Hong Kong’s Spartan Race elites are trying to get the edge over their opponents by training with home-made spears ahead of this weekend’s Foressa Sprint in Cebu.
“The spear throw is 50-50,” said Magdalena Cvetkovic, an elite Spartan racer. “If you miss the spear throw you come second and if you get it you come first. It’s the only obstacle that can make that difference.”
Spartan Races are long-distance obstacle courses that require competitors to crawl, climb, swing, carry and, crucially, throw a spear and make it stick in a haystack.
Johnny Tieu said that at the top end of the race, every competitor has the ability to complete every obstacle and avoid the 30 burpee punishment for failing on one.
“But anything can happen with the spear,” he said. “If someone is breathing down your neck and you miss it will cost you a podium, but likewise if you’re at the back and you nail it when everyone else misses you can win.”
It can be hard to find an exercise to replicate spear throwing, so Tieu and Cvetkovic have made their own.
Tieu has put a tennis ball on the end of a stick to prevent it from damaging his house and is throwing it at a target on the wall.
But Cvetkovic has gone further afield with her spear.
“I take a hula hoop up The Peak and throw the spear for practise,” she said. “I get strange looks and one person called the police but I left before they arrived.”
As the summer rolls around, spear throwing isn’t the only challenge.
“Heat makes training interesting but as we are heading to a hot region I make an effort to train at midday,” Tieu said, adding that he slows down to account for the sun. “It is about having a constant conversation with my body, legs, breathing and arms.”
Cvetkovic is originally from Switzerland, so struggles with the heat.
“I’ve done a lot of heat training,” she said. “I’m starting my runs at 11am and picking trails that are exposed. I’ve also been going to the sauna everyday for nine months. It’s going to be hot, sandy and exposed in Cebu.”