I’ll begin by saying I live in Portland, Oregon, but this “Portland” race is actually located about 40 minutes away, so there will be no location bias here. The Portland Spartan Sprint is hands down the best Spartan Race location in the nation. Facts are fact, Mud Run Guide fans!
But in all seriousness, when you arrive at the Washougal Motocross park in Washougal, WA, you can’t help but be amazed at the wonderful OCR opportunities in your near future. You normally can’t beat the summer weather in the PNW, but participants were treated this year to cloudy skies and a few raindrops throughout the day. Don’t worry… the slight bit of precipitation paled to the muddy mess that was the Seattle Super earlier this year.
You’ll be amazed at the close proximity of the parking area to the festival. Yes, you have to traverse a few rolling hills in the lot, but that’s only to warm you up for the surprisingly challenging 3.5-mile race, which has enthralled Spartans, whether local or making the trip from afar, for more than half a decade. This was the sixth time I’ve participated in the Portland Sprint and I already can’t wait for next year.
Note: I normally compete in the age group heat, but due to my recovery from a broken foot, I had a “fun-run” in the open heat, which was even more exciting because I was able to watch the elites dominate this course.
With expectations of a steep starting climb, normally greeting Portland Sprint racers, The Trailmaster himself, Steve Hammond, teased a new starting point for the venue on Instagram all week, much to the excitement of those who may have previously burned out their starting line energy and calves in past years. There was indeed a new starting point for this venue, but the first 200 yards were definitely still a heart rate shock, with two monster motocross hills, bringing racers near the top of the course, quite quickly.
The Portland sprint had all of the regular obstacles, scattered among the grueling rolling hills, dusty trails, and beautiful wooded areas. In this particular event, twister and the tire flip were left out, paving the way for many strong hill runners to tackle this course successfully, with less worry about failing more challenging hurdles. The bucket carry was shorter than normal, but the sandbag carries made up for the distance, covering some exciting ups and downs on unkept trails.
Approaching the finish line, the final two obstacles were an all-ring rig and monkey bars, followed by a steep uphill sprint to finish. Too many of the participants, even elites, the monkey bars challenged grip with moisture accumulation on the bars.
After last year’s terrible Columbia River Gorge fires, burning up many of the favorite trails our local runner's love, no one was disappointed that the fire jump was skipped this year, too. We respect the burn ban!
This Saturday-only sprint is famous for its generous servings of hills, but also its extremely long wire crawl over short motocross moguls, and the crowd-favorite, waterslide! No, the waterslide hasn’t been a part of the course in about 4 years, but if you were brave enough to take it on before or after your run or were a spectator with extra time and a change of clothes, you were in for a real treat – even more so if you went down the lane on the right side, looking up from the festival.
The course wound through the motocross venue, looping around the newly designed festival area, which helped spectators better see their family and friends on multiple obstacles – a hit for all of those in attendance.
A huge congratulations to this year’s Portland Sprint winners: for the women, Alyssa Hawley in first, Amelia Boone in second and Lauren Taska in third. The men’s top three were, from first to third, Greyson Kilgore, Josh Fry and John Howell.
One of the more exciting things about the finishers from the women’s side: All three of the podium finishers have won this race before. It’s always nice to see not just one, but all three PNW-natives take the gold, silver and bronze triangular plaques at this particular race!
A huge shout out to Beasts OCR as this year’s biggest team, and for its continued mission to help OCR enthusiasts around the PNW take full advantage of all the sport’s excitement and community.
If you’re looking for a challenge, and want to have a beautiful weekend in the most amazing part of the country, the Portland Sprint should definitely be on your 2019 OCR schedule!
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