Forget the shoe-swallowing mud of Spartan Race Seattle’s past. This Seattle Beast and Sprint events were held once again on the beautiful terrain of Snohomish, Washington, under beautiful skies, a slight smell of smoke in the air and completely dry terrain. Perfect race conditions are a rarity in the Pacific Northwest, but the Meadow Wood Equestrian Center was pretty close!

Let’s talk course: the Beast was approximately 13 miles, with eight-to-nine miles of fast, dry flatness. It was absolutely a runner’s course and it showed. The top elite finishers completed the “sprint” in 1:42.

The Spartan build team displayed its creative savvy for a venue that’s played host to all three trifecta qualifiers for 10+ races, introducing a new obstacle and reinventing classic challenges scattered throughout the course. Note, we are not talking about the scattered “gifts” left by our four-legged friend who calls the venue home.

The few miles of wooded trails certainly reminded racers of the thick mud last April for the U.S. Championship Series, in form of dried technical terrain that could easily result in a roll or two of an ankle. Hey at least the bucket carry wasn’t as ridiculous this time around:

2017 Seattle Super US Championship Series Bucket Brigade, by @pnw_ocr

From the sand and river wire crawls, to a new platform blocking the vertical cargo, and an additional pallet/vertical barricade on the multi rig, Spartan brought it to Seattle! They even provided us with a treat: a mile-one dunk wall, which made for a lot more refreshing #DunkWallWednesday faces. Yes, that’s me in all of the muddy glory from Sunday’s Sprint!

Spartan Race's capture of my glorious dunk wall adventure

The new obstacle, however, was a controversial addition. “Ladder climb” was a 25-foot rope ladder with rungs about 6 inches wide. It was unstable but attached at the ground. The ladder was the last obstacle to conquer before crossing the finish line, but after 13 miles of mental and physical challenges, many participants were unable to complete the final challenge, either due to a fear of heights or physically failing. There have been videos and photos circulating social media showing Spartans falling into the hay bales below.

Sunday’s Sprint was a lovely recovery run, keeping participants closer to starting elevation throughout the course. The four miles of flat terrain, minus a few wooded elevation-gaining trails, were easy on the legs. No river crossing or ladder climb here, but the platform before the vertical cargo net and pallet after the rig, which was changed to all rings, opposed to the Beast’s traverse bar, ring and baseball combo, were still around.

Personal thoughts:

This course was fantastic, whether you’re a seasoned elite, competitive runner or looking to finish off that bucket list trifecta. Innovation is always key to keep racers coming back for more, and is especially important when the same venue is used twice a year. See you in April for the Super!

 

Rating: 5/5

 

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