Spartan Agoge: What you should know
When the Death Race and Spartan separated ways, [eafl id=8283 name=”Spartan Home” text=”Spartan Race”] gave birth to a new endurance event called the Agoge (pronounced Uh-go-gee). They have had only one Agoge event, held in the Fall of 2015, as sort of an experimental event. That class was composed of 7 civilians and 15 West Point military cadets.
With only one Agoge event in the books for Spartan Race, there isn’t a whole lot of information about what to expect at this event. Is the Agoge just a gentler, kinder Death Race? Or is it going to be more difficult than past Death Races?
Since I’m on a journey to obtain my Spartan Delta, I wanted to find out what to expect and how I should train for the Spartan Agoge. So I tracked down 3 Spartan Agoge class 000 finishers to get more information. I was able to speak with Andi Hardy, Alexander Ouellet, and Scott Gregor about their Agoge experiences. I asked each of them the same questions and was able to get some great information, without breaking their codes of silence. Hopefully, this will help anyone who chooses to do a future Spartan Agoge event.
WHAT MAKES THE AGOGE SPARTAN RACE DIFFERENT FROM A DEATH RACE?
HARDY: It’s more team oriented. Think of it as “Death Race meets Hurricane Heat” It’s the best components of both events put together.
OUELLET: “A Death race is about breaking people. Agoge is about building better people.”
GREGOR: Death race had unknown distance, tasks, and duration. Knowing the duration makes this event more bearable. “Agoge”s tasks have a purpose…the tasks are meant to reinforce the principles outlined in the Spartan X training. Unlike the Death race, staff wants people to finish.”
ON THE REGISTRATION PAGE, IT RECOMMENDS BRINGING 1 WEEK OF FOOD. WHAT DID YOU BRING?
HARDY: They took all my food away. I had no control over my food.
OUELLET: I didn’t have food because it was taken. But, MRE’s are a good idea.
GREGOR: “Class 000 was a beta test class and slightly different than how future Agoge events will be held.” There was a strict gear list, and food was not on the list, so it was confiscated at the beginning. Food was provided at staff’s discretion.
60 HOURS IS A LONG TIME. DID YOU GET ANY SLEEP DURING THE EVENT?
HARDY: Our Agoge was 48 hours. Not much, random 5–10 minute naps.
OUELLET: “We were able to steal a very minor amount of sleep, maybe an hour total.”
GREGOR: There was a small sleep break towards the end of the event, don’t count on this…you may not get one.
DID YOU CARRY EVERYTHING WITH YOU EVERYWHERE, OR DID YU DROP YOUR RUCKS OFF SOMEWHERE TO DO CHALLENGES?
HARDY: Only bring what you need. You pretty much carry all your stuff, all the time.
OUELLET: Get used to carrying heavy stuff everywhere.
GREGOR: “I can only recall one task where we didn’t have our gear on our backs.” We carried our gear everywhere.
CAN YOU DESCRIBE ANY OF THE TASKS THAT YOU HAD TO DO INDIVIDUALLY OR AS A TEAM?
HARDY: A lot of manual labor, some fun stuff, and some stuff where you had to trust others with your life. But, I can’t really say specific tasks we did.
OUELLET: “Sometimes you were evaluated on your own performance, sometimes it’s a team task and your team is evaluated on your collective performance.”
GREGOR: Almost all the tasks were team oriented; we stayed together most of the time.
HOW WOULD YOU RECOMMEND SOMEONE PREPARE FOR AN AGOGE EVENT?
HARDY: Get used to time on your feet and doing “sucky things.” Train in the dark or at night. Train long and lots of hill training to prepare your legs and ankles.
OUELLET: “Sandbag workouts are your friend.” Work on your strength; then work on speed.
GREGOR: “Mostly just a hike with a heavy pack while getting creative with some extra PT or carrying other heavy stuff during the hike. This training session could be a 12-hour Hurricane Heat.” Being a well-rounded athlete is crucial to the Agoge.
WHEN YOU FINISHED, HOW DID YOU FEEL ABOUT THE AGOGE?
HARDY: I was happy, sad, confused…mixed emotions about it. “The experience kept on post-event” because it was life changing.
OUELLET: “I learned a ton and think it’s fully worth doing.” I will be doing Agoge 001 in February and 002 in June as well.
GREGOR: “I was happy to finish since I could now get some food and sleep. I was sad that the event was over since I would soon leave me endurance event friends.”
DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR SOMEONE WHO HAS NEVER COMPLETED AN AGOGE OR DEATH RACE BEFORE?
HARDY: Plan for the weekend to suck, it’s not a vacation. Tell yourself, “Monday will come” and “I’m going to get through this weekend.”
OUELLET: Focus on the given task, not what the next task will be. It’s only temporary.
GREGOR: “Live in the moment.” Don’t worry about how hard the next task will be, that will overwhelm you. For equipment, trekking poles are helpful and gloved are great for cold weather events.
GIVEN YOUR EXPERIENCE, WOULD YOU DO IT AGAIN?
HARDY: Yes, it was a great experience. There are a lot of races on my 2016 schedule, so maybe in the summer or next year.
OUELLET: Yes. “I’m doing 001 and 002”
GREGOR: “Yes, I would do it again. I don’t feel as if I completed the whole thing since class 000 was 48 hours long and there is a 60-hour option.”
I hope the questions I asked these 3 previous Agoge class 000 finishers help you all. Without knowing what exactly to expect at the event, I do expect the weekend to suck and to come away with life a changing experience. Surviving the suckfest of the Spartan Agoge will probably be my biggest achievement and I can’t wait. I am going to train hard not only physically, but mentally as well in order to prepare for the Spartan Agoge class 002 this summer. I hope to see you there!