Seattle Spartan Beast and Sprint Weekend

The Seattle Spartan Beast and Sprint weekend brought about the close of an unusually dry summer and the beginning of some new and modified obstacles. Rose Wetzel also made her return, after bringing her new little super hero, Taylor, into the world just 7 weeks prior.

Seattle had a record dry spell of 55 consecutive days without rain. This caused the course, which is usually mired in mud, to be extremely dry and dusty. We ran on a parched creek bed which was once a water bog up to our thighs. It was interesting to see all of the logs and debris we tripped over when they were covered in water. The trails in the woods always had extremely slick mud. It was like a skating rink going up and down the hills. This time it was a layer of very thick loose dirt.  It was almost eerie, like a ghost town or as if something was missing. It did make for a much faster course though, which was great!

The obstacle layout was a bit unusual. There was a water crawl towards the beginning and a dunkwall shortly after. We had a bit of a run and then approached the monkey bars…..with wet hands. I didn’t survive and fell at the second rung. The water from my sleeves kept running down my hands and they didn’t dry out for some time. I made it to the twister but my hands were still wet which brought more burpees. Note to self…..practice monkey bars in the rain!

The Tyro was great to see as it’s always been one of my favorites. It was like an old friend and I was able to traverse it fast. I met up with a friend at this obstacle and she rocked it.

I can’t even describe how much another friend of mine impressed me on the rope climb. She made it for the first time, in a race, and was so excited! She was in tears and her heart was full. She wanted to do it in honor of 9-11. That is what Spartan races are all about to me, seeing people reach for something, accomplishing it, and sharing their joy.

I came across a few familiar obstacles with a twist. The cargo net had a “table” in front of it you had to climb before continuing. I was staring it down because it was eye height on me which made it tough to scramble up! Once reaching the top, it was a quick climb up and over the net.

The rig started out pretty standard with a straight bar, rings, baseball, and more rings, but it ended with a wall you had to swing to and climb up. It was much harder than you would think. There were a lot of burpees here.

There was one obstacle which was new to me, the Ladder Climb. It was so tall! I was told the trick was to have your hands on the opposite side of the ladder to keep it a bit more stable and keep it from swinging out from your feet.

A wonderful surprise at the race was Rose Wetzel! She ran the Sprint on Sunday in the Elite heat. Rose and Ashley Heller were battling it out for 2nd and 3rd place and with only 5 seconds between them, Ashley finished 2nd and Rose 3rd. Lauren Taksa rounded out the podium with first place! Rose’s sweet baby and husband were there to cheer her on.

 

This completed the first of three trifectas I have planned this year and several of my BeastsOCR teammates completed their trifectas this weekend as well. My team is like family and I’m so thankful to share these experiences with such wonderful people! Aroo!!

Photo credit: Kim Collings, Tim Sinnett, Miriam McCormick

Warrior Dash Washington 2017 Race Review

Warrior-Dash-Washington-2017-Festival

Overview

Warrior Dash is one of the oldest companies putting on obstacle course races in the US and have been running events in Washington State since 2011!  With all of those years under their belt, a certain level of polish can be expected and Warrior Dash delivered on those expectations.

Taking place about a 1-hour drive south of downtown Seattle, the Kelley Farm venue provided a mostly flat, wide open area for everything to be set up.  Unlike some other races, both parking and the bag drop were included in the price of admission which made for a smooth experience from beginning to end.

Parking was very close to the check-in and festival area, so no shuttle was required.  Waiver signing and packet pickup were quick, but it certainly didn’t hurt that I showed up early to run in the first heat of the day.  After picking up the participant shirt and fuzzy helmet before the race, everything was loaded into a bag and dropped off at Bag Drop before heading over to the starting line.

The Competitive Heat

Warrior Dash marks their first wave of the day as the Competitive Heat and it acts as a qualifier for the OCR World Championships taking place in Canada this year.  While there is no official timing of the race, someone was actively monitoring the finish line to record the top 10 finishers of each gender.

Top 3 qualifies you for the Pro Heat, while Top 10 qualifies you for the Age Group competition at the OCR World Championships.

This opening wave was an interesting mix of people containing some determined (very fit looking) people vying for those top spots and several others just excited to get out on the open course and push themselves to their own limits.

The top 3 male and female runners were announced and invited on stage to receive OCRWC Qualifier t-shirts.

Warrior-Dash-Washington-2017-Podium

The Course

After a brief delay to get word from the medical team that everyone was in place and ready to go, the start line was counted down and we were sent off as flame shot into the air above us.

Warrior-Dash-Washington-2017-Start

The very beginning of the course took advantage of a small hill off to our right which we climbed up right off the bat.  After zig-zagging back and forth a few times over small rolling hills, we returned to the level surface that the rest of the race was run on and our first obstacle, a small set of tall, spaced out wooden stairs.

After that was a fun obstacle called Upslide Down where we laid on our backs and pulled ourselves along using acargoe net above us.  Next was a short balance beam before we crawled down into some very long, muddy trenches.

A water station was located at the half-way point of the 5k distance and soon afterwards the course turned into a winding single-track run through a large set of trees that led us to a rather tall barb wire crawl.

Next we ascended a steep wall with the assistance of a rope, navigated through a pipeline made of cargo nets, and balanced our way across a set of pallets suspended over water.  The finish line was within sight, but we still had to navigate through a tricky obstacle where you could balance your way across a cargo net, with or without using a variety of hand holds suspended above you.

Warrior-Dash-Washington-2017-Course

After a quick fire jump, we conquered the largest obstacle on the course, Goliath, which consisted of of ~2 story cargo net climb followed by a steep slide down into a deep pool of water.  Despite the water mostly cleaning us off, the final obstacle made sure everyone finished with a thick layer of mud on them.

Warrior-Dash-Washington-2017-Goliath

This final obstacle took place in a deep pit of thick mud that also had barb wire suspended above.  Impossible to move through quickly or with any grace meant everyone came across the finish line ready for an epic post-race picture of their muddy adventure.

After crossing the finish line, we were given a very unique finishers “medal” consisting of a cube with a something different on each of the six sides.  It’s even numbered if you want to use it at your next board game night!

Warrior-Dash-Washington-2017-Finish-2

Verdict

Overall, Warrior Dash remains the perfect gateway event into the world of obstacle course racing.  The 5k distance combined with a modest number of non-intimidating obstacles makes for a very fun time that doesn’t require a strict regimen of training leading up to the event.

The Competitive Wave was handled very professionally for everyone seeking to challenge themselves and others during the run and the festival grounds made for a great place to relax after the event and sip on the free post-race beer (even if it was 9 in the morning!).

Whether you are a seasoned OCR pro or someone thinking about trying their first ever OCR race, it’s worth checking out the next Warrior Dash near you.

Is Facebook Taking Over OCR? Or is OCR Taking Over Facebook?

Once upon a time, “It’s not on real TV, but you can see it online” meant you were scraping the bottom the barrel. You aren’t on TV? Well, you must not be legitimate/big time/ready for primetime. In 2017, that is no longer the case.

It has been said that the mobile phone is much like the “Big 3 TV networks” were back in the day. Radio, believe it or not, ruled our entertainment choices at one time, until television came along. ABC, NBC, and CBS were bringing pictures into millions of homes, and by doing that, they were putting myriad radio stars and advertisers out of business. Today, mobile devices and streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon are the new champs, with “traditional television boxes” being the radio.

Enter Facebook. If I was a tech writer, I could go on and on about worldwide mobile users, FB users, data, and usage. I am an OCR writer, so let’s just say Facebook is Facebook. It rules your life and mine, in and out of obstacle racing. Earlier this month, FB launched something called Facebook Watch, which is their new home for “channel style” content.  Facebook will launch original content, as well as partnering with brands for additional content.

Last week, Spartan Race announced it had partnered with Facebook to provide live streaming race coverage for one of those new channels. This new deal will be exclusive as Spartan previously provided that content in real time, and for later streaming on both FB and YouTube. You can view that Facebook channel here. Most Spartan fans are already aware of the US Championship Series and The Tahoe Champs being aired online. As part of the press release, Spartan announced 4 additional broadcasts for fall races in Atlanta, Dallas, Sacramento, and San Francisco.

Today, Tough Mudder announced their own partnership with Facebook and are launching two new channels: Tough Mudder Live and Tough Mudder Bootcamp Live.

According to the TMHQ press release.

  • Tough Mudder has partnered with Facebook to deliver original, live event sports and fitness programming on Watch, Facebook’s new platform for shows. 
  • Facebook will be the exclusive video platform for the new $50,000 Tougher Mudder Championship race series and Weekly Tough Mudder Bootcamp fitness studio classes. 
  • Fans can add this programming to their watchlist by following the Tough Mudder Live and Tough Mudder Bootcamp Live show pages. 

If you recall, the Tougher Mudder Championship Series was just announced last week and offers additional prize money for 4 Tougher events. You can read more about that series here.

As we first heard in The Rise Of The Sufferfests, “Obstacle racing may be the first sport that social media launched.” Should it be any surprise that the two industry leaders, along with the social media leader are doubling down together?

Tough Mudder Press Release

TOUGH MUDDER TO DELIVER ORIGINAL LIVE EVENT PROGRAMMING ON FACEBOOK’S NEW WATCH PLATFORM

 The New “Tougher Mudder Championship” Series To Be Broadcast Exclusively on Facebook

The Live Programming To Include Weekly Tough Mudder Bootcamp Fitness Classes

BROOKLYN, NY – September 25, 2017 –Tough Mudder, Inc., the leading sports, active lifestyle and media brand, announced it has partnered with Facebook to deliver original, live event sports and fitness programming on Watch, Facebook’s new platform for shows. Facebook will be the exclusive video platform for the new $50,000 Tougher Mudder Championship race series and Weekly Tough Mudder Bootcamp fitness studio classes. Fans can add this programming to their watchlist by following the Tough Mudder Live and Tough Mudder Bootcamp Live show pages.

The new Tougher Mudder Championship race series will feature four events beginning with the first regional event on October 7th at Tougher Tri-State in Englishtown, NJ and culminating with the Tougher Mudder World Championship on November 4th at Lake Elsinore, CA (see full schedule below). The Tougher Mudder Championship race series will feature the world’s top OCR, endurance runners, and functional fitness female and male athletes tackling 20+ signature Tough Mudder obstacles, such as Kong, Everest, Funky Monkey: The Revolution, and Arctic Enema, over 10 grueling miles for a chance to take home weekly cash prizing (up to $2,500). Top finishers will qualify for the Championship and respective winning purse of $10,000 each for the first place male and female finishers. The coverage on Facebook will feature live feeds from multiple obstacles throughout the course, “point of view” head cams and aerial drone footage, as well as behind-the-scenes “everyday hero stories” along with hosted commentary and engaged social interaction with viewers from Tough Mudder personalities Eric “E-Rock” Botsford and Kyle “Coach” Railton.

Viewers will also be able to get in shape with weekly, live fitness classes streamed from Tough Mudder’s new fitness studio offering, Tough Mudder Bootcamp. Tough Mudder’s training expertise and fitness content is coveted by millions of people within the Tough Mudder community, as well as by active lifestyle enthusiasts around the world. The partner-based, 45-minute HIIT workouts are sneak peaks at what franchisees will be offering around the United States beginning in fourth quarter of 2017. Classes are centered around four fitness pillars: strength, power, agility and endurance.

“Tough Mudder has become a leading innovator of building sport around community. With our highly engaged global community of millions, Tough Mudder has excelled at delivering a unique, highly social way to consume live sports programming. With Facebook being the exclusive video platform for the Tougher Mudder Championship series, this partnership is a great complement to our linear video programming offerings and partners, and bolsters Tough Mudder as one of the leaders in the future of sports,” said Jerome Hiquet, CMO, Tough Mudder Inc.

Tougher Mudder Championship Series Programming

Oct. 7th             Tougher East, Englishtown, NJ

Oct. 21st            Tougher South, Mt. Pleasant, NC

Oct. 28th           Tougher West, Lake Las Vegas, NV

Nov. 4th             Tougher World Championships, Lake Elsinore, CA

About Tough Mudder:

Founded in 2010 with the launch of the Tough Mudder obstacle course event series, Tough Mudder Inc. has become a leading global sports, active lifestyle and media brand. With more than 3 million participants, the company hosts more than 130 non-competitive (Mini Mudder; Tough Mudder 5K, Tough Mudder Half, and Tough Mudder Full) and competitive (Tougher, Toughest, Tough Mudder X and World’s Toughest Mudder) events annually in 11 countries including China, Dubai, Indonesia, and Australia through its partnerships with IMG, Seroja and Sports Media and Entertainment 360 (SME360). The company’s content arm provides the more than millions of engaged online brand enthusiasts with fitness, nutrition and wellness content delivered daily across social and digital platforms. Tough Mudder broadcast, OTT and Live Stream programming can be seen worldwide through partnerships with CBS Sports, Facebook, Sky Sports, The CW Network and ESPN Media Distribution. Other sponsorship and distribution partners include Merrell, Amazon, Jeep, Aflac, Guinness, Vega, Samsung, Olympus, Lucozade Sport, Nexcare, For Goodness Shakes, Bosch, TREK, Head & Shoulders, L’Oreal Men Expert, Käserei Loose, Snapchat and Live Stream.

Media Contacts:

Angela Alfano

(703) 447-5629

[email protected]

Robert Zimmerman

(917) 543-1046

[email protected]

Ethan Metelenis

(917) 882-9038

[email protected]

Spartan Race Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Spartan, the World’s Largest Obstacle Race and Endurance Brand, to Bring Live Content to Facebook’s Watch Platform

Exclusive Facebook Live Streaming of Spartan Events Launches with 2017 Reebok Spartan World Championship in Lake Tahoe September 30

BOSTON, MA (September 21, 2017) – Blood, sweat, athleticism and pure grit will stream exclusively on Facebook’s new Watch platform thanks to a partnership between Spartan and Facebook. The partnership will feature live streaming of men’s and women’s obstacle races (OCR) through the 2017 Spartan season, kicking off with the Reebok Spartan World Championship September 30 and October 1 in Lake Tahoe, CA. The broadcasts will be dynamically produced with multiple cameras, drone coverage, graphic packages, audio commentary, replays, and behind-the-scenes content.

“Spartan draws some of the world’s most talented athletes to obstacle racing to battle technical terrain and punishing obstacles, which creates fierce competition that is unlike any other broadcast sport,” said Spartan COO Jeffrey Connor. “Producing live broadcasts of our races was a major focus for us in 2017 and an important part of Spartan and the OCR industry’s growth. Partnering with Facebook to stream our events exclusively on Watch will bring the action to sports fans across the globe, showcasing the pure grit of the fastest growing participation sport while helping Spartan spread its message of healthy transformation to a new audience of millions.”

In addition to broadcasting the race events, Spartan’s Facebook Live streams will feature interviews with competitors and major players in the industry along with a host of socially-driven content optimized for a mobile audience, including live-polling and real-time engagement. Spartan will also produce a weekly workout session exclusively for Facebook’s Watch platform. People can add this content to their watchlist by following Spartan LIVE.

“As a producer of lifestyle content that spans sport, nutrition and training, Spartan has more than five million Facebook followers and established television shows on NBC Sports Network and NBC primetime, which makes this partnership a natural next step as we expand our media programing,” said Spartan Founder and CEO Joe De Sena. “The live streaming broadcasts of our events this year received tremendous views, averaging more than one million for each, and as we expand our Championship Series to more than 30 countries across the world in 2018, we’re excited to grow those numbers globally as we work with Facebook.”

Spartan’s militaristic-style obstacle races push the bodies and minds of competitors to the limit across miles of unforgiving terrain while they conquer signature obstacles such as the spear throw, bucket brigade and barbed wire crawl. Spartan is a leader in transforming obstacle racing into a mainstream endurance sport, having been the first brand to feature timing, rankings and a Global Championship Series. The 2017 Reebok Spartan World Championship is the pinnacle event of the obstacle racing season and features a field of elite athletes from more than 50 countries battling the mountainous terrain at Squaw Valley during the 16-mile “Beast” race for more than $100,000 in cash and prizes. This year’s event features a new World Team Championship, which will see coed teams of three from 25 countries facing off in a team-style competition.

Following the World Championship, Spartan plans to broadcast races in Atlanta (October 21), Dallas (October 28), Sacramento (November 11) and at AT&T Park in San Francisco (November 18), which is part of the Spartan “Stadium Series” that unfolds at the hallowed grounds of the most beloved ballparks across America.

ABOUT SPARTAN RACE, INC.
Spartan Race is the world’s largest obstacle race and endurance brand, and the first in-sport to feature timing and global rankings. With more than 200 events across more than 30 countries in 2017, Spartan Race will attract more than one million global participants offering open heats for all fitness levels, along with competitive and elite heats. The Spartan Race lifestyle boasts a community of more than five million passionate social media followers, health and wellness products, training and nutrition programs, and a popular NBC television series, which has made obstacle racing one of the fastest growing sports in the world. Spartan Race events feature races at three distances, 3+Mile/20+ Obstacle “Sprint,” 8+ Mile/25+ Obstacle “Super” and 12+ Mile/30+ Obstacle “Beast,” culminating in the Reebok Spartan Race World Championship in Lake Tahoe, Calif. Visit http://www.spartan.com for more information and registration.

MEDIA CONTACT: Jonathan Fine, 781.248.3963, [email protected]

 

Tougher Mudder Nashville: Tall Grass, Muddy Fun, and Timing Issues

Change In Location for Tougher Mudder Nashville

Nashville usually hosts a Tough Mudder at Milky Way Farms, which has been the venue for many races, including the Warrior Dash and Warrior Dash World Championships.  This year racers got to visit a new cow farm in Lebanon, TN, for some not-as-hilly-but-still-stinky-cow-mud fun.

Negatives

I like to end with the positives, so allow me to start with what could have been better.

Check-in: I ran the Tougher Mudder (hence my title), and check in was slow moving.  There were many check-in lines, yes, but no one knew until he/she got to the front of the line that they were organized by last names, so there was much grumbling.  That being said, once the code was scanned, it was very quick.

Timing: It is very, very frustrating when the timing is messed up.  My time is over 15 minutes WRONG.  I contacted TMHQ several times but still haven’t received an answer.  I’m talking, they have me at 15 minutes SLOWER than I actually ran.  My watch isn’t official, no, but I have seen many time-stamped photos that say the same about times.  My time isn’t the only one that is wrong.

Finishing: There was really nothing.  A Tough Mudder finished, got a headband and a T-shirt, and walked away.  I had to find someone to report that I was done. I was then was told there was no podium, no timing tent, no winning money.  I’d have to wait for my times to be emailed (got them 12 hours later and they were wrong), and winners still haven’t received payment information.

Parking and bag check: $20 to park, which not everyone paid, and $10 to drop my bag on a table, just to find it buried later?

 

Positives

Volunteers:  The volunteers were STELLAR and I thanked every single one I ran past.  They were so helpful and treated all runners far better than the Tough Mudder event staff.

Course Markings: Sure, this can always be better, and more people should have been placed to ensure runners were going in the right direction, but it was fair.

Obstacles: There were a lot of water obstacles, and some were 100% new to me. Volunteers were thorough in explaining what to do and were also very encouraging.  The challenges went beyond the usual grip strength/run fast that I am used to.

Overall

What I thought would be a faster course was offset by the tall grass. This turned many miles into high knee drills.  It was a blast to run a competitive raced that required teamwork and individual push.  The new venue was easy to find and had super volunteers.

If Tough Mudder is serious about (suddenly) starting all these competitions for money, they need to be more organized and definitely need to handle the timing and money situation better.

Tough Mudders are always fun, and I viewed this as a training opportunity.  To win my first Tougher Mudder was cool, but the way the winners were treated (this is coming from talking to the 1st and 2nd place male winners and the 2nd place female, as well) needs to be handled much differently.

As always, big thanks to the volunteers, and because the Tough Mudder was my first ever OCR and it is what got me into OCR racing. I’ll always have one on my racing calendar!

 

 

Killington Ultra Beast 2017 – Mental Sabotage

It was happening again. 365 days and six hours removed from a DNF at mile 27 of the 2016 Killington Ultra Beast, I’m 17 miles into the 2017 race, hiking up some ski slope in Vermont, quads locked up, body not responding, thinking about quitting. I can’t believe this is happening.

This year was going to be different. After failing last year I’d stepped my way back into ultra. There was a 50k in December, 41 miles at Black Toe in January, and the New Jersey Ultra Beast in April. I ran solid races at the Ohio Beast/Sprint in May, did five laps at the Warrior Dash in less than four hours in July, and set a new post-high school PR in the 5k on my way to a top 25 finish in a 6k just last weekend. Those accomplishments meant nothing. I’m falling apart again.

Spartan-Killington-Hurdles

Photo Courtesy of Sara Heilwagen

Going through my head are countless hours of training, including over 2000 miles of running in the last year, a new record for me. Am I really going to do this all over again? I’m thinking about the people who support me in this ridiculous habit that I currently hate. How am I going to face the people at work who have endured me talking about this for a year? And my running group, who sent words of encouragement earlier that morning. How do I tell my family and my kids that I’ve failed again? My wife is down there in the festival area waiting on me, how do I explain to her what’s going on inside my head? Most importantly, how am I going to look at myself in the mirror?

Spartan-Killington-Family

Photo Courtesy of Cheryl Harland

I see Danielle, whom I now consider my friend, coming up behind me. Danielle Rieck is famous in our circles for being the first person to attain a perfect Spartan Delta; a triple trifecta of obstacle racing and endurance events that very few have accomplished. She lost toes in the process. I hung with Danielle in New Jersey because I wanted to finish and Danielle knows how to finish things. She sees that I’m coming apart at the seams, and does her best to distract me from the pain. She asks about my kids a lot, and we talk about her nephew. It’s too late though, I’m too far gone. We get to the first barb wire crawl, the shorter one, and I’m so slow that she has no choice but to go on. I don’t blame her, I’m a lost cause.

Spartan-Killington-BarbWire

Photo Courtesy of Spartan Race

At this point, I am lower than I’ve ever been in a race. I can feel that lump in my throat growing. If there was a place to quit, I would have quit, but you’re in the middle of the woods, high on a Vermont mountain, and the only way out is to follow the crowd to the top and walk back down. So I keep walking, head down, looking at the ground. People are passing me left and right. I’m all alone. The alarm on my watch goes off, reminding me to take on nutrition so I suck down some caffeinated Tailwind and take some Carbopro VO2 max pills and BC powder, put on my earbuds, and kept climbing.

I make it to the top and do the Herc hoist and inverted wall, not really knowing why. Everybody else was doing it. Then start on the dreaded two-mile downhill that ends at the lake. With locked up quads, downhills are just awful, so I keep walking. Somewhere in the next mile, something happened. Maybe it was the caffeine or sugar from the Tailwind, the BC powder, the Beastie Boys, or something else, but at some point, I remember feeling the urge to run. So I ran.

I notice that I’m not getting passed anymore, and I don’t feel so alone. I’m part of the race again. We do the plate drag, which doesn’t seem near as hard as expected, and keep running downhill. We complete the Z-wall, and as we jump into the swim, we’re doing the math. Eight hours to finish the next ten miles. Totally doable. There is absolutely no way we’re not going to finish.

Spartan-Killington-Swim

Photo Courtesy of Sara Heilwagen

The next ten miles are a blur. I’m not going to say they were easy because they weren’t. I, and the people I met along the way, covered some tough terrain, going up, back down again, and then straight up the death march. Coming down off the peak after the death march, most of us went down backwards or slid on our butts. The last bucket carry was arduous. Legs, arms, abs, everything was cramping. But we all kept going because we knew that we’d finish.

Spartan-Killington-Bucket

Photo Courtesy of Sara Heilwagen

I surprised even myself by completing the final rig and saw my wife in the crowd smiling. After hitting the final spear throw, I found Danielle in the burpee pit. She was as surprised to see me as I was to be there, and had experienced her own emotional toils in the last ten miles. We did our last burpees together at Olympus and crossed the finish line together for the second time this year. I always expect this wave of emotions at the end, but my emotional gas tank was completely drained. There was nothing left. 30+ miles will do that to you.

My finisher’s belt buckle goes on the wall in my garage with the three dozen other medals I have. Each medal serves as a key to a memory. When I look at the buckle that says Killington, Vermont, I’m going to remember the physical and emotional roller coaster of September 16, 2017. I’m going to remember the people that I met and all their positive words to me on the course. Most of all, I’m going to remember what I learned. I learned that no matter the physical preparation, the most important preparation is mental. I learned that your mind is what gets you through the peaks and valleys.

Spartan-Killington-Medal

Photo Courtesy of Brad Heilwagen

If you’re planning to take on the Killington Ultra Beast, know this: you will want to quit. Also know that there is a place inside yourself where you can find the will to finish, and once you unlock that place, you’re unstoppable. If that doesn’t work, try the Beastie Boys.

Spartan-Killington-Sabotage

Photo Courtesy of the Beastie Boys

Killington, VT – Did Spartan “Tame” the Beast of the East?

“A Killington Beast that’s only 13 miles? INCONCEIVABLE!” – Vizzini (I am convinced he would have said that if The Princess Bride was an OCR)

New Norm™, Jason Barnes has become Spartan’s newest ambassador of pain and misery, but he may have inadvertently sent the OCR community into a complete uproar when he said in a Facebook Live video that the Killing Beast would “only” be 13.5 to 14 miles.

Background on the Beast

Killington, VT is the Home of the Beast. It’s Spartan’s birthplace in every way. It housed their first ever event, and it is the Church in which legions of racers pay mental and physical penance to each year. Killington is and always will be the Beast of the East. So how could Spartan Race dare cut this course back to a measly ~13ish miles?! It’s easy to see why the Internet was in an uproar. Even after the event, it would seem that this year’s Beast was “easier” than past events. Let’s just look at the finishing times:

Spartan Beast – 2015
Elite Finishers:

1 Jesse Bruce 2691 34 M 3:28:05
2 Matthew Kempson 9310 25 M 3:42:46
3 Junyong Pak 8662 37 M 3:46:12

Spartan Beast – 2016
Elite Finishers:

1 Matthew Kempson 2722 26 M 3:32:48
2 Ethan Nedeau 3903 43 M 3:38:28
3 Benjamin Rodkey 4692 27 M 3:39:18

Spartan Beast 2017
Elite Finishers:

1 Francis DiSomma 2819 27 M 3:04:41
2 Brent Trail 5013 30 M 3:08:23
3 rskempson13 2464 28 M 3:09:20

 

A time of 3 hours 4 minutes won the Elite Heat at the Beast on Saturday. Is the Beast becoming passé? Has the #RoadToTahoe taken a detour around Killington, VT? If you go back to 2015 and ready my review of the “Founders Race” held in Killington, you also heard me talk about how scaled back the challenge of Killington was that year.

Man vs. Mountain

No matter the combination of obstacles, or the inclusion of the legendary swim to Tarzan Swing under the bridge, it’s not the distance that puts the “kill” in Killington. It’s the mountain itself. Racers come to Vermont from every corner of the US and beyond to leave their mark, and blood, and sweat, and tears, on that mountain. Even if Spartan has a misstep with obstacles or water supply, there will always be all 4,236 feet of that mountain, and Spartan knows how to use it. Faster finishing times simply meant more elevation crammed into smaller spaces – including a bucket carry that was unrelenting at times.

Olympus at the base of the Death March – Photo Credit: Tony Martinez on Instagram

Summiting The Beast

The Death March at Killington is like no other. It’s over 1 mile of straight up marching where seemingly every step is a foot or more in elevation gain. The sun can bake you as you climb or the winds can chill you as you ascend higher. No matter the weather, you’re in for a challenge. There were two subtle differences this year, that welcomes racers to the “top” of Mount Killington.

First – we were detoured away before hitting the true peak of Killington. A first for Spartan, not utilizing the very summit on its course. Second, a familiar group of New England Spahtens who decided to skip racing, and instead take it upon themselves to welcome each competitor to the top with hugs, candy, cookies, or a simple high-five to brighten their day. Faces changes from misery, to elation. Tears of pain turned to tears of joy. Clif Bars and GUs were traded in for Starburst and Snickers. It was truly a community supporting a community and it was the perfect way to start your descent towards the Finish Line after a long 11+ miles into the course.

The treats awaiting racers atop the mountain

Killington will always be the home of the Beast. While it may no longer be home to Spartan’s World Championship, it is absolutely a staple in most racers calendar each year. It may not attract the star power of the OCR world as it did in years past, but it still continues to deliver an experience that is the perfect balance of pain and pleasure.

Until next year, Killington.