“Is this Eunoia? No! This. Is. SPARTA!!”: Spartan Race 2021

Written by: Curtis Neo (20-O4), Jace Bong (20-E1), Leia Ong (20-U1), Pheobe Ong (20-O1), Poh En Xi (20-E3), Sargun Kaur (20-E4), Tan Yu Wei (20-E6)
Designed by: Kothandam Anusha (20-I1)
Photography: EJC Media 

Discipline, obedience, courage. What do these three words bring to mind? While the images of burly, Herculean 9th century gladiators easily come to mind, the same is difficult to imagine for the Bishan-dwelling Eunoians, twelve centuries later.

Yet on 22 January, the batch of 2021 embarked on the Spartan Race, a yearly collaboration between EJC’s Outdoor Adventure Club (ODAC) and the Sports Department.

Devising the War Plan

Thousands of years ago, the Spartans of Sparta were feared as one of the most resilient and courageous warriors of their time. After taking a leaf out of their book, the EJC Spartan Race was designed, with the goal of imbuing Eunoians with the aforementioned values.

“[We hoped to] design a unique signature event [that] encourages a healthy, active and rugged lifestyle,” stated Mr Trevor Tay on behalf of the Physical Education (PE) department. True to its goal, the race has become a source of physical activities, not typically included in your standard PE curriculum, that inculcates “determination and resilience to take on challenges”. 

The Spartan Race pushed not just its participants but also its organisers to their limits. The 17 different stations that participants had to complete to reach the final goal were carefully planned out by our very own student leaders from Student Council and the House Committee, helmed by ODAC. 

Photo credit: Evan Choo

“For example, some stations such as the Side Steps and Hurdle Crossing tested their agility, whereas others such as the Battle Rope and Hercules Hoist tested their strength,” recounted Chor Jia Yee (20-A2) and Ariel Koh (20-U4), the ODAC Overall-In-Charge (OICs) of the race.

In the words of EJC’s PE department, our organisers demonstrated exemplary “resourcefulness and willingness to adapt to challenges” despite COVID-19 restrictions.

Of course, this would not have been possible without the grit of the organising team. Jia Yee and Ariel shared that they faced many challenges “with regard to SMM and the whole programme flow”,  and had to make new arrangements such as the revised movement matrix.

“Through everybody’s collective effort and feedback, we could have a better grasp of the large scale event and work towards the bigger plan and picture, to form the event on 22 Jan 2021 as seen by many”, the two OICs added on. 

Indeed, a lot of midnight oil was burnt in doing so; the guidance and support from the amazing teachers and the highly enthusiastic ODAC team, dead set on making the event a blast, managed to make their dream a reality.

The Rising Spartans of Bishan

At 2:15p.m., the J2s gathered at their respective holding locations such as the Auditorium and the Indoor Sports Hall (ISH). The atmosphere hushed down as the five house captains and Student Council President, Lim Shi Pei (20-O4), marched their respective house flags and the college flag onto the auditorium stage. 

Photo credit: Kua Yi Xin

With a resounding ‘gong’, the opening ceremony of the Spartan Race commenced our college’s fourth annual rendition of the Spartan Race. After a briefing by the emcees and Spartan Race ICs, the students then exited their locations, ready to do their house proud in the event!

The race proceeded with the group elements of outdoor and indoor obstacles. This involved the participants racing around in their venues trying to complete various unique obstacles, such as leopard-crawling under barriers and carrying gallons of water.

Photo credit: Kua Yi Xin

Regarding the intriguing nature of the obstacles, Ms Karine Teo from the PE Department shared that the ideas for the obstacles were mostly conceptualised by the students and referenced from previous renditions of Spartan Races. Most noticeably, the inclusion of logistics that students usually did not interact with — tires and manila ropes — were aimed at increasing the appeal of the obstacles.

Photo credit: Gwen Lim

Mathilda Lee (20-I2) recounted how the obstacles were extremely tiring, given how participants “had to run about 3-4 times up and down one level and do activities that require strength,  stamina and speed”. 

Adding on, Woo Xuan Kai (20-O2) described the entire process as “amazing”, due to how everyone was doing their best and still having fun.

The group elements also included challenges such as a 4-metre long skipping rope for four people to jump at once, and a plank walk in which participants had to walk in sync to get to the other side and back in the shortest amount possible. 

Photo credit: Evan Choo

“Skipping was most difficult as it required teamwork from every person jumping the skipping rope at the same time”, remarked Elston Leng, (20-E4). There were also chain push-up and chain squats sections, in which Park Gun Woo (20-A5) expressed that he was glad to be able to still experience Spartan Race despite all the COVID-19 restrictions.

“Hu ha hu ha!” As these shouts rang through the ISH, one might have suspected our school hall was housing our own secret martial arts army. Instead, this was Combat Aerobics, another segment of the Spartan Race that consisted of a high-energy martial arts-inspired workout.

Photo credit: Evan Choo

Headed by an external instructor and our very own Miss Rachel Teo from the History Department, students followed along a pseudo-mixed martial arts process of punching and kicking the air while yelling the lyrics of Fall Out Boys classics such as “The Phoenix”.

Gun Woo expressed that he “really enjoyed the combat aerobics as it added a non-competitive element to the event which was exhilarating yet tiring”. 

Outside the C.O. and Concert Band rooms, music of a different kind filled the air — that of the buzz of Eunoians cheering each other on as their housemates endeavoured to perform the longest wall squat, or achieve the highest jump.

Indeed, the ‘King Of The Hill’ challenge was a unique opportunity for Eunoians to gauge their physical prowess against their peers. A compilation of various individual activities ranging from a high jump — specialised pole and all — to hopping between ladder rungs, the events were designed to encourage Eunoians to train their agility and endurance.

Photo credit: Evan Choo

As pop songs blasted through the air, the event saw students watching with bated breath as their housemates took turns trying each activity station, each hoping to break the records set, which were displayed on a nearby whiteboard, with each new rotation of house. 

“The most difficult event was the ‘King Of The Hill’ — I was genuinely impressed on some people’s records on some of the [stations],” Gun Woo said, an avid contender for some stations.

This passion, shared by other Eunoians, was evident: “We were very satisfied to see Eunoians giving their all and encouraging one another, as well as the House Captains motivating their houses to earn more points to become Champion!” Ariel and Jia Yee enthused. 

The Spartan Race ended off on a high note, with the most anticipated event: the Eunoia Wave Relay. At 5 p.m., houses returned to their respective holding venues to tune into the Relay livestream at the Atria to watch their student and teacher house representatives race against other houses for house points.

Photo credit: Gwen Lim

When asked what her favourite event was, Mathilda cited the Wave Relay: “Mainly because I took part in it and because it was really fun to watch the teachers take part in it too!” 

“I had a great time running and avoiding the obstacles with the bamboo pole and my friends,” agreed Elston. 

Reviewing the Aftermath

“It was heartening to see the participants giving their all for all the obstacles and components so as to score more points for their houses,” Mr Tay noted. “This spirit was what we were hoping to tease out from the students in the first place.”

“In general, I felt that the Spartan Race had been a huge success as most of the participants were very enthusiastic and managed to try out a large majority of the obstacle course,”  recounted Wei Yang (20-E6), IC for ‘King Of The Hill’.

Additionally, he expressed his satisfaction for the overall success of the Spartan Race as it did manage to fulfil their intended objectives of Spartan which was to foster courage, commitment and grit while allowing Eunoians to have fun through the various physical activities. 

Although the scale of the Spartan Race this year was significantly smaller as compared to previous years due to the presence of Safe Management Measures, it did not stop Eunoians from enjoying themselves and having a good bonding session with their peers.

A huge thanks to the PE department and ODAC for ensuring the success of our annual Spartan Race, and may the Spartan spirit reside within the college for the years to come!

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