What could you possibly expect for the season finale of the Spartan Race Stadion Series in San Francisco? Beautiful weather? All sorts of Spartan Pros toeing the line? A lot of large checks? A LESS-THAN-THREE-MILE SPRINT OF THE AGES WITH GAME-CHANGING PENALTIES?
Well, all of those played out in a late-November jaunt through one of the most beautiful Major League Baseball parks in the country, Oracle Park. The previously named AT&T Park, located on the San Francisco Bay, hosted thousands of racers chasing mud-less glory and a few professional racers chasing the title of Stadion Series Champion. I was fortunate enough to battle it out in the Age group category and participate in a couple of open laps to fully take in everything about this wonderful park, and to no surprise, it didn’t disappoint.
Let’s talk day-of winners first. The Hammer was dropped in San Francisco, as Ryan Kent took first place, followed by Stadion legend Isaiah Vidal, and Grady Jackson in third, for the men. The women’s podium was topped by the bad-ass Corinna Coffin in first, with Cassandra Ohman taking silver and Cody Mezebish with the bronze.
However, controversy erupted in the men’s standings after competitors initially passed through the gauntlet of punching bags. Penalties were dealt to Robert Killian, who crossed the finish line third, for improper form on the 15 box jumps on the latter half of the course. Killian’s official placement was eleven. Additionally, Australian Chris Woolley, third place in the Wrigley Field Stadion the week before, who crossed the finish line in San Francisco as a top-5 contender, was also penalized and ended up in eighth place.
This course, to the surprise of most, was shorter than all other 2019 Stadions. Watch-wearing racers clocked the distance at an average of 2.7 miles, including all carries. Yes, that means efficiency and explosiveness were essential to compete. For me, I didn’t mind the shorter course because the obstacle placement worked nicely for the flow of the race.
It’s important to mention that this year’s starting corral line was much more efficient, compared to last year at this same venue, where racers were kept waiting for much longer than expected, as waves went off every five minutes or so. For 2019, Spartan Operations stayed relatively true to the starting line wristbands. Waves went off about every two minutes.
The competition began on the first base warning track with a sprint to three consecutive 4-foot walls. Racers then passed through the centerfield wall, outside along the sidewalk, to find heavy ropes, where you placed a versa loop on your ankles and performed 15 reps. It was then up the stairs, under bungle cords – the barbed wire crawl equivalent of a standard race – and on to more stairs. Lots of stairs. A few walls, ramp runs, a sandbag carry, and the box jumps followed before making our way back down to the playing field level.
After the stairs, the real challenges appeared. Both traditional and non-traditional Spartan obstacles made themselves a part of the excitement, all within the last mile. The rope climb set the stage for impending challenges for the high-octane event. RAM burpees, which are an incredibly challenging station, where you perform 15 weighted burpees, easily zap the energy of racers of all levels. Immediately following the RAM, racers encountered Herc Hoist and a 15-calorie Assault Bike ride.
Tired racers then approached another wall, the A-Frame cargo in Centerfield, and an all-ring multi-rig on the third baseline, before heading into the clubhouse. Then, a quick detour outside to hit the Spear Throw, and right back inside to the visitor locker room for 15 hand-release pushups.
One of the coolest parts of the course is coming out of the dugout and on to the field. Not only do you feel like you’re running out to take the field for the World Series, but you’re also on the tail-end of the course. All that’s left would be a burpee-less Atlas Carry, Monkey bars and the Gauntlet of punching bags.
I’m an avid Yankees fan, but Oracle Park is in my top three favorite ballparks. It’s absolutely gorgeous. Even with the shorter course, it was challenging and fun to be out there with some of the sport’s best. Beautiful views, easily accessible public transportation, a tremendous group of participants and a sunny day all reinforce my 5 out of 5 rating for Spartan Oracle Park.
And just in case you were curious about results for the Stadion Series rankings, your national winners, in order of first to third are:
- Corinna Coffin
- Cassandra Ohman
- Cody Mezebish
- Isaiah Vidal
- Ryan Kent
- Beni Gifford