Spartan Race Chicago Sprint 2016: New Venue, New Mud, Crazy Chicago Spring Temps

Spartan Race Chicago Sprint Elite Male StartSpartan Race descended upon a new Chicago area race location in Richmond, Illinois for a Sprint the day after the Super.  This was very much a “runner friendly” course, and those who busted out early benefited from not being stuck behind others in the mud.  Typical crazy Chicago area Spring weather made the Sprint a good 20 degrees cooler than the Super the day before.  Sunshine abounded as the elite heats took off on time.  Robert Killian, who had won the Super the day before and participated in the Saturday night Hurricane Heat and barely made it to the start of the elite Sprint, came in first followed by Brian Gowinski (who came in second at the Super) and Mike Ferguson…all finishing within 75 seconds of each other!  Master Heather Gollnick (we just get better with age) took the overall elite female prize followed by Sarah Pozdol (CrossFit C2L athlete) and Julie Hartges.  Sarah took first at Warrior Dash the previous day!  Rocio Henciek took second in the Masters elite female division and Lisa Nondorf took third.  As for the Masters elite male division, LeEarl Rugland continued his strong performances and finished first, while CrossFit C2L athletes (and first time podiumers) Jeff Wolschlag and Sean Hastings rounded out the field.

Spartan Race Men's Elite PodiumSpartan Race Chicago Sprint Elite Females

The biggest team honor went to Corn Fed!  Other notable teams with good turnout included Midwest Vikings, Gladiator Nation, and CrossFit C2L.

As the open waves entered the course, the temperature dipped and the sun tucked behind the clouds.  Those in the later waves found the mud to be a soupy quagmire, adding to the fun.  As this was definitely a very flat course, the mud made an otherwise easy course more challenging.  It also made for significant backups for the open wave participants, although this writer did not hear any complaining.

There were no new obstacles on this course and the traverse wall was mysteriously missing.  The Rig added a new twist with baseball and softball holds.  While the Rig was placed more in the middle of the course the placement of the initial holds (ring to rope to baseball to vertical pipe) and distance between holds proved too much for many…burpees were plentiful.  I suspect many will focus more training on grip strength and pull-ups.

The layout at the end of the course seemed a bit different. Plenty of ropes available for the Rope Climb, then Hercules Hoist (not the heaviest), Spear Throw, Slip Wall, then the Stairway to Sparta.  For the elites, the Slip Wall was relatively dry but later in the day it became really slippery and while there was quite the backup, true Spartans waited their turn, showed their grit by getting up the wall, and stuck around to help others.  I personally think having the Rope Climb then Rig then Slip Wall at the end is better and more exciting for the fans.

The kids race was very well done much to the delight of hundreds of kids and their parents.

Spartan Race Chicago - Kid's TraverseSpartan Race Chicago - Kid's Mud

All in all, I think from the participant’s point of view, the Chicago Spartan Sprint can be viewed as a success.  Although there were backups on the course due to the mud, that can happen anywhere.  The race directors did what they could to make a very flat course somewhat challenging.  Will they be back to Richmond in 2017?  I’m guessing “no” as there are plenty of other more rugged and Spartan-worthy options around the Chicago area.

Photo Credit: Tina Egizio and Spartan Race

Sean Hastings

Owner / Coach at CrossFit C2L
OCR enthusiast, father of two boys, certified trainer/coach, SGX coach, laughs at self daily.
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