There’s a reason why your Canadian Spartan Race season pass is separated into eastern or western partitions; Spartan Canada East and West are two completely separate entities. While they may share a name, branding, finisher’s t-shirts and medals, the obstacles and atmospheres are quite different.
While Spartan Canada West has ancient columns, the absence of an official Start arch (not to mention participants) really diminishes the atmosphere at the start of a race. It also makes for a start line that is hard to find!
While the actual obstacles and technique used to complete them are identical, the use of metal scaffolding by Spartan Canada West makes for an eyesore.
Oh Boy! Spartan Canada East introduced their new 16 cord aluminum structure in 2014 were Spartans are very unlikely to ever have to wait in line to grab a rope. It’s also quite tall and terrifying for those afraid of heights. The Spartan Canada West rope climb is terrifying for those concerned with the appearance of structural integrity. Spartan Canada West always has a mud pit under the rope climb leading to a more slippery rope which are always knotted Spartan Canada East’s ropes are dry so they don’t have to be knotted. Which would you rather climb?
Barbed Wire Crawl
Here’s a clear win for Spartan Canada West. In 2013 Spartan Canada East had some real tough and long barbed wire crawls in freezing mud, up hills and through rocks that destroyed their shins and knees. In 2014 the barbed wire crawl started off as a joke at the Montreal Super and Sprint where you could easily complete the obstacle without leaving your feet. The reason is likely due to the bottlenecking at the old long and slow barbed wire crawls caused by Spartan Canada’s much larger registration numbers compared those of Spartan Canada West. It’s nice to see that Spartan Canada West is using their numbers to their advantage in this case with a nice low barbed wire crawl.
Again with the scaffolding! While both the East and West offer 3 lanes, after the first race of the season, Spartan Canada East split their new super long monkey bars in half by having Spartans commence on each end and ring the bell in the middle therefor turning it into 6 lanes. The Spartan Canada West added another set of Monkey Bars later in the season but they are just ugly.
The Platinum Rig, offering an always different combination of rings, monkey bars, swinging monkey bars, horizontal swinging bars, Tarzan ropes, cargo nets and more, has become a staple at Eastern Canada Spartan Races, appearing at every event except for the inaugural Halifax Sprint. It even made an appearance at the Spartan World Championships in Vermont and will be present at the OCR World Championships. This is one strong example where Spartan Canada East is dictating the future of the sport. There is no rig at Western Canada Spartan Races.
Spartan Canada East is a clear winner here. Last I checked there were no campfire bans or restrictions due to drought or potential of forest fires in Western Canada. While Western Canada’s sometimes used propane flame line covered with rocks would lead to a low maintenance constant flame, they have to remember to replace the tanks when they run out! Big fires, or at least some fire, at fire jumps make for great photos, small fires, despite my enthusiasm photographed below, not so much.
A notable absence to Spartan Canada East’s schedule is the Hurricane Heat where Spartans break-in the course the night before in small groups carrying sand bags and/or tires while subjecting themselves to extra burpees and helping their fellow Spartans along the way. At least that’s the way they do it in the USA. Some Spartan Races in the USA hold Hurricane Heats that go up to 12 hours. While all Spartan Canada West races hold a watered-down version of the Hurricane Heat, where Spartans walk the course sans-sandbag or extra punishment, Spartan Canada East races do not offer any Hurricane Heats.
Spartan Canada East: 6
Spartan Canada West: 2
By Adam Kwitko
Eastern Canada photo credit: Epic Action Imagery
Western Canada photo Credit: Spartan Race