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How do I save money at those damned expensive races?

A blog post  doing the rounds – written by the head honcho of Super Hero Scramble asked the question – Why do obstacle course races cost so damn much?


It’s a good question – and in it, he explains a bit about the kind of money they have to front for venues, bling, insurance, obstacle construction and porta potties. You can understand why they cost more than something like a simple road 5k.

Turning the thought on it’s head, what about us racers? How do we *save* money at events? $100+ for a ticket is hard to justify when there are dozens of other events in the area – and to allow you to race as many events as possible you need to save some pennies.

today is not that day

1) Early signup

Most races will open up their registration windows with some of the cheapest prices they can. Some events, like Spartan Race, let you signup at the previous years event too, frequently at nearly 1/2 the cost. This works well for you, because you can pick your preferred running time, and get in at the cheapest rate – win, win! There are drawbacks though – because in some cases you can end up purchasing tickets for an event that moves, or gets rescheduled – or worse, cancelled entirely.

2) Join a group, get a discount code

No brainer, if you’re reading this. As part of the New England Spahten community, you are one of 530+ strong OCR fans. When I talk to Race Directors, those numbers are seriously impressive, and the “buying power” that gives us is immense. Of course, some events are happier to work with such a large team than others. I’ve received codes that provide significant discounts, some that just save a dollar or five, and other companies don’t even respond – but, for the most part, if you support the Spahtens by joining our teams and running with our heats, races will support us with discount codes.

3) Volunteer

The majority of races NEED volunteers. As a volunteer, you’re the life blood of the event, and it wouldn’t happen if you weren’t prepared to give up a significant portion of your day to help make the day run smoother in some way. You may be manning an obstacle, or helping with registration, or passing out cups at a water station – but almost always, you’ll be rewarded with a free run at the course. Some places are flexible, and will let you pick your times, others will run a special heat for volunteers at the end – but  make sure to tell them you are from the New England Spahtens.

4) Groupon, Living Social, Amazon Local etc

Deal websites are a mixed bag. Yes, you can get significant discounts on race entry, but be aware that there are restrictions – usually on the heats, or days you can run. Typically, these are used to pack out an event, or fill up the numbers on a second day – and the race director is almost always taking a loss when they put them out. They are also frequently released at the last minute. Frustratingly, if you are registered early, and have used the discount codes provided to the team, you can still find yourself paying more than the last minute “Sunday only” groupon – something I think Race Directors and events are starting to realize, and limit the amount of these that they put out.

5) Promotional teams 

There are a few of them around, with the Spartan Race Street Team being the most popular by far, but not the only one in the game (Superhero Scramble and Rugged Maniac spring to mind) – the premise is that you have a unique link to hand out, and anyone who signs up using that link earns you a point. Those points can be traded in for schwag, and ultimately, free race entries. From personal experience, it’s a hard slog, and the systems are not fantastic at how they track.

6) Win!

If you hit a certain point level in the Spartan Race series, you won a season pass. If you hit the Ultra Beast in a set time, you won a season pass – while it doesn’t get you into the other events, it saves you big on race entry fees to the Spartan series. Other events are opening this option up too.

7) Bandit

Run the event with no ticket, no chip. This is different to multiple laps on the same day – which many races turn a blind eye to – so … if you show up, walk in as a spectator, then go run the race anyway, you’re a jack ass. Don’t do this.


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Green Goat Gauntlet

Are you in Maine? Check out the Green Goat Gauntlet (, a fun 5k OCR that is actually headed up by one of our own Spahtens – Daron!

Even better – they have a $15 deal on living social right now, if you’re interested.

Go check them out – this looks like it’ll be a fun run, rather than huge challenge – but if you’re local, any time spent on the course is fun!

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Who doesn’t love them?

One of the goals behind getting the New England Spahtens organized and more public was simple – raise our profile as a team in the New England area. We have an amazing group here – from elite level athletes down to weekend mud warriors, and what race organizer wouldn’t want us to hit up their race?

So – one of the big goals is to work with race organizers as they start up their races in the New England area and bring you, the New England Spahten community, the benefits of being in a large team.

It’s already starting.

Sign up for the Renegade Run – a thanksgiving weekend, local OCR in Hingam, MA. Put “nespahtens” in at checkout to get a $35 entry

We’ve got programs in place for the Hero Rush and Superhero Scramble – we’ve got lines of communication open with a couple more race series that are coming into New England for their first years too. More to come on those!

It doesn’t end there, of course. You should definitely watch this space and talk to your gyms, boxes and team mates about the New England Spahtens!

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No free Super for you!

At the 2012 New Jersey Super – there was a bit of a rain storm. Well, more like a tornado warning that shut the course down for some time. I was there, it was more than a little epic, and Spartan Race was forced to pull all volunteers off the mountain and herd any athlete they could into a safe and secure building until it passed.

Not everyone was so lucky, of course – being an 11 mile event, there were athletes strung out all over the place with no way to know what was going on (other than the sky went black, the rains came and the winds tried to blow them off) – and many found obstacles with no volunteers to tell them to stop and wait. As a result, a whole pile of folks were effectively caught crossing the finish lines with no timing mats, or bussed off the mountain when they hit aid stops, because it was too dangerous to continue.

A lot of folks didn’t finish, through no fault of their own.

Spartan did right by them, and offered them a free Hurricane Heat that night, a free race the next day, *and* a free entry to the 2013 event.

The coupon for this free 2013 event got circulated, and the internet being the internet, it’s original intent and intention was lost, and far more folks made use of it than Spartan intended, resulting in a huge number of free 2013 NJ Super signups – and Spartan issuing an announcement that they would fix things.

They did – all entries that used the coupon have been revoked. I can’t be mad about it (yes, I used it too) – while I was at the event, I wasn’t impacted too severely by it, and I did finish – so now it’s on me to figure out my Super for next years trifecta medal.

So, what are your options?

Buy a registration (if you click on a banner on this site, we’ll get some kick back), or throw one of many coupon codes in (EXTOLE15 is a good one)

Wait for a groupon / living social or other discount (these tend to happen closer to the event date, and are used to drum up inerest in quiet heats or days)

Volunteer (most volunteer spots are rewarded with a free race entry – they’ll happily let you volunteer for a minimum amount of time, then pay you in a free race in the volunteer heat)

I’ve not decided how I’ll handle my own registration yet – but one thing is sure, I’ll see you there!