Welcome to my 2016 Obstacle Course Race diary! I plan on running every race with my lovely wife this year and will be taking a different approach than my previous race reviews. Up first is Spartan Race‘s New Jersey Beast, which took place at the Mountain Creek Ski resort.
The typical boring but sort of kind of important stuff that we don’t care about until people do it poorly:
- Parking was on point; however, I will offer a minor suggestion – if you are holding your event at a ski resort with tons of large parking signs for the ski resort you should make sure your tiny Spartan parking signs aren’t so tiny! Also, the address you gave for parking was wrong, so make sure that’s right! Other than that, no one broke into my car and the attendants directed us efficiently!
- Registration was a well-oiled machine as usual.
- My genius plan of buying merch before the race worked out well, except I forgot that I get a $5 off coupon for bag check! Silly me! Spartan merch is still top notch and paying with a debit card is seamless. Thanks guys; I’m saving my $5 coupon for next time, though!
- Food and Beer. With the exception of Hobie Bot, I’m fairly certain that we do these races so we can justify eating the $10 pulled pork sandwich and drinking beers. Satiating your need for food and beer because you burned 2,500 calories running up and down a mountain is so much better than falling asleep drunk and full in your bed alone wondering if Jon Snow is coming back (spoiler alert, HE’S ALIVE). The festival set up was on point. I was pretty sure there would be a limbo contest if people could still feel their knees. I think it was the pigs roasting over the fire that made me feel that way.
The Stuff we AROOOOOO to people at Gas Stations about:
- If you roll up to Spartan Race so you can punish your body on ski slopes with wet, muddy and rocky single track then you came to the right place! In typical Norm fashion, you went up the mountain and came down in the middle of the woods. Repeat that process like 10-15 times until you hit 15.5 miles and 5,000+ feet of elevation gain with 34 obstacles and you have your terrain for the New Jersey Beast! If you wanted a Sufferfest then this event certainly “rose” to the occasion!
- Compared to my first Spartan Race at Wintergreen ,I felt that the camaraderie and helpful nature of the participants was enhanced. I attribute this to the creation of the competitive wave. With the exception of the late night dash to the finish from people who didn’t have headlamps (and were worried about getting pulled), there was very little rude and unsafe passing on the treacherous downhill technical single track sections. Well done on giving the B team their own place to compete Spartan!
The Stuff everyone who has done more than one Race Brand is thinking:
- Sooo Spartan, we need to talk…. I really like the Clif Rig, the Rope Climb, the Monkey Bars and the Tyrolean Traverse (the ladder was a nice touch). The Z wall is pretty cool too. I’m not a huge spear throw fan, but I get it, people think they are Leonidas and shit. I totally hate Bucket Brigade, but it’s a necessary evil. My biggest complaint is that when you go from a Super to a Beast and add “obstacles” it’s more than just tossing a few more walls and carries in there. Tough Mudder, Savage Race, OCR World Championships, FIT Challenge, and Battlefrog all have come out with new and innovative obstacles. As one of the leaders in the industry, I would expect that you would come out with something new, fresh and exciting once in awhile. It’s what will keep people coming back (and by people I’m referring to people that like obstacles and not just going up and down a mountain). I legitimately have almost every obstacle you include at your race in my garage and backyard. That shouldn’t be possible.
Wifey’s Take: “It always takes me a few days after the event to like a Spartan Race. I was bored for awhile after the Rig and the Rope Climb as it got repetitive. That being said, I still want to train harder and go back to do better next time.”
When I’m running and reviewing a race, I try to ask people that are doing it for their first times if they are enjoying it and if they would come back. I got mixed responses from people at this event and saw mixed responses on the event page a day later. In fairness to Spartan, this was a Beast and is supposed to be brutal, but as the mileage crept to over 15.5 miles on a race advertised as 12-14 I think it began to toe a delicate line. If Spartan would spice things up a little with some fresh obstacles, it would eliminate a lot of the repetitive feelings and replace them with excitement. I enjoyed the race, mountain, terrain and the people, but I really hope Spartan will begin to be the leader that they should be by injecting some more creativity and innovation into their obstacles. Much love, I’m just trying to be constructive.