The Citizen’s Bank Park Spartan Stadium Series Sprint brought together a perfect storm last Saturday. From the moment I entered the venue and spotted David Magida warming up for the Elite race to late that afternoon hanging out in the parking lot with my teammates, this day continually served up meetings with friends old and new. So let’s meet them as I run you around the bases.
I arrived early to cover the Elite and AG heats. Parking was free and the lots were pretty empty up towards the registration tents. All the systems were up so I grabbed my Media Pass, went through security, and got right to work scoping everything out. The festival area was mostly located along Ashburn Alley. That’s where Magida was cruising along so I figured I might meet a few more Elites warming up. I caught most of them entering the corral just before start time.
But first I hung around chatting with three young men, the volunteers for the day at the corral wall. This was their first time volunteering. They were there to earn a free race. They knew that secret already. I gave them a few more courtesies of MRG. If you want a 2018 Spartan Race coupon for 50% off (the best discount anywhere), it’s exclusively on MRG. If you only want 10% off anytime, that’s on MRG too. But if you want free, then volunteer. I’m always surprised when I see social media posts asking for discount coupons. There, the whole secret is now out.
After the men took off, the ladies entered the corral. That’s when I noticed Joe DeSena watching the excitement. He wanted me to know that he would do the course soon carrying a 40# kettlebell while also doing 300 burpees. The Spartan leader always sets the example. He also noticed details like my sneakers, a well-worn pair of Reebok ATs. Now that Reebok and Spartan have parted ways, I guess Joe wanted me to wear something else so he offered me the opportunity to try out a new pair of OCR shoes. Cool.
I went FB live for the starts and then made my way out to the course to provide some coverage. Outside the stadium was the Atlas Carry, Spear Throw, and Dolly Crawl. Then I went back in to capture the action at the finish line. Runners entered the field over by third base where my buddy Mathew Renk took the action photos along the third base line. Four hurdles, a rope climb, two eight-foot walls, and finally the box jumps rounded out the course along the warning track. I got there just as Yeniz Parton sewed up third place Elite female at the box jump. The fourth and fifth place ladies were close behind.
Chrisa Sloan-Dustman got fifth, then went back and ran it again along with many others who enjoy this short course for both competition and friendly runs. Robin Fontaine did the same thing. Ran right by me all sweaty, gave a thumbs up, and did it again. Larry Cooper and his wife Ginger also wrapped up their first round but waited until noon to go again with Ginger’s new training client. The top finishers however were still hanging around the gauntlet so I spent some time interviewing David Magida and Isaiah Vidal on MRG FB Live. They enjoyed a good battle out there with Isaiah edging out David for first.
I then returned to my car, changed out of my media gear into my race gear, and re-entered the stadium. There I met up with my team for the day, a bunch of friends from work, Team ACE. I also spotted a local trainer friend, James Jefferson and his team of fourteen athletes. He and his team, some special needs kids, were so excited to be where their favorite baseball team plays.
This year’s course was almost a mirror image of last year (it was reversed). The temperature was cool, partly cloudy, and dry. Perfect conditions for a race. It started by going straight up a long flight of stairs to the next deck. Then we wove between the rows, back down some stairs, and picked up our double sandbags for a very long carry along, up, and back down multiple tiers. My buddy John and I were totally prepared this year for this kind of race. We trained at the local high school stadiums practicing running at high speed along the narrow rows, carrying heavy stuff up and down the stairs, and transitioning to and from obstacles to these long, winding runs.
I was bummed that there was no Olympus obstacle. I failed it twice this year at other venues. So I built one in my backyard to be ready this time. Instead, I failed the rig. I’ll use Hubie Cushman’s design to put one in my backyard and ensure that I never fail that one again. On a bright note, I went four-for-four on the spear throw this year. Very cool. Yes, I have a spear and hay bale in my backyard.
After the race, John and I hung out waiting for the rest of our team to finish. We chugged our FitAid Recovery drinks and downed the bananas and Clif Bars (all complimentary) while we went over to check our results. At the time, he and I were first and second in AG Open Class. By the end of the day, I held onto 3rd and John 5th. So we were pretty stoked to qualify early for 2019 NORAM. We also ran into my neighbors Megan and her mom. I trained Megan last year for OCR. After that, we headed down to McFadden’s for our last Spartan freebie before heading back across the bridge and home in New Jersey.
Spartan has this race and venue very well planned, staffed, course marked, and stocked. It is a lot of fun. It was one of the best days of my season. I highly recommend this 5-star (of 5) race, especially for new OCR athletes and those still thinking about it.