Ask An Athlete: Spartan Racing Tips From Pro Cera Edgley
Looking for a family friendly event where your kids are allowed to- and even encouraged to- climb through grime, wade through murky water, and sludge through mud? Spartan racing is the adventure your young athletes might be looking for.
We asked professional Spartan athlete, Cera Edgley, to share her experience with your rookies. Cera is a personal trainer, business owner, endurance athlete and mother to THREE boys. And yes, they are all little Spartans!
RR: Tell us a little about your athletic and professional background.
I grew up playing sports in high school and loved being active. I graduated from college in Exercise Science and knew I wanted to work in the health industry helping other people live a more active and healthy lifestyle. After having my first child, I trained hard for a half marathon and was hooked! Being active became imperative to my mental wellness as a mother. It’s my therapy, my alone time. I progressively started challenging myself, doing my first triathlon in New Mexico, my first Ultra running race in Washington, my first Ironman in Utah, and leading into my first Spartan race in Vegas four years ago. I tried out doing the Elite heat the following year and did my first trifecta in 2018 and Spartan reached out and asked me to be on the Spartan Pro team in January of 2019. I work as a Personal Trainer in my own company (Edge Fitness) at a local health club and am mostly focused on my Spartan training, which encompasses trail running, ninja training, picking up and carrying awkward, heavy things and things like flipping tires and throwing spears.
RR: How did you become involved in Spartan racing?
4 years ago or so I remember a cousin telling me about a Spartan race they did in northern Utah. It sounded really fun and wildly crazy! I was intrigued. The next year the Vegas Spartan race was happening in March close by. A group of coworkers and friends decided to make a team and go for it. I loved it right away! It reminded me of growing up in Kansas, doing work with my dad. I did it again the next year and then the following year decided to do a trifecta pass (one of every distance, sprint, super and beast) in the elite heat.
RR: What do kids gain by participating in a Spartan race?
The best part of Spartan racing is being able to train alongside my kids! They LOVE it. Swinging across bars and getting muddy and just let loose and have fun. I have seen so much grit come from my kids doing hard, but challenging and fun things and they always finish with a big smile on their face. The confidence they develop challenging themselves in overcoming the many different obstacles is great. Even when conditions aren’t ideal, Spartan’s show up and do their best (and in fact, it makes it even more fun accomplishing something with less than ideal conditions!)
RR: Does your family like Spartan races? Tell me about any experiences your boys have had that would help parents and rookies.
Yes, my family loves it! My husband participates in the open waves and loves the added time we have during race weekends compared to Ironman events. My boys LOVE doing Spartan races. There is something new each race they can improve on. The first time Gavin flipped the cargo net he was smiling ear to ear! My other son, who is less competitive, still can enjoy pushing himself without feeling too aggressive and has fun. My 4 year old completed his first race at the end of last year and loves proclaiming, “I am a Spartan!!” When we’re out hiking and it starts to rain, or we’re needing to carry something heavy or do some type of physical work, my kids will say, “Well, I guess we’re Spartan training!”
RR: How should kids prepare for a Spartan race? What type of training would you recommend if kids don’t have access to much equipment?
Local school playgrounds or parks are a great place to train. Climbing across monkey bars, running up steps. Hiking or trail running is also a great way to get kids involved in the type of terrain you’ll be dealing with, depending on the course. Carrying a sand bag or anything heavier around the block, and even jumping in a mud pile is encouraged! Pushups, lunges- body weight exercises to get muscles strong and able to handle whatever obstacle is thrown their way!
RR: How do Spartan races physically challenge kids?
It’s a combination of running with obstacles. It’s helpful to have a base of running/hiking (they are ½ mile, 1 mile or 2 mile options, until 14 they can sign up for the adult course). Strength wise, they’ll need to pick up sandbags, climb up and down a cargo net, traverse through mud, crawl through tubes, jump over walls, traverse a Z wall, flip tires. Every race and terrain is different and the main goal is to have FUN! Kids are made for obstacle course racing- it’s a huge playground for the inner child in everyone!
RR: What should kids wear for a race?
Whatever they are okay with getting dirty. I’ve seen kids race in velcro shoes, tennis shoes, shirt, no shirt- basically whatever they want! (but don’t expect anything to come out the same again- haha!). I suggest NO cotton or water absorbing material. Old shoes you want to toss anyways afterwards (preferably grippy trail like shoes).
RR: What should kids and parents expect on race day?
Arrive early to make sure the checking in process is unrushed, head over to the kid’s race start to check out the course and be ready to hop in the start corral when your time arrives! The festival area has challenges, booths, food trucks and watching the other racers coming in the spectating area is always fun! Parents can run alongside their children during the race, help and watch the whole event! Wear some shoes you don’t mind getting a little dirty and be ready to adventure around to watch your child take on the course!
RR: What is your favorite part of Spartan racing? Do you have a favorite obstacle or event?
After spending the previous year heavily involved in Ironman training,usually involving being away from home training, I’ve REALLY enjoyed the time I can spend training and participating with my family. Each race, we ALL can participate in whatever race fits our capabilities.
As far as me personally racing, I love the mixture of running trails with obstacles and strength. It’s not a sport that’s about how thin you can be, but how strong you can be. You see all shapes and sizes out there and it’s a much healthier way of training I feel like. Cardio with strength! I love the heavy carries and the fun rigs like twister and beater. It’s fun to be a kid again! I love that Spartan courses take you through terrain and situations that you would NEVER do on your own (think trudging through a swamp, climbing up roots along waterfalls, rolling through mud). Every course in different! I loved the Hawaii races, Vegas will always be most memorable, and Jacksonville was wildly fun racing through swamps.
RR: What other advice would you give parents and kids who are getting ready to race?
Don’t overthink it- just jump in and do it! First race just go enjoy the experience- the kids races are a great way to get kids active and moving. It will push them but be so fun at the same time. When else do your parents encourage you to jump in the mud and get dirty?
RR: What do you hope readers will gain by reading this article?
I hope it will help parents encourage kids to be active and do something fun!