If you have any kind of social media account then I’m sure you know that this past weekend was the Spartan Race Atlanta Sprint Weekend. You’ve been bombarded with pictures of dirty people grinning ear to ear while holding a cool medal with a red ribbon on it. If you haven’t, well the Atlanta Sprint was held 3/5/16 and 3/6/17 at the Georgia International Horse Park in Conyers, Georgia.
This is the 6th year that Spartan Race has come to Atlanta to put on its unique obstacle course race. The first Georgia Spartan Race in 2011 was definitely different than the Spartan Race we saw this past weekend. Although we don’t have to battle Spartan warriors to cross the finish line anymore, it does seem that Spartan has made many improvements with better constructed and more difficult obstacles.
Driving up to the venue, later than normal, I was surprised there wasn’t a long line for parking. It was quick and easy to pay for a parking spot and start walking towards the sound of loud country music (what did you expect: you’re in the south y’all). Clearly marked tents, made it easy for first time racers to know where to go.
The festival area was bigger this year, with a bigger Spartan race Merchandise truck, food trucks, pull-up competitions, biggest team tent and even paid sponsor tents. Having food vendors at the race makes it easier on those with little Spartans running around waiting on Mom or Dad…that is not something they used to do. Plus, who isn’t starving after running 5 miles? A big old cheeseburger and beer are fantastic after working hard at killing the spear throw, right?
As for the race itself, it couldn’t have been a nicer day out. A tad nipply maybe, but it was really nice running weather until you hit the water obstacles. Thankfully, those weren’t at the beginning of the race. Once you were ready to hit the dirt running, you headed over to the first wall of the day, jump it and then wait for the Spartan announcer to give a speech and everyone say their “Aroo’s” then off you go. The motivational Spartan speech wasn’t nearly as amazing as it usually is because Dustin Dorough and his tiny short-shorts and memorized speech for “300” wasn’t present…that guy knows how to pump up a crowd. But nonetheless, we said our “Aroo’s” and took off.
After a short trail run, the first obstacle we came to was the hurdles, which are wooden beams you had to climb over. The second obstacle was stacks of hay you had to climb over; if you are vertically challenged, I recommend go to one of the outer ends where the hay isn’t so tall. A little more trail running, and then we came to our first official wall of the course – a 6ft’er – then on to a vertical net hung between trees, don’t be fooled – it’s easy to get knocked off when you’re climbing over the top and people are shaking the bottom.
Next was the inverted wall. This is always a challenging obstacle, but I was still surprised to see people taking the penalty rather than completing this obstacle. After the inverted wall, you came to the over-under-through (OUT) obstacle, which is always fun to complete. It’s like you’re a kid on the playground again, just a fun obstacle.
So far every obstacle was really well spaced, the trail running was fun, and it was just a great day to be running a Spartan Race. The hills weren’t crazy hard like Vermont or Wintergreen; they seemed to be gentle rolling hills. It was the perfect terrain for a newbie obstacle course racer! Next was the A-frame cargo net, then the monkey bars. The monkey bars seemed to be a little different this time. The bars were closer together, but they varied in height, so you would have to swing up or down as well as forward making it more of a challenge. After doing burpees, if you didn’t make the monkey bars, was the 8ft wall. Don’t be shy, get a little booty boost up the wall from a fellow Spartan. It’s better than doing burpees! The plate drag was up next. It’s where you pull a rope with a sled filled with weight, and then drag it back to the start.
After the plate drag was the Z-wall. Back in the olden days it was just 1 wall with hand and feet grips you scale across to ring a bell. Now it’s even harder with 3 walls making the shape of a Z. Grip strength and keeping your body close to the wall is the key to overcoming this obstacle. Then you were back to the trail.
After a little walk or run in the woods, you come to a really big hill. It was more of a wall than a hill, covered with a cargo net to climb up it. If you’re scared of heights this was not the obstacle for you, but if you’re a badass Spartan then you did it! Aroo! Then to one of the original burpee makers… the dreaded spear throw obstacle. If you don’t know how to do this, ORM has a tutorial you can watch. It just may save you from doing the 30 burpees, check it out.
The next obstacle is where it got freezing! The rolling mud with dunk wall was ice cold. It’s basically several hills of mud, then waist deep pools of muddy water you had to slide into, then a final wall you had to go under and get completely wet. There was a photographer waiting on the other side, waiting to get all those shocked face reactions on candid camera. I can’t wait to see my Jabba the Hut muddy face in my picture. The 15th obstacle was the bucket brigade. In 2011, this was a pile of Georgia dirt you filled the bucket and went for a short walk. Now they use rocks. Fill your bucket to the line with rocks, and carry it without spilling. This wasn’t the hardest bucket brigade due to lack of a major hill, but it was still a challenge.
Almost to the festival area, you can feel the end of the race getting near. The atlas carry was next. It may be just me, but I felt like the girls weight was the lightest it’s ever been. I’m not complaining though. Next was the rope climb. Spartan isn’t putting the ropes over water anymore making it easier for more people to complete the rope climb. There weren’t any knots in the rope, but a dry rope is easier than a wet one! It was nice to see that it seemed like a lot more racers were able to complete the rope climb this year.
Of course it’s not a Spartan Race without a barbed wire crawl in some thick Georgia clay mud. Soon after the low crawl was the slip wall. Between the slip wall and the next obstacle the sandbag carry was where the terrain got a little fun. They had us dredge through a new area that they haven’t in past races, wading through knee-deep water and going through tunnels. It was a nice change of scenery.
The finish was near with only a few obstacles left, we left the woods and made our way back to the festival area for all the spectators to watch. There was a great viewing area for the spectators, they were able to see the Hercules hoist, the multi-rig, the 2nd barbed wire and of course the fire jump.
Overall, this was a great race. It was a beautiful venue; Spartan Race did a great job of spreading out the obstacles and used the terrain wisely. Packet pick-up was a breeze and the wait for a parking spot was minimal. Friends and family had great views of racers completing obstacle or doing their burpee penalties. With the rate that OCR is growing and all the new racers that join each year, I can’t wait to see what Spartan Race will bring to Atlanta next year.