By David Tuma, The Belton Journal
Four years ago, the Spartacus Dash had a grand total of 32 participants. There were more cranes eating fish along Nolan Creek than competitors of the Spartacus Dash in Belton.
This year, the Spartacus Dash had 550 participants and was by far the most competitive, toughest and best organized event hosted by ASCO Supply Company in Belton. Each store in the area holds a fundraiser each year, and the home company matches any funds raised.
“The stores choose their own events each year,” said ASCO branch manager Spencer Ridgway. “Last year the stores raised over $270,000 for charity. This year, the funds go to the Shrine Children’s Hospital. The charity changes each year.”
The Spartacus Dash is unique because it is a local event put on by one company and its employees. The run is just three miles, but there are obstacles everywhere, from climbing a rope wall to running over hay bales.
Each group of 50 participants had a warm up session to get the blood pumping. It was similar to the gearing up that takes place before the 13-mile nightmare Tough Mudder run.
Participants then got to run from Belton Christian Youth Center to the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor and even got to cross the new bridge near Crusader Stadium.
Another thing that makes the Spartacus Dash special is that it has some tough obstacles, but a normal person in shape can complete it. Some of the endurance runs held nationally are beyond some men who do not have the endurance and upper body strength to make it through 13 miles of obstacle courses. But not this one.
This year’s competition included four zip lines over the creek. A tree that fell during the storms was moved to the run so runners could tackle trying to climb over it. The creek was too high this year, and they had to leave out the rope swing.
The cargo net event at the end is noticeable since it stands about 18 feet tall. Ridgway got the net and built it himself.
But the ASCO employee with the hose had the most fun knocking over runners who were trying to get through the mud obstacle.
The obstacles were built 24 hours before the run. Ridgway starts organizing the event in February, but the real work is the final 12-16 hours before the race. Ridgway’s wife Kristina does most of the organization end of the race. Spencer gets it built.
“It is a workout to get ready for this,” said Ridgway. “We had to do some adjusting because of the creek being high this year. The tree was down from the storms and the city hadn’t had time to move it.”
Runners get a shirt with a number and chip to keep in their shoe to keep track of their times. Belton’s Jeff Potvin, who works for ASCO, was a participant and emcee of the event, along with Titan Total Training’s James Whitmire.
“It blew me away how big this event was,” said Potvin. “The response we have had has been very positive. It took a lot of team work to get this event done. You don’t have to be a fantastic athlete to do this event. But it is hard enough that it interests most people.”
This is a one of kind event, and it is only in Belton. The mud took a lot of shoes. Anyone who has done a Tough Mudder knows to tape the shoes or run 8 or 9 miles barefoot. There was a truck load of shoes left behind by runners, which are being donated to Haiti.
They had two phone calls Monday for people wanting to sign up again for next year. There are photos you can find online on their Facebook page. They had a photography company take pictures with four photographers. Next year they might have drone coverage. People who participate came as far away as Waco.
Ridgway summed up the race the best Monday afternoon: “I am beat.”