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In its continuous effort to find the world’s greatest athlete, Reebok Spartan Race held it’s first ever East Coast Spartan Race SGX Combine last week. This two-day event was structured akin to the NFL Combine complete with the 40-yard dash, broad jump and vertical jump but it also included obstacle-specific tests to gauge overall athleticism. Wall climbs, barbed wire crawls, rope climbs, spear throws and maximum pullups/burpees in a minute were some of the Spartan-specific events.
Eighteen athletes participated in 12 different physical fitness tests and the top male performer was Spartan Pro Team member McCauley Kraker with his brother, fellow Pro Team member Brakken Kraker coming in second. On the women’s side, Pro Team member Orla Walsh averaged the best score across all events. First-place won $500, second won $300 and third place won $200 in per gender. To view the events and official results, click here.
A sport that continues to gain popularity in the fitness community, obstacle course racing requires a blend of speed, strength, agility, skill and conditioning that challenges athletes from all walks of life. The reasoning behind the combine requires a look at the bigger picture for Spartan Race.
“The big thing since the start with Spartan Race is to someday potentially be in the Olympics,” says Joe DiStefano, Spartan Race Training Director. “The combine allows our athletes to come in and gauge where they’re at while allowing athletes outside of our inner circle to display their talent.”
This innermost circle of elite Spartan Racers is called the Spartan Pro Team, which consists of hand-picked athletes that have proven themselves on courses.
“The easiest way to become a Pro Team member is to win races or at least come close and make sure we see you,” DiStefano says. “I’m hoping the combine plays a role in the Pro Team in the future.”
The East Coast SGX Combine (SGX is the official training program of Spartan Race) was the second-ever combine, with the first being held in California in January. Most of the spots in both combines were invite-only, with about 7 or 8 spots for the East Coast combine coming from registration.
“We invited people we knew would be great and that we wanted to see,” DiStefano says. “Then, we did open registration via a few Facebook posts.”
Spartan Race is currently planning out the 2016 combines and while nothing is set in stone yet, DiStefano thinks the future looks bright. He guesses there will be more combines, perhaps regional ones, and maybe an online combine too.
“The 2016 vision is to expand the combine and find a way to work with it seamlessly and tie it into the World Championships,” DiStefano says. “The combine isn’t going away; it’s definitely going to be a larger scale event than it was this year.”
Although 2015 was the trial run the SGX Combine, DiStefano knows that the future will lie in increased sponsorship for individual athletes and events like the combine.
“Our individual sponsors have been pleased with the publicity the combine has given their athletes,” DiStefano says. “The athletes that competed and other high level athletes that heard about the event believe it’s that cornerstone to take Spartan Race to the next level.”