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: Montana, Fayetteville, Toronto, Big Bear, Austin, and Nationals Park.
Montana Spartan Trifecta Weekend (May 7-8)
This Trifecta weekend in northwestern Montana will be brimming with a spring slate of OCR: a Sprint (5K, 20 obstacles), a Super (10K, 25 obstacles), a Beast (half-marathon and 30 obstacles), and an Ultra (50K, 60 obstacles).
The weekend also features obstacle-free Spartan Trail races on May 8: A half-marathon and a 10K.
The Venue: Killer Climbing
The demands of the course, laid out within an elk reserve in the Northern Rockies, are matched by the beauty of Glacial National Park and the like. Killer climbs will earn you killer views.
Be sure to prepare thoroughly for the 1,716 feet of elevation gain. (And also the weather...)
Weather: Winter May Not Be Totally Over Here
That’s right: Snow can still be a thing all the way through the end of May, so hope for a beautiful Montana spring day (but have the gear and mindset necessary for a wintery-weather blast).
Obviously, the more time on the course, the more critical weather prep is. Beast and Ultra competitors will want to merge this fact into their training.
Bonus: Get Your Outdoor Fix
Spring fever breaks out pretty hard in Bigfork. Activities in the Flathead Valley area include a lot of whitewater: boats, fishing, camping, and hiking galore. (In fact, there’s even a Whitewater Festival later in the month.)
And if you like a good beer after crossing the finish line, swing by the Flathead Lake Brewing Company.
Fayetteville Spartan Trifecta Event Weekend (May 14-15)
Pick your poison for this Spring Lake, N.C. weekend: A Sprint, a Super, a Beast, an Ultra, and Kids races will all be available.
Venue: Fun on the Farm
Over a thousand acres of rough-and-tumble farmland will carve out the weekend's McCormick Farms courses, complemented by thick forest and a 200-foot quarry. You’ll traverse wooded trails, sand, and pine forests. There might just be mud involved, too.
Weather: Spring’s Awakening
Expect temperatures to range from 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit this time of year, with a one-in-three chance you’ll get some notable rain. (Again, there may be mud.)
Bonus: Veterans Park
You’ll be in the Fort Bragg/Fayetteville area of North Carolina, a place rich with military history. If you go into downtown Fayetteville, be sure to visit Veteran’s Park and The U.S. Army Airborne and Special Operations Museum, which are open to the public.
Toronto Spartan Super 10K and Sprint 5K Weekend (May 14-15)
This mid-May Canadian weekend consists of Sprint, Super, and Kids courses near Toronto and Lake Ontario.
The Venue: Off-Season Ski Center
Ski Brimacombe — a not-for-profit adventure center — opens up wooded trails, 1,358-foot climbs, descents, and springtime mud to the OCR crowd.
The Weather: Race-Day Optimal
Temperatures should be in the sweet spot for racing: 50 to 60 degrees. Plus, a decent chance of rain will help make sure you're muddy by the finish line.
Bonus: Touch the Sky
Toronto's CN Tower (Canadian National) previously held the record for tallest free-standing structure (553.3 meters). It's definitely worth a visit, especially if you’re up for the EdgeWalk — an experience that offers a tour at the top of the tower not within the building's walls, but along the fence-less outside. No kidding.
Big Bear Spartan Trifecta Weekend (May 14-15)
The first series weekend in May, the Big Bear Spartan Trifecta Weekend will feature 2022 North American Elite Series and Age Group-focused U.S. National Series races, along with high-altitude Open Supers, Sprints, Ultras, Beasts, and Kids races.
And if you're not into obstacles but still looking for a tough, taxing challenge, a Spartan Trail 10K is on the schedule for Sunday.
The Venue: Into Thin Air
Prepare to face altitude reaching 9,000 feet combined with 1,732-feet of elevation gain. It’s fair to say this is a challenging enough course — not to mention the technical nature of the climbing — to earn the number two slot on our list of most difficult Spartan race venues.
The altitude, in particular, requires special attention. If you don’t have the opportunity to adapt to high altitude in a thorough manner, get to the race within a day or two before the start. The first week of adaptation is generally a step backward, so show up with plenty of time to spare, if possible.
Weather: Not a Big Problem
Temperatures should range between the low 40s to the mid-60s, with no real threat of rain.
Bonus: Zipline! Or Beer!
The views across the course are basically unbeatable, except maybe by a three-hour zip-line tour of Big Bear. And once you're done sightseeing, cap off the day with a hard-earned flight of craft beer at the Big Bear Mountain Brewing Company.
Austin Spartan Event Weekend (May 21-22)
As May begins to wind down, things will be heating up just one hour northwest of Austin, Texas. Sprints, Supers, and races for the kids will all unfold in the depths of Texas Hill Country, plus an obstacle-free 10K Spartan Trail event.
The Venue: Explore the Ranch
The weekend's courses will be laid out within the 1,300-acre Reveille Peak Ranch, with a mix of single-track trails and jeep roads. There won't be massive elevation gain, but you can absolutely expect plenty of challenging surface terrain.
This venue is a great early-season race to test out and fortify your strength for the rest of the season.
Weather: Peak Spring
It will be from the mid-60s to the mid-80s. Standing still, that might not feel like much, but racing for hours on end can cause dehydration relatively quickly in these conditions. Make hydration a mantra going in, while you’re racing, and afterward.
Bonus: What’s a Gravel Grinder?
The ranch is a dreamland for the endurance athlete. Bring your mountain bike, stay for a while, and have some fun. Mountain, downhill, enduro, road, and the “gravel grinder.”
A (hopefully) sunny Saturday in the nation's capital will bring a 5K, 20-obstacle Stadion to Nationals Park, with kids races, too.
Venue: Home of the Nationals
The Major League Baseball's home of the Nationals, this ball park is located in the historic Navy Yard district of Washington, D.C. Get ready for all the pushing, pulling, and stair running you’re going to do on race day.
Weather: May and Mild
Weather should be beautiful, with lows around 50 and highs in the 70s.
Bonus: Take a Tour of the Anacostia
Once you've earned you medal, learn about the history and ongoing ecology efforts behind the Anacostia River with a guided tour, or simply do some catch-and-release fishing in the sun to close out the weekend.