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: New England, Seattle, Hawaii, and West Virginia.
New England Spartan Event Weekend (Aug. 13-14)
The Venue: Time to Motor
The racing takes place at the home of the Loudon Classic, North America's longest-running motorcycle race, near Shaker State Forest. The complex is set within 1,200 acres of both forest and farmland.
They gave specific shoutouts to the volunteers who had withstood a hot, humid day standing and working in the sun. They were equally enthusiastic about the inclusion of obstacles they hadn’t encountered in years, like the Twister, saying “My hands haven’t touched the Twister since early 2019.”
Weather: Temperate With a Chance of Rain
August temperatures in this region of New Hampshire typically hover around 70 degrees, but can (like last year) be warmer and muggy.
Cool Bonus: Burger and a Beer
For a great post-race burger and celebratory craft beer, head to the Barley House in nearby Concord, the capital of New Hampshire.
Seattle Spartan Trifecta Event Weekend (Aug. 13-14)
The Venue: Vintage Upper Northwest
About 30 miles north of Seattle, Snohomish is braced by the Puget Sound to the west and a range of forests and glaciers to the east. It’s an outdoor lover’s paradise.
The Overcome and Run blog reported that the course was “forested, dynamic, hilly without too much elevation, and nice and muddy.”
It's definitely muddy, as the reporter described a patch of the course (with photographic evidence) where the mud was literally knee-deep — the kind of mud that can suck a running shoe straight off of your foot.
“I sank a good two feet,” the report declared.
The best way to deal with deep mud? First off, if you feel some kind of desire to keep your shoes clean, let it go. If your shoes matter that much to you, you either wore the wrong shoes or you're at the wrong event entirely. Adopt short strides (like you have a choice), a mid-foot strike, and try to keep your weight centered over your point of contact.
If that doesn’t work, just tap into your well of mental toughness and get through it the best you can.
Weather: Great for Racing
In November, it’s almost a sure thing that you’re going to see rain on a typical day in Snohomish. But based on historical data, August is much more forgiving in this light. Still, there’s a reason the mud can be its own obstacle on this course.
Expect temperatures to reach into the 70s, but have some warm clothes for the morning warm-up.
Hawaii Spartan Trifecta Event Weekend (Aug. 20-21)
This Trifecta weekend in Kāneʻohe, O'ahu is the ultimate racecation summer getaway. Prepare for Sprints, Supers, Beasts, Ultra 50Ks (with 60 obstacles), and even racing for the kids.
The Venue: Hawaiian Jungle
The events take place in the Hawaiian jungle of Kualoa Ranch, the site of over 60 Hollywood films, television shows, concerts, and music videos, including Jurassic World (2015). The Ultra in particular will throw racers to the dinosaurs, with nearly 4,000 feet of elevation gain (most of which is endured during tricky, demanding climbs).
Temps will likely be in the low 80s. Combined with humidity, the heat index (or “apparent temperature” — what the temp actually feels like) will be considerably higher.
Raptors excepted, it’s unlikely anyone is going to set any speed records on this course. Preparation for heat, humidity, training/racing with water packs, and some form of jungle training are all in order.
If you live in a cool or low-humidity climate and are traveling to O'ahu for a racecation, get some sauna time to expose your skin to the stifling effects of muggy warmth. You can even train with multiple layers of clothing, as American marathon great Buddy Edelen once did to successfully train for a hot-weather U.S. Olympic Trials marathon. In other words, teach your skin to sweat.
If you want to go full Jurassic Park during your visit, check out the Jurassic Valley Zipline Tour. And when you're finally ready to unwind, optimize some beach time with a Secret Island Beach reservation.
West Virginia Spartan Trifecta Event Weekend (Aug. 27-28)
This late-August weekend of OCR in Glen Jean, WV features a Beast, a Super, a Sprint, and Kids races. And if you're more into the views and self-reflection than conquering obstacles, tackle the zero-obstacle Spartan Trail half-marathon and 10K races on Sunday.
The Venue: West Virginia Wilds
Held within the Summit Bechtel Reserve (home to the Paul R. Christen National High Adventure Base), previous iterations of this epic event have started on a suspension bridge with spectacular views.
Race reviews have commented on the course being extremely well marked, but consider getting to the venue for parking ahead of time to make sure you get to your start on time.
Spartan race director Garfield Griffiths says that the course offers a mix of speedy flats and “quad-burning” technical trail (“for the mountain goats,” as he puts it). For that reason, you’ll need to be ready with all of your gears. He adds that there are also plenty of “water features,” so get ready to swim.
You're looking at some pretty decent race weather for the depths of August. Temperatures in Glen Jean usually fall between 60 and 80 degrees.
“Sunny, but not too humid or dry,” Griffiths says.
If you're not satisfied with the ups and downs of the course, how about taking a guided tour of a catwalk some 870-plus feet above a river? If you're lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of the coolest sunset you’ve ever seen.