If you think you're just going to walk onto a Spartan course and crush it, you're in for a rude awakening. You need to prepare: You need to know the venue, the course, the terrain, the level of difficulty, and the likely conditions. Every month in OCR INSIDER, we look at the upcoming races on the schedule and tell you everything you need to know so when you reach the start line, you're ready. On the docket this month: San Diego, Charlotte, Palm Beaches, and Tri-State New Jersey.
San Diego Spartan Event Weekend (Occurred on April 2)
This Southern California Spartan weekend in Pala is just a half-hour drive inland from the San Diego coastline and features our signature 20-obstacle, 5K Sprint and Kids races. Bring the entire Spartan family out to a brand new venue on this sunny Saturday.
Venue: Flat and Faster Than Usual
Although this weekend's races will unfold near Palomar Mountain — a key training destination (also known as the Alpe d’Huez of Southern California) for San Diego triathletes and cyclists, with nearly 8,000 feet of elevation gain — the Spartan course itself will actually be relatively fast, with zero elevation gain and some good hard-packed dirt to open up your stride.
At an incredibly low altitude as well, this weekend is a terrific choice for first-time Spartans wanting to try their hand at OCR. If you have a base of general fitness, here’s how to get race-ready fast for your first Spartan Sprint.
Weather: San Diego Dreaming
Pala is far enough inland from San Diego beaches — about 25 miles — that the weather can get awfully hot and dry in the summer months, but it’s still early April! Expect temperatures to fall in the 60s and 70s (Fahrenheit) rather than something bouncing around 100 degrees.
When you're racing — especially in direct sunny — 60- and 70-degree weather still isn't cold, though. Be sure to build a solid, consistent hydration plan — not just for the race, but as a daily health habit.
Bonus: Surf’s Up
After crushing obstacles out on the course, a visit to a north county San Diego beach is in order. Towns like Solana Beach, Cardiff, Encinitas, and Carlsbad offer epic beaches saddled near eating and drinking establishments along Highway 101.
And if you’re looking for another challenge, here’s your chance to learn to surf: Check out the Leucadia Surf School.
Charlotte Spartan Event Weekend (April 9-10)
The lineup for this early April weekend in Concord, N.C. includes a Sprint, races for the kids, and a 4-hour Hurricane Heat.
Venue: Time on the Farm
Since you'll be barreling over farmland just a short drive from Charlotte, be ready for obstacles, water, and mud, with little in the way of elevation gain (344 feet).
Be prepared with the fundamentals: a good running base, grip strength, and a solid foundation of functional fitness.
Weather: There’s a Reason It’s Muddy
It’s April, so the temperatures will likely be in the 50s or 60s, which is basically the perfect racing temperature. That said, it’s still spring, so rain might be a factor. Based on the past, there's about a 30% chance that you’ll get a half-inch or more of rain, so bring the right gear (and your mental-strength A game).
Palm Beaches Spartan Event Weekend (April 23-24)
A fast Sprint 5K, Kids races, and — for groups looking to team-build in an insanely intense setting — a 12-hour Hurricane Heat are coming to Boca Raton, Fla. in late April.
Venue: One of Our Fastest Courses
From West Palm Beach to Miami, the Southeastern coastline of Florida is beach after beach after beach. The Palm Beaches races are held in a nearby 870-acre regional park. The flat course — just under 40 feet above sea level — will have you racing primarily on grass surfaces, so watch your ankles.
Weather: Spring Break for Spartans
A 25% chance of rain is typically expected this time of year in Boca Raton. Though racing in the rain might typically sound miserable, it can actually be nice to help cool you off if the temperatures reach into the 80s (which they definitely can in late April).
Prepare for a warm, muggy day. If you’re new to Spartan, listen to the advice of seasoned Age Groupers and avoid these common training mistakes.
Bonus: Brewed by Monks
If you like Belgian beer, Barrel of Monks brewers is not to be missed on your way to a much-deserved post-race beach day.
Tri-State New Jersey Spartan Event Weekend (April 30-May 1)
A broad slate of Spartan racing is about to go down at this Vernon, N.J. weekend in the depths of spring: a Super 10K (25 obstacles), a Beast 21K (30 obstacles), and — for the absolutely intrepid — a 60-obstacle, 50K Ultra race and a 4-hour Hurricane Heat. There will also be Kids races.
Venue: Becoming the Chairlift
As you may have noticed, the races on the April calendar have tended to be flat and lacking in elevation gain (to this point). Not your thing? Then the Tri-State New Jersey event is for you. Held at Mountain Creek Resort on Vernon Peak, New Jersey’s largest ski mountain, your quads will find the 3,500 feet of elevation gain stimulating, to say the least.
This venue, ranked our fifth most difficult course in the United States, is steep, rocky, and shockingly beautiful…
Weather: You Certainly Won’t Be in Florida
….and probably chilly and wet. There’s about a one-in-three chance of some rain, and Vernon temperatures this time of year can sulk around the 40s. Solid, warm, and water-wicking gear is your friend.
Bonus: Seeking Balance
For those who like their exposure to a tough, comfort-free Spartan race to be counterbalanced, the award-winning Crystal Springs Spa has a “daycation” post-race reflection pool with your name on it.