Boston Spartan Sprint – Mud Anyone?

Barre-Sprint-Bucket-Carry

Mother nature isn’t always going to be on your side. Rarely is there such as thing as “perfect” race conditions. Though the race day conditions for Sunday’s Boston Spartan Sprint were very good, the damage had already been done.

 

Throughout Saturday’s Super, thousands of racers faced an already muddy course and afternoon rain. That, combined with more rain overnight, made the perfect recipe for a wet and muddy Sprint course on Sunday.

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Venue

The venue is located a couple hours away from Boston, at Carter and Stevens farm in Barre, MA. Because it’s on a farm, there wasn’t a crazy amount of ascent, totaling just over 300 ft in the roughly 4.5-mile course. That makes the Boston Sprint a great course to check out if you’re looking to try your first Spartan race.

 

Parking was off-site, requiring a shuttle, but only a few miles away. The Stone Cow Brewery and a BBQ pit was right at the shuttle point for anyone who wanted some food and drink before and/or after the race. Naturally, the path down to the registration tent led right by a group of cows and even parts of the course. This can be great, unless you let the muddy mess of Twister psyche you out before you even walk in the door.

Barre-Sprint-Bridge

Festival

The festival area was nice and muddy, but well organized and spread out. Spectators were able to watch the start, Twister, Bridge, Olympus, Spearman, Hercules Hoist, Monkey Bars and the finish all in the same general area. With a bit of a walk, Bucket Carry and Multi-Rig were also visible. The U.S. Army was on site with a timed challenge for anyone looking to test their athleticism, plus other vendors with free giveaways or sign-ups.

 

Because it was a Sunday, there weren’t as many competitors as a Saturday race may have seen. It was also the same weekend as the North American OCR Championships in Vermont. Because of the lighter race load, the Elite heat went off at 9:00 am, letting everyone sleep in a little. Ideally, this would have also given the course a bit of time to dry out. With the amount of rain and mud, though, not much could be done.

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Course

The design of the course was typical to most Spartans, but also one of my favorites. Obstacles were pretty spread out through the first half of the race, with just seven obstacles in the first two miles. Many of those seven were hurdles, mud mounds, or other less taxing obstacles. Then, over the final mile or so, racers hit a gauntlet of upper body and grip obstacles. Most of the terrain was either through fields (corn or otherwise) or wooded trails. There were one or two road crossings, which was sectioned off by police.

Something that I’ve noticed is that when there’s a Beast or Super the day before the Sprint, typically some of the obstacles will be set up more difficultly than if it were just a Sprint weekend. For example, at the DC Sprint, Twister had just two sections. Here in Massachusetts, it had three.

Barre-Sprint-Hercules-Hoist

From what I’ve gathered, Spartan wants to make the longer races more challenging, with the Sprints being a sort of “gateway” into the sport. Typically, that means easier set ups. They still only do rings on the Multi-Rig, but some obstacles are harder to switch out. It’d be tough for them to take out an entire section of Twister overnight. The Hercules Hoist was set up with a heavier weight for the Super as well, which is another one that gets left for the next day’s Sprint. With the extra weight, plus rain and mud, that made the hoist one of the toughest obstacles for the day.

 

Hopefully Spartan returns to Carter and Stevens Farm next year, as it makes a great race venue, whether mother nature cooperates or not!

 

Photo Credit: Spartan Race, the author

Spartan Portland/Washougal WA Sprint and Hurricane Heat {Journal Entry}

Hello #OCRCommunity!

After all this time together it seems that I still don’t have the capacity to write a simple Race Recap & that I tend to babble on & on about my experience getting to the race, the participation during it & then the aftermath of the whole experience.  I tried, oh lord I tried, but it just seemed so foreign to me.  This is why I plan on writing my Race Recaps as more of a Journal Entry than a traditional Race Recap.  If that bores you, then go find another author & leave a big thumbs down in the comments section.  If you happen to like it, also let me know!

 

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-The Adventure Begins

Let’s start this tale off by pointing out the fact that this race wasn’t in Portland, it was situated about 30mins northeast from the edge of Portland in Washougal, WA at a local Motocross (MX) Park.  My wife (Charity), 6-year-old daughter (Sierra), & two friends joined us on our trip to the event.  Our friend Erin came along to enjoy the sights & watch over our daughter for us during the events & Troy also came along to participate.  If you’ve read any of my previous Race Recaps, you’ll know that Troy is a long time friend and has been getting increasingly addicted to OCRs as he continues to ferry my wife & I to & fro.  I really don’t know how he puts up with our crazy!

We left Vancouver Canada at approx. 8 am on Friday, swung by & picked up Erin, & headed south on our adventure to our AirBNB in Vancouver, WA.   It’s an odd thing to say that you’re traveling from Vancouver to go to Vancouver & you know the trip according to Google should take approx. 5-6 hours.  The first hurdle of our trip was the sheer magnitude of the traffic.  I figured leaving early on a Friday morning & getting near Seattle just after the morning traffic would be the way to go. Well, I was wrong!  Traffic was at a crawl the whole way through Seattle, Tacoma, & Olympia.  The trip ended up taking us close to 11 hours in total due to mainly traffic, lunch, & rest stops & the fact that a 6-year-old has the bladder the size of a pea!  We finally arrived tired and in one piece at our Vancouver, WA based AirBNB.

 

-The Sprint Awaits

We left the AirBNB around 8 am knowing full well that it would take longer than the anticipated 30mins by Google to get to the site. We also knew we wanted to start earlier so we could finish and have plenty of time to say hello to people, go back to our room, perhaps clean up some, change if needed & then head back for the event that evening.  Parking was in a field of rolling hills & was well marked and flagged by volunteers.  We were pretty early & the absolute sea of vehicles that were already parked had me pretty giddy at the sheer turn out.  I believe someone mentioned that the site sold out, well, if it didn’t, you would have fooled me, there were a LOT of participants at this one!  We didn’t get to the actual starting line until 10:45, 15 mins after our posted starting heat time.  Lesson learned, show up even earlier!  You think after 4 years of doing these that I would have learned by now!  We got on-site, parked & slowly made our way through registration.  We found the ‘Beasts OCR’ tent which wasn’t hard as they were awarded the largest team tent and introduced ourselves as part of the Vancity OCR team which merges with Beasts when we run in the USA, the Beasts will often do the same with Vancity when they come to play in Canada.

 

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-Let’s get Dirty

The event map showed 21 obstacles, approx. 7 km of distance and a pretty flat terrain compared to those from previous race experience at other venues.

Charity’s start time was for 11:15 and the starting corral was pretty full but she was allowed to start early with us as there was still a small amount of room for those that wanted to join in on our heat.  After the initial short climb, as I mentioned before, the course was pretty flat.  The initial hill I would say was the steepest & wasn’t really all that long.  There were a few other hills strewn about here & there but maybe I’m just finally getting used to and acclimated to this stuff as I felt it was a pretty easy going course.

See the Course map for a full list of obstacles, I only failed the Multi Rig & the Monkey bars so I know I’m getting stronger & finally starting to use proper form.  I ran into no issues at the first few obstacles & then came up to my old nemesis, the Rope Climb.  I’ve only ever done it 1.5 times in the past but it was still pretty early in the race & I felt pretty good.  I made it up & back down with no issues other than getting a good rope burn on my ankle, reminder to self, wear high socks to Spartan Races. My wife finally got to see me complete the rope climb, that was a good feeling to show her how well I am progressing.  I guess that’s one more obstacle that I can hopefully continue to train for and conquer on an ongoing basis!  The dunk wall had about 4 inches of air between the bottom of the wall & the mud.

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The barbed wire crawl seemed abnormally long, not as long as Vegas mind you.  I didn’t want to exaggerate the distance so I fired up Google Earth & did the best that I could to determine the actual length.  It looks like the barbed wire crawl was in the section of the course that has the Whoops/Moguls in it and is approx. 250 feet long.  It was tough with all the little bumps to get through it, maybe they just made it feel worse than it was?  We’ll come back to the wonderful barbed wire crawl later!  The Plate drag was dusty as heck & most of the lines had some pretty good bumps in them that made me walk to the plate, lift it up a bit, go back & continue to pull it, there was also a volunteer stating there were bees in the area & to beware.

We actually saw “Warning: Bees” signs strewn all about the property.  The Cliff Bucket Brigade was next, and I feel very odd about this one.  Am I crazy for saying it was just way too short & too easy?  I honestly felt like I needed to do it a second time to get the normal experience!  I didn’t do it a second-time mind you!  I just shook my fist in the air and vocally cursed Spartan for going easy on me.  I got a few chuckles & groans back from others & continued on…

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I ended up bumping into Amelia Boone at the 7’ Wall.  She had already done the course earlier that day & came in 2nd place for the Elite Women.  She was now doing the course again with her dad and he was wearing a shirt that said ”Amelia will do my burpees”, man.. I should get a shirt that says that!

The Rings & Monkey bars were the last two obstacles to fail (although I’ve done the rings that ONE time!) & then the finish line.  It was at the top of what I would figure was a tabletop jump, and well, there was no fire or photographer there which was a bit sad.  I understand no fire due to fire bans and all and at least  Spartan made up for the no finish line photographer by placing a bunch of wall backdrops & props with photographers right after the finish line.   All in all, it was a pleasantly cool day, with one small shower in the middle & another larger shower at the end, but it was perfect for cooling you down.   The course wasn’t overly hard or muddy.

 

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-Halftime wrap up

I would say the layout of the festival area was nice.  There was plenty of room & porta pottys throughout the area & along the course.  American Spartan races seem to have the best vendor and sponsor areas. I’m not sure why, I found this when I was working Event Sales for Spartan Race Canada.  Keep up the great work guys!  The course was a perfect one for someone new to Spartan.  I’m starting to feel Spartan is changing up their dynamic for the Sprint & making it a gateway into Spartan.  The Super is tougher & well, the Beast even more so!  I’m reading more and more people posting the same revelations.  Do the Sprint if you’re just starting out, do the Super if you’ve been doing this a while, and if you want to see what you’re made of, do the Beast.  Heck, you did the Beast & you wanna take it up one more notch!? Do the Ultra! This Portland Sprint ended up being about 6.69Km (4.15Mi)

All above photo credits go to Spartan Race

 

Spartan Portland Sprint and Hurricane Heat

-The Portland 4Hr Hurricane Heat #146 (My first!)

My apologies for the quality of these following photos, they were are all screen captured from and are credited to Spartan Race/Dingo Dominguez’s Facebook Live Videos
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Once we were done the sprint we headed back to the AirBNB, dropped off Erin & Sierra, quickly showered, changed, grabbed some grub & headed right back to the site.  Yes, we were just there earlier that day but probably due to the fact there wasn’t a slowly moving train of vehicles headed back to the site & the fact that we were now allowed to enter from a different direction we somehow took a wrong turn.  We were supposed to be on-site for 4pm as the HH started @ 5pm.  We ended up getting to the meeting spot around closer to 4:30 due to our directional mixup.

I’m going to back peddle a bit here, Troy was freaking out about the HH.  He felt he wasn’t quite ready & where he needed to be physically or mentally but knew deep down inside that he would be able to get it done.  It sure didn’t help things that I wasn’t able to give him any help with preparing for the event as there is very little to no information about these HH’s.  I tried to not give him the disparaging information that I had been able to glean from the internet.  That of the fact that the HH’s can go anywhere from 4-6 hours, and are varying distances etc..  I tried to not play on that but I didn’t want to try to pass it off as a cake walk either.   We had all our gear & our special item was to bring two bricks, the kind you build a house with.  We ended up carrying those bricks throughout the day.  Doing Burpees with them, hand claps, more burpees, more hand claps, carrying them through the dunk wall.  You get my drift, they went with us, in our hands, everywhere.

 

Krypteia Dingo oversaw our little group of if I recall 59? Sorry, I have THE worst memory! Along side of ‘Beast OCR’ President Adam Birgenheier.  Again, memory fails me, but I believe that original # was supposed to be closer to 90?  Going by a fellow team mates GPS as I totally forgot to even start mine due to my brain going in overload from the days events, we ended up going for approx. 4h 13m & with a total distance of 4.2Km (2.65Mi).  The HH isn’t about how far you go, sure, it’s an endurance event, but that doesn’t always mean distance.   We started our night off owing Dingo 300 burpees in which we did like 50 of them facing down hill right at the start.  Two members dropped out during this initial barrage and a few others went up to Krypteia Dingo, had a quick chat session with him and then got back in line.  I wish I was a bit better at this & that my memory wasn’t so bad as I know I’m not doing the HH any justice.  It wasn’t an easy feat at all.  Doing those burpee’s SUCKED!  But, I dug deep & got um done!  Maybe slower than some, but I still managed to get um done & not slow down the group.  After a bit more of this and that with the bricks, we ended up getting put into 4 groups of 14, I believe another dropped out just before we grouped up so we ended up having even groups.  I was picked to be the initial leader of Team #4.

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We jogged to what was the 6’ walls.  I believe we were supposed to make use of them, but they had already been taken down.  Adam openly asked what we should do instead, the Cargo Net was directly beside us so I stated we should do the cargo net instead.  Evidently, that was a good idea because that’s where we ended up going.   We had to get our team & our bricks over to the other side, only caveat was that we could only have one man at the top.

 

As this was our first group session doing something like this we awkwardly made our way through it.  We ended up having a few people hold some of the bricks, sending those people over, fireman lining their bricks up & over the cargo net then repeated it.  I believe we came in second for that task.  All of us were awarded Burpee’s or Hand Claps (basically jumping jacks without the leg movement, of course with our bricks still in hand, or some sort of torture as our reward.

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After that we made our way over to the Kids Rolling Mud section.  We were asked as a team to make our way through it with a brick in each hand & to keep the bricks out of the water & mud.  This one wasn’t so bad as the kids ditches & hills weren’t so that deep or that high.  We made it through that section pretty unscathed.

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That had to have been practice as we then worked our way over to the Adult Rolling Mud & Dunk Wall.  Our instructions were to get through the same as before.  Getting no mud or water on our bricks.  A few of us bailed pretty hard through this section and one of the other teams lost a brick in the water.  Once the rest of the teams were done, Krypteia Dingo recruited the rest of their team to get back in the water and help.  As it was taking them a bit longer than Dingo anticipated, he ordered them into quadrants & had them sweep their area.  That found it in under 20seconds again showing the versatility of working as a team.  From there we were brought to the Slip Wall.  Oh, don’t forget all this time we were doing our rewards & trying to pay back the 250burpees that we owed Dingo.  The task was pretty much the same, get our guys & their bricks to the other side.  This time we decided to just get enough over to make a firemans line, get the bricks over & then storm the wall as we had 3-4 ropes per team to make use of.  We flew through that task with ease & took first place buy a large margin.  Our reward, 50 clap ups.  Thank you Krypteia Dingo!

It seemed evident that he was teaching us that coming in first wasn’t always the best tactic.  I know at this point we all started to ask each other if we should sandbag ourselves to not come in first.  But, in the end, we knew that just wasn’t the absolute lesson we should take away from it.

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We then Bear Crawled up hill from the Slip Wall to the Herc Hoist.  Again I did my best on Google Earth, it looks to have been about 350ft or so.  Once there, we made a wall with our bricks so we could use our hands & we all did the Herc Hoist one at a time as a team to completion.  I didn’t have an issue with it earlier that day, but the bags were heavy.  I was the first to tackle it & was fearful that I’d slow us all down, but I finished second & then moved on to the back of the line to allow the next person to continue on.   I don’t recall who won, because by this time it wasn’t about who won, it was how well did they accomplish the goal. 1st or last.  In the end, I want to say that’s what Dingo was trying to get through to us the whole time.

 

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Spartan Portland Sprint and Hurricane Heat -16

-Gettin’ er done!

Lastly was the Barbed wire crawl/dead body drag.  We all made team walls with our bricks, Dingo picked out a few dead bodies from each team we were told to break up into groups of three all with one dead body each.  We then had to drag that dead body across those moguls & under the barbed wire.  Ta boot, we were told we had to stay below the line of the barbed wire at all times as it was actually “Grazing machine gun fire”  I ended up dragging the first dead body through the moguls with my partner, luckily Adam brandished himself a firehose & started to hose us all down.  Yes, I said luckily.  Sure, it was a bit cold & rather annoying, but it helped lube up our path.  This is when Adam gained the nickname of “Hoser” which I will henceforth be calling him.  You’re welcome Adam! It was a struggle getting our dead body through, but we made it! We were about a quarter of the way through & then we were told we would all have to be the dead body. Oi!  I really didn’t wanna get dragged through that as it looked like it was worse than doing the actual dragging.   At this point the daylight was starting to dwindle so we were asked to snap on our Chem Lights.  The second go round had me dragging the other team mate through the gauntlet,  I questioned his decision, not because I wanted to be lazy & get dragged, again, as it looked worse, but because he was visibly shaking & cold.  He also mentioned he may be close to hypothermia.  I offered up some advice that he may be batter to do the dragging as it may keep him more active & therefore warmer.  He opted to be dragged.  Again we slogged through it, with the task absolutely sucking the whole way, halfway through we were told this would be the last team to go & were asked to turn on our headlamps. We got to the end battered, scraped & a bit bloody from rocks & barbed wire but we made it through.  I was so happy I didn’t end up getting dragged through it too.

 

-Wrapping up the whole day, finally!

From there we were told we were going to the extraction point.  I think we were let lose still owing Krypteia Dingo around 200 burpees.  Well Krypteia, I want you to know that during the time that it took to write this I banged out 75 of them & I plan on doing the rest over the course of the day.  I got my Dog Tags & Shirt & proceeded to get stung multiple times while trying to change back at our car.  I can tell that I am getting stronger & that my body is getting more used to doing these types of activities because I was able to make it through this experience pretty unscathed & not too sore.  I’ve been getting fewer bruises as medals & the DOMS the days after aren’t so bad.  But… Let me tell ya, that wasn’t the case this time!  Maybe it was the 6+ hours of physical activity on Saturday, or the 11+ hour drive back sitting crammed in the car with 4  others or it IS the DOMS, but I was rather sore & stiff this go round.  So much so that I booked myself in for a massage on Tuesday.  Best decision of my life right there!   Today it feels like I normally do after an event like this.  Hello muscles, yes, thank you for getting me through that now rest up before tonight’s’ Bootcamp Class.  *Passes Out*

 

 

The Spartan Warrior Ethos (Memorize the bold lines, there will be a test!)

I will always place the mission first.

Every participant soon learns that their own personal needs and goals must be sacrificed in order to succeed. Though many teams fight with each other early on, once egos are set aside success is achieved.

I will never accept defeat.

Defeat is something that occurs in the mind, not on the field. It is not an impossible task or an opponent that will defeat you but rather giving up in your own mind. Personal courage and perseverance will see you through.

I will never quit.

If you do not accept defeat, you must still have the fortitude and strength to go on. Not quitting is more than just refusing to stop, it is the will to continue.

I will never leave a fallen comrade.

Really, this is what the Hurricane Heat is all about. The strength of the team is worth more than the sum of its members. Each task presented in the Hurricane Heat cannot be accomplished alone, and no team can move on without all its members. Someone will always be slower, someone will always be hurt, but it is not their weakness that causes failure, but the strength of their team that assures success.

Aston Down South West Super, Sprint and Hurricane Weekend 2018

Spartan returns, once again, to the Aston Down Airfield used by the RAF from the First World War. I have a love-hate relationship with this place, mainly stemming from my solo experience with the Spartan Super last year. Going into my first Super alone was certainly a daunting task and the aching, bruised body after certainly made it a day never to forget. This year, a little more of a seasoned racer and a little better prepared for what is to come, I have decided to return to Aston Down and be one medal closer to the Trifecta in 2018. This time, I’ve got friends.

“Every step you take gets you closer to the finish line”

Karl Allsop, Race Director at Spartan Race UK, ran his first Spartan Sprint at Bassingbourn Barracks in 2011. Karl spent some time talking with me about his love affair with Obstacle Course Racing that spawned from his first ever Spartan race. As Director of Race Operations, Karl has complete responsibility in the operational planning of Spartan Races within the UK.

 

The design of the Aston Down course, for Karl and his team, has really been a process of looking back on previous years and learning from them. I can tell that the course this year has been meticulously planned out, ensuring that the racers experience a challenging yet not impossible race that will really push them to their limits. “We really have had the benefit of being able to say, if we place this obstacle here, then what next? If we have the Atlas Carry here do we really want to be going into Bucket Brigade? Are our racers really going to be able to do it? But what we don’t want to do is sort of deflate our racers.” As a racer, it’s nice to know that those behind Spartan are interested in helping participants reach their goals even if it is in a painful, brutal way.

“Aston has become sort of synonymous with the ‘Death Valley’ it’s this valley that we flood with obstacles.”

I asked Karl how he felt this season, and the approach that has been taken to it is different from the last. “I think we have seen some great growth, not just for Spartan, but for the sport as a whole over the last few years. I think Aston South West is a great example of how we have seen it change and grow. The first year we had maybe just over a 1000 people for the race day. We then grew to just over 3000 last year and we’ve topped just over 4000 this year.”

As the numbers have grown, I really felt that Spartan Race has focused on listening to their racers and strived to make changes based on their experiences. “A lot of our obstacles have been upgraded for this race and the reason for that is that our racers are getting better, they’re getting faster, they’re getting stronger. It’s great that we now have to adapt to our racers”.

The desire that every racer will have the same experience when taking part in a Spartan Race is what drives the team to talk to the racers and spectators to get their views on what would make race day more enjoyable. Aston will improve on Spartan’s ‘rocking festival’ area where spectators and tired racers and finishers, can enjoy the Spartan atmosphere. It’s free to spectators and will even contain ‘festival obstacles’ to entertain throughout the day. “We spent a lot of time last year asking what do you want, what do you want to see, how do you want to do it? So this year we have more spectator areas and have designed the course a little differently just to give the spectators something to look at.”

And finally, an important part of enjoying the course rides a lot on the support you have around you. Not only the friends you run with but the encouragement you get from Spartan volunteers. My experience of these guys has been nothing but positive. I’ve seen many cheering, clapping and dancing the racers through the tough challenges that Spartan puts them through. “You get the guys who are just smiling, they’re laughing, they’re high fiving everyone you know there is mud flying everywhere and its infectious isn’t it?”

“A big focus this year has been on what does the racer actually want in terms of when they come to a Spartan Race? What do they want to see, what do they want to feel? And how do we slowly adapt and progress to that?”

A final round-up of Aston Down? The course layout for Spartan Race is always kept under tight wraps until race day but Karl was sure to let me know the gist of what to expect come Saturday. “If people want intensity, but they also want fun, then Aston is a great place to do it”. It’s going to be bigger and better than ever.

Aston did me right last year, it took me, chewed me up and spat me back out a better stronger racer. I’m glad to hear that Karl and his team have really taken these races up a notch and have done everything they can to make sure that those racing really get the most out of their time and out of themselves. Aston Down proves to be a show-stopping weekend of OCR magic and I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

There are limited spots available for this weekend’s South West Super, Sprint and Hurricane Heat in Aston Down, Gloucestershire. Visit http://www.spartanrace.uk to book your place and get further information.

Photo Credits: Epic Action Imagery (www.epicactionimagery.com)

Spartan Race Launches Irish Debut

 

‘NOVICE HURDLERS’ SET TO SPRING SURPRISE ON PUNCHESTOWN GRANDSTANDERS

 


One of world’s biggest sporting series, Spartan Race, launches Irish debut

Dublin racecourse forecast: Going will be ‘Soft to Very Muddy’ 
Spartan Sprint welcomes all newcomers: Sunday, 27 May 2018

 

 Grandstand crowds at Punchestown Racecourse, the home of Irish National Hunt Racing, may rub their eyes in disbelief when ‘novice hurdlers’ romp home up the final furlong this spring.

Organisers announced today the famous Co. Kildare course, 18 miles south of Dublin, is to stage one extra thrilling day’s racing in May – but cheering spectators won’t spot a single horse or jockey in the parade ring.

Instead, only TWO-legged, human runners will feature on the racecard, with the special day’s adrenaline-fuelled sport being hosted by the world’s leading Obstacle Course Racing company, Spartan Race. Now staging races in over 30 countries, the company is proudly making its debut in Ireland this year.

The use of riding crops will be strictly forbidden, and the going will officially be declared ‘Soft to Very Muddy’ as Punchestown’s equestrian fences are swapped for even tougher cross-country challenges. Runners will have to wade through muddy bogs, scale slippery, 7-foot ramps, clamber up 25-foot-high cargo nets, lug 10kg sandbags up steep hills, climb 15-foot ropes, crawl under barbed wire on their tummies, then leap a ‘fire jump’ finale over blazing logs as their Grandstand finish.

Nobody needs to be a thoroughbred to take part though, as the ‘Spartan Sprint’ on Sunday, May 27 is an ‘entry-level’ race suitable for beginners and all levels of fitness. The Sprint, Spartan Race’s shortest event, 5km+ (3 miles) and 20+ obstacles, is a firm favourite with both new and experienced racers. Spartan hosts 250 races worldwide attracting more than 5 million runners in under 10 years, and the fixture at Punchestown, near the county town of Naas, is expected to draw participants and family spectators from across Ireland.

With Dublin now one of Europe’s premier tourist destinations, organisers also expect the event to draw a wider international audience, with other sporting enthusiasts flying in from across Europe and the US.

Spartan Race Regional Director Sean Meehan, (now available for interview), who lives in County Fermanagh and helped plan the Punchestown event, said: “Like the horses before them, our racers will discover a fast, exciting racecourse that’s both challenging and diverse – plus water, mud, forest and rolling hills. Runners will head off cross-country, then return to a rousing Grandstand finish up the famous Punchestown final furlong.

“Spartan is the world’s biggest endurance brand and we’re thrilled that our debut Irish event will open up a new market for Ireland, locally hosting obstacle course racing, which is now also the fastest-growing participation sport in the world. The timing of our Ireland race is perfect as it fits the current trend towards fitness, wellbeing and adventure sports. There’s a boom in adventure sports in Ireland, particularly along the West Coast, with trail running, kayaking and mountain biking. I hope they’ll all welcome Spartan with open arms.

 

“More than 1 million participants in over 30 countries ran a Spartan Race in 2017, and absolutely anybody can do one – people of all shapes and all sizes. There is no prior fitness required: you will get to the finish line.”

 

Meehan, an endurance athlete who helps stage Spartan races across Europe, the Middle East and Africa, added: “We also attract elite athletes, but beginners receive lots of helping hands and assistance on the course. The atmosphere and camaraderie are awesome. Crossing the fire jump in front of the famous Punchestown Grandstand, receiving your Spartan medal round your neck, and enjoying the buzz from the festival, will create a very special day out for racers and spectators alike.”

Obstacle course racing is now a worldwide craze, attracting millions of runners and keep-fit enthusiasts, including 5km and 10km racers, half marathoners and marathoners seeking a fresh challenge. Contrary to the misconception that the sport is dominated by testosterone-fuelled men, 40 per cent of Spartan Race runners are women. Obstacles are always kept top secret on race day on purpose to surprise racers. Failure to complete an obstacle incurs a compulsory set of 30 ‘burpees’, or squat-thrusts, meted out irrespective of gender.

A packed Spartan Race 2018 programme of 30 UK races will run until October – a fixture calendar increased by a record 50 per cent from 2017, reflecting booming British interest in the sport (now one of the UK’s fastest-growing). This year, around 30,000+ people are expected to run Spartan Races, which are named after the fearless Ancient Greek warriors. Punchestown has hosted major music festivals in the past, welcoming bands such as Kings of Leon, R.E.M., The Killers and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, but has never before hosted a Spartan Race.

There are three main types of Spartan Races, a Sprint (5km+), a Super (12km+) and a Beast (22km+). An average racer takes around 2 hours 40 minutes to complete a Sprint. Some elite racers can manage it in 40 minutes.

Spartan Race will also be hosting a Spartan Kids race at Punchestown. One of a record 11 Spartan events scheduled for junior competitors this year, it is open to children aged 4-13. They run a 1.5km course and youngsters must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian onsite.

To register for the Dublin event visit http://bit.ly/2DvIJv3

SPARTAN RACE SCHEDULE 2018: SPARTAN SPRINTS (5KM+ / 3 MILES; 20+ OBSTACLES)

Spartan Sprint South-east – Sunday, 8 April: St Clere, London Road (A20), Wrotham, Kent TN15 7NS

Spartan Sprint Dublin – Sunday, 27 May: Punchestown Racecourse, near Naas, Dublin, County Kildare

Spartan Sprint South-west – Sunday, 24 June: Aston Down, Aston Down Airfield, Gloucestershire GL6 8HR

Spartan Sprint Midlands – Sunday, 15 July: Marston Lodge, Marston Trussell, Market Harborough, Northamptonshire LE16 9TT

Spartan Sprint Scotland – Sunday, 16 September: Kinnoull Hill & Deuchny Woods, South Inch, Perth PH2 8AX

Spartan Sprint Windsor – Sunday, 7 October: Rapley Farm, Bracknell Road, Bagshot, Berkshire GU19 5PN

 

For full details of all UK Spartan Race events in 2018, visit www.spartanrace.uk

Follow Spartan Race UK on social media:

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/SpartanRaceUK or https://www.facebook.com/SpartanRaceIreland/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/spartanraceuk

Twitter: @spartanraceuk

Spartan Race Mountain Series: Montana Beast and Sprint

The Spartan Race Mountain Series kicked off in Big Fork Montana on May 5th. The Beast and Sprint weekend was a challenge to say the least! With a cumulative elevation gain of approximately 4,000 ft., distance of 13.1 miles, 31 obstacles, and a bear….it was one heck of a race!

The course took a left turn right away, taking us up the first of many hills that we would encounter during this race.  We had a couple of muddy shallow water crossings, over walls, and the monkey bars. The second bar was the one that was the highest and for some reason I just couldn’t get myself to reach for it. I stared it down for at least 5 minutes! I finally went and made it.

The 6 ft. and 7 ft. walls were next. When I reached the 7 ft. wall I noticed a wire fence to the left of the wall and on the other side was a bear! It wasn’t a baby and not full grown. It was having a lot of fun frolicking and jumping around like a puppy! I was thankful there was a fence between us. When I reached the top of the wall I saw a large opening in the fence…..which we were supposed to run through next! The bear trotted off further into the woods and I waited a little bit to be sure he was gone and then continued on.

The first sandbag carry overlooked Flathead Lake. The beautiful view took your mind off of the work you were doing. The Z-Wall and 8 ft. wall were next, followed by the longest Tyrolean Traverse I’ve ever done. I usually don’t have a problem crossing this obstacle but I was so spent by the end that I fell straight down when I hit the bell. My forearms burned for a while, but I shook them out on my way to the first barbed wire crawl.

There were a few more obstacles and then we came to a large clearing in the woods that held several obstacles. The rig, herc hoist, atlas ball, rope, dunk wall, slip wall. It was a great viewing area for the spectators. I didn’t make the rig but pulled the herc hoist right up with no problem. Then, up and down hill after hill. My calves burned and I was wearing out a little at this point.

Next was the hill that really got me. The second sandbag carry was steep and long. We used the old school sandbags which were a little harder to get a hold of. Going down hill was fine, but you knew that every step you took would mean a step back up. At one point I thought we were nearing the end but it just kept going. We turned to go back up and I remembered my mountain climbing tips and did a step-pause the whole way up. I made it without having to stop, but it was a pretty slow ascent. After reaching the top it was off to the cargo net and Spearman. I made the throw! I was thankful as I really didn’t want to do burpees after that sandbag carry.

We had a few more obstacles and found ourselves back at the atlas carry and ropes. I made the rope and then headed to the dunk wall. Cold is my kryptonite and when I dipped my foot in I knew this was going to be one of the coldest ones I’ve done. I stared it down just like I did the monkey bars (I really don’t know why I do that….silly). I finally went and got through it. The slip wall had short short short ropes. This was followed by the Olympus and the bucket carry. I was actually wondering if they forgot about the bucket since I hadn’t seen it yet, but there it was. The good news was they took it pretty easy on us. It was still a challenge but it could have been much worse with all of those hills they had to work with.

Just four obstacles to go until the finish line. The second barbed wire crawl was extra low and loosened up a bit, making it hard to navigate. Next was twister, the inverted wall (I love this one), and finally the fire jump! I always think to myself, “don’t fall in the fire, don’t fall in the fire”. I made it, got my medal and victory banana and made my way back to the biggest team tent with my team, Beasts OCR! They are such an amazing group. My second family! We were all tired and humbled, but proud of our accomplishment after tackling such a grueling mountain race!

 

Photo credit: Kim Collings, Spartan Race, Adam Birgenheier

North Florida Spartan Sprint

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The North Florida Spartan Super and Sprint weekend was hosted at the Diamond D. Ranch in Jacksonville, Florida.

North Florida did not disappoint on the amount of mud and obstacles for the Super on Saturday, April 28th. I had originally signed up for the Super but due to a family emergency had to cancel it. I was able to switch my registration for the Sprint on Sunday with no issues once I arrived. Great first impression, Spartan. Customer service is a top priority of mine when it comes to racing at such large events. Nevertheless, I had a great, fast-paced 4-mile sprint to kick off my first Spartan of the 2018 season!

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Super on Saturday took racers through a mile of waist-high mud.

Video Credit: Jessica and Corey Carter, Palmetto, Florida

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Course Map – Super and Sprint presented by Jax Sports

Obstacles

In typical Spartan fashion, obstacles really have not changed much over the years. We’ve got some carries (sandbag, buckets, and logs), a spear throw, walls, burpees, and monkey bars. I’m not sure if the monkey bars were a tad bit closer together, or if I’m just getting better. We’ll go with the latter. They seemed very easy to swing across so much that even the photographer screamed: “WHOA, you flew by”!

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Bucket carries were VERY efficient this year. I’m going to be 100% transparent with you, ORM. I, Jessika Poppe, slack so hard at the bucket carry. 7 times out of 10 I am that person that will fill my bucket halfway to make the carry easier. The other 3 times are when I am running competitive age group and will always fill it up cause “I ain’t no cheater.” Regardless, I was pleasantly surprised how well the lids stayed on top of the buckets and kept the rocks inside. So much, that racers flipped the buckets upside down in order to get a better grip and the lids never faltered.

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Photo Credit: Spartan Race Facebook
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Photo Credit: Kellie Murphy

One obstacle did seem to falter, however. The cargo net A-Frame typically found right before the fire jump and finish was placed very early in the race. When I was climbing up it I can honestly say I felt unsafe. It was so loose that I was shaking the entire way waiting for my body to just fall right through. I expressed my concern to two nearby chatty volunteers and they shook off my request to call to have the directors tighten it. They claimed “Spartan wants it this way,” but when I asked Jessica Carter who completed the super the day before, she claims it was so tight she could “walk up without hands.” Hmmm, some confusion in the communication here, Spartan.

Regardless of losing some time on the A-frame, I managed to complete this sprint fast enough to qualify for OCR World Championships (yet again). London here I come! To end on a good note, I must say, the t-shirts for 2018 are AMAZING! The quality is almost like a polyester dri-fit material and they are very comfortable and fitted. Maybe parting ways from Reebok was a good move. I did have to get a size bigger when receiving my finisher shirt because they do come in Male and Female sizes.

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This one sells on Ebay for a starting bid of $30. HAHA. Get yours today, without completing a race. 

A big thank you to ORM and Spartan Race for a kick ass event!

Stay Muddy my friends!

Check me out on Youtube, Instagram, and Facebook !

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