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 2022 Abu Dhabi Spartan World Championship, Oracle Park Stadion, Los Angeles, and Central Florida.
2022 Abu Dhabi Spartan World Championships (Happened on Dec. 3-4, 2022)
See the Elite Recap here.
Tons of fireworks will fly in the desert in early December as the 2022 Spartan schedule culminates with several epic events: the Elite World Championship (a Super 10K with 25 obstacles), the Age Group World Championship (a 21K Beast with 30 obstacles), the 3-Person Co-Ed Relay Event (a 3K course format), and even races for intrepid Spartan Kids.
The Venue: A Life Changer
The Spartan World Championship returns to the epic desert sands of Abu Dhabi after the venue’s debut in 2021.
"The desert changed my life, and it can change yours, too,” imparted a writer in the headline of a recent New York Times article.
The change-your-life sentiment runs deep within the heart of Spartan racing. Abu Dhabi proved to be an exceptional arena to meet your true self.
As Spartan CEO Joe De Sena described the Abu Dhabi venue last year, “This World Championship was no joke … Congratulations not only to our winners, but to all of our athletes who conquered the dunes in the world’s largest desert. We’ve raised the bar for the next World Championship, and that’s what it’s all about: pushing ourselves to the limit and seeing what we’re made of.”
Last year, a good dose of the pushing was up the Moreeb Dune, a.k.a. “The Hill of Horrors.” Take any sprint you recall from a beach run and recalibrate that running-in-deep-peanut-butter-like-fun into 300 meters worth of 50-degree slope.
The great reward for the effort is the otherworldly scenic beauty at hand. As Spartan race director Garfield Griffiths says, “The scope of it is mind-blowing. It’s one of the biggest stretches of desert in the world. It’s beyond description.”
If you’re aiming to compete in the Age-Grouper Worlds, a Beast event, consider the preparation advice offered by 2021 Spartan World Champion Ryan Atkins.
"I am always experimenting and tweaking my fitness,” Atkins said. “A good example would be a Beast simulation training session, where I go out and run the distance on harder terrain than I expect to see in the race. This gives me the fitness and confidence to take on [an event such as] the World Championship.”
The Weather: No Fear
“Fear no more the heat o’ the sun,” Shakespeare wrote in Cymbeline. He was actually talking about men turning to dust and the unloading of earthly worries, but the line itself fits Spartan World Champs: The expected range of temps starts with a low of 62 degrees and extends up to a high of 80. Sure, you’ll have to guzzle water left and right, but it won’t be the toughest problem to solve.
Of course, you might feel like you’re turning to dust when you leave it all out there on the course, but that's something to celebrate.
Ride on the world’s fastest roller coaster at Ferrari World Abu Dhabi. Blast to 150 miles per hour in less than 5 seconds and get on intimate terms with 4.8 G's (making you weigh nearly five times your true weight). They also have a roof walk and a pretty insane zip-line.
Oracle Park Spartan Stadion Event Weekend (Happened on Dec. 3, 2022)
This early December weekend in San Francisco will feature a Stadion 5K with 20 obstacles in the Giant’s ballpark, along with Kids races.
The Venue: Land of the Giants
Living in San Francisco in the 90s, I recall making the trek to Candlestick to watch a San Francisco Giants ball game and feeling like it was a great place (which it obviously was) for a football game. Oracle Park, as many of us would discover, near the Bay Bridge in the South of Market/South Beach area of the city, is much more hospitable for baseball (not to mention easy to get to, as Muni trains pull right up to the door).
It also turned out to be a fun place to rumble through for a Spartan Stadion race.
Weather: Not Summer, Not Winter
The Mark Twain line, "The coldest winter I ever spent was the summer I spent in San Francisco," has an entertaining bite to it. The bite is oddly in tune with the actual bite of what it feels like if it’s July and you’re outside, say in Golden Gate Park, wearing shorts and a t-shirt when the fog rolls in. But December is December (and the ballpark is on the San Francisco Bay), so the chill in the air can make the 40-degree weather feel incredibly cold. Don’t forget your sweats.
Get a veggie burger and a beer or cocktail at the Alchemist, a three-minute walk from Oracle Park.
Los Angeles Spartan Event Weekend (Dec. 10-11, 2022)
Just a week later, travel down the California coast for the classic Castaic Sprint 5K weekend of Spartan racing in the northern part of Los Angeles County. There will even be races for the kids.
The Venue: Reservoir Reservation
Castaic Lake Park offers more than 11,000 acres in conjunction with a state water reservoir project. You’ll race on trails and a course with 1,200 feet-plus of elevation gain.
Weather: Southern California in the Winter
You're near LA in December, which is arguably incredibly ideal for a weekend of obstacle course racing. Lows should be in the high 40s, and temperatures will max out in the mid-60s.
Bonus: Fishing Heaven
Castaic Lake Park is a great place to fish. Seriously: Check out this photo gallery of great catches and the serene surroundings you can expect to unwind amidst after conquering the area's vast hilltops.
Central Florida Spartan Trifecta and Kids World Championship (Dec. 10-11, 2022)
The same weekend as the Castaic Sprint but on the complete opposite coast, this Trifecta and Championship weekend features a Sprint 5K, a Super 10K, a Beast 21K, and even a 4-Hour Hurricane Heat. But the main event will bring the world's toughest, grittiest kids together to compete for the title of 2022 Spartan Kids World Champion.
The weekend is also a Trifecta and an opportunity to qualify for the Trifecta Worlds in Sparta, Greece.
The Venue: Skipper Ranch
Skipper Ranch is an operating cow farm in the middle of Florida, meaning the course won’t offer much in the way of elevation gain. However, considering the challenge of navigating the near-excessive marsh and mud, this course is still no joke.
Weather: Central Florida-ish
Sebring has a 14% chance of rain this time in December, with temperatures between the mid 50s and mid 70s. Humidity is — of course — a thing in Florida, and in the middle of the day it can be on the muggy side.
Bonus: Disney World Not That Far
This weekend's venue is a couple hours of driving from Sebring, but if you’re there for the Kids World Champs, Disney World will have all of its Holiday and Christmas decorations up, making for a truly spectacular Spartan family racecation.