At 1,407 feet, Blue Mountain, home of Spartan's Palmerton Sprint and Super Weekend may not stand as tall as fellow Spartan-hosting mountains in the Northeast. However, despite its smaller stature, the mountain is perhaps the most notorious race site in the region.
Touted as a ‘must-race,’ Palmerton's mountain course was designed for Spartan’s most elite athletes, though it’s become the ultimate challenge for all sorts of racers looking to push themselves to their limits.
Afraid? You should be. Make it through the brutal course, though, and we guarantee the glory (and the views!) will be worth it.
Here, three of Palmerton’s most notorious features.
1. Incredibly Steep Climbs And Descents
“Palmerton breaks people with its steepness,” writes PA-based Spartan vet Justin Scholl of the Lehigh Valley Spartans racing group. Throughout the course of a Sprint or Super at Palmerton, racers zig-zag their way up and down the face of the mountain, on many trails that sport Black Diamond or Double Black Diamond status during ski season.
Even the tubing area at the bottom of the mountain, typically home to a bucket-carry obstacle, leaves Spartans breathless.
2. The Sandbag Carry From Hell
Perhaps the most infamous obstacle of Palmerton races: the sandbag carry.
Everyone from first-timers to seasoned Spartans meet this obstacle with groans, curses, and faces full of straight anguish. Known to wreck even elite racers, Palmerton’s sandbag carry involves trudging up one of the mountain’s steepest trails, a Double Black Diamond called Razor’s Edge. According to Scholl, facing the incline is “soul-crushing and demoralizing.”
3. Tricky Terrain
As racers criss-cross up and down brutally steep trails, not only do they face the physical beating of pushing their body up insane inclines and declines, but the mental exhaustion of carefully placing every single step.
Moving in and out of dense woods throughout the course, racers have to look out for everything from slick leaves and grass to bulging, knobby tree roots, to rocks of all sizes. Managing your speed and striding strategically are absolutely non-negotiable if you want to survive Palmerton with your ankles intact.
The Palmerton Reward: Epic Post-Race Views
The famously unforgiving course alone draws Spartans to Palmerton from all over for. (Who wouldn't want those bragging rights?)
However, the incredible views from the top of the mountain course make every moment of struggle even more worthwhile.
Truly, few Spartan courses can compete with Palmerton's scenery. In fact, it’s even an especially popular race for spectators, who can ride the chair lift to the top of Blue Mountain to soak up the panorama.
Regular Spartan racer Jane Gilvary says it best: “The views of the PA coal region are fantastic. As I look out from the summit, I’m reminded of God’s beautiful creation, and how much I love Pennsylvania in the summer.” (Check out Gilvary’s GoPro video of her last Palmerton race here.)
If you're willing to endure the trials of Palmerton's slopes, we promise you'll bask in double the satisfaction after crossing the finish line.
Ready to face the mountain? Sign up for a Sprint, Super, Hurricane Heat, or Kids Race at the 2019 Palmerton Super And Sprint Weekend on July 13th and 14th.