Spartan U.S. Championship Series 2017: Emerald City Open

Seattle is home to coffee, grunge, and the Pike Place Market. This weekend it was home to the first race in the 2017 Spartan U.S. Championship Series. Not only was it the first race in the series, it was also live streamed. A playback video link can be found at the end of this article.

It was surprisingly dry and relatively warm on race day with just a few showers and temperatures in the low 60’s. Storms rolled through earlier in the week, ensuring there was no shortage of mud. The race would incorporate this natural obstacle in so many ways.

This is my hometown, so the race is extra special. Our team, BeastsOCR, received the biggest team award! They are an amazing group of people!

 

The Elites lined up and were underway. Hobie Call was back and placed 2nd, with Ryan Atkins placing 1st, and Robert Killian 3rd. Alyssa Hawley, Lindsay Webster, and Nicole Mericle rounded out the top three elite women. They are so fast and just amaze me every time I see them.

It was time for us to jump the wall and enter the corral. We took off and started with a pretty long run through corn fields and a trail that followed the river. We kept our pace moderate as it was going to be a fairly long super today at approximately 9.7 miles. We came to the hurdles and the O-U-T (over, under, through).

 

We made our way to the back section of the race venue and the mud hit with a vengeance! It seemed as though it was about a mile of solid mud. Probably wasn’t quite that far, but it sure did make the legs cry for mercy. There was one section that was particularly sticky and it looked like people were sinking in quicksand.

 

The double sandbag carry was up next! It was probably a quarter mile or more, with rolling hills and mud on the upper portion.

 

The new obstacle, Bender, was hard for me the first time I tried it, but I found it was all mental as I was able to go right up and over without a problem this time. Guess it’s a good lesson to not be intimidated by new obstacles and just jump in there and try it.

 

We trekked back through the mud and up some pretty steep hills towards the festival area. Seattle is known for a relatively flat course, but there are some sections that are definite challenges. We came to a second carry with wreck bags and then the spear throw. Missed and did the required burpees, along with several others. I believe these Spartans all made it.

 

Back up the trails and through the forest. The mud was thick and sticky again. We tried to do controlled slides going down, but they weren’t always successful. We found the inverted wall and then the Bucket Carry! It was a little unusual in that it went downhill first. The trail was muddy and uneven, making it very difficult to navigate. Several people fell and dropped their buckets. They had to get all of the gravel back in or start over. We rounded the bottom and made our way back up. Once the end was in sight, we realized this wasn’t the end at all! We had to go back down and up one more time! It was mentally defeating, but we gritted it out and got it done.

 

The dunk wall and slip wall were next, followed by the atlas carry. They had the big tires here today, 200 lbs for women and 400 lbs for men. They are very flat on the bottom, making them hard to get under. They were also being held to the sand with suction from the water. Flipped one way and then the next and we were off, to what we dubbed, “burpee hill”. The new obstacle, twister, was perched on top of a short hill. With exhaustion setting in, in addition to wet muddy hands, I didn’t stand a chance. Gave it a shot and dropped right off. 30 burpees!

Only a few more obstacles and we would be approaching the finish line. There was a waterway with cording, similar to barbed wire that we floated under. Then, we came to the Herc Hoist and the classic Multi-Rig. The Herc Hoist felt a little heavier than usual as the bags were wet from the rain the night before.

Finally, we jumped over the fire and received our well-earned medals!

 

Photo credit: Kim Collings, Adam Birgenheier, Jenn Reed, Spartan Race

Spartan Race was live streaming at this event and can be replayed here:

Spartan Race’s New “U.S. Championship Series”

Spartan Race are announcing a brand new “U.S. Championship Series” which will have payouts of $100,000 and coincide with all of the NBC televised races this year.

Here are the highlights. (Entire press release can be found at the end of this article).

  • Spartan are essentially creating a “mini season” with 5 televised races.
  • They have chosen to give each of the 5 races a cool sounding name.
  • Each race in the Series will pay the first 5 places a larger payout than regular races.
  • Overall Series payouts will pay down to 20 places
  • You must race 4 of the 5 races to qualify as Series Champion.
  • There will still be a separate “*Spartan World Champion” crowned at the Beast in Tahoe. To qualify for the Tahoe Championship, athletes need a coin to participate, just as they did in 2015. Read all about earning your 2016 coin here.

*This once a year race has been how Spartan have determined champions since 2011. It was held in Glen Rose, Texas in 2011, Killington, Vermont from 2012-2014, and Tahoe in 2015.

Here is the lineup for this first ever Championship Series.

Event: Montana Sprint   Name: Big Sky Sprint

Race Date: May 8    TV Date: July 20

Montana Spartan

Event: Monterey Super   Name: Golden State Classic

Race Date: June 4    TV Date: August 23

Monterey Spartan

Event: Pennsylvania Super   Name: Blue Mountain Challenge

Race Date: July 16    TV Date: August 23

Palmerton Spartan Race

Event: Asheville Super   Name: Southeast Showdown

Race Date: August 6   TV Date: September 27

Asheville Spartan Super

Event: Breckenridge Beast   Name: The Summit

Race Date: August 27  TV Date: October 11

Spartan Breckenridge

We reached out to several top racers for their reactions.

Amelia Boone, Spartan Pro Team. WTM Champ 2012, 2013, 2015 and Spartan Points Champion 2015 told us:

I’m stoked! I also appreciate Spartan’s attempt to make each race into a WWE pay-per-view. I hope it comes with entrance music for each competitor.

Lindsay Webster, BattleFrog Pro Team,  2nd in last year’s Tahoe Championship, 2015 OCRWC Champion said:

Elite athletes in OCR really appreciate Spartan’s efforts to grow and televise the sport, and it looks like they’ve come up with another great way to do it here. Not only does this give us some fantastic opportunities to go head-to-head with our top competitors on a regular basis throughout the season, but the televised coverage goes such a long way for us as athletes in gaining exposure for ourselves.

Chad Trammell, Spartan Pro Team, 2015 WTM Champ responded with:

This guarantees all the top guys will be at all the races! Last year it seemed like about half of the top racers would show up at a given TV race, but there won’t be any ducking the competition this year. I know this announcement already has me reconfiguring my summer schedule to attend all the TV races.

2105 Tahoe Championship Robert Killian added:

With training going well and a great start to the season, I’m pumped to hear that Spartan Race will put on the first National Championship series pitting Americans best against each other. This is what our sport needs to take it to the next level and I’m honored to be a part of it. I’ll be blunt, I want the title! Especially since the last race will be held in Breckenridge Colorado where I finished my first Spartan Race last year.

Spartan released a teaser video this afternoon.

$100,000+ in Prizes. 5 Races. 1 Champion. Introducing the Spartan U.S. Championship Series. Race it then watch on NBCSN. http://sprtn.im/ChampionshipSeries2016

Posted by Spartan Race on Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Posted by Spartan Race on Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Some additional info can be found here.

The complete press release can be found here.