It was a chilly Sunday morning start for the Spartan Sprint in Arizona but warmed up to a perfect 67 degrees and clear skies by noon. This seems to be the norm for this Spring race, according to other racers that have completed it in years past. Participants and spectators started arriving before sunrise and Spartan staff was prepared and accommodating. This made check-in a pleasant experience. There was plenty of energy and excitement in the air as you entered the grounds of Fort McDowell.
The Venue & Festival Grounds:
Fort McDowell is an easy 25-30-minute drive from Phoenix, AZ. Traffic was well directed, and on-site parking was a breeze. There is one large resort less than half of a mile from the venue where plenty of participants chose to stay. There are even shuttles to and from the resort, making travel easy. The large festival area boasted plenty of vendors and activities for participants and spectators. With so many vendors, 4 food trucks, beer tent, and obstacle samples, you really could spend the entire day there with plenty to keep you entertained. You could find so many families there spectating, taking part in the races and participating in the 2-mile kid’s course. Spartan put on a slosh pipe press, pull up and dead hang challenge throughout the day giving everyone the opportunity to win a free race.
This was a quick course with several steep climbs but not a lot of overall elevation. Spartan reported the distance as 3.6 miles and 500ft of elevation. The course was marked well with plenty of tape and arrows leading you in the right direction. Volunteers at each obstacle did a great job giving instructions when necessary. The trails were technical with plenty of twists, turns and rocks to maneuver around. Any experience level could do well on this course. The terrain is challenging enough for the expert but easily maneuvered with some time and care by first-time racers. Once you cross the finish line you are given the new 2020 finisher medal along with the Sprint Trifecta piece. From there you were handed a Fit Aid and a Banana to refuel with and then received your finisher shirt. The new finisher shirt for 2020 is a grey, soft cotton blend with a sleek design. This is one of the better-quality shirts given by a race series and everyone was excited to receive it.
The ground itself was one of the more challenging points on the barbed wire crawl and tire flip. The ground was hard and unforgiving making it a challenge to crawl or roll on and to get your fingers underneath to flip the tires. One unique obstacle named “The Box 2” is a large concrete wall with ropes hanging down one side and a 5-foot drop on the other that racers must climb up and over. You won’t find this in other races as it is a permanent structure on site. The Sandbag and Bucket carry were right in the middle of the course and both lead you up and down steep hills. The dunk wall sat just over the first mile, which kept you nice and cool for the last 2 miles of the course. You were led in and out of the festival area two separate times with two obstacles, Z-Wall and Spear Throw, at the top of the highest point of the course and finishing with the Vertical Cargo and Fire Jump. Spartan decided to add a new level of difficulty to the Slip Wall this year, it is made from metal instead of the standard wood. This did not cause any issues but could have if it had been wet.
The Spartan Sprint at Fort McDowell remains a favorite of all Spartan venues. It would be hard to find a better Spring race with better weather than this. I would personally recommend adding it to your race list for 2021.
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This author is part of the Mud Run Crew and received a free race entry in return for an independent review. All opinions are those of the author and were not influenced by the race sponsor or Mud Run Guide.