It’s not just elite athletes who get to scramble across monkey bars, throw spears and leap across sand dunes this weekend – one of the UAE’s toughest sporting events has lots to offer the rest of us too.
On Saturday and Sunday, December 3 and 4 2022, thousands of athletes and spectators from across the world will gather at Al Wathba Luxury Collection Desert Resort and Spa in the nation’s capital, to compete for warrior immortality on a brand-new, super-tough obstacle course race (OCR) at the Spartan World Championship 2022. This is the second time the event has been hosted in the capital, and it brings a new location and a fresh course.
The Championship forms part of the country’s 51st National Day weekend celebrations and is hosted by Abu Dhabi Sports Council. It was formed in part to nurture young talent while promoting the importance of staying fit and healthy – a mission that has a strong focus in recent years.
Unlike other OCR events where athletes can skip some of the legendary and notoriously challenging obstacles, the Spartan World Championship takes no prisoners. If you don’t complete an obstacle correctly, you are made to take on an extra challenge before you move on to the next one.
There are four different courses to choose from in Abu Dhabi and not only are they all new, but they take place in Wathba’s sand dunes, meaning limits will be tested no matter what age or ability level.
Here’s what’s in store on each of the four courses:
This course involves 5km of easy trail running with 20 obstacles to tackle along the way, which include monkey bars, spear throwing and wall climbing.
Like the Sprint, this race is longer and will demand a bit more when it comes to endurance because the elevation gain is more demanding, and you’ll need to pick up the pace to get round the 10km course.
The clue is in the name with this 21km course, which boasts 30 obstacles you’ll have to endure and conquer. Nicknamed the Ultimate Spartan Test, this race is not on flat ground so get ready to feel the burn in your quads.
Young ones looking to begin their Spartan journey can participate in a series of obstacle course races (ranging from 800m to 3.2km) that have been specifically designed to get four to 14-year-olds outside and feeling like they have accomplished something and are having fun. They’ll run, jump, and crush their way through obstacles, just like the adults, in three different course distances which are customized by age group.
This year marks the first-ever Trifecta, which involves racers completing three courses, in any order, in one weekend. The Trifecta happens in few select venues around the world, those who finish three races will earn a coveted venue-specific Trifecta medal in addition to each of their finisher medals.
If you want to get involved in Spartan, you should be prepared to tackle everything from sand-covered walls to barbed wire to rope climbs. Some of the potential obstacles on the day include:
A huge A-shaped structure to test dynamic footwork and a love of heights as you climb 10 meters above ground. The aim is to clamber over the top and back down to earth as quickly as possible using only its webbing.
Originating at Scotland’s Highland Games more than 1,000 years ago, you’ll
lift a 45kg ball of stone, carry it around a flagpole, and then haul it back to the start line. The stones for female competitors are a little lighter, at 35kg.
Features a climb followed by a tricky transfer to an ascending/descending monkey bar ladder with a bell at the other end.
Barbed Wire Crawl
This obstacle course is made of barbed wire and has an elevated net crawl experience.
Measuring 4.8m, you’ve got to get to the top, ring the bell and get back down as fast as you can.
Navigate a 45 percent sloping metal ramp with little grip and only a short rope to help you.
Wondering if this punishment is worth it? Well, the prizes are sweet: Qualifiers from Spartan’s annual calendar of global events will compete on Saturday, December 3 in the Men’s and Women’s individual Championship Super, for a chance to win $125,000.
Some 150 die-hard Spartan fans in the region have been awarded the title of ambassador and will be responsible for representing Spartan in the community during this year’s event. Their mission is to generate local audience participation in the challenging endurance sport and launch awareness campaigns for the 2022 Spartan World Championship on their personal accounts on social media. These are people who live and breathe Spartan.
“I have participated in the Spartan World Championship since 2017, driven by my passion for exciting and challenging races, and I admire this competition because it requires high levels of fitness,” says Ahmed Al-Nuaimi, one of the 31 Emirati Spartan Ambassadors in the country. “It also demands the physicality and the willingness to hold on until the last stages and win, especially on the dune tracks, which were one of the most difficult parts of the previous championship.”
• If you want to get involved in the Spartan World Championship, you can sign up individually, or in a group to make the obstacles a little easier. This year, there’s something for every athlete, whether you’re an Elite, Age Group or Open heat racer.
Asha Sherwood owns Abu Dhabi Review, an online and social platform that gives you the scoop on everything happening in the capital.