With the exception of the world championship races, OCRs (obstacle course races) allow participants to sign up for any heat they so choose, whether that be elite or open.
Spartan Race, realizing that the "elite" field was continually being sold out months in advance, decided to change things up in 2016 and open a "competitive" wave in hopes that it would spread out the faster racers, diminish the early bottlenecks, and encourage people to know their true place in the sport.
( The sad abyss of the elite heat bucket carry)
It's been a year now.
So where do you place yourself? And how do you know?
Signing up for open is easy, right? It's fun and light-hearted. If you forget a burpee, no big deal. Help each other over the walls? Suuure. Stop to take a few selfies with the random Instagram follower? Awesome. Post it in your IG story ASAP!
The blurred line comes between the competitive and elite heats.
Before 2016, you were all or nothing. Some racers still have this mindset and don't want to back DOWN to a "lower" standing, even if they are finishing last in the elite heat. After all, someone has to, right?
What are we really seeing?
The trend looks like the male elite heat still fills up quickly, forcing the rest of the men to move into competitive. Contrary to the men, women's heat has trended in the opposite direction, with more women moving to competitive and leaving the elite field a little sparser.
Are men having a hard time letting their egos dictate their real abilities, or are women being too quick to question theirs?
After racing as an elite, now that there is a secondary option open, how do you know if you are part of that option? What is your reasoning for sitting in the heat that you have chosen?
Juan (@cabungcal) sticks to open or elite, but feels, “the addition of competitive is a great thing for those who want something more out of these events than just a fun run.” For Juan, it’s about the challenge that elite brings and only backs down to open when running with friends.
Anna (@a.e._fitness) has raced all three and settles into the competitive heat. She loves OCR for the camaraderie and feels, “like it gets lost in the elite waves. It’s every man/woman out for themselves” as they chase placement, podium, and World Championship qualifiers in elite.
Anna poses a question that can help you choose which heat you may settle into: Can you find a happy medium between being competitive and ENJOYING yourself on the course with fitness family? She believes so with the new happy medium heat Spartan Race has added.
Maybe the heats aren’t as much about ability as they are about mentality? Regardless, ability is a factor when it comes to who is ready for the elite heat.
Marks of an Elite are as blurry as the line between competitive and elite heats. Speaking to all three heats of racers, the consensus seems to be:
- Ability to complete all obstacles on a good day
- Ability to execute proper burpee form consistently
- For US Men, ability to stay ahead of the majority of the female elite heat
- Staying within a certain time window of the podium takers
Ultimately, it seems that most appreciate the addition and it will stick around. The questions will become:
Will Spartan Race and other OCR series decide to set requirements for entering elite in the future?
If you're not hitting the top %, would you rather be a great amateur or mediocre elite?