Spartan Seattle Super / Emerald City Open 2017

Mudageddon & Crampfest – Two very accurate words that describe the course which was set out before the sold out first stop of the Spartan Race U.S Championship Series for the Emerald City Open held at the Meadow Wood Equestrian Center in Snohomish Washington.

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Perhaps the 16k/10m course didn’t start out so bad, but for those of us who started mid-day after the 1000’s of racers in the morning, the mud was plentiful & very hungry! I personally got stuck in it up passed my knee twice & required the help of others to get out.  I luckily kept my shoes on my feet, but I heard rumors that not everyone’s shoes made it out intact.  Think, ravenously hungry Sarlacc pit from Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.  There was also more than ample waist high to chest deep back woods cold water trudges to cramp up your legs.  The weather was on a bit of the cooler side (68f/20c) with some light to mid rain & some sunny breaks.

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Location: In between Everett & Bellevue & off over to the East.  The Google’s failed us a few times when we got closer to the site.  A sign along the Highway would have helped as the exit wasn’t very clearly marked.  There was a sign deeper off the road but I hadn’t seen it until after we passed the small little turnoff.  We finally arrived around 9:30 am & it took us about 40mins to get to the Parking Lot.

Parking: Quite ample but it was in a rather soft grounded field.  I understand not being able to put down some gravel, but we ended up getting stuck on the way out & needed a push to get out & we also ended up pushing a few others that got stuck too.

Registration & Packet Pickup: Easy to find & quick to get through for those that had their bar codes printed out, you didn’t even need ID to gain entry.  I somehow printed everyone’s bar codes but my own & there was a separate section for those like minded individuals that did the same.  A quick ID check & I had my timing chip & headband.

Amenities & Showers: The water trudge from the 3rd to last obstacle did a pretty good job of cleaning me off & my dry robe was more than roomie enough to get changed in so I didn’t end up checking out the showers or the changing rooms.  I did, however, have to make a few pit stops before & after the race & there were more than ample Port-O-Potties outside of registration near the parking area & at the back of the festival area.  I think a lot of people may have missed the ones at the back & went to the one’s outside the festival area as they were cleverly sectioned off & surrounded by cloth walls.

Food & Vendors: I thought there were quite a few options for food, everything from sandwiches, hot dogs, burgers to slushies, ice cream & ice cold soul quenching beer.

Obstacles & Course: There were ~28 obstacles to challenge those of all skill & fitness levels with ~5 water stations.  One of the stations stocked halved Cliff Shot Bloks at it.  I cannot remember if there was anything else on course.  There were additional recovery bars, drinkable yogurt, life-giving bananas and other goodies at the finish line.

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The double sandbag carry & bucket carries were both respectively evil! Is it me, or are course designers getting more maniacal? The distance you had to carry weights was lengthy & filled with multiple hills.

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Who found these new ~400lbs tires? Dear lord, these things were brutal! My buddy that was with me easily flipped the water filled balloon bags which I have no hope of flipping for a while yet, but when it got to the tires he was defeated by them.  The Herc Hoist was on-site & I recently encountered it in Las Vegas, well, someone apparently decided to easily double the weight of those ones.  Many people contributed the raised toughness of the obstacles to this being a Championship race.

This race was my second OCR race that I have run in the United States & it provided me my second pie piece for my coveted Trifecta or Tri’Fick’ta as my wife & I are calling it.  Volunteers & Spartan staff were all quite courteous and had smiles on their faces.  We arrived after most of the hype from the Championship had subsided & the cameras had been put away so to me, it was just a regular old Spartan.  It’s a shame they didn’t keep the live feed going till closer to the end, it wouldn’t have been hard, even just at the finish line to watch some fire jumps.  I’m not the fittest of individuals, but I’ve run my fair share of 5k/3m OCRs in the past.  I’ve participated in an 18k/11m Tough Mudder but for some reason, this ~15k/9m Super was freaking me out a bit.  After finally completing it, I think it earned it’s dread.  I hadn’t known there was going to be so much sticky gooey mud & most people told me it would be a pretty flat course which I was quite happy about.  In the end, one foot in front of the other got me through it.  Recently while doing some light training at home on my treadmill, one of my knees started to act up a bit.  I’ve seen a physiotherapist but I wasn’t happy with the visit so I’ll be going to see another one that’s more geared toward sports medicine.  During the race, I had the same knee act up.  I believe it was due to all the pulling pressure from getting constantly stuck in the mud as it subsided rather quickly after the race.  I really wish I had brought my camera on coarse & wasn’t running late to head back home so I could have taken some pictures as there was more mud than there was grass.  =/

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For some reason, I have signed up for another Spartan Super in Vancouver/Mt. Seymour on June the 11th, so be on the lookout for a recap on that.  Until then Spartans… Aroo!

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Photo Credit: Spartan Race

HESCO BoneFrog Challenge Championship 2016 – Charlemont, MA

BoneFrog Championships - StartEarlier this year, Bone Frog Challenge announced that they would be putting on their first “Championship” series event where they would invite top finishers from their regional events, to compete in a “winner take all” event in the place where Bone Frog was born – Charlemont, MA. With entry numbers dwindling, the brass at Bone Frog walked back that announcement and transitioned back to a full featured event that all could register for. Could they put together an event on par with their past performance? Let’s find out.

Bone Frog grew to half a dozen events in 2016 – while other races were dwindling, Bone Frog is growing. For a race that does their obstacles and venues right, this is only good news for the OCR community. Finisher numbers don’t seem to be knocking socks off this year but with an improved social media presence combined with the signing of OCR UberNerd Dustin Dorough to emcee their events, they were positioned to make a splash up and down the east coast.

The year finished for Bone Frog right where it began – in Charlemont, MA. If you’re lucky, New England in October can be beautiful, colorful, and comfortably warm. We weren’t quite that lucky on this last weekend of the month. Temperatures barely tickled 40 degrees at starting time, which may be ok for some racers but that’s before you start plunging folks into ice cold waters.

Snow littered a brand new course for runners – each step, an adventure in balance and agility. Each obstacle, that much more difficult when your fingers don’t want to work. For the 66-ish runners lucky enough to choose the Tier 1 Race option, that means they’d be on both the 9-mile Challenge course before heading back out onto the 5K Sprint option – each with it’s own unique path throughout the day. Both of these distances pack a strong amount of obstacles in, many exclusive to this event – and both made sure that racers were waist deep in freezing cold waters early on, and then atop Berkshire East you were wading through chunks of ice as you navigated a second tormentingly cold pond.

The course did struggle at times to find itself. Figuratively and literally. Markings through the woods were few and far between which did lead to several lost racers during the day, myself included. One advantage to running in the snow? You quickly realize you’re off course because you don’t see anyone’s footprints in the fluffy white stuff as you forge ahead.

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While it would appear that the draw of a Bone Frog “Championship” was not quite there this year, with under 700 racers attending this event, Bone Frog does everything right when it comes to their events. Adding details like identifying bands for Elites, to great swag, and a phenomenal home venue, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be looking to sign up for a 2017 race. They’ve debuted a new website, and next years brings even more new events in Washington DC, Texas, and Buffalo, NY.

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Personal Note: Nobody likes getting older. However, I was fortunate enough to celebrate my 37th birthday this weekend with some of the best people in the world – OCR people. Cheers to you all for being the best community around. PS. cupcakes at the finish line are as good as they sound.