Vaccines were your ticket out.
Welcome back, to that same Spartan feeling that you talked about.
Well, the ages have changed since we’ve been around,
And our waists have all become a lil’ more round…
Ooooo Spartan Montana (Ooooo Spartan Montana)
We’re back in Montana! (We’re back in Montana)
Yeah, I literally thought of the Welcome Back Kotter song and these lyrics while I was power hiking up the ridiculous mile-9 monster incline during the Montana Spartan Beast.
Spartan Trifecta Weekend!
The first Spartan Trifecta Weekend of 2021 (Not to be confused with the expanded Trifecta year, which goes all the way back to Fall 2019), was held the first weekend of May, and it was an amazing feeling to be back on course. Not only was the weather absolutely perfect, but the course was laid out in a challenging way, without making it feel like finishing may be impossible – I’m looking at you Big Bear…
From the start, everything ran smoothly. Parking was easily accessible, with shuttles running from the lot to the course quite frequently. It was about a 10-15 minute ride each way. Registration was made easier by the volunteers at the parking lot only allowing participants with starting times within an hour to board the bus, resulting in quick check-in times. Bag check was simple and effective.
Participants were given strict start times, and each racer entered the starting area to stand socially distant in 6×6 boxes, masks on, waiting for those AROOS to start the event. Most heats were split into multiple groups to meet social distancing guidelines. Masks were kept on until racers crossed the start line, where two garbage bins waited for your mask slam dunk.
The legendary Trailmaster Hammond welcomed everyone, whether running the Ultra, Beast, Super or Sprint, with an immediate burner, right out of the starting corral. The > quarter mile brought you up a significant grade, with a right turn that kept the gradual inclines coming. We’ll chat Beast for the sake of this recap.
The terrain was soft, but at many points technical. Lucky for all of us out there, there was no rain during any of the races, and mud was at a minimum. There was a river crossing around mile 3, which wasn’t nearly as cold as reported during previous years. With all the intense ups and downs throughout the course, there was actually plenty of area that offered slight rolling or flat terrain, which made it fun and runnable.
The Beast course was pretty standard – lots of running, with obstacles grouped throughout. One difference from a normal Beast: twister was only two sections, likely due to the super on Saturday. I’d do this recap an extreme disservice if I didn’t mention the amazing views A-Frame and Plate Drag offered at the course’s peak. Montana is absolutely stunning.
Mile 9 brought racers a gift in the eyes of some, and extreme pain in the eyes of most: a quarter-mile stretch with approximately 400 feet of elevation gain! And if you think that was tough, just wait until later in the course, where they took us down a similar grade. RIP knees, especially those who ran the trifecta weekend. That decline was on all of the courses, but the incline was left off of the sprint.
It’s extremely important to always remember that the map is not a guaranteed accurate portrayal of the course. With no Sandbag or Tire Flip on the map at all, and Bender and Beater reserved for the Ultra runners, Beast participants had the pleasure of performing all four of these obstacles. I for one, was extremely happy to see the Tire and Sandbag!
This was my first time participating in the Montana venue, and I’m sold on it. Of course, seeing people I haven’t raced with in nearly a year and a half, certainly helped its cause.
Sadly, the one criticism I have for this event was the lack of mask enforcement within the festival. Masks were required in the festival area and on the shuttles, and multiple announcements were made throughout the day. There was absolutely no mask enforcement or penalty. Of course, there were plenty of people following Spartan rules, but it would have been nice to see more participants, volunteers and staff respecting/enforcing those rules.
Spartan Montana is a must. 5/5