Spartan Race 2016 Ohio Beast and Sprint Review

For the third time in as many years, Spartan Race invaded The Wilds near Chandlersville, OH for another multi-race weekend.  This year was a Beast/Sprint combo, with the Beast on Saturday and the Sprint on Sunday.  Given that this was the third time Spartan has hosted an event at The Wilds, and compounded by the fact that their U.S. Championship Series was being kicked off with the Big Sky Sprint in Montana, a lot of folks came into Saturday’s race anticipating the same old boring ass courses they’d seen twice before.   Were they ever in for a rude awakening.  I’m happy to report that Spartan took that fairly nondescript Beast/Sprint course from last year and turned it completely on its head.

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A copy of the course map (Photo Courtesy of Matt Roenker)

The Boring Stuff
Parking was $10 a car, and located right off Chandlersville Road within walking distance of the registration tent.  I heard rumors and saw pictures of long lines getting into the parking lot later in the day, but if you show up to an OCR at 11:00 am you should expect to wait in line anyway.  Some people did have to park across the road, which made the trek to the registration tent quite a bit longer.  The festival area was very spread out, something Spartan has been doing more of this year.  I am personally a big fan of this because there’s only so much Skrillex a guy can take at seven in the morning, and a spread out festival area provides room to get away from the loudspeakers.  The biggest team tent was perched atop a knoll to the far left, and afforded a panoramic view of the entire festival area.  From that vantage, you could watch people coming in through the registration tent, looking through the merchandise trailers, checking bags, and finishing up the race.  The OCR community is pretty tight-knit in the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Region, and as such, the biggest team tent was shared by the Corn Fed Spartans and Crazy Mudder Muckers on both days.

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The biggest team tent and festival area (Photo Credit: Mitch Mazaher)

The Beast
Spartan made their best use of the terrain so far to give racers a surprisingly difficult, roughly 14-mile Beast course, with over 2,300 feet of elevation gain.  The long treks down two-lane service roads from previous years were replaced with miles and miles of single-track or nearly bushwhacking trails that looked like they’d been cut only the week before, including a two-mile section of steep, ass-sliding downhills and all-fours crawling uphills from miles 9 to 11 that a certain relentless BRO I know christened ‘the butthurt obstacle’.  Compared to last year’s Beast course, there was at least an additional 1,300 feet of elevation gain, not bad for a place that has maybe 200 feet of overall relief to work with.  There was even a mini version of pinnacle hill that was so steep they had ropes hanging from tree trunks for assistance.  Spartan found some extra mud holes as well, including a solid stretch of mud in the first two miles that made the Z-Walls one of the most difficult obstacles of the day.

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The muddiest Z-Wall I’ve ever seen (Photo Credit: Eric Mielke)

Speaking of obstacles, Beast racers got all the familiar Spartan Race obstacles they’ve come to love (or loathe), including log hurdles, short walls, tall walls, inverted walls, monkey bars, vertical cargo net, A-frame cargo net, log farmer’s carry, two sequential barb wire crawls, atlas carry, spear throw, slip wall, stairway to Sparta, herc hoist, and fire jump.  The bucket brigade was a little less rugged than it had been at this location in the past with no dangerous downhill steps, and the classic 30-foot rope climb from the bottom of a mud pit was replaced with the new shorter rope with straw bales below that they’ve been using this year.  The addition of the tyrolean traverse over bare ground was a nice surprise.  The dreaded multi-rig was very early on in the race (get ready Adam Kwitko, here it comes), and featured a tarzan rope-ring-rope-ring combo, followed by a horizontal bar shimmy to two rings and a final tarzan rope.

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Michael Conner dominates the Multi-Rig (Photo Credit: Mitch Mazaher)

The Sprint
The Sprint course was a nicely condensed version of the Beast, measuring roughly 6 miles in distance with just short of 600 feet of elevation gain, and mirrored the Beast course until just after the barb wire crawl, where instead of turning left for a 9-mile run through the woods, racers kept going straight to the spear throw, followed immediately by a climb into the woods and the aforementioned ‘butthurt obstacle’.  By Sunday morning, the course had seen so many racers that the path through the woods was well-worn and extremely muddy, but still single-track, causing numerous backups and complaints of slow course times.  The most challenging part of the course, in my opinion, had to be the mud pit / slip wall combo.  After two days of being lacquered with mud from the pit, the wall was slicker than greased goose shit and trying to use the rope without knots was a hilarious joke.

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Greg Hess climbing the slip wall (Photo Credit: Amber Marie Dixon at Broad Spectrum Photography)

The Kids’ Race
If you read my BattleFrog Nashville review, you know that I gave them big props on how they handled the kids’ race.  It seems like Spartan is making improvements too, and although I didn’t have any kids at this race, I heard nothing but positive reviews from the kids’ course.  The kids’ courses came in one-half, one, and two-mile distances that were very easy to follow with obstacles perfect for any age.  A friend told me that the volunteers were very helpful.  They got the kids all amped up at the starting corral and were willing to get muddy and dirty to help the kids get through the obstacles.  Fun for the entire family.

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Owen Edwards, the next Ryan Atkins (Photo Credit: Cari Edwards)

The Personal Stuff
I typically don’t write about how I ran during these races so if you don’t care just stop now, but this was a weekend of personal redemption for me.  Although I’m from Nashville, Ohio is the home state for my team, the Crazy Mudder Muckers, so races in Ohio always make my ‘A’ list.  After my catastrophic crash-and-burn performance at last year’s Spartan Ohio Beast, I had vowed to redeem myself this year.  I am happy to report that I put together one of my best races to date and completed the Beast in 3:13.  If Spartan would have actually put me in the correct age group, that would have been good enough for 8th place (competitive wave), which is a success in my book.  I have a lot of people to thank for this result, the first and most important of which is my wife, who tolerates my absence during long training hours and race weekends in various exotic locations, as well as the endless stream of OCR bullcrap that comes out of my mouth while I’m at home.  I also have to thank Miguel Medina and Yancy Culp, who have been coaching me through the last six months of training.  I’ll stop there.

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Your author in his happy place (Photo Credit: Mitch Mazaher)

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Brad Heilwagen

Brad Heilwagen is that guy that you might recognize from some race last year but you can't remember where.That's ok, I wouldn't remember me either.
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