Just when you think you're tough enough

Obstacle Race Tough Takes

Meltdown and Chaos at Spartan Super Malaysia

spartan race malaysia -finish

You’d expect the most expensive obstacle course race (OCR) in Malaysia to give you a good challenge for your money, but the Spartan Super Malaysia was a complete meltdown and utter chaos hosted in a yet another construction site in Klang, Selangor.

The Spartan Race team sure knows how to pick dates for their races in Malaysia, but it doesn’t seem to be working out in their favour. Their participants braved the hottest day of this year with the equinox, while they braved the thick of the haze last year.

spartan race malaysia-Rhashidi

And yet, no matter how much effort the Spartan Race team did in designing obstacles, their participants did not expect that their biggest obstacle would be looking for their checked-in bags after the race!

Poor planning marred by lack of a system, the rack meant to hold the bags collapsed too, leaving volunteers manning the area to place participant’s bags out in the open (read: free for all) and needless to say, some bags were lost to thefts. The Bag Check wristbands should have been as durable, but were made of paper instead which was easily torn when wet.

spartan race malaysia-Hair

“Spartan Up and face the sewage”

Spartan Up is a popular war-cry aspiring Spartans use to rile themselves up for the challenge, especially when they had to trudge through trenches filled with stinky sewage-like goo ala Fear Factor.

“Those who are unable to leap across will experience first hand – the battle on the black river as they wade through the stinky drainage. I am ok with mud but sewage… it’s really unnecessary as an obstacle. Maybe the organizers should save that for Spartan Ultra Beast instead,” said aspiring Spartan Cereal Buff.

“Overall, we get a repeat of obstacles from Spartan Sprint plus 4-5 new ones. The obstacles were toned down this time. The trail running portion cannot beat the scenic and shady Setia Alam trail and it’s elevation that we ran last year,” continued Cereal.

spartan race malaysia-bc

Returning aspirin Spartans have worked hard at improving their fitness and strength since the previous race. Some obstacles might look like kids-play, however, it will test your true grit, physical and mental strength even a fear of heights.

Many helping hands for One-armed Spartan CK

One-armed Spartan CK Loh, was enthusiastic to return to the Spartan course. Never using his disability as an excuse, CK said the toughest obstacle he faced required participants to climb up and move on top of the nets and come down by a shaky staircase.

“It’s my first time trying this obstacle and I’m so afraid of the height, the nets on top is shaky and hard to balance my body by just grabbing with one hand. After you move from one side to another side, you have to come down by their stairs, which is light and shaky too,” continued CK.

spartan race malaysia - obstacle

“At top of the obstacle, I sat on the middle part of the iron structure (the support) and moved my body slowly from left to right. After that my teammate and others around helped me turn my body downwards to reach the stairs,” said CK, echoing the relentless spirit of a true Spartan.

“Then I took a deep breath and slowly grab the bar with my right arm and left armpit to climb down from the top. I guess this is the one obstacle that made me almost cry on the top,” added CK.

One-armed Spartan, CK Loh (left) with his Reebok teammates. (Spartan Race Malaysia)
One-armed Spartan, CK Loh (left) with his Reebok teammates. (Spartan Race Malaysia)

“This is the first time I’m doing the obstacle race with my fellow Reebok team, and we have new ambassadors from CrossFit who pitched in with their strengths. Some others joined us half way to give us support and encouragement. I believe we lived up to Reebok’s #BEMOREHUMAN spirit, braved up to challenge themselves and never think of giving up!”

The Monkey Bars were lowered noticeably yet many participants are still not accustomed to the upper body strength and techniques to conquer the multiple grips and heights to ring the bell at the end of the obstacle.

Aspiring Spartan Max ran the race with cousin Nazreen.
Building family bonds on the course as Max ran the race with cousin Nazreen.

Building Spartan Family bonds

“Monkey bars still fail me, as I got up to the ring section but was not able to progress. I need to polish up my technique and gain even more upper body muscular endurance to complete this in the future,” said aspiring Spartan Max who ran the course with his cousins.

“I also needed help with the Atlas Carry. I felt my fitness has slightly improve this time around. I was able to do Hercules hoist without any problems compared to last year,” continued Max.

“More obstacles need to be built like the spider web climbs if these obstacles creates bottlenecks which causes subsequents waves to be delayed by an hour. However, despite the mid-day heat, I survived without any cramps the whole day,” continued Max.

Leave no Spartan behind
Leave no Spartan behind, Don Wong offers a hand in need.

The face of OCR posters in multiple races, Don Wong was honoured to run the course as a representative of health drink sponsors Fit Aid. He learnt techniques & training tips from Boot Camp-ers & Cross Fit-ters who managed to conquer obstacles with weight lifting techniques and simulations.

“As for the rope climb, I have failed many times with blistered palms. So I have been training daily on doing Pull Ups with a towel without gloves. Finally for the ‘Spear Throw’, I never get it right (even while dreaming). This is my fourth failure!”, added Don.

One thing he failed to train for was cramps and the unforgiving heat. “It was challenging under blazing heat! My left calf cramped and I screamed like a little girl near the Finish Line.”

Spear Throw challenges your primal instincts to hit the mark.
Spear Throw challenges your primal instincts to hit the mark.

Aspiring Spartan Jamy still holds on to her wish of having Spartan in costumes for a grand finale at the Finish Line.

“I started with 4 of my friends but one pulled out due to injury early on. We also noticed the lack of support staff and photographers at the event to capture the memories of suffering.”

The volunteers themselves complained of poor treatment by the organisers and were made to beyond their means in the extreme heat of the day. Most participants commented the lack of marshalls at obstacles and water stations, not knowing that the poor conditions the volunteers were subjected to.

Ringing the bell on the Monkey Bars in style
Ringing the bell on the Monkey Bars in style
spartan qualifier
Qualifier is not spelt with O. Image from Facebook

‘Qualifier’ is not spelt with an O

The poor design and quality of the finisher’s t-shirt left a lot less to be desired when it was a basic cotton t-shirt. The final turn of the knife came when the phrase ‘Trifecta Qualifier’ had the word Qualifier spelt with an O instead of a Q. Simple mistake yet completely amateurish for the most expensive obstacle race in Malaysia. Again, this shows that they do not take pride in their work.

“I hope the next Spartan Beast would be set on different terrain (beach, hill, forest,stadium and etc) and not some housing development construction site again or the whole Spartan series might lose its appeal to seasoned OCR runners. Spartan Race Malaysia really needs to buck up the next round and please confirm the venue before opening up for registration. #suckerfortrifecta,” added Cereal.

Overall, the race itself did not live up to its Spartan billing and leaves a bad impression in leading up to its final chapter of the Spartan Beast, the final chapter of the Spartan Trifecta.

View more photos on Tough Asia’s Facebook album.spartan race malaysia-bc