From: Aaron Farb
This weekend a small group of Spahtens drove, flew, thumbed or otherwise made it down to South Carolina to run another Beast. For some, it was to exorcise some demons left over from Killington, others were earning their first trifecta, some adding a beast to their resume, and others like myself who decided one Beast wasn’t enough (my family is already asking to check the mental health benefits on my insurance)
Saturday morning saw us converging on Carolinas Adventure Park, most of us having had to clean the frost off our cars & wondering if we hadn’t left New England behind 800 miles ago. The day was cold (32 when we left the car at the park) but cloudless. It was so nice that the tires for the tire flip challenge were covered in a nice layer of frost still by the time we headed into the race. It was a welcome change to arrive at a venue with on-site parking and a short walk to the typical Spartan check in procedures, oddly they had 8 or 9 different booths, but seems like everyone’s bib # fell in only 2 lines. The line moved quickly & onto the venue & fest area.
Access into & out of the fest was under the suspended cargo net – cool! And intimidating to anyone with heights issues. It wasn’t as cool when leaving the venue, we had to walk underneath racers going across above us dropping lots of nice mud, but can’t complain as it added an extra involvement for spectators. Fest area was nice and open with a large tent with tables & hay bales to sit on/at directly in front of the entrance. There were multiple obstacles & course around the fest, notably traverse wall, spear throw, rope climb, a water traverse, barb wire crawl, the elevated cargo net, wheatabix, slippery wall, fire and gladiators, so plenty of good spectator opportunities – good job Spartan.
At one end of the fest were vendors – a bbq restaurant providing chicken, pulled pork and other assorted goodies that were teasingly placed right against the course after rope climb, but yet wouldn’t sell to active racers – Heather Laffey tried, the beer tent (Michelob Ultra – seriously Spartan, get on the ball with beer – PBR @ jersey, Mich ultra here…. Fine for free, but give us the option of something better!). The other end had merch tent, dj, bag check – finally a large enough bag check that there no lines! – showers, changing tents & the start line.
Once everyone had gathered to get our photo & checked gear, we made our way to the start corral, which was quite small – the 9am wave didn’t all fit, and over the wall. T. C. Had his normal work us up, then bang off onto the course!
The course started on the oh-so-warm morning with a small mud mile – very warm & refreshing dips, some under over nets/walls and into the woods. The trails were great – a course you could actually run on! Winding up and down hills, single & double track atv trails through woods, small streams, mud bogs, great use of terrain the venue offered. As Mario shared, he was able to completely zone in the first few miles as just trail running – a nice experience in my opinion. The usual obstacles were present throughout the course, and other than notable exceptions, I’ll just mention them since we all know Spartan sadism, present were 6′ walls, 7′ walls, 8′ walls – not good ones to have both legs cramp on, although the pics from it are quite amusing – herc hoist – everyone commented on its seeming light weight – tractor pull, tyrolian traverse, mud mile, monkey bars, invert walls, a very short & easy sandbag carry, bucket brigade, also short & easy compared to VT. Perhaps I’m missing a few things here, but that was the most of them.
The best part of this course, at least for me was running something different than NE terrain, if you’ve never been to the south & had to deal with clay, you won’t understand, but it is amazingly hard & unforgiving when dry, but get it wet & it’s some of the slickest surfaces you’ve ever tried to run on – it was a new challenge and alot of fun! I remarked early in the course, to alot of laughs, running in this deciduous shit is alot more difficult as there is a lot more smaller brush & grabby trees than we have in NE.
The things I’d ding Spartan on – once again, they ran out of trifecta medals & t-shirts – really, how hard is this?? I guarantee no one would be upset of you didn’t have enough t-shirts at a venue as they are year specific, but bringing a ton of medals? They don’t change! Also, as per usual, the venue specific t-shirts ran out very quickly – by the time we were done I ran to see if I could grab, nope, all gone. The aforementioned beer issue seems to be a constant theme as well…. If a small local race like panic in the dark can get shock top, how can a national company not have at least an option or 2?
Otherwise, great race – if you ran Killington beast this year, it wasn’t up to that standard, but I think this is what they intend in a Beast that isn’t the world championship. So overall Spartan, good job – a few tweaks that you can easily find, but fun course, good challenge & everyone crossed the finish line smiling rather than as zombies as we saw at Killington – a nice improvement!