“It's here!” I shouted from my bedroom, as my alarm went off, early last Sunday morning. “The new race season has finally begun!”
As I nervously got dressed, dug up my chewed up and dirt filled Solomans, I quickly put on a pot of coffee and checked the weather outside. Hot, sunny, and beautiful, lovely weather for shorts instead of pants. There really is no place like Southern California. I slathered some coconut oil in my hair, stuck on some shades, and hit the road to Prado Regional Park in Chino, California.
Parking was by bus this time around, so I got to the course a little later than I was initially planning and started my first ever afternoon race. I set out on foot precisely at 12:30 and took off from there. As it was day two of the first race of the season (the Spartan Super was the previous morning), I was hyped up and ready to try some of the new obstacles. The course ran smoothly from the start corral, the first obstacle being a few smaller wall jumps followed by the 8 footer. About a mile in, we encountered more mud than I had seen in years. Rolling mud had added some new features- thicker, deeper, goopier pools of mud, as well as a rope for us to pull ourselves up from the swamps. I'd say for myself, that was actually the most difficult obstacle of the day! Herds of people had backed up in the trenches waiting for others to make their way up or to grab a hold.
Another standout obstacle was the Bucket Brigade. Normally, this is the most dreaded portion of my day, but this weekend in Chino, it was relatively short and to the point. Many was mentioned that the buckets were lighter than usual. There has been no update on whether or not this will be an ongoing trend in the 2019 season, or if this was just an anomaly for the first race of the year. I certainly heard no complaints this time around about how painful or tedious the bucket carry was. Aside from having a short but sweet bucket carry, the sandbag was also much lighter than normal, and the course was exceedingly flat. Veejay Jones, the men's elite winner finished the 4 mile course just under 30 mins, as did for 2nd place and 3rd place male elite, Nikolag Dam and Ryan Kent.
After passing the spear throw, I encountered one of the newer obstacles, The Helix, which looks exactly like it sounds. It was very similar to Olympus, only you have an area to hold on with your feet and half of the section is thick plastic, preventing the racer from grabbing on. I felt like it was much more doable than Z Wall, although perhaps someone with larger hands and feet might have a tougher time than me.
After completing the rig, I darted towards the finish line, collected my FitAid and banana and checked out some of the participating vendors. This particular event did not seem to have an exceptional amount of vendors, although there was plenty of on-site entertainment for finishers and friends. There were various fitness challenges, games, and an abundance of food trucks proportionally spread out, as well as nice cold hoses and changing tents to rinse off all that goopy mud.
All in all, I will say that this course was not the most difficult or most diverse, as it lacked incline and the obstacles were much easier than before. It did, however, offer great views of the lake and allow new racers an opportunity to enjoy a fun course while gearing us towards what lies ahead. I would like to see more obstacle innovation in the future, but for now, I will say it is great to be back and the 2019 season is looking FIERCE.
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