As I sit here pondering what to write for my review of the Spartan Race Montana Beast, what repeatedly pops into my head is this…
TANGO 521-5409, over and over and OVER again! Forever etched in my memory and likely the only thing that kept me from full on delirium, at least for a few miles while trudging, cursing, and sweating up those brutally relentless hills. Plus, who wants to do more burpees if they can avoid it so the memory challenge was one that no one wanted to fail!
Speaking of that elevation, THAT ELEVATION! Anyone that was at the Spartan Race Montana Beast knows exactly what I’m talking about and the starring role it played. For those that chose not to lose a piece of their soul that weekend, let me paint you a picture of the cruel mistress known as Bigfork! A battle royale between you and your mind is the best way to describe it. Saturday’s Beast entertained us with a cool 13.05-ish miles (21-ish kilometres) and over 4,000 feet of climbing! (Stats provided by Canadian Elite racer Stefan Wieclawek…follow him and his bro at @yycbrosocr on Instagram to check out their OCR journey) For a gal from The Pas, Manitoba where we have zero, I mean ZERO elevation change (search it on the internet and you’ll know what I mean), this was a test of not only my physical grit but mental as well (and undoubtedly why I thought at several points that breaking my own ankle to get off course was a viable option)!
(Photo Credit: Gene Quisisem)
Mile 2 was likely the one that crushed everyone’s soul. The sandbag carry to end all sandbag carries! And see where the picture was taken? That wasn’t the full length of it. We were about halfway up at this point!
One of two of the barbwire crawls…but look at that view? How could you not stop and take in the scenery? I talk plenty about the suckage that occurred that day but really, in hindsight, would have been utterly disappointed if Spartan race had lightened up to appease the masses. Isn’t this what we all sign up for anyway? The view was breathtaking (although that may very well have just been the lack of oxygen).
Along with the usual obstacles (more to come on those) and wicked elevation (I know, I sound redundant but for real, THAT ELEVATION!), we had to contend with THIS for most of the race! Bushwhacking at its finest! The buzz through the festival the next day was that the elites blazed most of the non-existent trail for the rest of us that went in the later heats, so thank you for that! With that being said, there were still plenty of nature’s obstacles to avoid while clipping along downhill. One wrong step and one would have ended up with quite the tale to tell (and probably losing a good chunk of your tail from landing on your butt)!
Nothing too out of the ordinary for obstacles. The course map stated there were 40 of them and the newest of the bunch, the Tyrolean ladder traverse was included in that. It wasn’t difficult per se, but it took till the Sprint the next day for me to figure out a flow for it. I think the biggest hurdle for this was the backlog of people waiting for it on the second day. This seems to be an ongoing issue for races so hopefully it’s something addressed in the future because it definitely kills your vibe when you’re stuck in line for 15 minutes. Chastise me for my opinion but I am not of the belief to skip obstacles simply because of a line up. Other honourable mentions in the obstacle line up were the second barbwire crawl that was I believe was approximately 500’ long. And yes, the dust was insane, but I have to say it was one of my absolute favourite ones. I also wasn’t as unfortunate as my friend, Glenn (check out his review of the Sprint here and check him out on Instagram at @thespartanupguy) that almost lost an eye the second day. The dunk wall washed off whatever dust remained into a nicely smelling mix of mud and manure. A quick little trek up and down a small hill brought us to what everyone was likely dreading from before they were even corralled into the starting line…the BUCKET BRIGADE! It was long, it was steep, and I legitimately saw people pulled to the side in tears. For those of you not in the know of this obstacle, the gist of it is to grab a five gallon bucket (red for women and black for men) that have holes strategically drilled in it near the top. Fill the bucket up from the gravel pile to cover the holes and get on with the ascending climb, holding on for dear life so you don’t lose any of those rocks that were more precious than all the gems in the world at that point of the race. If they didn’t cover the holes upon return (and yes, they were checking EVERYONE when I went through), you had to repeat the obstacle. A friend of mine saw a girl trip right at the bottom and literally just lie there, sobbing uncontrollably on the ground. As the popular term goes, embrace the suck. We signed up for this!
(I have never been so happy to see this wall in my life!) It also marked that the end was near, but not before the a-frame cargo net and multi-rig that included an ascending bar and rings mixed with more rings and ropes.
The Hercules Hoist that was perched atop the action was an amazing view as well and of course, didn’t disappoint. It wasn’t so heavy that it made me take flight but it was definitely enough to make me earn completing it!
Other noteworthy bonuses from the course that day were the water stations. Most had a hydration pack on for the race but if you didn’t, rest assured you would have stayed hydrated adequately and one of them even provided Shotbloks. It definitely made for a no-brainer decision to toss the pack for the Sprint the next day.
Overall, my first attendance at the Montana venue was a memorable one and I think everyone that attended can attest to the anticipation already building for next year. For the ones that didn’t, it’s safe to say that we will all be recruiting newbies to get dragged into the awesome suckfest of this particular course! Till next time Montana! It’s been a slice.
(My crew and I looking naively optimistic and excited in the corral before the send off…9.5 weeks cannot come SOON enough for the next one!)
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