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: Killington, Citizens Bank Park, Portland, and Lake Tahoe.
Vermont Spartan Event Weekend (Sept. 10-11)
And if you prefer to explore the punishing Vermont trails uninterrupted, a 10K, obstacle-free Spartan Trail Race is also on the schedule.
The Venue: Joe’s Place
The philosophy embedded in Spartan race can be traced to founder and CEO Joe De Sena’s experience in a 350-mile adventure race in Quebec in the year 2000. Joe and his teammates had to bury themselves in snow to survive temperatures that dropped to 30 degrees below zero (prompting Joe to hallucinate about eating a hamburger).
“It changed my frame of reference,” Joe told Outside Magazine.
This change of reference was eventually expressed in Joe setting up shop (including an organic farm and bed and breakfast) in this part of Vermont, where he could foster his love of a good sufferfest. The home base will once again be the site of the Vermont Spartan Weekend.
After completing a Killington Beast, Jason Roberts described the venue on Mud Run Guide.
“This is such a tough course and you keep hearing people all day questioning why they signed up in the first place," he said. "I was there last year, and I am sure I shared those thoughts. But Vermont is so beautiful, and it really is hard to not come back and try to better yourself from years past.”
Picture a sprawling combination of deep woods, technical mountain trail, water crossings, and Spartan obstacles, and that's Killington.
Weather: A Pleasant Distraction From the Pain
Vermont can get bitterly cold as the winter months roll in, but it's relatively pleasant in early September, with temperatures ranging from the mid-50s to the mid-70s.
Bonus: Snowshed Pond
Once you conquer your course, have an outdoor beer while overlooking the Snowshed Pond at the Snowshed Umbrella Bar in Killington.
This mid-September weekend offers a 5K Stadion race in the home of the Philadelphia Phillies.
Venue: Home of the Phillies
Racers will face just over 3 miles of stairs, ramps, and concrete, along with 20 signature Spartan obstacles in Philadelphia’s major league ballpark.
Weather: Mild With a Chance of Wind
Expect a race-day temperature between a low of 61 degrees and a high of 76. Historically speaking, it can even slip into the 80s. And although you're in a stadium, don’t expect to be fully protected from the wind. Check this report on the spear throw from ORM:
“The Spear Throw was set up at the left field stadium corner. Strong winds gusting to 40 miles per hour that day accelerated around that corner and the Bernoulli effect tossed the spears like toothpicks.”
Bonus: Deep History
American history buffs who have never been to Philadelphia will enjoy this bucket-list tour, which includes a visit to the Liberty Bell and Valley Forge National Historical Park.
Portland Spartan Event Weekend (Sept. 17)
You won't technically be in Portland, but these Washougal, Wash. races — 5K Sprints, 4-hour Hurricane Heats, and Kids races — are the perfect city escape.
The Venue: Motocross Heaven
With dirt, relentless hills, tunnels, and ponds, the Washougal MX Park is a world-class motocross park. But you won't be completely out in the open: Race Director Johnny Waite says that the course also takes advantage of forest trails.
“Come prepared to run,” he cautions.
This venue is great for spectators, as supporting friends are welcomed to snap pictures in an "obstacle-dense” spectator area.
The chance of rain is relatively minimal this time of year for Washougal. Expect temperatures to be in the mid-50s to mid 70s.
Bonus: Farm-to-Table Fuel
Nearby Portland is a farm-to-table Mecca. Clarklewis is a prominent example, with a wood-burning stove, an open kitchen, and a “standard-bearer” in Portland’s farm-to-table movement. Kick-start your recovery with incredible food and awesome company.
Held upon the one-time site of the 1960 Winter Olympics, this weekend brings a 30-obstacle Beast and the 24-hour Spartan Ultra World Championship to Olympic Valley, Calif.
Venue: Survival of the Fittest Land
The races begin at around 6,000 feet of altitude and scramble upward on severely technical trails that take you into the thinner air at 9,000 feet. The course map gives you a good picture of this beauty and beast combination.
Obviously, altitude training is a must to take on this brand of long, hard endurance racing.
Weather: Sweater Weather
Don’t forget to bring a sweater (or two or three). Temperatures can dip into the 30s and climb into the low 60s at this mountainous venue.
Bonus: The Big Blue
Lake Tahoe is an outdoor lover’s dream, assuming your race doesn’t drain every living impulse to exercise out of you. But if it does, it might be time for a small batch brew at the perfectly-named Beer Belly Brewing Company. After all, you'll have earned it.