Welcome to the Spartan Race New Jersey Super 2015! Welcome to HILLS! Welcome to TIRED LEGS! Welcome to SMILES and TEARS at the finish line. For many people in the Tri-State area, this is one of the yearly races that is a true test of determination, courage, and athletic ability. In my experience, it is a bit emotional. A lot of people in the area come from doing the Tuxedo Park Spartan Sprint to the New Jersey Super, since the venue is only about thirty minutes from that race venue, and its very close to the border óf New Jersey and New York. For many beginners, this is the first time they are running a difficult and lengthy distance. On average, the race takes about three hours to complete. This year was no different. Overall, this year was a challenge against the mountain and against self.
Like years past, the New Jersey Spartan Super was held at Mountain Creek in Vernon, New Jersey. This has been the site of the New Jersey Super for the last few years and is overall a great venue for an obstacle course race.
If you came for just the race and left, you definitely missed out on a lot fun attractions in the festival area. There was a new and shiny merchandise store. It’s presentation was a lot nicer than the tent that has the merch just hanging up. It looked a lot more professional and more accessible. Plus, there was a lot of Reebok Spartan merch that I have not seen at previous races. If you are looking for that 2x Trifecta hoodie, you came to the right place. If shopping wasn’t your thing, you could always play on the rig. While waiting for friends and family to finish the course, you could “hang” for a bit or practice your rope climb. I saw a lot of kids playing on it and swinging from bar to bar better than some of the athletes (I kid though)! You had more traditional areas such as the finisher shirt pick up, main stage, podium, and Panasonic area where you could film yourself in a 2 second video slowed to the time of about 15 seconds. And what Spartan Race in New York would not be complete without the epic pig roast (see picture above)! Truly, a Spartan’s appetite was present at this race.
THE OBSTACLES (The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly)
There were A LOT of obstacles on the course and perhaps many of them you know. Rather than go into each obstacle on the course, I narrowed it down to my top ten picks including challenging obstacles (those of which may have been near other ones to make it harder aka dunk wall), different obstacles (those that may not be on the usual course), and easy obstacles. Before I get to that, I definitely want to give a shout out to the amazing team who decided to make the course more creative and pile burpees upon burpees on many participants. I also want to say that the course was a lot tougher according to a bunch of participants I spoke to, mainly due to the steep incline for the first half of the race and the steep incline of the second half of the race in addition to the line of obstacles set up in their path.
- Swim – I have to start with this one because it was a joke of an obstacle. It may have been from the scare of a storm in the area but rather than an actual swim across the lake that they normally do, they just had people walk or run through the shallow, knee-deep portion. It took literally thirty seconds to cross and continue uphill.
- Walls featuring Rolling Mud + Dunk Wall – Definitely a pace killer, this combination of obstacles slowed a large group of runners down since they were right next to each other. The runners had wet hands and if you weren’t a 6-foot giant, then you really had to focus on gripping the top of the 6-, 8-, and 10-foot walls to get over.
- Monkey Bars – Another killer of Spartans, this was an obstacle that ended with a lot of burpees. Because of the water from previous participants and the weather, there were many slips, falls, and splats on this obstacle.
- Bucket Brigade – Everybody’s favorite obstacle made an appearance at this race. If memory serves, it was in the same place as the previous year but made higher.
- Rope Climb – A traditional obstacle at Spartan Races, the rope climb looked to be a challenge. You had a choice of knotted or straight climbs. For elite, you had to use the straight rope climb.
- Hay Wall – This one was not necessarily tough, but it was set before a steep incline. Once you jumped over the four feet of hay, you better have hoped you stretched your legs well enough.
- Sandbag Carry – Another hike up the mountainside with either a 40lb trademark sandbag for men or 20lb bag for women.
- Log Carry – Surprisingly short and easy if you ask me.
- Downhill Barbed Wire – A bit different than what I am used to; people were forced to crawl downhill toward the finish line under the barbed wire. For me, it was the first time, and I thought it was pretty easy, with the exception of pointed rocks bruising every part of my body that wasn’t already bruised from the rest of the race.
- Rig – The last obstacle before the fire jump and finish. If you defeated this monster, you are definitely on your way to being an elite athlete.
Overall, I liked the race – with the exception of twisting my ankle halfway through. Some words of advice though, WORK ON GRIP! It helps a lot with obstacles that may have slip. And run incline if you have some hills near you. If you don’t, find some stairs.
All pictures by Alexander Sallahian.
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