I must confess, I was extremely nervous that the December 9th, Los Angeles Spartan Sprint at Castaic Lake was going to be canceled. If you haven't seen the headlines from Southern California, wildfires have destroyed hundreds of miles of land and property. The wildfires have also wreaked havoc on the environment by dropping ash and making it hard to breathe. This was highly noticeable while I was dining near the coastline of Santa Monica and hiking the scenic trail overlooking downtown L.A. at the Kenneth Hahn State Park. From the bottom of my heart, I want to say thank you to the thousands of firefighters, volunteers, and emergency personnel who continue to risk their lives to keep so many California residents safe. I would like to shout aloud Spartan AROO!! To all of you for doing your absolute best during this difficult time.
While on the festival grounds I noticed numerous vendor booth's competing for attention by offering free tasty samples, and the race banners indicating specific locations, such as bag check and start, were all easy to read and find. What stood out to me the most as a clear highlight of the L.A. Sprint was ironical, the Spartan Kids Race(s) There were numerous waves of kids participating in the race. I'm talking waves after waves of children. If I had to take a guess, I would say close to 200 children throughout the day participated in the kid’s race. The kid’s race was clearly the show stopper. I truly don't know how the Spartan marketing campaign works with parents encouraging or motivating their kids to participate in the race. But, whatever Spartan is doing in L.A. is working.
During the L.A. Sprint. I heard in the distance, “Where are the obstacles?” From my experience, that question is typically asked when there is a plethora of hills or a terrain that is kicking your butt. The race was over 4 miles and had 20+ obstacles, so it was not lacking in the obstacle challenge department. The L.A. Sprint Map highlighted a big chunk of open, dry, dusty terrain at multiple locations on the course. This is probably the first race where I had to do a barbwire crawl in loose sandy like dirt that was kicking up all into my nose and face. We always talk about going up a hill and how hard it is, especially based on the incline. Well, let us not forget about going downhill. The L.A. Sprint downhills were just as rough. They were steep, uneven, and partially rocky. If you are not sure of a proper technique to go down a steep hill without hurting yourself, I would advise you to practice before running the Spartan Sprint at Castaic Lake.
After every OCR race I participate in, I typically leave feeling like I accomplished something. I finished something awesome. That whole “I'm ready to take on the world,” energy kicks in. The same energy consumed me after the L.A. Sprint. During this race I found myself staring off looking at all the wonderful views the elevation had to offer. I'm not a big fan of taking cameras, cell phones, or GoPro's on a race (primarily due to these devices being damaged or lost), but I would make an exception for this race. The views I saw while running this race were postcard-worthy. Yes, I would run this race again (Spartan Race, don't mess this one up!… unless you want to turn this into a Super, or a Beast, wink, wink).
The L.A. Spartan Sprint had to deal with the devastation of wildfires, but there were so many volunteers, staff, and participants who provided an amazing positive spirit. On a sad note, there was one trademark obstacle that was noticeably missing. This race didn't have the typical fire jump as the last obstacle before the finish line. Yup, that's right, there was no fire jump, meaning no epic fire jump photo. But, I believe out of respect for the community and what the wildfires have done to the environment, the Spartan Race did what was right by not including a fan favorite that could possibly produce another fire. It was quite obviously a great sacrifice was made by the Spartan Race. Eliminating the fire portion of this race for the good of the people played a major role in my rating of this race. The right decision was made, and that decision made absolute sense. Thank you, Spartan Race for putting safety first for all the people at Castaic Lake Park and the surrounding region of Southern California.
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