Lincoln woman finds new challenge in obstacle course races

Bonnie Snyder during her daily workout at Holmes Lake Park

Bonnie Snyder during her daily workout at Holmes Lake Park

Bonnie Snyder spent last weekend in Portland, Oregon getting as sore as she’s ever been and picking up a large bruise near her shoulder blade.

That sort of weekend is not uncommon for Snyder, a 30-year-old professional photographer, who has spent the last four years training for, and participating in, obstacle course races.

“I ran track in high school and part of college,” Snyder said. “It’s something I’ve always had a gift for.”

Snyder, originally from Salina, Kansas, attended the University of Washington where she competed as a sprinter. After college, she began looking for new ways to challenge herself.

“I want to see how good I can get,” she said.

Most of the obstacle courses Snyder has competed are called Spartan Races. A Spartan Race is a unique obstacle course race held all over the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia and parts of Asia. They are made up of at least 20 obstacles and vary in length from three miles to marathon distances. Snyder said she has been working on the endurance aspect of the races to improve her times.

“These races are catered to long-distance runners, but I’ve gotten better and better with each race,” she said.

Spartan Race changes their obstacles frequently, but a typical course might include obstacles called barbed wire crawl, rope climb, spear throw, tire drag and the frightfully named fire jump.

“Recently they have been focusing on grip-strength obstacles like monkey bars or climbing walls. They also have a lot of heavy-lifting stuff,” Snyder said.

One particularly challenging obstacle is the atlas carry, in which the participant hoists a cement ball from one area to another.

Watch: Bonnie Snyder describe her training regimen and how she got started doing obstacle course races.

Spartan Races have steadily grown in popularity since their inception in 2007. This summer, NBC premiered a show, in cooperation with Spartan, documenting competitors traversing these obstacles in teams of five. Snyder traveled to Atlanta and appeared on the show in July.

“It was kind of surreal,” she said of her television debut, “being surrounded by cameras and having a microphone strapped to me during the race was bizarre.”

Snyder began traveling to Colorado in 2012 to compete in Spartan Races and others like it, and soon began to compete more frequently in places such as Kansas City and Minneapolis. Later this year, she will be traveling to Dallas and Nashville.

A map of Bonnie Snyder’s competitions since 2012:

Snyder is one of many individuals who travels for competitions like these. She said one of her favorite aspects of her hobby is the community of athletes she sees at many of the locations.

“I’ve met a lot of different people from all over the country, and a lot of people I would have never met otherwise,” she said.

Snyder currently competes in races that range from five to eight miles, but is looking to increase the distances as she becomes more experienced.

“Spartan will even pay for your registration and travel if you get good enough,” she said. “That’s the goal.”

Bonnie Snyder after a rigorous workout.

Bonnie Snyder after a rigorous workout.

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