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: Arizona, Fenway Park, Sacramento, Citi Field, Carolinas, and SoCal.
Arizona Super 10K and Sprint 5K Weekend (Nov. 6–7)
The Venue: Yavapai Nation
Both races will take place within the 24,000 acres of Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation, a half-hour drive from the Phoenix airport.
It’s dry and dusty and located on the Sonoran Desert, with a twisty course and plenty of hard-packed surface to run on. Check out the course map here.
Please note: To ensure that this weekend complies with all COVID-19 safety regulations set forth by the Yavapai Nation, spectators are not permitted at this event. Entry into the event will be restricted to 30 minutes prior to your assigned race start time. Vaccinations (with a valid ID) will be required for all racers participating in the Spartan Super 10K and Sprint 5K events, and masks will be required for all racers in the festival.
Weather: Desert in the Fall
Look forward to desert weather in autumn: You can expect the low to be in the mid-50s and the high in the mid- to upper-70s. The humidity will be low, and although It won’t be 100 degrees, expect to be thirsty. Hydrate accordingly.
Bonus: Scenic Golf, Cattle Drives, and More
One way to enjoy more time in Yavapai Nation is on one of the We-Ko-Pa golf courses, with a scenic backdrop of the Four Peaks Mountain in the Mazatzal mountain range.
Fenway Park Spartan Stadion 5K (Nov. 13–14)
The Stadion comes to the city of Spartan's headquarters for this epic weekend, featuring five kilometers of running riddled with 25 obstacles in the symbolic (and geographical) heart of Boston. There will even be Kids races, too.
The Venue: Fenway Park, Green Monster, and All
Originally built in 1912, Fenway Park is the oldest active ballpark in major league baseball. It’s shoe-horned into an asymmetrical piece of the city, near Kenmore Square and Boston University. The five-sided constellation perimeter is odd enough that a first-timer can get lost just trying to walk around it.
Training tip: Get your quads ready for the stairs.
To divert your attention (at least for a moment) from when your quads inevitable are on fire, keep your eyes peeled for the infamous “red seat” in the bleachers (Section 42, Row 37, Seat 21).
On June 9, 1946, Joe Boucher, a construction engineer, was sitting in that seat when he was hit in the head by the 502-foot home run blasted by Ted Williams, the longest ever hit in Boston.
Boucher, who couldn’t see the ball coming because of the sun, asked The Boston Globe, “How far away must one sit to be safe in this park?”
The red seat honors both William’s ferocious hit and Boucher’s surviving it.
The Weather: Wicked Awesome
The weather this weekend will be pitch-perfect for endurance racing: Expect a low of around 40 and high of around 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Bonus: Time Travel
A rather incredible freebie for visitors is to walk the Freedom Trail. During this two-and-a-half-mile stroll, you’ll start at the Boston Common, creep around the rather spooky Granary Burial Ground, and see American history up close: The Old South Meeting House, the Boston Massacre Site, Paul Revere’s house, and much more.
Sacramento Spartan Super 10K and Sprint 5K Weekend (Nov. 13–14)
Held in northern California ranch country, this weekend's races include a Spartan Super, a Sprint, and races for the kids.
The Venue: A Sunburned Cattle Ranch
Family-owned and operated since 1915, the Van Vleck Ranch is a 12,000-acre, fully-operational cattle ranch in California’s Sacramento County.
How do we know it's fit for Spartans? The ranch also serves as a training ground for the National Guard, filled with rolling Central Valley grasslands that make for a heart-rattling Spartan course.
Weather: California Dreaming
The temperatures will be incredibly inviting for racers, ranging from the 40s to the mid-60s with low humidity and not much chance of rain.
But here’s the thing: There’s no hiding from a good prairie wind, so add that to your list of obstacles to be mentally prepared for.
Ratchet up your finishing kick for this late-season race with some Spartan speed training.
Bonus: Cool Off
Here’s a tip: Add to your race experience with a day trip to nearby Cool, California, one of the historic towns encapsulating California’s Gold Rush. There’s history, whitewater rafting, kayaking, good beer, and even panning for gold.
Citi Field Spartan Stadion 5K (Nov. 20)
Another November Stadion, this one takes place in the home of the New York Mets, with races for the kids, too.
The Venue: The Mets' Playground
Citi Field, the replacement for Shea Stadium, opened for business in 2009. It’s located in Flushing Meadows in the New York City borough of Queens, with a 41,992-spectators capacity.
If you’re a pure runner out to do your first Spartan race, bulk up your strength training with full-body functional strength training.
The Weather: Pre-Thanksgiving Autumn
Temperatures will range from 43 to 51 degrees Fahrenheit this time of year in NYC — memories of the hot, sticky August that usually plagues the city have long faded.
Bonus: The Center of the Universe
For the true Mets fan/Spartan, tours of Citi Field are held on Wednesdays and Fridays. You can geek out on the lore of your favorite team, while simultaneously previewing the race course.
For the non-baseball fan, you can hop on the 7 Train and rumble your way to the center of the universe, a.k.a. Times Square. From there, armed with a MetroCard and a subway map, you have something like 10 billion options for how to spend your day (at least).
Zero-obstacle Spartan Trail races are also on the slate: a 10K, a half-marathon, and a 50k Ultra.
The Venue: Horse Land
There are wooded trails and hills that have some good anaerobic bite. If you’re racing the Ultra, for example, you’re facing more than 5,000 feet of elevation gain.
In other words, mix in that hill training.
The Weather: The Sweet Spot
Temperatures typically range from the low 40s to the high 50s. And based on historical averages, there’s a 25% chance you might get some rain.
Bonus: A Tranquil Moment
Either as a pre-race stop to clear your mind or a post-race experience to savor the natural beauty of North Carolina, make a plan to take some deep breaths while viewing the Pearson Waterfalls.
SoCal Spartan Trifecta and Ultra 50K Weekend (Nov. 20–21)
This Trifecta weekend boasts a vast slate of challenging races to choose from: a Sprint, a Super, a Beast, an Ultra, and Kids races.
You'll also have the chance to take on some zero-obstacle Trail races: A 10K Trail race, a night 10K run (bring your headlamp), a half-marathon, and a 50K.
The Venue: Deep California
If you’ve ever done a San Francisco-to-Los Angeles drive (or vice-versa), using the sun-grilled Interstate 5 to do it and the car-and-driver stress test of the Tejon Pass, you’ve passed along the western edge of the sprawling Tejon Ranch.
A huge swath of California, Tejon is bracketed by the likes of Tehachapi, the Edwards Air Force Base, Bakersfield, and the Windwolves Preserve.
The SoCal Spartan Trifecta weekend offers up a thicket of challenges. Things get mountain-steep, technical, and — particularly for the Beast and Ultra competitors — long.
This also goes for those taking on the zero-obstacle trail races. Make sure you have the right gear.
Weather: Cool and Dry
The temperatures usually range between mid-40s to mid-60s, with only a small chance of rain this time of year.
Cap off a thrilling race with a thrilling roller coaster ride. Nearby, Six Flags Magic Mountain has a plethora of rides, like the heart-stopping Full Throttle — the fastest, tallest looping roller coaster in the world. Or, you can take a flying leap off of a 152-foot tower via the Dive Devil.