Imagine a field full of college freshman at a prestigious ivy league school in upstate New York. Now imagine a bunch of Spartan Race obstacles covering about 3 to 5 miles of farm grounds. If you were at Cornell University this weekend, you don’t need to imagine. It was definitely a trip for some people, as I met not only students from Cornell who were volunteering and racing, but also people who came from Connecticut and Boston! We even had the founder of Spartan Race and alumni of Cornell University, Joe DeSena himself, grace us with his presence. I, myself, was there early to help with handing out finisher medals and Big Red Chocolate Milk Protein at the finish line.
Let’s talk about the venue. We arrived at Cornell University, but the actual location was on farmland about 1.5 miles away from the university buildings and such, and for some, just getting to the location was jokingly the first obstacle they had to overcome. The actual venue was unique to the everyday Spartan. It was grassy, flat, and dry (minus one drop of mud, but we will get to that in a bit). The weather was hot and dry and definitely a challenge come mid-day. Overall, the area itself was nice to look at, but you could see why Spartan decided to not allow this event to count toward the rankings and didn’t officially include a podium.
The Festival Area
Again, this was a bit unfamiliar to the average Spartan but still ended up being satisfactory. Beyond the registration tent, there was not much to look at. There was a merchandise tent with some cool new Cornell Spartan shirts as well as the usual other merch. There was no beer tent, which did have some racers disappointed. Obviously there was the traditional water and banana stands along with finisher tees and medals. The rest of the area was pretty open to view all the racers. You could see the hurdles toward the finish line as well as the initial run in the beginning.
For this section, I am only going to go over the most unique or difficult obstacles (keep in mind, I do most of my races on the east coast). Some of the ones I will not go into detail on were the 4-foot and 8-foot walls, net rope crawls, Z-Wall, as well as one mud trench at the beginning of the race. And of course, we have to start with a round of burpees…
Barbed Wire Crawl
With the exception of not having any of the barb on the wire, it was definitely a tough part of the race given many students don’t usually crawl under wire, unless it’s coming back from a Thirsty Thursday, but this barbed wire crawl was definitely worth noting, as it was a lot longer than most Sprint crawls.
Not all races have this, but at some of Spartan Races, we have to remember a code word followed by a 7 digit number. Only twist this time was that the code was upside down, and although most of the open heats were not asked the code, according to some rumors, you also had to remember the code backwards.
I don’t see many of these obstacles anymore, but it was nice to carry 1 or 2 or 4 up a tiny part of the course as a way of breaking your momentum from the constant running you had before.
I’m assuming that Cornell didn’t want to risk a spear through the heart of one of its students; so unfortunately, the spear throw was not included in this event. As a replacement, they had people throw a football through a tire….Touchdown?
Not aware of how many Spartan Races nationwide have a bear crawl, but I will say, it slowed a lot of racers down…especially having staff members watching for butts too high in the air.
Definitely a lot more deceiving at a race that is mainly flat; the staff did a great job finding the one downhill part of the venue to put the sandbag carry on. It was a lot longer, with more twists than other sandbag carries. I would consider this to be a quad burner as they had a lot of short uphill and downhill portions.
One of the final obstacles was jumping over a bunch of hurdles in place of the fire jump.
Overall, I found the event to be worthwhile but only if you didn’t make much of a commute and didn’t expect much out of the festival. I met a lot of nice people, and it definitely had a good effect on the students and faculty at Cornell. Again, if you are looking for a traditional Spartan Race, this was not for you. If you are a fan of Spartan and wanted a cool looking medal then this was a great event to attend.
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