* From: Larry King
* Event Details
– Parking was easily reachable with a very short shuttle ride. Well marked entrance. No wait time for me there.
– Facilities were very good which is no surprising considering the location. It was great to see all the vendors though they seemed a bit hard to get to with the tables and people. Once you reached the back wall, it was good to be able to walk among them. They all offered great support for the racers.
– The DJ was really good and the music definitely kept you pumping.
– LOVED the spicy chili!
* Race Details
The race I thought was awesome. With the fresh snow it provided a real test. It was great to have a few gimmees in there as well with the football toss and sledding. The course length was nice and I liked it but I heard several people talk about a bit less woods running and a few more obstacles. Personally, I liked the trail running as it was another form of balance and endurance. The Christmas tree carry was a nice ending to a tough race.
Plus – Monkey bars/Keg bars, Peg board and the overall beauty of the trek
Cons – By the time we got to the mini-keg rope raise, only 3 were working as well as only 3 see-saws
I found the course moderately difficult.
I will say that having a lot of other NE Spartans cheering you on and getting pumped up really makes it an overall outstanding experience.
* From: Nicole Sibley
* Event Details
Blizzard Blast is a 4 – 6 mile obstacle course race that takes place ever January in Dracut, Massachusetts. The venue is Four Oaks Country Club.
The team heat was at 12:40 p.m. I knew that there would be off site parking (cost $10), so I left myself plenty of time to travel. I ended up getting to Eastern Massachusetts in good time. Parking was a snap, and I was able to hop on the bus right away. Immediately, I was surrounded by fellow Spahten. In the spirit of team we all started chatting. I was having fun already. The bus ride from parking to the venue was maybe 10 minutes max, but it flew by. I should say that buses were plentiful, and I never had to wait either coming or going. This was all very well handled.
When I arrived at the event, fellow Spahten, John and I tried to find check-in. We failed totally due to our own lack of paying attention. Soon we were steered in the right direction. Check-in went well. There was a very short line and the volunteers were great. The check-in was in a tent outside, but the tent was well-closed and didn’t feel very chilly.
After check-in, where I got my bib (which I didn’t wear) and chip timer (which I did wear), we headed over to get our t-shirts, buffs, and goody bags. I was very excited to see custom “Largest Team” shirts and buffs for the Spahtens. The t-shirt was a long-sleeved t-shirt with Blizzard Blast on the front and the Spahten logo on the back. The buff had both the Blizzard Blast and Spahten logos. This was a very nice touch.
The team also had it’s own room where everyone was able to change and leave their bags. I headed to the team room, where I coordinated myself and changed my shoes. I then quickly headed out to join everyone for the team picture. From there, it was off to the starting line!
* Race Details
I gathered with a few fellow Spahten friends at the starting line. We were given details about how the course was quite slippery from the previous day’s snow fall. I had on my Icebugs, so I wasn’t too worried, but did make a note to move cautiously. The race, which had traditionally been a 5K (3.1 miles) was lengthened to 5.8 miles this year. With those few words, we were off.
The race course, which was on what must be the Four Oaks golf course an nearby trails, had some rolling elevation. There were some sections where we were running along trails in the woods and there was quite a bit of spread between obstacles. Overall, the course didn’t have a ton of elevation but any rolling hills and wood where you’re trudging through the snow is work. A lot of the snow had been patted down over the course of the day, which was both helpful (less wading through snow) and not (more slippery).
I wasn’t able to get a course map listing the obstacles, so my recounting of the course is from my own memory. I am sure I’m missing one or two things and have some obstacles, out of order, but this is how I can best recall the day.
-Pine Tree Weave: Weave your way under and through hanging Christmas trees. Climb over two side-ways trees.
-Sledding: Grab a sled, climb up the hill and sled down.
-Keg Kingdom: The best obstacle ever! Okay, I needed assistance from Paul to reach the kegs, but after that it was so much fun. There were four hanging kegs. You had to swing from keg to keg, then do monkey bars and then swing from four more hanging kegs. There were hay bales between the kegs and bars, which helped a lot. This was a tough obstacle but very unique and loads of fun.
-Under and Over: Go under a wall and then over the next. The second wall was probably around six feet.
-High Wall: This wall had kick boards, but I still needed a boost from Steve!
-Paintball Target: Grab a paintball gun, put on your safety goggles and try to hit a target. Yes, I failed all three tries.
-Peg Boards: So neat! For this obstacle there were peg boards attached to a tree. You had to take pegs and, using just your arms, climb the pegs up the holes in the boards to get up the tree. Hard! I made it about a third of the way up. I think I need to lobby to have the gym at work add peg boards so I can practice this skill. Very cool. Jess, who I was running with, completely nailed this obstacle.
-Sledding: Second bit of sledding for the day. I may have let my feet drag in front of me and gotten a huge face full of snow…
-Christmas Lights Crawl: Like a barbed wire crawl but with Christmas lights! How festive. I really liked this one too. It’s way more enjoyable to crawl through the snow under some dangling holiday lights than to roll across rocks under barbed wire.
-Hoist: This was a unique hoist. We had to haul up a small keg, but instead of just hoisting it, we actually had to wrap the string holding the keg on the pulley onto the handle we were using. Forearm strength was required. I actually preferred this to a traditional hoist.
-Teeter Totters: Climb up and down a see saw. I actually skipped this obstacle. The only OCR related injury I’ve ever seen was when a teammate fell off a wet teeter totter and busted his ankle. Half of this obstacle was already closed down, and the see saws looked wet. I took my penalty of 10 snow angles instead.
-Tunnel Crawl: Crawl through a short metal tunnel.
-Cinder Block Walk: You got two cinder blocks. While standing on one, you had to move the other forward. Then step to that one. You moved one block while balancing on the other to advance. As I stepped onto the block positioned at the finish I slipped off. Fortunately, the volunteer said I had made it.
-Kegs: There were kegs positioned at intervals through the next part of the course. We thought we had to step from keg to keg. Apparently, judging by this photo-evidence, we could have just weaved our way through. I did the first half stepping from keg to keg, with a bit of help from Aaron (thank you!) and then slalomed my way through the second half because the kegs were farther apart than my legs were long.
-Ankle Biters: We had to make our way across an icy bridge criss-crossed with ropes at ankle height.
-Football Throw: Take a football and throw it at a tire attached to a tree. While I didn’t quite make it to hitting the tire, I did hit the tree right above the tire. Since I haven’t thrown a football since high school gym class, I will consider this satisfactory. I throw like an uncoordinated person.
-Traverse Wall: This traverse wall was fantastic. We had a three panel wall and then a panel of tires. Everything was slick with snow, but I made it. I am back in my groove with the traverse wall after my awful one-time-only failure at the Spartan Beast.
-Christmas Tree Carry: I usually am not one for carries, but I really enjoyed hauling this tree around. I was able to find a petite Charlie Brown-style sad tree that was just the right amount of challenge. I am still smelling the pine. I found bonus tree pieces nestled in my sports bra when I went to shower after getting home.
-Snow Mounds: After the carry, it was a quick jog over two mounds of snow and on to the finish line!
Blizzard Blast was a lot of fun. The course featured unique obstacles that I have not seen anywhere else. For people who have done more than a few races, such as myself, variety in obstacles is the most enjoyable part. There was a good winter-feel to the race; they kept with their theme well. Overall, the spacing of the obstacles was fairly good. My one bit of feedback would be that I think the race would work better as a 5K instead of a 5.8 miler. I would have liked to see greater density of obstacles — parts of the course felt like a bit of a trail run; there was a section where we definitely went around a mile without any obstacles. I think if the race had been a 5K it would have felt much more obstacle-rich and overall been more enjoyable. The obstacles that were there were great, I just wish that they had been closer together so it didn’t, at times, seem like we were just running through the woods without end.
The bottom line: This is a unique local race. I had a great group that I was running with and that really made the day fun. The race director did such a lovely job personalizing the race for the Spahtens. The devil is in the detail, and the details here were spot on. Everything on and off the course went smoothly. The venue was great. Though I didn’t stay long to socialize it looked like people were having a blast at the after party. The course, the most important part of the day, was a blast (no pun intended) with a lot of attention paid to the winter theme. This made this race standout from the summer races I normally do. I wold definitely add Blizzard Blast to my 2016 calendar next year.
* From: Kristen Liberty
* Event Details
The parking for this event was very well organized. It was a smooth transition to park, get on the shuttle, and a quick commute over to the venue.
The country club is a great spot as being indoors pre and post race is a luxury this time of year. On the downside, when I first got there (and it was early, like 10:15) the building was already very crowded, LONG bathroom lines, no where to stop and situate yourself without getting bumped by people going by. Once I completed the race and went back in, it seemed to spread out a little bit better.
The venue was super clean, I loved the food , the bar, and the changing room in the downstairs bathroom. The DJ was great , the race schwag was superb 🙂
* Race Details
This course was a good challenge, maybe the terrain was harder than the obstacles since it was GLARE ICE underneath- this was both a challenge and comical. The obstacles were good, but I would of liked to see a few more added. Was NOT a fan of the see-saw (too slippery) and the volunteer at the mini kegs needed another coffee 🙂 there was ONE spot where you go straight yet the yellow tape went left a little (straight brought you over a bridge, this was about the 4.5 mile mark) and luckily I went the right way but I could see where that could have gotten confusing. All in all the volunteers were great (esp to stand out in that cold!) the course was very well executed and I would HIGHLY suggest this and will be back next year. Fave part? the peg boards. Hands down.
* From: michael downey
* Event Details
Parking was off site and easy to get to from the highway and get bussed in. facilities were great inside a warm clubhouse with a view of some of the course with a few bars and food. schwag was AMAZING with the special team event shirt and special team buffs we got and a great finisher medal. also the process to add the second lap was quick and easy and results were on the site by the time i got home for both laps
* Race Details
The course was over 5.75 miles over very snowy and very icy trails at times that made the miles seem that much harder, the biggest hill climbs of the day were for the sledding obstacles so they were well worth it. the obstacles were fun, well built and offered twists on things we have seen before, the only downside was with the extra millage we got we really dident get many extra obstacles so it kinda made it seem like the extra distance was all that needed. One complaint i do have was at the 8 ft wall was causing a lot of bottle necking and wait times and normally not a huge issue but in a winter event where its a little chilly and wet standing around makes it uncomftable, BUT there is a simple fix i think adding a second 8ft wall could really cut down this issue. overall the obstacles are not super difficult for avid OCR runners but the difficulty came in the navigation of the trails and the ice that even ice bugs were no match for. for 2016 i would suggest maybe dialing t
he millage back down a bit or if committed to the larger distance add a few more obstacles to break things up a bit. also you could go the route of muckfest 2013 and have a bail out point where people could go either 5k or 10k . either way i had a lot of fun and will be back in 2016 for sure