This weekend marked the return of Spartan Race to Southern California and the debut of a new venue at Pala Raceway. For years, Spartan Races, Tough Mudders, and other OCRs have been held at Vail Lake in Temecula. Love them or hate them, the endless, relentless hills overlooking and surrounding that venue were iconic to obstacle course racing in this part of the country. This year, all that changed, as the new owners of the Vail Lake property decided to rescind access to all of the various races that called Vail Lake home.
Spartan Race kicked off its 2016 season in Southern California last weekend with back to back races at Vail Lake in Temecula. Immediately obvious on arriving at the venue was the distressing lack of water in the lake; with a drop of at least 10-15’ of depth since our last visit back in September, it was clear that the long California drought is far from over. This also left exposed a vast mud plain that was once the lake bottom and would play a role in the race.
Spartan Race uses the warriors of ancient Sparta as the inspiration for their events, so it is only fitting that Operation Enduring Warrior pitted itself against this Obstacle Course Race that tested determination, strength, commitment, and loyalty. Saturday’s race at Ft. Bragg was an incredible display of every positive quality that can be attributed to Veterans, Adaptive Athletes, and those who support them. I’ve now run in 16 Spartan Races and over 60 in total so far, yet running this course on this day with these people made it one of my best experiences ever.
For the fifth consecutive year, the Reebok Spartan Race brought their 3+ mile event back to the New England area. The wildly popular race series spanned two days and was also being filmed by NBC for a future broadcast. After putting in a full day volunteering on Saturday, I was excited to return on Sunday to tackle the course that many were claiming was the toughest sprint distance race every held in the area.
In order to be eligible, racers must kick off their Triple Crown challenge by competing in the Killington, VT, Reebok Spartan World Championship, September 20, 2014, and finish with the first-ever Team Championship in Dallas, Texas, November 1, 2014. Competitors must round out their Triple Crown by competing in either the South Carolina Reebok Spartan Race Beast, or the Sacramento Reebok Spartan Race Super, both on October 25, 2014.
The Spartan Sprint was held at the Mohegan Sun Casino. There was plenty of parking, picturesque views and a challenging course. The obstacles were well spaced out of the course, with an exciting pile up of six obstacles right at the end. Due to the venue, the course itself was a combination of trail, grass and road. There was definitely more road than many were used to seeing at an obstacle course race, which usually tend towards trail.
This past weekend in Utah was huge for over 2 dozen Colorado Obstacles Racers. We all completed our Spartan Trifecta. For those of you who do not know what that means, it is completing the 3 distances in the Spartan racing series. The Sprint which is usually 4 + miles, the Super 8 + miles and the Beast 10+. By all accounts we completed a marathon of obstacle racing. My races were 27 miles total with over 90 obstacles.
The course this year was an additional 2.5 km. At each obstacle the volunteers clearly explained the obstacles, how they worked and what the penalty was for failing to complete them. It was also clearly stated this year that you could get help if you needed some. I liked the course this year more as it was longer, and you were able to go higher up the mountain and down it.
This was one tough course. It was at Tuxedo Ridge Ski Resort in Tuxedo NY. This was the last day of the Actual 4 races that took place here over two consecutive weekends. In the 4 days over 18,600 people raced. That’s a lot of bodies. Being from Colorado I thought I might have an advantage with the terrain, nope I went up and down that mountain. I did not run at all, well I did for about 5 minutes in the beginning and then it was just uphill, rocky, boulders, tricky stuff. I do not have that same competitive edge as younger folks. I am all about self-preservation which I again executed so that I may race another day.
I’m continually inspired by combat vets like Noah Galloway, Todd Love, Earl Granville and Edward Lychik doing obstacle races despite injuries that would hold back lesser men. When I think about that, I stop feeling sorry for myself and push harder toward my goals. I don’t have a story like theirs. Mine is probably more like most Americans, until I decided to change the ending. Two events drove the plot: First, my marriage falling apart, then volunteering at an obstacle course race.