Well Howdy frickin do Obstacle Diary? It’s been awhile since we last spoke and I’ve missed you so. Last weekend my lovely bride and I ran the Spartan Palmerton Sprint together, and we had oodles of fun! Here’s why:
That moment when Bae wakes you up with a cup of coffee in bed, only in OCR terms:
The Gods of onsite parking blessed me with the gift of not having to park off site and take a shuttle. I don’t mind the 1/4 to 1/2 mile walk back to registration, that’s just a great way to get the blood flowing to the extremities after a long car ride. I honestly thought it was shuttle time. This was an unexpected and welcomed surprise. Danke Schoen.
Even though I signed up last minute (Thursday night) there was still an 8:45am start wave bracelet given to me. Thanks late sleepers!
Five Words: Reasonably Priced Buffalo Chicken Cheesesteak. It sounds as good as it tasted. 9 bucks with fries. GET SOME.
Ok, I’ll review the actual Obstacle Race……
My Suunto clocked this race at 4.89 miles with 2,477 feet of elevation gain and 2,543 feet of descent. Add in a humid 89 degrees and an initial climb up the ski mountain and you have a recipe for a difficult course. If you are signing up for a Spartan at a ski resort you should expect a lesson in the pain principle as it pertains to walking up and down mountains. Oh and you will most likely carry heavy things.
So you said you had fun in the sun but you keep talking about pain principles and mountains, what gives? Well, the Sprint had 24 Obstacles over 4.89 miles. Compare that to the 9 mile Super the day before with only 8 more obstacles and the Sprint is much more obstacle dense. If you know me, you know that I like obstacles and this made Spartan much more enjoyable for me. Photo Credit: Erica Michele
If you are a die-hard follower of this Obstacle Diary, you know that Jon Snow is alive, I like obstacles, and McCauley Kraker is my mailbag hero. Which leads me to the top image of this review. A new non-heavy carry obstacle from Spartan Race! This rare unicorn named “Apehanger” had you rope climb up a small 3/4 inch thick rope while waist deep in water. At the top, you reach aluminum monkey bars that were strung together like a ladder that you see hanging from rescue helicopters (I actually think it’s the same ladder that they have used at the Tyrolean Traverse a few times this year). As you put your weight on them, they shifted down as you went across, which made it difficult to use momentum. This was a fun, creative and fresh take on regular monkey bars. It was by far my favorite obstacle. Once again, Danke Schoen.
Things I need to mention that are ultimately inconsequential in the grand scheme of things:
Water stations. If you were at the race, you know about this. Apparently during Saturday’s Super, people were not very “Super Nice Club” to the volunteers at the water stations because Spartan instructed them that hydration packs were not to be filled as there was a potential water shortage. People got heated and got all Regina George up on the mountain. Overall not a really good look for anyone. In my previous two Spartan Races (Super and Beast), we were allowed to fill our packs at a specific section of the water station so it did not interfere with folks with cups. I only mention this because it is inconsistent with what people expected and are used to versus what Spartan announced mid-race on Saturday. On Sunday, they announced at the start line that no packs would be filled, and from what I saw, there were no issues as everyone was on the same page from the start (literally!). But guys, don’t be jerks to volunteers…. they don’t get paid and don’t work for Spartan.
I noticed more porta potties on this mountain than I did at the Jersey Beast. This made me see fewer people without pants on squatting in the woods.
The volunteers at the Water Stations on Sunday did an exceptional job of stacking the cups at the garbages and there was visibly less garbage on the ground than a typical Spartan. Well done.
“This is the first Spartan that I really had a lot of fun at! There were more obstacles grouped together and it made for a much better experience.”
I agree with Wifey. I had a lot of fun. I know from listening to Joe on the ORM Podcast that Spartan isn’t really focused on obstacle innovation, but Apehanger was a great example of one creative new obstacle spicing up a race. In the end, Spartan does what it does best, which is send you up and down the mountain hoping to have you dig deep inside of yourself. Mission accomplished.
Keith Allen is an Air Conditioning Salesman and an exhausted father of two. When not carrying his children around in Baby Bjorns he is often found cooking delicious homemade quesadillas to fuel his hunger from running OCR's