The famous Brooklyn airstrip that launched Amelia Earhart’s historic trans-Atlantic trip 80 years ago has become the training ground for the growing Spartan race phenomena — a relatively young sport where amateur athletes slosh gleefully through mud races, slog through miles of greuling obstacle courses, crawl under barbed wire, and frolic through unnerving quagmires.
They then finish the day with copious amounts of beer, music, and revelry, organizers say.
Aviator Sports and Events Center at Floyd Bennett Field will host four of the sludge-happy treks this year, said spokesman Dean Rivera, who attributed the federal park’s vast hinterlands as a major reason for their popularity.
“There aren’t any other big open spaces where they can do this race,” said Rivera. “You can go through woods, on runways, and end up at Aviator where there are bands and barbecues.”
The grimy challenges were jump-started this month by the Metro Dash, a race featuring less running and more obstacles than your standard Spartan jaunt.
The other three treks — Rugged Maniacs, Special Olympics, and Civilian Military Combine — will take place on June 30, Oct. 13, and Oct. 22, respectively
The program for each race varies, but they all follow rigorous guidelines associated more with a military boot camp than a typical city marathon: run like hell, barrel your way through various obstacle courses, revel in mud, and end up back at home base for grub, booze, and bands — if you’re still standing.
The sport is a welcome distraction in Brooklyn’s concrete jungle, say fans.
“It gives people an opportunity to forget the routine of the work week, and do something out of the ordinary,” said Brad Scudder, president and founder of the Rugged Maniac race. “To kind of push their limits, challenge themselves, and have an adventure.”
There’s another reason that shouldn’t be overlooked, too.
“It’s also a good time!” Scudder added.
Aviator Sports and Events Center [3159 Flatbush Ave. in Floyd Bennett Field in Mill Basin, (718) 758–7500].Reach reporter Colin MIxson at cmixson@cn