The first race of the 2018 Spartan U.S. National Championship Series was held on March 24, just outside of San Jose, CA, in Diablo Grande. The hills provided a leg burning challenge with very few breaks and the obstacles included all of my favorite classics.
I jumped into the corral for the 8:30 a.m. heat. The sun was barely over the ridge and just beginning to warm the air, which was most welcome. We were off and headed to the first obstacle, the over walls. This was followed by “Mud Misery” and a shallow water crossing. My frozen toes thawed quickly as we ascended the first of many hills. Just when we thought we had reached the top, there was another hill to climb…and another. When we finally did reach the top, we found the monkey bars perched all alone, with the most amazing view.
I met a couple of people I had been pacing with, John and Karen. It was her first Spartan Race and she crossed the monkey bars the first time! I was so impressed! I made it across as well, enjoying the scenery as I hit the bell.
The hills continued and I found that going down was just about as challenging as up. It was so steep that it made it very difficult to run a large portion of it. We came to the Sandbag Carry and it was definitely a challenge. It was long, slow, and steep. I was very thankful that it didn’t start raining yet because the downhill portion of the carry would have been brutal if it was muddy.
The Bucket Carry 2.0 had sealed lids so you didn’t have to fill them. I really like this version as it saves time and there’s no way to spill the gravel. The route didn’t look as bad as I was expecting, which seemed a little odd for Spartan. Sure enough…once we rounded a corner there was a little hill of doom staring back at us! It was short and super steep and definitely provided a challenge. Next, was a 6-foot wall and, finally, a nice long gradual downhill portion that took us back into the festival area. This is where it gets fun…..it was jam-packed with obstacle after obstacle: the Tire Flip, Sled Drag, Atlas Carry, Olympus, Herc Hoist, and Spear Throw. Not only was this fun for the racers, but it was really nice having a viewing are for the spectators which included so many obstacles.
Next was the back half of the course. Last year this section was somewhat forgiving, with rolling hills and obstacles, but this year they surprised us with several hills and one very special one towards the end (I think I may have heard a bad word or two here). It was probably the steepest hill we had during the entire race. We trudged up, putting one foot slowly in front of the other, until we finally reached the top. The rain had started and it made it very slippery coming back down.
As we continued, we came to a second barbed wire crawl that went uphill. It was built pretty high so we were able to make quick work of it with a bear crawl. The final few obstacles seemed to be set up in an odd order. We reached the Dunk Wall, which had very steep mud mounds, proceeded to the Slip Wall, and then the Inverted Wall and the Rig. The Rig was going to be hard with wet hands. There was a cute little gal on the sidelines sharing her towel and cheering us on. I dried them the best I could but still dropped off the rig. She blew me a kiss as I thanked her and ran towards the finish line….so sweet! I “fire jumped” over the finish mat and the San Jose Spartan Super was in the books!
I ran the Sprint the next day and ended up pacing with John and Karen again! What are the odds of running into them with all of the other racers? The hills didn’t seem quite as bad and the company made it a lot of fun. Two successful races, a beautiful venue, and terrific people….who could ask for more?! Definitely, give this venue a try if you have the opportunity.
Here’s a little trivia to wrap things up:
- According to SpartanRace.com, the fastest time for completing the San Jose Super prior to this race was 80 minutes (2018 results were not official at the time of writing this review). 1
- “Mount Diablo is sacred to many California Native American peoples; according to Miwok mythology and Ohlone mythology, it was the point of creation”. 2
- “What animated film boasts a San Jose State University Spartans scoreboard in the background of a track race scene? If you answered “The Incredibles,” then you’re correct! Animation/illustration alum Doug Nichols showed his Spartan Pride”! 3
Stay tuned for the remaining U.S. National Championship Series races:
Live strong, be kind, play hard… Aroo!
Photo credit: Kim Collings, Spartan Race, Mike Suelzle
1 Spartan Race Results: http://www.spartanrace.com.au/en/race/detail/3154/results
2 Mt. Diablo Point of Creation: https://www.spartan.com/en/race/detail/3154/overview
3 San Jose State Spartans Scoreboard: https://www.facebook.com/search/SJSU Scoreboard
Latest posts by Kim Collings (see all)
- SoCal Spartan: Surprises for 2019 - March 14, 2019
- Spartan Race Mountain Series: Montana Beast and Sprint - May 17, 2018
- 2018 Spartan US Championship Series Kicks Off in San Jose - April 6, 2018