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: Norte Dame, Palmerton, Utah, Michigan, Angel Stadium, and South Carolina.
Notre Dame Spartan Event (July 9)
This 20-obstacle, 5K Stadion event in Norte Dame, Ind. will also include Kids races inside one of the most iconic stadiums in college football.
Venue: The House That Rockne Built
Honored as one of the Top-10 College Football Stadiums by NBC Sports, Notre Dame Stadium is the playing field for the Notre Dame football team, a.k.a. “The Fighting Irish.” It’s also home to the Notre Dame Spartan Stadion 5K.
With a capacity of nearly 81,000 people, the race course has a LOT of stairs (and the course designer can and will use them to their nefarious advantage).
Training Tip: Get Fit Fast
Weather: Summer Fun
Historically speaking, temperatures in Notre Dame this time of year fall between 64° and 78° Fahrenheit. It’s very rarely over 90, and there's about a one in three chance that there’s some rain.
Bonus: Campus Tour
The Notre Dame campus is a must-see for visitors to the area. In particular, look out for the tallest structure on campus, the Basilica of the Sacred Heart.
And to cool off with a good beer, visit the South Bend Brew Werks.
Palmerton Spartan Event Weekend (July 9-10)
Also, an obstacle-free 10K Spartan Trail race will be held in the morning on July 10.
Venue: Mountain Climb
Welcome to Blue Mountain Resort, teeming with dense forests and taxing hills. While it's a popular Poconos ski destination in the winter, the resort is open to mountain biking and other outdoor activities during the summer, including the punishing array of Spartan races.
As Race Director Dan Yotive has described it, the course is arranged on one of “the best skiing, trail running, and downhill mountain biking mountains in the northeast part of the country.”
He advises racers to tune their preparation toward the power you’re going to need to go uphill and the strength you’re going to need to handle the beating of running downhill.
Training Tip: Leg Pounding
In addition to running hills, get those legs ready by dipping into this well of 20 exercises to prep and prime your legs for the rigors of a Spartan race.
Weather: Heat Beat
You're up north, but it's still July (i.e. hot and humid). You will spend plenty of time exposed to the sun, so get your hydration and heat training in order. Consider using a hydration pack in some of your workouts to get used to the sensation.
And, you will likely be soaked with more than sweat. Yotive says that racers typically revel in the water crossings' cooling properties, and the weather can still be a wild card.
“We’ve often seen heavy downpours on race days,” Yotive says.
Bonus: Free Fall
If you just want to keep pushing yourself after feeling the post-race high, the Blue Mountain Resort has everything from a ropes course to a free-fall activity ready to keep your heart pounding. And for a less intense experience, the Slopeside Pub & Grill has outdoor seating with a rather incredible view where you can celebrate the day's accomplishments.
Utah Spartan Trifecta Event Weekend (July 9-10)
Once an Olympic venue, these Huntsville, Utah stomping grounds will host Sprint 5Ks, Super 10Ks, Beast 21Ks (with 30 obstacles), the seemingly never-ending 50K Ultra (with 60 obstacles), and even Kids races.
And if you prefer zero obstacles, sign up for the 10K Spartan Trail race on July 10.
The Venue: Olympic View
Deemed only slightly less difficult than Palmerton by course legend Steve Hammond, this is a super-tough Spartan course. It was designed within the Wasatch Mountains, and made famous to the world during alpine skiing events of the 2002 Winter Olympics.
The entire course — no matter the distance — is high-altitude from the beginning, according to Race Director Garfield Griffiths.
“We start at about 6,000 feet and go up from there," he says. "But it’s all worth the effort. The views are spectacular.”
Training Tip: Kill the Hill
Griffiths suggests reinforcing your training with as much hill-specific work as you can. Logging hours on a StairMaster or at a steep treadmill incline is a good place to start.
Nutrition is also a key factor in high-altitude training and racing, so make this part of your game plan.
Weather: High and Hot
Temperatures can lurch into the low 90s and likely won’t drop below the high 70s. The mix of altitude and heat makes hydration mastery a high priority.
Bonus: Burger Spa (Yes, That's a Thing.)
Lots of amazing dining options await you in the Ogden area, including a Burger Spa with six combinations of creative burgers to choose and refuel from.
Michigan Spartan Event Weekend (July 16-17)
This Midwest weekend includes a Sprint 5K, Super 10K, a 4-hour Hurricane Heat, and Kids races.
Venue: Welcome Newbies
With mixed-terrain and shorter distances, this race is great for beginners and speedsters alike.
Training Tip: You Can Do It
Want to know if completing a Spartan Race is within your grasp? Screen yourself here. If you need some inspiration, see how Spartan's digital editor, Kelsey Wynn, tackled her first Spartan race (a Beast, no less) and what she learned from the experience.
Bonus: Gravel Capital
Held in “The Big A,” this Anaheim, Calif. event at Angel Stadium boasts a 20-obstacle Stadion 5K, plus races for the kids.
The Venue: Climb to the Cheap Seats
The theme continues for July Spartan races: Get your legs ready for heart-pumping climbs and quad-smashing descents in the home of Major League Baseball’s Los Angeles Angels.
The Weather: California Dreaming?
Expect high 80s and humidity, or what many describe as muggy. If you’re visiting from a relatively-cool climate, do your best to work in some acclimatization beforehand to support your body’s transfer of heat through the skin.
Bonus: Kid Friendly (to Put it Mildly)
How do you get the kids interested in joining you for the Spartan Weekend (aside from signing them up for their own epic race)? Disneyland is just a few miles from the ballpark.
South Carolina Spartan Event Weekend (July 30-31)
This southern weekend offers a Sprint 5K, a Super 10K, a 12-Hour Hurricane Heat, and kids racing.
Newberry, SC has been honored as one of the most charming small towns in the country. The race is charming, too (depending on your personal definition of the word charming), with nearly 1,200 feet of elevation gain on a course incorporating wooded trails and the raw beauty of South Carolina.
Training Tip: Take on the Obstacles Now
If you want to conquer the obstacles instead of allowing them to conquer your, bake these omni-potent obstacle training tips into your program.
Plus, you'll need to get ready for the intersection of heat and humidity with these five preparation tips.
Weather: Heat Training
South Carolina is home to Fort Jackson, a U.S. Army installation known for training some of the toughest soldiers. Anyone who has done their Basic Training in the summer months knows how hot and humid it can get. This weekend, you’ll get to share in that experience: Temperatures will probably be in the 80s, with humidity hovering in the oppressive-muggy zone.
Bonus: Main Street
After you cross the finish line, add to your cool-down walk around town with a stop at Grill on Main for some tasty food and drinks.