Spartan Race returned to Fort Carson Colorado for the first time since 2019. The race temporarily moved in 2021 due to contract and scheduling issues after being canceled in 2020. The Honor Series Race returned to the hot and dusty bowl of Fort Carson military base and racers came from near and far. The event weekend featured a Super on Saturday and Sprint on Sunday. There was also a Hurricane Heat for those who wanted to tempt fate and take on the military-style event on a military base. The sun and heat were unrelenting this weekend and added to the overall difficulty of the course. When the dust settled, both days included nearly 10 miles, 50 obstacles, almost 2,000 feet of elevation gain, and all the cactus and rattlesnakes you could handle in the alpine desert that is Colorado.
Fort Carson has hosted Spartan several times in the past and has graciously given racers all they can handle. The only major issue with the venue is there is no set address to navigate to. Spartan provides cross streets but can easily be confused with a Wilderness Rd on the other side of Colorado Springs almost 45 minutes away. The signage off the main highway they used in the past was missing this year and some racers complained about getting lost. The venue was notably missing the traditional Spartan sign that most pose with, but there were 3 military vehicles set up outside registration where racers could pose for pictures and ask questions about what they were used for. The rest of the venue was in line with the arid high alpine desert and was covered in dust and cacti. There was very little cloud cover throughout the weekend and racers walked away tired, sunburnt, and covered in mud. The venue is an active training ground and racers have to be conscious of discarded shell casings and other training materials that can be found along the course. They are instructed not to pick anything up on the course other than their own trash and to report anything they might see to course marshals.
The Super on Saturday was a hot and daunting task. This writer completed the course in just over 2 hours and was totally drained by the end. With 6.8 miles registered and a little over 1100 feet of elevation gain. The Men’s Elite wave winner finished with a time of 1:02:07 (Ja Shua Ried) and the Women’s Elite winner (Hannah Holmes) finished the course in 1:16:29. Both winners finished nearly a full minute ahead of the 2nd place runners. The Sprint on Sunday was much milder. This writer completed 2 laps on the course, both in just under an hour with roughly 700 feet of elevation gain. Many of the obstacles with penalty loops were cut out and runners only went in and out of the bowl twice as opposed to 4 times on Saturday. The Men’s Elite winner on Sunday (Mark Gaudet) finished the course in 29:05 and the Women’s Elite was a weekend sweep by Hannah Holmes with a time of 39:04. The 2nd place runners again finished less than a minute after the champions and it often came down to the final climb out of the bowl and a few obstacles to crown the winner. The Spear Throw was by far the most failed obstacle, with rolling mud hills and the dunk wall being a fan favorite. The hills and dunk wall were the only water obstacles on the course and left runners caked in mud for the last mile and a half of the race. It was a nice break from the sun and the walls became very slick late in the day and required racers to help each other get out. Notably missing was several photographers. They had one stationed at barbed wire and sandbag carry, but the dunk wall and finish line was missing. Many racers resorted to carrying their phones and taking pictures on their own. This led to some long lines at obstacles in the afternoon, but everyone was having fun and enjoying the course.
Having run this venue multiple times in the past, the overall atmosphere felt different. COVID and the restrictions of the past few years felt like a thing of the past, but runners still seemed a little uneasy. In previous years they had made a spectacle out of being on a military base with full cavalry charges and the national anthem before many of the heats. They were very thin on volunteers and many staff could be seen on the course trying to man multiple obstacles. Things like Largest Team and other small touches that had been done in the past were missing and most runners seemed to just come to do their heat and then leave. On Sunday, they ran out of headbands, bibs, and drink coupons for everyone except Elite and Competitive runners. They ran out of Fit Aid and bananas at the finish line well before the final racers crossed the finish line and were running very low on several shirt sizes. With over 5,000 runners spread across the weekend, the event was well attended but many of the fun add-ons from the past were lacking this weekend.
Outside of the multiple Trifecta medals or Ultra buckles, the medal from this weekend is by far one of the best Spartan has put out. The combination of the heavy spartan shield with the crossed spears is a huge upgrade to the regular medal from this season. The medal is heavier than years past and looks great. The only way to distinguish the 2 medals from the Sprint and Super is by the lanyard but they are still a great addition to any collection. Another interesting note was the difference between the Super and Sprint shirts. The design and color were totally different between the shirts and were not something this writer noticed until they got home and put them through the laundry. The shirts are a poly-cotton blend and are lighter than the last few shirts. The finisher beer again moved to Mike's Hard seltzer this year and several people bypassed them all together in search of a cold beer. Spartan invests heavily in their Honor Series, and it showed with the upgraded medals this year.
Compared to races in years past at the same venue, the Super and Sprint weekend does not score as high, but as a stand-alone race without the others to compare this was an excellent Spartan weekend. The water and mud obstacles made this course a muddy mess at the end and were a great change of pace compared to other Colorado obstacle races. Overall, the entire weekend was a 5 out of 5 and is highly recommended to anyone close to Colorado Springs looking to get into obstacle course racing. The elevation gain, the weather, and many other factors make this a challenging course for both rookie and veteran runners.
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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.