Akash Garg climbed over walls, crawled through mud and ran through fire.
All he wanted was to sit down, relax and have a beer at his favorite Downtown Spartanburg spot, Main Street Pub, with his fellow Spartan Race competitors. He wanted to show off his hometown with its vibrant restaurant scene and growing downtown.
Last year, sore and tired from the race, Garg had that chance.
“I definitely think we should get our visitors from out of town to enjoy the downtown area. It’s already growing so well, why not show it off a bit,” Garg said. “There are some great eats anywhere, maybe relaxing with some mini-golf behind FR8yard… It’s really cool to have Spartan in Spartanburg.”
Last year, Spartanburg and Spartan Race came together, with the Hub City hosting the grueling, exciting obstacle course race for the first time. A course featuring Spartan’s signature obstacles – like mud and fire – was built near the University of South Carolina Upstate.
Garg, a chiropractor and Spartanburg Community College professor, jumped at the chance to have the race only a few minutes from home.
“Having this race in my backyard means time to sleep and fuel properly,” he said. “Allowing for some of my friends to have a chance to cheer me on and also maybe get inspired to try one of these is also such a fun perk.”
A Spartanburg native, Garg got into obstacle course racing a few years ago. He now travels to various competitions across the world and in September, competed in the Spartan Race World Games in Lake Tahoe, Utah.
Spartan Races are distance runs featuring obstacles like rope climbs, crawling through mud, jumping through fire, climbing walls and more. The races aren’t for the casual jogger, and they inspire a sort of community vibe, Garg said. He said it’s not uncommon to see racers focus less on how quickly they can finish and more on helping another runner get through a tough obstacle to achieve their personal goals.
“That’s always really cool to see,” he said.
Along with Spartan Races, Garg participates in various obstacle course-style competitions across the country. He got into tackling daring obstacles after running cross-country during his younger days, and used the extreme physical tests of events like Spartan Races to not only get back in shape, but to get in the best shape of his life.
“I personally aim to put in over 70 miles a week to get ready for an obstacle course race, except on race weeks. Then, it may only be about 25 or 30 miles,” he said.
Garg tries to keep his training regimen balanced with a focus on practicing for race obstacles and technique. Along with weightlifting five times a week, Garg frequently jumps rope or endures an hour of cardio.
Since he competes so often, Garg gets asked pretty frequently how he trains for races. Soon, he may have the chance to answer that question for many people at once.
“I am actually hoping to make a small YouTube video series with details of this (workout) soon,” he said. “I find that many people have difficulty in how to get ready for an obstacle course race in terms of athletic ability.”
Spartanburg was given a boost by hosting the Carolinas Beast, Ultra and Sprint races last fall, Garg said. Spartan Racers from across the country saw Spartanburg as the thriving, welcoming area it has blossomed into over the last several years, and Garg, for his part, was happy to suggest places to go and things to see to his fellow runners after the race.
Garg said the Spartanburg Spartan weekend got even more attention since it was one of the final races for competitors to earn a trifecta, meaning they finished three races in a year.
“The Spartanburg races allow for those seeking out a trifecta one last shot for the season. We are very fortunate to have an area with different terrain that is centrally located on the east coast,” he said. “This event in itself is important to Spartan race as it allows people to finish their yearly goal, with three races of three lengths in one season.”
As the second Spartanburg Spartan Race nears, Garg said he’s excited to act as an ambassador of sorts, an avid Spartan Racer eager to show off his hometown to visitors who share his passion for obstacle course racing.
“I hope they find that even though we are considered to be a ‘small city,’ we have a ton to offer,” he said. “It is so nice to have unique venues like FR8yard, Main Street Pub, The Rail Trail and it’s obstacle course ‘playground’ that really can show this town is actually perfect for obstacle course racers to hang out, enjoy and experience.”
Learn more about why Akash Garg participates in Spartan Races, or hear what it means to him to have a Spartan Race right here in Spartanburg in our exclusive interviews!