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: Jacksonville and Arizona.
Jacksonville Spartan Event Weekend (Feb. 26-27)
The 2021 Jacksonville race weekend brought the unforgettable resurgence of Spartan racing in all its glory following a largely-canceled 2020 race season. This year, we're returning to Jacksonville for another epic weekend of racing in northeastern Florida, packed with a 20-obstacle 5K Spartan Sprint, a 25-obstacle 10K Spartan Super, and a slew of action-packed events for the kids.
And if you prefer a solely terrain-based, zero-obstacle challenge, test yourself with the Spartan Trail 10K on Feb. 27.
The Venue: Becoming a Human Dirt Bike
It's Florida, so you can expect a lot of fast, flat stretches on this weekend's courses. But Spartan races — especially those with relatively smaller elevation gain — are known for surprises and wild cards to keep racers on their toes (both figuratively and literally). Each race distance is spiked with a variety of surfaces, twists, and technical turns. (Imagine you’re a Spartan race course designer and you have a motocross park to work with: There will be mud, sand, pasture, and more mud.)
In fact, the demands you’ll be placing on your feet, calves, and ankles will be beyond any sort of standard training program. Up the dosage on your ankle mobility and obstacle-proof your feet with these tips.
The Weather: The Oxymoron of Winter in Florida
Late February in Jacksonville is welcoming when it comes to optimal OCR race weather, especially if you're a Northeast Spartan making the trip down South. Expect temperatures to range from 51 to 68°F.
Bonus: The Ale Trail
If you like beer, you will have earned a celebratory cold one or two (just not enough to sabotage your post-race recovery, of course). Scramble your way over to the Jax Ale Trail to sample the local craft brews.
Arizona Spartan Event Weekend (Feb. 26-28)
For the first time ever, Spartan is coming to Mesa, Arizona's Bell Bank Park. If you're closer to the West Coast (or just looking to plan your first trip of 2022), this Mesa, Arizona race weekend — stocked with a Sprint 5K, a Super 10K, Spartan Kids races, and a 4-hour Hurricane Heat — is the perfect way to get hyped up for what will be an epic 2022 race season.
Venue: Practically Made for Spartan Racing
This inaugural race, set on a 320-acre family sports and entertainment park that is known for creating memorable, signature experiences, will be a competition battleground. With a permanent obstacle course park and hundreds of fields and courts, Bell Bank Park Spartan races are a no-brainer. And while less than 600 feet of elevation gain and hard-packed dirt road may give an impression of simplicity to seasoned Spartans, an arid desert climate and the park's general nature offer a course complexity that, at the very least, should not be underestimated.
Weather: Slow Burn
Mesa weather typically varies greatly, and can change rapidly: Prepare for the high 40s in the morning and the low 70s as the day progresses. Expect the warmest part of the day to be around 4 p.m.
Bonus: Every Activity That You Can Imagine
Home to Legacy Sports USA, this venue will have you in the absolute heart of Southwest sports. With their 25 acres of festival space and 3,000-seat outdoor stadium, Bell Bank Park hosts epic music festivals and concerts of all sizes. From a free family fitness center to a 6,000+ square foot wellness center for human performance and recovery, virtual reality soccer training, dozens of recreational courts and fields, the aptly-named "G.O.A.T." restaurant, a zip line, VIP Suites, and more, Spartans of all interests, backgrounds, and abilities will thrive on this campus after crossing the finish line.