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 U.S. schedule and tell you everything you need to know so when you reach the start line, you're ready. On the docket this month: Montana and Austin.
Montana Spartan Trifecta Weekend (May 1-2)
Held on the weekend of May 1, 2021, this Trifecta weekend in northwestern Montana hosts a full slate of Spartan races: Sprint, Super, Ultra, and Beast. There’s also an obstacle-free Spartan 10K Night Run.
Truly Great Outdoors
When you picture a Spartan race in Montana, you figure that the raw natural beauty of the course will probably knock you flat (in more ways than one). With that in mind, consider the prospect of a spectacular vista to enjoy when you travel to an event, either during the race or during your visit to the area. Think ocean views, a mountain range, and a forested valley.
The Montana Spartan Trifecta Weekend, held in the town of Bigfork and hosted by Discover Kalispel, takes place on the shores of the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi River, where racers enjoy views of Glacial National Park.
It’s not unreasonable to assume that John Steinbeck was fresh from a visit to Bigfork when he wrote, “I'm in love with Montana. For other states I have admiration, respect, recognition, even some affection. But with Montana, it is love. And it's difficult to analyze love when you're in it.”
“The weather can vary widely,” Race Director Tyler Gobin said. “In Montana, snow can be expected all the way to Memorial Day, so it can be full-on winter or beautiful: above-average 70-degree bluebird days.”
The average high temperature in Bigfork for the beginning of May is in the mid-60s, and the low is likely to be around 40 degrees.
“The presence of wildlife in this area is very real,” Gobin said, adding that the rangers and venue staff are on horseback daily, ready to respond to any concerning wildlife surprises. “The most common wildlife at the venue are elk and black bear.”
Getting to Bigfork is not the scramble you might imagine. It’s only a 35-minute drive from Glacier National Park Airport, or two hours from Missoula’s airport.
And if you have the time, you can even treat yourself to a train ride to the Amtrak Whitefish Station, then rent a car for the remaining 40-minute journey to Bigfork.
This is Montana, so be mentally and physically prepared for hills and demanding terrain — not to mention potentially cold, wintery weather.
This is a racer-only weekend. There will not be a Spartan Kids race, and no spectators are allowed.
Austin Spartan Super 10K and Sprint 5K Weekend (May 15-16)
There are a slate of Spartan races to choose from in Burnet, Texas on May 15-16. Located about an hour northwest of Austin, it's in the depths of Texas Hill Country.
OCR and Obstacle-Free Trail Races. Plus Kids.
You have a variety of races to choose from in Burnet, including multiple obstacle course race types and obstacle-free Trail races. The trails are low elevation, and they feature stinging climbs and descents.
As for the OCR options, racers can choose from a Super, Sprint, Hurricane Heat, and Kids race. Obstacle-free Trail running events include the following distances: 10K Trail, 10k Night Run, Half Marathon, and Trail 50k.
Obstacle Technique Prep and Course Preview
New to Spartan, or want to develop your obstacle skills? The Obstacle Specialist Course begins at 9 a.m. on Friday, May 14. This is also a chance to preview the course and venue.
A Trail Runner’s Dream
The venue, located in Burnet, Texas, is Reveille Peak Ranch, a 1,300-acre dreamland of hand-cut, single track, varying Jeep roads that local endurance athletes (runners, hikers, mountain bikers) flee to for an escape from civilization.
Rock Trail Terrain
This weekend, you won’t be running on soggy trails shrouded in thick forest. Texas Hill Country is defined by exposed rock, hills of granite and limestone, cactus, and wildflowers. When it does rain, the composition of the trails (granite and gneiss) allow them to drain quickly. To prepare, tweak your training so you have exposure to rocky trail terrain, and get your proprioception race-ready.
... And It Will Be Warm
Weather here is consistently warm. Expect the daily high temperature on race weekend to be in the low-to-mid 80s. The coolest it might get is around 75 degrees, and it’s possible it could even climb into the low 90s.
While the temperatures are generally predictable, rain and thunderstorms will be the weekend's wild card.
Make It an Enduro-cation
If you like camping, hiking, and mountain biking, you could stay for the week after the race and let yourself loose on over 62 miles of trails. You can also swim in a quarry, fishing, kayaking, paddleboard, and more. And hey, Spartans: The ranch even has its own obstacle course. You get the drift.
See the Stars
The Eagle Eye Observatory, in a dark-sky location within the Canyon of the Eagles, is one of the few public-access observatories in the country. It's also equipped with an array of high-tech telescopes and staffed by astronomers. Check out their website for more information about booking a viewing.