Welcome back to Seattle, Spartan! Let’s take a Kracken [pause for applause and laughs, because you know, the NHL team…] at the first Pacific Northwest Trifecta weekend, held at one of the fastest Beast venues on the Spartan circuit: Meadow Wood Equestrian Center.
Setting the Scene
We’d be silly to discuss Seattle without mentioning the weather. The PNW in the fall is one of the best places to enjoy delightfully moderate temperatures, compared to the horrendous nature of the area’s rainy season, made note of in many previous MRG reviews of the Spartan Super weekend, normally held in April. The weather held up beautifully throughout the weekend, with a sunny Beast course on Saturday, and an overcast Sprint course on Sunday. Not to be outdone, the Super brought a brief, but soaking rain to ensure we never forget the US National Series races held in April over the years.
Held about 45 minutes from Seattle and four hours from Portland, the Meadow Wood Equestrian Center has played host to Spartan for years. It’s arguably the fastest beast course, with its very long, flat, and dry stretches. The Seattle Beast’s male and female winners, Nic Maszk and Lesley Hackett, both finished in sub-90 and sub-120-min, respectively. The course started with a long, flat jaunt through a rock quarry, east of the venue, where those who favor running to obstacles were able to take advantage of their speed. After a 5k or so with very few obstacles, participants looped back into the festival area, where the majority of elevation was waiting – about a mile of climb, measuring approximately 200 of gain.
A quick turn and racers ran into the bucket carry, dunk wall, and slip wall, all in their normal Seattle places.
Speaking of “normal places,” please don’t ever trust the Spartan map. Not only were two maps released – one on Thursday, and a completely different hanging at the venue, but they’re never an accurate portrayal of obstacle location or the actual obstacle. There are far too many people worried about these security blanket-type PDFs. Let’s just be cool, team. However, I am a little bummed that the second map showed a tire flip, which was nowhere to be seen…
The sandbag was an interesting turn of events, though. Following one of the steepest, but short, climbs on course, racers grabbed their sandbags for a nearly .40-mile trek of windy (like a road, not gusty) forest trail, where you were moving right next to the participants already coming down from the path, but you could never see the turnaround point. It was definitely a game-changer, especially for the Sprint, where they did not shorten the length of the carry!
Racers continued through the Beast course on the flat grass, and through a shallow, cold-water crossing, coming back on course to finish with another short/steep incline, over the vert cargo, up the rope climb, and through the monkey bars to finish. With wildfires a tremendous concern for the west coast, there was no fire jump.
I love this venue. It provides racers who are worried about elevation climbs or weather the opportunity to tackle a beast on the “lighter” side. However, it is an amazing way to see the top finisher cruise through with what seem to be record-setting beast times. In a venue such as the Meadow Woods Equestrian Center, for a competitive participant, missed obstacles can be an easy way to fall out of podium contention.
My only wish is for Spartan to reconsider photographers. There are a lot of great opportunities beyond the bucket and Helix. Bring back the dunk wall pics! There were a few on the highlights!
Of course, we can’t end this race recap without talking about the legend Justin Manning, the east-coast-based MC, and Medal Addict, who always brings the noise to the festival area. He’s quickly becoming a favorite among the PNW regulars, hosting at the Portland Sprint this past summer. His music choices are full of my personal favorites, including 80's and 90's R&B/hip hop, and he always keeps football fans up on the scores throughout Sunday events!
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