Spartan races have been around since 2010 and offer multiple distances and three categories to encourage all levels of participation. The distance chosen (Sprint, Super, Beast, or Ultra) determines the number of obstacles that one must complete. In the Elite category (the highest level), all racers must conquer each obstacle without assistance or complete 30 penalty burpees or run a penalty loop. Elite racers are also eligible for cash prizes and Elite rankings.
The Ultra division includes a 50k course with 60 obstacles and is considered a “serious ultra-distance athletic challenge.” Every year Spartan hosts the Spartan Ultra World Championships, a 24-hour race where top athletes battle a continuous 10k lap (preceded by one 20k lap) of 20 obstacles. This year Spring Team Cali Schweikhart will be one of the Elite contenders competing in this event.
Cali grew up playing competitive soccer and basketball, and held the position of goalkeeper for Boston University before jumping into obstacle course racing. In this new found sport of Spartan racing, she was able to combine her love for the mountains while testing her physical ability. After a few races, Cali learned about the Elite division and began to train for this more competitive level. Fast forward to this year, where Cali raced her first Spartan Ultra in Utah, a distance she has been wanting to try for a long time. Not only did she have a positive race experience, but she walked away with a 1st place female, 2nd overall finish. “The Utah Ultra was one of my favorite race experiences to date. It made me feel like I kind of found a home in the Ultra distance of Spartan!”
Athletes competing in Spartan Ultras incorporate trail running, strength, grip, obstacle techniques, hydration and nutrition. Cali’s nutrition approach to the longer distance differs from the shorter Sprint, Super and Beast courses (5k to half marathon). Due to the higher intensity of the shorter distances, it is often hard to consume as much fuel during the race, so Cali’s goal is to take in about 100 calories 15-20 minutes before the race to keep her blood glucose high and to avoid a drop. If the race is 60 to 90 minutes, she takes in 200-250 calories per hour. For Ultras, her target is 400 calories per hour, giving her more energy to complete the longer race.
The 2022 season for Cali has been a strong one, claiming the North American Championship for the HYROX Mixed Doubles, 2nd place at both the Colorado Springs Super and Sprint, winning the Spartan Utah Ultra, double podiums at the New England Spartan event and most recently 1st place at the Kelowna Ultra in Canada. Cali is now ready for her main goal of the year - to compete at the Spartan Ultra World Championships in Tahoe on September 25th.
Last year Cali crewed for fellow Spring Team Rea Kolbl, who won her fourth championship, completing 75 miles in 23 hours and 59 minutes. “I was in awe the entire time. Not only is the athletic feat of completing a 24-hour competition incredible, but the teamwork involved in helping an athlete get through this sort of event was so cool to be a part of. It was so inspiring and made me really want to try it for myself!”
Cali has dedicated her training to building volume and practicing fueling. Living in Colorado has assisted in being a solid runner at altitude, a strength that will be greatly needed in Tahoe. On race day, Cali has the goal of racing for the entire 24 hours and her dream is to hit the podium. She plans on fueling with a mix of liquids and solids, including Spring gels, bars, and the Wolf Pack, plus a variety of other solid foods high in calories to aid in avoiding palate fatigue.
Interested in dipping your toes into Spartan racing? Cali encourages all to just sign up! “All walks of life do these races and it is totally acceptable to take them at whatever pace you want. If you want to run it solely for fun, just go out and have a blast in the Open heat! If you’d like to be more competitive, Age Group or Elite would be the way to go. If you make sure your body is prepared to handle the running and that your grip and pull strength are on point, you should be ready to go!”
We are so pumped to follow Cali on race day in North Lake Tahoe and know that she will crush her goals on race day.
Good luck Cali!