When someone says “Minnesota”, what’s the first thought that comes to mind? Snow? Ice? Mall of America? Well, we have all those things, but we also have one more thing: Spartan Race.
Spartan Race came back to Welch Village for the 3rd year in a row, about 45 minutes south of the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. Welch Village holds some of the steepest ski hills you can find in MN, and Spartan uses those their advantage (and to other’s dismay). Registration was a standard setup, with the bar-code scanning making the process easy and quick to deal with. The festival area was stocked with the normal Spartan merch stands and the venue’s concessions filling up everyone with good food and beverages. The festival area was spread out across the entire field, with the main stage being on the opposite end of where the start line / biggest team tent area was located. This proved to be a drawback later on, with the messages being relayed by the DJ at the main stage not being heard at the other end of the festival area. Minor issue, but I digress…
In past years, the course has hovered right around the 5-mile mark in length. Between the longer distance, hills totaling over 1200 ft in elevation gain, temperatures hitting 90+ degrees, and high humidity… to say that this was a challenging Sprint course would be an understatement. That was not the case this year. Temps hitting the sweet spot and Spartan shaving over a mile off past year’s setups (clocking in around 3.5 miles), it was a noticeable difference for those that had been there before. Opinions were mixed on this, as having a shorter course was deemed either welcomed fully or seen as a slight disappointment. Different strokes, different folks. In my view, if the race seems shorter (reading between the lines: easier) then push harder.
Obstacles were standard for Spartan. One difficult stretch was the spear throw and rings. These were located right after the dunk wall, making for a difficult time of completion and many burpees were enjoyed.
Otherwise, enduring the hills was a main focus of everyone. The start line started uphill, after the rings — hill, after doing some other stuff – hill. The bucket carry at the Minnesota Sprint carries a certain ill-tasting flavor in my mouth, as it’s straight uphill.
Please note: She moved the bucket off her shoulder right after this picture was taken.
This part of the course had many people questioning their life choices up to that point, but all was forgiven it seemed when they got to the top and saw the camera guy (funny how that works, huh?).
Overall, it was a fantastic event at a venue that can really bring the pain for a Sprint distance. Hills, green everywhere (both with the trees and the local North Star Spartans team that was 150+ strong!) and a bunch of Minnesota nice made for an excellent time at one of the premier events on the Minnesota OCR calendar. Next time you think Minnesota, don’t think cold. Think AROOO!
Photo Credit: Spartan Race
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