As OCR grows out of "event" and more into a legitimized sport category, it's hitting some rocky growing pains.
We see it every quarter of the year with Spartan Race changing rules, Tough Mudder figuring out payouts and new distances, series that tank as quickly as they appear. In a messy, muddy world of grip strength and steep climbs, how can we know we're not cheating... on accident?
More importantly, what cheats can we do that give us a leg up, without it actually be cheating? That good old phrase, "work smarter not harder" ring a bell to anyone? Me too, just don't kick it or you'll be DQed.
The 2017 Rules and Reg for Spartan Race can be found here. A more detailed list of obstacle rules can be found here .
An example of cheating without cheating? An excerpt pulled from the 2017 updated rulebook states,
"An Athlete may only use items to their advantage that are carried with them from the start of the race, Example: hydration pack, clothing and food. Using mechanical aids such as, but not limited to, rigging or trekking poles is not allowed. Items found, natural or man made, are also not permitted as mechanical aids. For example: found sticks used as walking sticks."
Okay, so they are acknowledging that things like hydration packs are allowed, but when using that or a fuel belt to help, say, hold the weight of the bucket during the bucket brigade obstacle, doesn't it become a mechanical aid?
What defines mechanical aid?
Would utilizing an item outside of its purpose and to help alleviate or disperse specific load count as mechanical aid?
Why are we all not using the trick for our buckets, atlas carries, etc?
As long as we're carrying it from the start, why can't we just run with bungee chords to use? Would that cross the line from improper use of a legal aid to illegal mechanical aid?
What about kinesiology tape used on hands for grip rather than as their intended purpose and placement?
Compression gear worn without medical approval?
Really, how are sticky gloves allowed?
Oh. Right. Because Spartan Race sells them. That's why.
It goes hand in hand with how elite racers aren't allowed on course prior to race day... unless the racer is a pro-team member paid by Spartan Race, of course.
Moreover, there are plenty of rules that are given "leeway".
We can't call it cheating if it's given the okay by volunteers/ref, right?
As a female elite, I've watched time and again, volunteers okay fellow female elites grabbing the SIDES of walls, not just using the kickers.
We have all seen burpees be done without chest-touching-ground moves (which, in my opinion, is more challenging than a chest-to-ground push-up anyway).
Ultimately, Spartan Race is getting picked on here, mostly because the series is gunning hard for a spot in the Olympics.
Loose ties need to be cleaned up, mechanical aid needs to be concisely defined, and grey areas need to be more black and white for this sport to be more globally accepted as something more than a muddy event for adults.
The rule book needs to be cleaned up, and then SR needs to actually play by it.