An unconventional race is coming to Rawhide this Saturday, March 12.

The Spartan Race is essentially an obstacle course marathon largely based on and influenced by ancient Spartans and their resilience when faced with pain and hard work.

Since its beginnings in 2005, the Spartan Race has expanded to include three different courses: the Spartan Death Race, the Super Spartan and the Spartan Sprint. The sprint is the shortest race at 3-plus miles and 10-plus obstacles, while most participants fail to finish the Death Race, the most challenging and unexpected of all.

For the first time, Rawhide will be hosting a Super Spartan race, the newest format of the three. The course will be 8 miles with 15-plus obstacles. Those who excel can qualify for the Death Race in June.

"One of our unique things is generally terrain," said Brian Duncanson, chief executive officer of Spartan Race, Inc. "(Rawhide) is totally different than the 15 other stops in the country."

The race director scouted out Rawhide as a potential location and decided that the elements made for a demanding race.

"We like to not just build our obstacles," Duncanson explained. "We like to incorporate natural features."

"The concept is to have an unformatted event where there's not a set race distance or set list of disciplines," he said. Obstacles incorporate mud, water, fire and barbed wire, he added.

Duncanson said he was thrilled to see the Spartan Race becoming popular throughout the country.

"It's interesting that we've tapped into a new market," he said. "We're defining a new sport, calling it obstacle racing."

The corporation wants to reach a broad audience, Duncanson said. So far, they have reached that goal. Participants say they love the unique appeal of the race.

Participants in the past have ranged from 10K marathon runners to military persons to average competitors who just want some fun, Duncanson said. The Spartan Race even has a kid's race posted on its website.

Duncanson noted that there has been a recent and rapid expansion in the popularity of the race. Because of increased demand, the race has grown from six events last year to 16 this year.

He added that, in addition to the licenses they have obtained in Canada and the UK, Spartan Race, Inc., plans on exploring more markets.

The Spartan Race started in Vermont six years ago with the Death Race as the only option for competitors. What started as a one-day event turned into two days of grueling mental and physical challenges.

Participants must qualify for the Death Race.

"The Death Race brings in your will power," Duncanson said. "The goal is to find people's breaking point. It's a self-test."

In order to prepare for the events, various boot camps are offered for those signed up for the Spartan Race. Depending on the camp, some sessions are free.

"This is great," Duncanson said of the overall growth of the race. "We want more."

More information on the Spartan Race and upcoming events can be found at

• Erin Sullivan is interning this semester for the Ahwatukee Foothills News. She is a junior at Arizona State University.

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