Spartan Race, one of the world’s most popular obstacle races, has been in the Philippines for only two years. But since it was brought here by Spartan Race Philippines CEO Guenter Taus in July 2017, the race has made its way into many sports enthusiasts’ and athletes’ bucket list.
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Happening on October 26 to 27, their next race is the Alviera. It will be held at the Alviera development, an Ayala Land Estates property, in Porac, Pampanga. Taus says that the Spartan Trail is a good alternative for people “who do not want to climb obstacles. We have avid runners who do not have any upper body strength. They just want to get there and go on their endurance.”
The course has no man-made obstacles. With over 270 hectares of property, some of the the courses extend a little bit to Mt. Pinatubo—so expect a lot of climbing and going down uneven land. “It’s all natural terrain that we use there.”
The CEO shares that Filipino runner and seasoned race director Thumbie Remegio “looks for trails and stakes out the courses” for Philippine Spartan Race. “He basically knows all the trails in the Philippines. It’s really his passion. He looks for the trails, and wants to put that challenge on to thousands of other people.”
It has four different courses: Trail, Sprint, Beast, and Ultra.
The Spartan Sprint is their shortest course, with only five kilometers and 20 obstacles. This is great for beginners and first-time participants. Then, there’s the the Spartan Beast. As the name implies, it is a monstrous course, and is “the most difficult” one, with 21 kilometers of land, and 30 obstacles.
Racers may register under the Elite category—for those competing to win prize money)—Age Group, or Open. The longest course is the Ultra, which combines obstacle course racing (OCR) and endurance sports, on a 50-kilometer road with 60 obstacles.
The obstacles for the courses may include, wall climbing, crawling under barbed wires, mud crawling, tire flips, to name a few—“you’ll never know what you’re gonna get.”
Now, anyone who has never been on an OCR or a Spartan Race before may wonder if he or she can do it. "Yes, you can," Taus insists. “You do not need to be a health buff or the fittest guy in the world to join the race. He says that they got guys that actually walk their courses with a kid and a picnic basket. This will, of course, depend on your chosen course. But the race could actually be a weekend family outing.
In fact, one of the team’s goals is to persuade parents to have their children join the race. “We struggle with Filipino parents because they are extremely protective of their children,” Taus observes. “We try to change their mindset. We have special children’s races. We show them that it’s also good to raise children who are competitive.”
There is no one way to train for a race. But for the running part, a lot of the racers do hire their own running coach—and there are many in the Metro Manila. The team has also partnered with international gym Fitness First. “We work closely with them to get people ready for an obstacle race.”
Cebu City, which Taus describes as “a little bit more fragmented” luckily has its own obstacle course camp, represented by Patricia Kyle Mendoza. She says the camp is a space that is “approachable,” especially for beginners, who have no idea what the race is about. They also have coaches, who help students build their strength.
And for those who are ready to train in the advance level, the camp has a “warrior class,” where students can practice, so they at least have an idea on what to expect during the race. There are also “mass workouts,” or a simulation of the real Spartan Race. “What we really want is to get people involved in the sport,” Mendoza says.
Safety is priority for the team. During the Alviera race, five ambulances and 42 first aiders will be standing by, in case of emergency. They also can also track the racers to know where they are exactly in the entire property, at any given time during the race.
Another priority for Philippine Spartan Race is environmental sustainability. It is a known challenge for race organizers to keep the land they use clean of waste—especially plastic bottles. To help solve this problem, Tau, Mendoza, and other stakeholders in Cebu created a group called Matic, a non-stock, non-profit “creative enabling space.” Mendoza also serves as Matic’s general manager.
She says that for their previous race and the succeeding races—including Alviera—single-use plastics are not allowed anymore. Even suppliers and food stalls will have to comply. What they did instead was include foldable tumblers in the race kits. There will also be water stations throughout the courses, so that racers can refill their tumblers when they need to.
Matic has also tied up with University of Cebu to come up with products made out of the tarpaulin and print materials used in races. “We create extra allowance for the kids,” Mendoza says of the initiative. “Then we can have Spartan products unique to the Philippines, made of upcycled products. We really want to make sure that we keep the environment clean.”
From 1,900 to 6,000
Joe De Sena, 50, the founder and current CEO of Spartan, is an avid runner, and he used to run for days without stopping. One day, he wondered why he no else was doing what he was doing. Someone told him that maybe if he broke down the long runs into several races, then an average human being might follow suit.
This was the story told to us by Taus, when we asked him how this Spartan, a company based in the United States came about.
Spartan's regional base used to be in Singapore. To cut cost and improve efficiency, the team decided to set up an office at the Bonifacio Global City in Taguig. Eventually, they had to look for a franchisee to organize the races in Manila. Taus and his team took on the franchise, and from three people, they have now grown to 28.
“We didn’t know how to run a race,” Taus recalls, sharing that before taking the race they wondered how difficult it could be. "Very difficult" it turns out, he says with a laugh.
In their first year, Spartan Race Philippines organized four races, three in Luzon and one in Cebu. Now, they will try to organize seven races—two in Cebu, one in Davao, and the rest in Luzon—every year. Their races have also exponentially expanded from 1,900 participants to an expected 6,000 participants for Alviera.
For more information on and to register for the Alviera Race and other Spartan Races, visit www.spartanrace.ph.