“What’s a Spartan Combine?” You ask? Well, it’s like if the NFL and Crossfit had a baby, but not really, I just wanted to say that. It’s more like Spartan and the NFL Combine had a baby. In the week between the two SoCal Spartan weekends, Spartan WOD mastermind Joe DiStefano is offering 30+ athletes (Elite or Not, but mostly elite) the chance to test their athletic abilities and obstacle racing skills in a combine format instead of a traditional point-to-point race. Spartan will measure and score participants on anything from 40 yard dash, and vertical leap, burpees for time, and even hand size. Hand size? I was so intrigued by this new format that I had to call Joe Di and ask what the combine was all about. “Each obstacle is a unique event,” He told me. So you won’t have to run from wall, to spear throw, to barbwire, you’ll complete each obstacle or challenge as a separate event. Other challenges will include multiple spear throws, multiple rope climbs for time, multiple wall climbs, and more.
Besides the fun factor, the top male and female will take home a $1000! Plus top 3 men and women will get free race entries AND Worlds Qualifier coinage! But wait… what does Spartan get out of this, and what’s with measuring hand size? DiStefano told me that Spartan’s interests lie in finding the attributes and skills that turn good obstacle racers into awesome obstacle racers. “We don’t even know what we’re looking for,” he explained, so they’ll just measure everything. I agree, data is the new mud. I asked him to send me the findings when the combine concludes and he agreed to release anonymous stats for analysis, because I’d love to know what kind of trends show up in the fastest people. What other sports might translate well to OCR? Does a soccer player have a good chance up against an MMA fighter, or a gymnast vs. a cross-country runner? Stay tuned and we’ll find out. I think creating standardized benchmarks without the pressure and risk of a full race may allow crossover athletes to dip their toes in the proverbial mud and gauge their abilities against the Ryan’s and Amelia’s of the OCR World without ever breaking a nail.
Another likely benefit to the Spartan Brand is the more spectator and camera friendly format that Hobie Call has been begging for all along. Although, still not taking advantage of Hobie’s short course style, the Combine will easily allow filming of all the action and then editing down for bite-sized, ADHD, YouTube consumption. More eyeballs means more butts inspired to get off the couch (Registration $$$) and more Sponsors $$$ will help too, because our sport is hemorrhaging cash. Let’s face it, even as we whine about the cost of race entries, spectator fees, venue food, and parking, events are unbelievably expensive to produce. So the more revenue streams the better, and TV/Spectator money is the holy grail. I wouldn’t even be surprised if the combine ended up on TV.
UPDATE 10pm 1/9/15:
Spartan Race now has a link up to register: info.spartan.com/special-event.php
Sounds like you can some one-of-a-kind swag, and discounts on season passes to boot!