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: the 2021 Spartan World Championship, Oracle Park, Central Florida, and Los Angeles.
2021 Spartan World Championship (Dec. 3–5)
For the first time ever, the Spartan World Championship — previously hosted in North Lake Tahoe — will be held outside of the United States, kicking things up a notch by relocating to the capitol of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi. The wide-range of races will take place in the Liwa Desert, and include a Beast (the 21K, 30-obstacle World Championship event), a Night Super 10K, complimentary Kids races, and two obstacle-free Abu Dhabi Trail races: a half-marathon and a 50K.
The Venue: Terrifying Mountain
Imagine, if you will, a sand dune sloped at 50 degrees. Then imagine running on it. The dune in question is named Tel Moreeb, meaning “Terrifying Mountain.”
You get the idea: The Abu Dhabi races will have you charging up insane inclines, as well as hard, salt-and-sand-packed trails that will allow your legs to spring back to life.
All of the action is held on the edge of what’s known as The Empty Quarter, a three-hour drive from the capitol that is rewarding in terms of other-worldly desert scenery, camping options, and more.
If you can work in some beach running to prepare, your legs will thank you later.
Weather: Winter in the Desert
During the day, you'll face relatively moderate temperatures: highs in the upper 70s and lows in the low 60s, all with dry air, of course. At night, the stars will likely blow your mind.
Bonus: Dune Bashing
Desert activities galore: Dune bashing, fat-tire biking, and desert hiking, to name a few.
Oracle Park Spartan Stadion (Dec. 4)
Our 5K, 20-obstacle Stadion race (and Kids races) will weave and climb throughout the home of the San Francisco Giants.
The Venue: Land of the Giants
Situated near the Bay Bridge along San Francisco’s Embarcadero waterfront, Oracle Park is on the SF Bay, right between the South Beach and Mission Bay neighborhoods. It’s about as accessible to public transportation as you can get: MUNI trains practically roll to the front door, and the commuter rail station (Cal Train) is within walking distance.
The ball park itself is a gem, and Spartans get the one-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do burpees in the dugout and climb ropes in the outfield. With plenty of stairs to climb up and down, this race will bring a whole new meaning to leaving your heart in San Francisco.
Weather: California Doesn't Always Mean Warm
Mark Twain once described the city’s weird weather by saying, “The coldest winter was the summer I spent in San Francisco.”
Unfortunately, a reverse of Twain’s observation fails to apply. Although Oracle Park is more hospitable weather-wise than the Giant’s previous wind-whipped home of Candlestick park, it’s likely to offer a day in the 50s, chilled by the bay. In other words, if you show up in a singlet and shorts, you could be in for it.
Bonus: Lands End or Poetry Slam
Though it’s on the other side of town near the Golden Gate Bridge, a hike or run on the Land’s End trail is a real jaw-dropper when it comes to tracing the coastline to the entry of the bay.
For a literary escape, visit the City Lights Bookstore in North Beach. (MUNI can get you there: From the ball park, walk to 3rd and Bryant and get on the #8 bus to Fisherman’s Wharf. Have the driver drop you off at City Lights, near Pacific Avenue and Columbus.) Pick up a new book, and head across Jack Kerouac Alley to Vesuvio’s to crack the spine and enjoy a good beer.
Central Florida Spartan Trifecta Weekend (Dec. 11–12)
The most epic obstacle course race combo of the century is coming to Sebring, Fla. this December: Sprints, Supers, Beasts, and Kids Racing will all be part of a Trifecta weekend of racing that features an unforgettable match between Spartan and Tough Mudder (or you can be the animal you were meant to be and race a Tough Mudder in the morning and a Spartan in the afternoon). There are all sorts of turbocharged Trifecta combinations you can test yourself with at this colossal OCR collision.
The Venue: Cattle Drive
Sebring is smack dab in the middle of the Floridian peninsula, with the racing being held on a cow farm. Picture trails, flat farmland, and mud — lots of it.
Weather: Mild With a (High) Chance of Mud
Prepare for highs in the low 70s with comfortable-enough humidity. There will be a chance of rain, so the mud can really be a big factor in terms of navigating the race course.
Bonus: Speed Racer
Is learning how to drive a race car on your bucket list? Sebring is best known for the Sebring International Raceway, and just a few days before the race weekend, you have the opportunity to go to the Skip Barber Racing School (like their one-day Mustang GT school for newbies). What a great way to taper for a Trifecta.
Los Angles Spartan Sprint 5K Weekend (Dec. 11–12)
This weekend features a Sprint 5K with 20 obstacles and Kids races in the Castaic Lake State Recreation Area, about 40 miles northwest of Los Angeles.
The Venue: Sunburned Country
The recreation area has 29 miles of shoreline and a 425-foot dam, and if recreation — for you — includes scrambling up and down steep hills, good. The sunburned area surrounding the water has them waiting for you.
Weather: Be Glad It’s December
The temperatures in LA range from 45 to 60 degrees this time of year. It would be a different story in July, when it rarely drops below the mid-80s and a 100-degree (or higher) day is unsurprising.
There's also a very little chance of rain, and virtually no chance of snow.
Bonus: A Well-Deserved Brew
When you cross the finish line, you’ll be right near Santa Clarita, and if a great microbrew is part of your post-race celebration, visit the Telco Brewery.