“Damn, that was muddy!”
Welcome back to the absolutely beautiful Pacific Northwest, where Spartan, once again, held its highly anticipated Seattle-area US National Series. It was an opportunity for OCR’s top athletes to secure their position in the US Championship in West Virginia, while also providing a rematch of sorts for those who were physically, mentally, and spiritually defeated after the mud fest that was the Seattle Super in 2017.
Getting the rankings out of the way, the following elite runners took home one of the hard-earned podium spots, from third place to first, women: Alyssa Hawley, Faye Stenning, and Lindsay Webster; men: Veejay Jones, Ryan Atkins, and Ryan Kent.
Now, here’s the fun part! If you monitored the weather forecast leading up to the spring weekend in Snohomish, Washington, there was no reassurance that the mud would be at all forgiving. Yes, it rains here in the PNW, but damn! It was non-stop for the weeks leading up to the first “AROO” of the day.
Mud. Lots. Of. Mud.
Seattle is known for its less-than-mountainous course, but it still provided the challenge many seek when signing up for a Spartan. From the start gate, athletes were treated to a 50-yard dash up a very steep, muddy hill, where proper footing seemed to take priority over speed. The first two miles of this wet course took participants through the beautiful wooded areas of the Meadow Wood Equestrian Center, which plays host to two Spartan race weekends per year. In fact, locals pride themselves on achieving the Seattle Trifecta by the fall.
The slight ups and downs of the trails provided an exciting adventure before the significantly flat, obstacle-heavy remainder of the course. Out of the approximately 8.25 miles, five were on the flat side, but don’t mistake those flat miles for an easy opportunity to open your stride, unless, of course, you’re one of the top elite athletes speeding across the mud, too fast to sink. Yes, that is a photo of me slipping on the trail, below.
The O-U-T obstacle was a three-layer-cake presentation with three wet sand wire crawls after each wall. It was business as usual until the monkey bars, which seemed to have it out for all racers, regardless of athletic ability. From my perspective, one that has never had to endure burpees at the monkey bars, I was shocked to run up to see elite and age group participants in the penalty box. I reached the second bar before falling into the devastatingly slick metal tubes. While finishing up my penalties, I only saw one participant successfully manage the obstacle.
Everything on the course was wet or covered in mud. The sandbag and bucket carry made use of the famous “M” shape – downhill, uphill and repeated – that haunts Spartans in their dreams. Leading up to the dunk wall, the mud misery obstacle that normally includes mounds of dirt, alternating with deep mud pits, was washed out, leaving a sloppy mess before the photographer-less dunk wall.
One of the saving graces for those whose grip strength works best in drier conditions was the twister, which was located inside dry a horse stable. Following in the footsteps of the last few races, half of the lanes of twister had padding, and the others were bare.
The multi-rig, which was right before the finish, was a bit more challenging, not simply because of the rain, but also due to the rarely seen set up of ropes, inclined angle bar, and ring, respectively. It was one final grip and stamina test before the fire jump.
The Meadow Wood Equestrian Center continues to be a fantastic venue, especially since the Spartan course crew does such a great job changing up the course, every event. I highly recommend taking on the Seattle Beast in September, when the ground will dry, and you can fly through one of the less terrain-intense beasts on the calendar!
5/5 for the Seattle Spartan Super, US National Championship Series!
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