The 2016 Spartan Race Nashville Sprint was held on August 20th deep inside the Fort Campbell Army base, home of the 101st Airborne division. Since the 2015 version of this race was kind of weak, I was curious to see what changes were made. Now you might think that there would be Army personnel all over the place to direct all of the Spartan traffic, or at least some signage, but no, not until you made the last turn to the festival area did you find a sign directing traffic. I’m pretty sure there were people driving all over the base to find the race, and the base is enormous. Parking was in a cut hay field next to the start line and by the end of the day, with the amount of rain dumped in the area, Spartan was forced to start towing vehicles out. Now enough with the bad, and on to the good because the rest of the race was great.
The ’15 Nashville race was 5.1 miles with about 110 feet of elevation making it one of the faster courses on the Spartan circuit. This year’s course was only 4.6 miles with 270 feet of elevation change but Spartan used the course much better. Every one of the limited hills was crossed along with every creek, and usually with something heavy to carry. The event started off with a dash through the cut fields of grass and over bales of hay along the way to some 5-foot hurdles at which point the athletes started to separate out in distance. The race had the feel of a trail run till we came up to the Atlas Stone carry which further spread out athletes. Now crossing into a wooded section of the base, we were led along a game trail that twisted and turned until we came up to the bucket brigade. Last year’s bucket carry was a bit lame with athletes only having to carry their rock-filled buckets over a manmade bridge. This year Spartan stepped up their game and made competitors traverse a creek twice with a series of muddy hills all while toting the everloving buckets. Fatigue was starting to set in as we made our way to the monkey bars. The monkey bars from last year’s event were close together and easy to cross. This time, Spartan stepped up once again and used their set that had bars spaced far apart requiring you to swing from one to the other one handed. The Spartan rig was last up on this section of the course further trashing an athlete’s grip strength.
Now reaching the half-way point of the course, we were led back towards the festival area to the dunk wall and the barbed wire crawl. The temperature and humidity were both high and there was little wind making this obstacle extremely exhausting. Once complete, the rope climb was next up further taxing those tired muscles. Now Spartan was able to put to use some of the buildings on the base. A sand bag carry up and down a 5-story building drained what was left of your quad strength. From there, we were given a weighted plastic gun and ran through aone-storyy building in order to “clear” it military style. This would have made an excellent spot for a photographer but none was to be found on this obstacle. Once we set our “guns” down, it was a short sprint to the sled drag over a gravel lot. This made it tougher than in the past, because nothing pulls over gravel very well.
Now approaching the end of the course, Spartan had the ever popular, time killing, spear throw then led us to the slip wall with a short jog through the woods to the herc hoist, which felt like a ton at this point. Back through the woods, we went until we came upon a cargo next strung straight up between two tall trees. This obstacle could have been built better, because, after I completed it, the latch holding down the center strap came loose causing the runners behind me to be held up. I’m positive those poor racers that were held up were pissed about their time being set back due to the delay. Last up was the A frame cargo net and a short sprint to the fire jump and the finish line.
Although this race felt easy in the past, Spartan made this year’s version much tougher by incorporating the limited number of hills in a much better way. A full half-mile shorter was this year’s race and most athletes times were slower than in the past. The weighted carries were longer and involved more climbing and the trails were more demanding than before. The festival area offered most of the same Spartan items as usual with plenty of bathrooms and changing areas for all. Parking was the standard 10 dollars with no option of the 40 dollar VIP parking up front as in some of their races. As previously stated, the monsoon rain of the day caused many to have to be towed out, but otherwise I found this race to be much tougher than in the past and was impressed with the way Spartan volunteers paid close attention to the athletes.[spartanracerate]
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