Spartan Race Romania Trifecta Weekend

This is the first time Romania is having a Spartan Race and it’s the Trifecta weekend! The Spartan Race Romania is located in the mountainous regions near Brasov. This popular destination is famous around the country for those who love to go alpine skiing. Poiana Brasov, is where the Spartan race took place and it peaks at 1799 meters.

The weekend consisted of a 7.5km Sprint with 400m of vertical ascent, followed by the 13km Super with 1000m of vertical ascent and lastly the 21km Beast with over 1500m of vertical ascent. The course consisted of some rolling hills, technical downhill rocky areas, and some stream running.  In Romania, there is also some stinging nettle flowers throughout the course which made the race very exciting.  Stinging nettles will burn on contact with your skin for a couple minutes, so if someone was wearing shorts they were in for a surprise! You can see some of the tall flowers/plants in the picture below.

romania-spartan-stinging-nettles

Comparing Central European Spartan races to North American Spartan races

Top 3 in the Age group and top 3 in the Open heats are rewarded with little Spartan trophies. Also in Europ,e there are multiple teams from many different countries. Team awards are given for the top 3 fastest finished teams.  The teams must consist of at least 3 people, and the top 3 must finish within 1 minute of each other.

Spartan Race Romania Team Finish

The results tent was also above par in comparison to some of the Canadian Spartan Races. There is a screen dedicated to show the top 3 racers in every category including the elite waves, age groups and open heats and team heats. Other than that they also had the iPads which showed your time and ranking in your given field. I wish I saw a big screen televising the entire race. I have seen that in a couple of the Spartan Races and I think that is a great feature.

romania-spartan-results

Overall the Spartan Race Romania hosted a great trifecta weekend. The temperature was adequate, perfect for racing. The course was well marked on both days.  The festival area was located in a big open field where many spectators can watch some of their favorite obstacles. Food and beverage were nearby which is really helpful. And lastly, the atmosphere was positive. Friendships were made, medals have been won, and another trifecta is checked off the bucket list.

 

 

X Warrior Black Ops 12 Hour in Barrhead Alberta

X-Warrior-Base-Camp

X Warrior is a new obstacle course company that is making a name for itself. It originated on Canadian soil in Calgary. From 2016 X Warrior Challenge has been testing the waters with their own obstacles. They also have an OCRWC qualifying race. On June 23, 2018, The X Warrior Challenge had its first Black Ops race. It consisted of 12 hours of running during nighttime, from 10 pm to 10 am. It was amazing, and some of these obstacles were very unique and fun.

This race consisted of 5.5km laps with more than a dozen skillful obstacles. I very much like this race as it had penalty loops. The Penalty Loop aka Recovery Lap was the place to retrieve your wristbands.

At the start of the race, everyone received 2 bracelets. If someone could not complete the obstacle after multiple attempts, they turned in the bracelet to the obstacle volunteer. After a certain distance at a specified marked location, if you did not have all 2 bracelets you were to do either 1 or 2 penalty loops (depending on the number of bracelets you have). Once completed the penalty loop, you receive your bracelet back and continue finishing the lap. There were 3 penalty checkpoints throughout the lap. The penalty loops consisted of carrying a sandbag down and up a hill, going down and up a further steeper hill, and carrying a propane tank in 200 meters circle before proceeding. In addition to a regular obstacle race, they have added a strongman lap. I will explain this in a different section of the blog.

X-Warrior-Penalty-Loop

The outlook of the beginning of the race was really something special. It looked like a rave with all the tents set up. At the entrance to the event, athletes set up their own tent/materials in a 10×10 square feet grid. The spectator and pit area called the Base Camp was nicely located in the center of everything.

From this area, you can observe multiple obstacles such as the X Dragon, Cargo, X Warp, X Tarzan, Rope-a-Dope, and Monkey Bars. The whole course was marked beautifully. All the stations were marked clearly. The X Warrior Challenge is now one of my favorite obstacle races! A huge congrats to Darcy for putting such a fantastic event! It also has one of the best start lines I’ve ever seen!

X-Warrior-Start

Strongman laps
Additionally, black ops offered a strongman lap. This was a very unique idea which I love. This consists of carrying a sandbag the whole lap. If you were running individually, you would carry a 40-pound sandbag through the whole course. If you were on a team, you would share the 40-pound sandbag through the whole course. Complete 1 lap like this and you received a strongman patch! Each lap racers were to check-in at the sandbag tent to let the organizers know if they are taking the bag out for another run.

 

X-Warrior-Strongman

 

Obstacles worthy of mentioning

Next, there are many obstacles to name that were fun, skillful, and challenging, but three come to mind that were unique and I haven’t seen in any other race!

X Peg Board- The Peg Board! It was shaped into a Z wall with timber construction. The distance was fairly long, contained around 25 peg holes, and 2×4 blocks of wood scattered for your feet. This obstacle took a fair amount of strength and time.

X Axe- The Axe throw! At a distance of 4 meters, we threw a hatchet at a wooden wall stump. After a couple laps, I got the hang of it, it still is a hit or a miss.  This is one of 2 obstacles that has only 1 attempt. If you succeeded you carry on running, if you miss, however, you give one of the bracelets to the volunteer.

X Sniper- We shot pop cans with an Airsoft Gun! This was the other obstacle that also had only 1 attempt. The guns were pre-loaded with pellets. At a fair distance of 15 meters, the organizers placed pop cans.  Again, if you missed, you gave a bracelet to a volunteer.

X-Warrior-Xsniper

 

Medals, Patches, and Podium

Medals were amazing. Each finisher who crossed the finish line between the 11th and 12th hour received a medal.

X-Warrior-Medals

The bibs were fantastic too! These were running bibs that you get to keep. I feel like an ultra runner.  After 12 hours, patches were given out to those who completed a Strongman Lap, and those who’ve reached 25km, 50km, 75km, and 100km. Finally, X Warrior celebrated multiple podiums.

Podium for most laps overall for male and female.

Most laps over the age of 40 in males and females.

Most laps for Teams in all-male, all-female, and coed team.

Most Strongman laps for male and female.

To finish, the male over 40 category had something special. 1st place received a green suit. It is told that this green suit will be up for grabs in the next Black Ops.  X-Warrior-Greensuit

 

Spartan Trifecta Weekend Krynica Poland

The Spartan Trifecta Weekend took place in Krynica-Zdroj, Poland on Jaworzyna ski hill on July 29 and 30, 2017.

Course Description

To begin, Saturday’s Beast race started at 8:00 am with the Elite Heat. My Suunto watch recorded 23 kilometers with 1500 meters of both incline and decline. The Beast consisted of difficult terrain: never-ending hills, steep declines, and two creek runs that were well over two kilometers in length each. The round rocks in the water made it difficult to run at top speeds. The steep declines made me feel like I was going to fall face first into the ground! They set up the course layout on the ski hill efficiently which made spectators enjoy watching the obstacles they liked most!

spartanrace-krynica-terrain

Obstacles that are worthy to mention:

  1. Bib Memorization Station: During the Beast race, one had to use the last two digits of their bib and memorize six random letters/numbers which would be asked at a later distance. On Sunday for the Super race, the Spartan team changed the memorization wall to a set of new numbers/letters. This time there were eight figures to memorize! Fantastic!
  2. Barbed Wire Crawl: Compared to the North American races, this barbed wire was really close to the ground. As a result, was difficult to roll through it without getting cut, even when crawling there were some very low points.
  3. Hercules Hoist: This obstacle appeared in each of the three races. Typically, sandbags are tied to the pulley system, and you must pull the rope until your bag touches the top of the bar. Once it touches the top, you then lower the bag down without dropping it. While trying different ropes each time, I found inconsistent weights.
  4. Sled Drag: The sled drag consisted of two sandbags (for men) estimating 40 pounds each. This obstacle slowed me down because the drag was on a slope and we had to pull it uphill! The pain was real!
  5. Sand Bag Carry: Each competitor was to take a sandbag and carry it uphill about 300 meters and back down 300 meters. This was a long carry which took about ten minutes. This was no joke because for each of the three races this distance did not change.
  6. Multi-Rig: On Saturday, the Rig was set up as follows: horizontal bar to three rings to two ropes and the bell. On Sunday, the Spartan team made this a little more challenging having the horizontal bar with 5 ropes and the bell.

spartanrace-krynica-sled-sandbagspartanrace-poland-multirig

Spartan Races in Poland still amaze me as they get better and better for both athletes and spectators! For example, this year they introduced a billboard broadcasting the race live! It is a very good idea and spectators seemed to love this. The billboard was running throughout the entire day.

spartanrace-poland-broadcast-billboard

Awards and Teams

Next, when it comes to post-race awards, Poland has it spot on! There are prizes for all waves – Elite, Competitive, Open, Teams, and Kids!!  The awards consisted of cash prizes, small trophies, vouchers, and even a Garmin watch.  Multiple teams were participating in the Spartan Trifecta weekend. The big difference between the Spartan Races in America and Europe is the number of teams. I had a chance to interview a team member here: https://youtu.be/LJHtOEQfe6k.

Everyone this weekend was wearing a jersey representing their group. In America, half of the runners are shirtless!  The results graph posted the athlete names, times, and country of origin.  It was nice to see multiple countries taking part in this event. In addition, these races are OCRWC  (Obstacle Course Racing: World Championships) qualifying races!

Krynica-Beast-Team-Awards

spartan-poland-team-jerseys

Sunday Super and Sprint

Then on Sunday morning, athletes prepared themselves for the Super race. The Super was a replica of the Beast without the flat-running sections. My Suunto recorded over 15 kilometers of difficult terrain and a comparable 1400 meters elevation ascent! In comparison to the Sprint race in the afternoon, the course was the same. The Sprint course boasted 8 kilometers  of the hills and steep declines with a long creek run, and an outstanding 1100 meters ascent! These races were hardcore! I also had a chance to interview the well known podium finisher Peter Ziska here: https://youtu.be/ySonQYcqqvE and also some Spartan Polish fans here: https://youtu.be/X3oApPZmL60

Finisher Medal

As a result, I want to congratulate whomever participated in the Trifecta weekend because Poland did something special this year! Spartan Race Poland created a unique Polish Trifecta medal for those who completed the Sprint, Super, and Beast anywhere in Poland! These medals look unique and amazing. In conclusion, I wish other countries will also create a medal for their nations during the Spartan Trifecta weekend. Find your next European Spartan Race here.poland-spartan-trifecta-weekend-medal

Spartan Race Beast – Krynica Zdroj, Poland

Spartan Race Poland StartOn July 23 and 24 was the Spartan Race Poland weekend near Krynica Zdroj, Poland  on the ski hill Jaworzyna Krynicka. I raced the Beast on July 23. It was a tough course with many hills and technical terrain. My Suunto watch recorded 22.5km and 1850m in elevation gain. This was comparable to the steep inclines of Montana race (Beast 2015) and Sun Peaks race (Beast 2015).

Spartan Race Poland Hurricane Heat

To begin, the Hurricane Heat started early morning at 5am on Saturday. A group of SGX coaches lead the hurricane heat. It was very early so I can’t recall all the details. There was about 50 participants. It looked really fun! Burpees was an essential part of this.

Obstacles that I believe are different from America and Europe: precision log hopping. There was a total of 8 short vertical logs/stumps in the ground that measured about 4 inches in diameter (~10 centimeters) and about a meter apart from one another.  With a decent pace, you lightly jump from log to log without falling to complete this obstacle.

Poland_bucket_carryThey also had 2 bucket carries. One of the buckets were already pre-filled with a sandbag. The other longer bucket carry was an uphill carry where you had to fill your bucket to the top and start climbing up a hill. If you didn’t think this was enough they also had a sandbag carry right before you cross the finish line!

 

 

The infamous memorization Sandbag carrytest. Each racer received a bib number. Somewhere in the first half of the course there was a board from #00 to #99 with 6 numerical/alphabetical figures that followed. You had to take the last 2 numbers of your bib and memorize the 6 figures that followed your bib number. While climbing the mountain I was repeatedly saying the figures to myself for approximately 1km. Much later in the race (8km later) there was volunteers asking for those 6 figures. If someone forgot their code it resulted in a 30 burpee penalty.

Spartan Race Poland Terrain

Furthermore, the part I enjoyed most about this Beast Race was the technical terrain. There was a long 2km run down the stream with rocks and current. The competitive racers were running through this but it was easy to twist an ankle on the uneven terrain. There was a long tunnel in the water we ran through as well. Let’s just say hydration was not a problem in this race! During the entire race I believe there was 5 hydration stations. Aside from the water trails, there was multiple steep inclines and single track trails. I remember climbing up the hill and every time we reached the top there was another hill to climb, classic!

Other than the terrain, Spartan Races in Europe use the same obstacles from venue to venue. They have a multi-rig but I found it to be the same set-up in comparison from the race in Slovakia and Poland. They have around 30 different obstacles. I found that the volunteers at each obstacle clearly directed you in the correct direction and explained what to do on each obstacle. Can’t thank enough for those volunteers!

Spartan Race Poland Festival

The Festival Area in the venue was in a great open location on the bottom of the ski hill. It had a gondola that went up all the way to the top of the hill for the spectators to watch all the racers as they hike up and down the mountain. It was a great venue. They were selling food, ice cream, and beer. It even had a Garmin tent as its sponsors. In the afternoon, Spartan Race was giving away prizes for top 3 male, top 3 female, and top 3 fastest teams. They were also giving away a couple of Garmin watches, and some goodie bags with protein and shakers.  All in all, it was a great event!


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Spartan Race Europe: Kosice, Slovakia – July 9, 2016

This was my first European spartan race. The Spartan Race Europe in Kosice, Slovakia on July 9, 2016. With about 3500 participants, the race took place inside the old city, with most of the running on cobblestones and pavement. The total distance for this Sprint was 6.5km (that’s just over 4 miles to the Americans) with very little elevation gain. There were no single tracks, so in this race, it was easy to pass people if needed!

Spartan Race - Kosice - MultirigWhen I arrived at the venue, there were already many participants at registration. The lines for registration were very long, but it seemed Spartan had everything under control.

KOSICE OBSTACLES vs. NORTH AMERICAN OBSTACLES
1. Wooden inclined balance beam; I found this easy as there was no mud and the way it was constructed, the balance beam was solid and not wobbly.
2. The bucket carry, which was a pre-filled plastic trash bin with sand inside. The good thing about this was all participants had the same amount to carry. It was really light compared to American Spartan Races, and the travel distance with the bucket was only like 100 meters.
3. Inclined and declined monkey bars. As all these obstacles were made on pavement, I would have expected to see some hay or padding on the ground, because I did see people falling and some even got hurt when landing on the hard surface.
4. Sprint memorization test, which I have only experienced in the longer races. This was where you memorize a variation of numbers and letters according to the last 2 digits of your bib number.
5. Lastly, they had a multi-rig. This was probably the hardest obstacle for most participants, especially in the rain. Since everything was announced in Slovakian, I’m not sure how the rules worked if you are able to kick the bell or not. After watching multiple athletes attempt, I saw one Athlete kick the bell, but he was still required to do burpees.

One thing I did not like was how non-strict the volunteers were at some of the obstacles. I witnessed a participant from the first heat attempt the rig and at the very end he placed his foot on the ground. He then kept doing the obstacle and hit the bell and went to the finish line. That would not pass in an elite race in America.Spartan Race - Kosice - Slovakian medal

Finally, the organization of the venue. The festival area was really good. The medic area, results area, merchandise area, and finish/start line were all close together. The timing chips that were used were bracelets and worked very well.  After the finish line, the gladiator girls gave the sprint medal and sprint pie piece along with the Kosice medal. The volunteers cut the timing chips, and the start time wristbands. Each finisher received a shirt, banana, water, and beer!

The starting line was organized very well. There were two security helpers making sure only the racers with the correct heat times were able to race.

There was also a Charity heat where racers raised money for a cause and were given a yellow charity shirt to race in. This generally only happens at the Spartan World Championships in America.  Once they crossed the finish line, they were given a yellow charity spartan medal. I liked this idea, as I’ve never seen it done this way before.Spartan Race - Kosice - Charity run


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