seems to think you need to carry water for the Sprint. The bottom line, however, is to consider how long you’ll be out there and how hot it will be.
Well, I live in a tropical climate and I have hyperhidrosis. While some people are just breaking into a sweat, I look like I’ve just taken a shower with my clothes on. I flag off at around 8am and was told to expect to take 3 hours to finish. Considering that I carried water when I ran the SCKLM 10km and I finished that race at about 8:30am, I think I would be insane not to bring water for the Spartan race.
So the question is: how to carry it? As it is, I can barely carry my own weight for the upper-body obstacles. How can I possibly add water weight?
After asking around and reading the race instructions, it would seem that I can remove the water to do the obstacles. The only obstacle that requires me to bring my water with me is the Barbed Wire Crawl. So I need to be able to carry the water in a pack that isn’t too bulky and won’t get in my way while I drag myself along the ground.
The Nathan Switchblade Running Hydration Pack is what I carry when I run long-distance:
The Deuter AC Lite 18 is what I carry when I hike:
Neither are particularly suitable but I didn’t want to go out and buy something else, so I decided to take the latter. It’s older than the Nathan so I will feel less heartache if I wreck it during the race.
To reduce the bulk, I removed the metal frame for the back ventilation panel. To keep the weight down, I will half-fill the bladder.
Knee and Elbow Pads
Most of the people in the pictures I’ve seen don’t appear to be wearing any. The general thoughts of some racers is that cutting up your elbows and knees is part of the battle scars you should wear proudly. Well, I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t see any sense in suffering more than you have to.
Given the knee problems I’ve been having during training, I was planning to wear the knee braces and hope they provide sufficient padding. Well, it’s that or my rollerblade guards and that feels a little OTT. Or is it not?
Given that race day is just a few days away, I don’t really have time to order in any of the recommended Spartan Race protective gear:
- Mueller Diamond Pad – recommended by Dario on Dirty Miles
- McDavid HEX Protective Sleeves – recommended on a Spartan forum
I thought I would add them here for future reference. Assuming I race again after this…