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: Tri-State New Jersey, San Jose Trail, Nashville, Lake Placid Trail, Dallas, SoCal, and Virginia.
Venue: Vernon Peak
Vernon Peak is New Jersey’s largest ski mountain, so you can expect to spend a great deal of time and energy on, well, a ski mountain. Prepare for steep climbs, descents, woods, and switchbacks. Reporting on an earlier version of the race, one reviewer put it this way: “The elevations on this were insane. It took you up and down a ski slope, sometimes climbing and descending the same stretch of mountain several times.”
With just one glance on the Mountain Creek Resort home page, you can see the terrain that Spartan race course designers are applying toward hellish use. The spread is 5,000 feet of elevation gain in the Sprint, and exceeds 10,000 feet in the Ultra.
The Obstacle Racing Collaboration has put together a deep-dive on the 2022 course map, which may be especially helpful if you’re doing the Beast or Ultra. You’ll learn when, for example, you’ll be grabbing onto tree limbs during a wicked descent.
Weather: Cool With a Chance of Mud-Making Rain
Temps generally range from the mid-40s to the mid-60s — cool regardless. Historically, there’s about a 30% chance of rain.
Bonus: Ropes Course
Depending on how beat up you are after the race, you (and your entire Spartan family) may enjoy the TreeScape ropes course. But if you’re pretty much done with physical effort, you can kick back next to the fireplace with a beer and locally-sourced cuisine at the Glenwood (formerly the beloved Smokey's Tavern).
San Jose Trail Challenge (Oct. 1)
This Saratoga, Calif. Spartan Trail event is full of obstacle-free trail running events: Spartan Trail 10Ks, 21Ks, and — for the ultra-running crowd — even 50Ks.
The Venue: Santa Cruz Mountains
Sanborn County Park is a “lushly wooded park of 3,453 acres, nestled in the Santa Cruz Mountains.”
A dreamscape for mountain bikers and hikers, it’s also a trail runner’s paradise, where you can rumble on single track past redwoods and tanbark oak. The course might be a wee bit on the hilly and twisty side, as you can imagine, but that's why this is no ordinary trail race.
Weather: Kind of Perfect for Trail Running
Temperatures in Saratoga range from the mid-50s to the mid-70s this time of year, with a very little chance of rain.
Bonus: Many Friends
After tearing up the trails, enjoy a Leftanant Pepper’s English IPA at the ManyFriends Brewing Company in downtown Saratoga.
Nashville Spartan Event Weekend (Oct. 15-16)
This Lebanon race weekend includes a Sprint, a Super, Hurricane Heats, and kids races, right near Music City.
The Venue: Field of Dreams
These courses will wind through idyllic farmland not far from the Nashville airport, with scenic pastures and a 12-foot-wide stream to plow-splash across.
The Weather: Sweet Spot
Lows should be in the mid-to-high 50s, with highs in the mid-70s. There will be a very small chance of precipitation, as far as historical data suggests.
But even though it probably won’t rain on you, the stream will be waiting to make things interesting.
Come on! What better way to cool down and work out those post-race kinks than learning how to line dance at the Wildhorse Saloon? It’s free, it’s fun, and all levels are welcome.
Lake Placid Trail Challenge (Oct. 15)
Another scenic, fall Trail weekend, this Saturday in Lake Placid offers a 10K, a 21K, and a 50K.
The Venue: Ski Central
Mt. Van Hoevenburg is a world-class Nordic training ski center, with origins rooted in the 1980 Lake Placid Olympic Games. It’s also a haven for runners, with more than 50 kilometers of trail to romp on.
Weather: Bring Your Running Gloves
Temperatures should dip below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and can inch up over 50. Fall will be in full swing, allowing for excellent long-distance running temperatures (for those armed with the right apparel for the 30-degree stuff).
Bonus: If Bobsledding Is on Your Bucket List…
… here’s your chance: The Bobsled Experience has your adrenaline-junky name all over it.
Dallas Spartan Event Weekend (Oct. 22-23)
A Sprint, a Beast, an Ultra, and kids races are on the docket for this late October race weekend in the greater Dallas area.
Venue: Twin Canyons
This epic weekend full of Spartan races will be held on Twin Canyons Ranch in Gransbury. A new venue for 2022, the course is expected to be demanding as hell (though you'll have to show up to really find out).
Bonus: Dinosaurs? Or Beer? ... Maybe Both?
If dinosaurs are something you or your kids are into, you can visit Dinosaur World and Dinosaur Valley State Park in Granbury. Alternatively, you and your adult group of Spartan friends can dabble in “beer from the Texas countryside” with a trip to Revolver Brewing.
SoCal Spartan Trifecta Weekend (Oct. 22-23)
This Southern California Trifecta weekend offers a Sprint, a Super, a Beast, and even races for the little Spartans in your tribe.
The Venue: It Defies Logic
An hour from Los Angeles lies the open and mountainous lands of Tejon Ranch, a big-nature break from big-city sprawl. The respite from backed-up freeways comes with a cost, though.
As Mud Run Guide commented on the 2019 version of the weekend, “[The] Spartan SoCal Ultra, Beast, and Sprint at Tejon Ranch really sucked — in the best way possible, that is. I'm talking about the moment you're cursing the torturous uphill climbs and wondering if there will be any part of the course that actually goes back down. Yup, it defies logic.”
The Weather: Not an Obstacle
October temperatures in Lebec hover within the mid-40s to mid-60s, and rain is not in the forecast.
Bonus: Coffee or Beer
The Lengthwise Brewing Company is in nearby Bakersfield, and offers a nice selection of microbrews. They also roast and sell their own coffee beans, for the athletes that prefer to train and recover alcohol-free.
Virginia Spartan Event Weekend (Oct. 29-30)
This pre-Halloween get-together among Spartans in Virginia features a Super, a Sprint, Hurricane Heats, and Kids races.
If you want a break from obstacles for the fall, there will be a selection of obstacle-free Spartan Trail Races: 10K, 21K, and 50K.
Venue: “Everyone Just Seemed So Happy”
Think of the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains and the Appalachian Trail and you get the picture of what Virginia offers. The race will be held at Infinity Downs. A reviewer for Obstacle Racing Media, Sarah Hetzel, described a previous running of the event as “one of the quickest and most fun OCRs that I have ever done. I was super impressed with the atmosphere. It was so small, flat, and fast that it was extremely enjoyable, and everyone there just seemed so happy.”
Weather: Autumn in Virginia
Get ready for purely autumn weather at last: mid-40s to mid-60s, with only a 20% chance of seeing rain.
Bonus: Go for a Ride
About a 45-minute drive from Arrington, you’ll find the Blue Ridge Bicycle Tour and wind your way through the sites of Charlottesville, Virginia. Or, if you're more of a water person, book some time on a river with the Wilderness Canoe Company — the perfect way to relax and see the fall foliage.