In recent years, obstacle course racing (OCR) has become increasingly popular, and events that feature the sport have seen a large volume of participants—often filled to capacity. The Spartan Race, one of the world’s biggest obstacle course races, took place in Singapore in 2015. Held for the first time in Southeast Asia, it inspired five Indonesians to form a community of their own—the Indonesian Spartans.

Five Indonesians established The Indonesian Spartans that offer people to join obstacle course racing (OCR), as The Spartan Race become increasingly popular. Photo courtesy of Indonesian Spartans/NOW!JAKARTA

Acquiring knowledge from other races, and social media outlets like YouTube videos and other areas, they invited other interested parties to participate. The main aim of the Indonesian Spartans is to train for the Spartan race, according to one of the founders, Panji Laksmana, who added that the exercises are specific and help participants survive the race.

In addition to having superior endurance, participation requires a mandatory initiation programme where members have to run five kilometers and be able to perform exercises like the Australian pull-up, pull-up and hanging leg raises, all within two hours. If they pass the initiation, they become members and can participate in the exercises once in a week— every Saturday morning at GOR Bulungan.

According to Panji, there are now 100 members, although not all of them are active. They’re divided into three categories: Elite, Fit and Novice. Every three months members are assessed on their abilities to determine their level. Members who receive the highest scores can participate in a special programme called ‘Road to Podium’, which is the ultimate aim of the group. The group hopes its members will make it to the ranks of the top ten in the Asia Pacific.

The main aim of the Indonesian Spartans is to train for the Spartan race, require the participants to be able to survive in any obstacles.

“Indonesian Spartans consistently sends athletes to join the races. After 2015 in Singapore, we also competed in 2016 in Malaysia and Singapore, 2017 in Johor, Malaysia and this year in Sentosa and also in Semenyih, Malaysia. The position of Indonesian athletes is good. We ranked 20 when we competed in Semenyih which made me happy because the community is just three years old,” Panji said. He received a special medal, Double Trifecta, that is awarded to participants who competed in six races in one year.

Panji noted that it is hard to find good athletes in Indonesia because OCR is still not very popular here. Very few athletes who are good runners also want to face the challenges of an obstacle course.

For Panji, OCR is unique and challenging. Generally, there are three standards in the Spartan Race: Sprint, Super and Beast. For example, Sprint participants must run 5 kilometers with 15 obstacles, Super participants 8 to 10 kilometers with 20 to 25 obstacles and Beasts run 21 kilometers with 30 to 35 obstacles. The obstacles use objects in nature and additional equipment which offer challenging maneuvers and skills, especially for multi rig, rope climb, bucket brigade and wall jump.

Members of The Indonesian Spartans.

“In the future, I really want this community to be a place and forum for Indonesian athletes to be successful in the Asia Pacific because to be a participant in Spartan World Championship he or she has to be in the top ten ranks in a Spartan Race. And one of the ways to popularise OCR in Indonesia, this country must hold a race event. But it needs a lot of money. But we have to try.” Panji said.

Sari Widiati

Sari Widiati

Sari has been an arts and culture enthusiast for many years. She has written extensively on the arts, travel, and social issues as Features Writer at NOW! Jakarta.