Spartan Super returned to Mountain Creek Resort in Vernon, New Jersey. I can’t speak for the weather on Saturday, September 12, but Sunday’s event was near perfect conditions with plenty of sunshine. The Spartan Village was a great setup at the base of the mountain with plenty of vendors. For a Sunday event, there were a large numbers or racers on the course.
Spartans began the race climbing over a thousand vertical feet with several obstacles mixed in. The view at the top of the mountain was spectacular! Once at the summit, Spartans were treated to a dip in a small lake before the first trek down the mountain. There was some good trail running down the mountain with the slightest down slope. Upon arriving at the base, this is where the Super part of the Spartan came up to bat. Athletes tackled what felt like an upper body obstacle one after another for the next several miles.
In no particular order, the Atlas Carry, Bucket Brigade, Log Carry, Rope Climb, Climbers Wall and Sandbag Carry slowed most Spartans down on this warm afternoon. To make it truly challenging, the Spartan course engineers used the steep vertical climb and added that to most of the obstacles making them borderline exhausting. The snail’s pace of the course soon followed as racers were directed up the entire mountain once again. This part of the course was different in that there was virtually no passing lanes during this ascent.
A Spartan in peak condition would have been forced to move at a much slower pace than they would have liked due to the extremely narrow trail. I was able to find a couple of pockets to pass, but I resorted to the pace of the whole for much of this final climb. The course ended with the sandbag pulley and what may have been the longest barbed wire crawl I have ever seen. I heard a volunteer say that it was over 500 feet of army crawl downhill before the final actual obstacle. The course ended with the Clif Multi-Bar obstacle, a combination of rings, a horizontal 8-foot pole and hanging ropes to cross all at once.
Being my first Spartan and having nothing to base it on, this was tough! I wish I had a Sprint under my belt for comparison. The climbing was brutal for someone who is more of a runner than a climber. The obstacles were very challenging but also fair for each respective gender. I like how Spartan modifies most obstacles to accommodate females whether for the height of walls or weight of logs, sandbags or Atlas balls.
I enjoyed the rope climb and the rope traverse. There were parts of the course that conquered me, whether or not my torn rotator cuff played a role in that I can’t say for sure. The Monkey Bars, sandbag pull and the Clif Multi-Bar pull all got the best of me. I only see this as motivation for my next Spartan to do better! The course was a great measuring stick for where you are as an athlete/Obstacle Course Racer.
I did notice that there were fewer volunteers at this race. I don’t know if this was a singular even where they didn’t have enough people helping, but some volunteers seemed overwhelmed. I will note that the people I saw helping out were helpful and encouraging.
This was a great course, and I enjoyed the challenge it presented. Spartan has put together a business that does a terrific job testing the individual racer. I left the race feeling proud of some of my accomplishments but also wanting to attack it again next year. I rate this course as a 4.5 stars. Spartan could have been another mile or two of trail running and the final climb to the summit of the mountain was single lane possibly slowing down the peak athlete who may have missed the first wave.