Spartan Race – Boston Sprint 2014

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* From: Gary Miller
* Event: Spartan Race – Boston Sprint Hurricane Heat 2014

* Event Details
The Hurricane Heat is a $25 add-on. Parking at Seabrook is $10 a car. So looking at the big picture, an Amesbury HH is really $15 on top of what you’d pay for the Sprint alone. Not a bad deal. It started on time and ended with plenty of time to recover for the team Sprint heat at 11:30.

* Race Details
The physical demands were more intense than what’s needed for the Sprint. Joe De Sena himself led a ‘warm-up’ (halfway through) of over 200 straight burpees, almost unbroken. He was CRUSHING it. Most impressive. Everyone switched out along the way for a short ‘break’ of pullups. Good times! Nobody was dropped who couldn’t keep pace.

But getting smoked by PT is just a pile of suck if that’s all you’re doing. The HH experience is really about getting to know other awesome people along the way. With a class of over 100 people, we split up into smaller teams of twelve-ish Spartans each. Some missions were designed for the entire class to do together, but a lot of the focus was on your smaller unit. One of the best parts of having done it was running into my team (some of whom were also Spahtens I hadn’t met yet) at random times over the rest of the weekend, and having that connection started for the next race.

My personal challenge was taking a leadership role and re-learning how to get people that barely know each other to make quick decisions, get stuff done together, and smile more while under duress. Everyone on team ThrowDownForWhat was already self-motivated and capable, but since Saturday I’ve thought a lot about how I could have led more effectively if it was really needed.

‘SpongeBob SquarePants’ singing: kinda lame. And it might have been nice to play out on the course some more. If your priority is to do different events with your own pre-existing set of friends, it may not be for you. But I had a lot of fun, and would do it again.

* Rating
Above Average

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* From: Ariel “JaneSmith”

* Event Details
I volunteered so got to park in the new volunteer lot which had one bus running back and forth. Took about 5 minutes to get there so no issues with this. Showers moved along nicely and always good to get hit with a power washer to start the rinsing process. Love the double medal and mine was made extra special by having the pleasure and honor of Mario bestowing it to me at the finish.

* Race Details
This was by far the most challenging Spartan Sprint course I have run in Amesbury, or anywhere for that matter. The course had LOTS of running with a great mix of hills, switchbacks, woods, open fields, ‘bouldering’ and mud fields which kept it interesting. The obstacles were fantastic and well maintained. I loved the new ‘tarzan’ swing and thought it was cool that there were a few “Team” obstacles this time around to make it more challenging. The barb wire crawl was super low which meant you HAD to either army crawl or roll. Glad they didn’t stick hay bales in randomly to stop the flow of the rollers. I liked that you had to go under the wall at the end too. The monkey bars were in a location where my hands didn’t seem as slick as last time around however the traverse wall was so slippery that unless you had icebugs on your hands it was REALLY hard to stay on the wall. I slipped off right at the end and only by a miracle managed to stretch and hit the bell on my way
down. I wasn’t a fan of the rope climb. I understand pushing yourself but lets be realistic some folks are pushing themselves by achieving the climb using knots. I say give folks a choice. Those who are true Spartans will choose what will be a challenge for them. The mud sucking pits were awesome and I saw some real teamwork happen as people made chains to pull out friends, teammates and random strangers. The only part of the course that was confusing was where you had to drag the cinderblock by the chain around. We then carried a log and I guess you only had to do one not both. Oh well extra obstacle for free! Overall the course was muddy, challenging and a total kickbuns blast! I have to say I honestly loved every minute of torture they provided!

* Rating
Excellent

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* From: Gary Miller

* Event Details
This was a really fun weekend all around. Just to quickly add a couple things:

• The water stations were perfectly placed and well stocked. Great job by those volunteers in particular, keeping up with the high demand.

• The NBC camera crews gave the New England Spahtens boatloads of love. They took great shots of at least the front of the Team Heat at the starting line, and specifically called out for ‘blue jerseys’ to move up to improve the visual effect. My caravan of four Spahtens was definitely filmed taking on the team Tire Pull. I’m sure others have more to add. So I’m excited to see how much actually makes it on air.

• One side effect of said filming was that the start of the race was missing a little bit of the normal zip. Why? No music! The atmosphere picked up when the tunes started cranking, after shooting had wrapped.

* Race Details
Aroos:

• As others have said, the extra mileage and challenging obstacle arrangement made this course a Sprint+ . Awesome.
• I liked the little tweaks to longtime standard obstacles, which made them just a bit more difficult. I.e. the rope climb (no knots & smaller diameter) and monkey bars (more vertical spacing).
• Kudos for improving safety on the rope climb by increasing the depth of the water.
• The new rope swing was fun and spectator-friendly. It’s encouraging to see Spartan continue to innovate, and not just roll out the exact same stuff every year.

Burpees:

• I was looking forward to taking on the new ‘net monkey bars’, which for whatever reason didn’t make it here. Sad.
• The ‘Team’ and ‘Individual’ options were an interesting idea, but I don’t think they worked as intended. Not many teams that I saw took on the higher wall climb or the extra heavy tire pull. In reality, there was a lot of collaboration on the 6-foot wall. It’s great to see everyone being supportive and helpful, but I think the goals were to keep the Individual wall clear of standing traffic, and to encourage the teams to take on the bigger challenge.

* Rating
Excellent

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* From: Nate DeMontigny

* Event Details
Parking: There have been issues with buses moving slowly in the past. I was up in Amesbury the weekend before this for Dirty Dash and it’s getting better and better every time. Spartan, though, seems to help get the bus game stepped up and it ran as smooth as ever. I heard no complaints from others on this.

Facilities: Every time I think of “facilities” I think of the bathroom, so… At the buses there were many port-a-potties and a plethora at the race itself. I don’t remember seeing a line at all when I had to use it a time or two!

Vendors: As many have already said, there was a lack of vendors. I think it was intentional though and really was only the folks that Spartan are aligned with on a business level. Spartan Race is an OCR machine and they bring in those that they deem relevant to what they are doing, plan and simple.

Schwag: It seems like they were better than in the past, and “for sale” schwag seemed to be stocked well and not burnt though on Saturday. Medals were the now standard pie piece and normal medal. I like the fact they have been offering both after the uproar about them introducing the pie pieces for the trifecta. That piece is heavy right? I like the new shirt, it’s nice and light. All in all no complaints here.

* Race Details
I raced on Sunday so I had heard how brutal the course was, for a sprint, and that is was 4.8 miles. I heard tons of people saying it took about 2 hours or so to complete, that was daunting but I decided I was going to try and complete it in less than that. Luckily I did, it took me 1 hour and 53 minutes! Aroo!

If you’ve been on the backside of Amesbury Sports Park you know they are hills, and more hills. Hell the first thing you have to do to get on course is climb a darn hill, so I guess it’s not just the back side. It’s no mountain but there are enough hills to seriously fatigue a runner on what was called a runners course.

There were your staple SR obstacles. You know.. walls, over under through walls, rope climb fire jump, etc. One staple was the barbed wire. But, it was not just a short jaunt though it, this thing was killer. You’d roll, or crawl, then hit a berm and think on the other side it ends. Nope, there was more wire and more berms ahead. After rolling though this I was so dizzy but I made it to the next obstacle which was an immersion wall. No climbing over this one, you had to completely immerse and pass under neath it. An obstacle I hadn’t seen at a SR yet was the rope swing, which was not as easy as it seemed. I didn’t let go, but had to swing across a couple times before I stuck the landing. I love the inverse wall, kind of feels like spiderman when you go over it. I stuck the spear throw, which is always a sigh of relief. The two obstacles I failed, and had to burpee out on, were the rope climb and herculean hoist.

I expected to barely be walking today, but alas, maybe all the running and training is working. I had done another race the day before, and it didn’t even compare to what Spartan Race brings to the OCR table!

* Rating
Excellent

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* From: Dennis Michaud
* Event: Biggest Loser Off Road Challenge Aug. 10,2014

* Event Details
For the second year in a row, I volunteered to be an on course guide for the Biggest Loser Off-Road Challenge held at Amesbury Sports Park in conjunction with the Boston Spartan Sprint on Sunday August 11, 2014. Here is a link to what I had to say last year: http://www.newenglandspahtens.com/biggest-loser-off-road-challenge/
This was a 2 day event this year, however as I only volunteered on Sunday, I will comment as such.
First, an introduction about this event, below is part of how it is described on their website.
An Off-Road Challenge happens at a Spartan Race.™ It is a course specially marked out for The Biggest Loser RunWalk Off-Road Challenge Series. Courses at Spartan are combination trail run, obstacle course, and mud run. Team Captains this year were Tara Davis from Season 7 of the TV show and Matt Hooper from Season 15. (Full disclosure, I have never seen the TV show.)
So here is the story of this year’s event from a volunteer’s perspective. I was asked to report to the Biggest Loser tent at 8:15 am. Registration for the athlete’s participating was taking place and appeared to be running much smoother than at last year’s event. Our own “Mama Hen” Sandy Rhee was helping in this area, so I’m not all surprised of how well it was going. But, kudos’s to Tara for delegating wisely. I helped out as needed during the registration process, but at this point I was more a 5th wheel than a truly helping.
There was a new wrinkle this year that I thought was a good idea. Tara led a “boot camp style” warm-up for all the athletes before giving final instructions and congratulating people for taking a big step in their own personal fitness journey.
Tara leads us up the hill to the start line where we are sent off with a rousing version of “St Crispin’s Day Speech” from Shakespeare’s Henry V, performed by a man I’m proud to call a friend Dustin Dorough. “(If you haven’t heard of him, I’m betting you will.)
The course itself was a shortened version of the Spartan Race, a couple of the longer tail runs were cut out. If you want to know about the course itself, you can read some excellent descriptions here: http://www.newenglandspahtens.com/submit-a-race-review/spartan-race-boston-sprint-2014/
I’m going to talk about the athletes I was with, but first I’m going to say this: The slowest person on the course, the person who finished last BEAT everyone who did not start. Let me repeat this, last place, BEATS did not start. Really just starting the event is more than most people will ever accomplish.
The group itself looked no different than any other group competing in this race, except for a different shirt. The “Get Out of Jail Free Shirt, so to speak. While the athlete’s were encouraged to try all of the obstacles, there was no requirement to do so, nor were there any penalties for failing, as long as they were wearing the shirt. There were young, old, heavy set, slender, male and female. This is the exact same makeup that you will see in any Spartan Race or other OCR, for that matter. As a side note, from what I witnessed, the “real” Spartan racers did not treat these athletes any different than they treat anyone out there, with respect, encouragement and an offer of assistance.
Early on in the course it was easy to see the intimidation that these athletes felt, they did not feel like they belonged. With encouragement first one and then another of the athletes would try an obstacle, and with coaching and assistance obstacles were overcome. With success came more confidence to try the next obstacle, or someone else would say, I want to try this now. There were times when some wanted to quit, but when offered the opportunity, decided to keep going. With each step and each obstacle attempted a realization of “I can really do this”, could be seen in the body language, could be heard in their voices, and demonstrated by their actions. There were tears along the way, there was laughter, there was blood, there was pain, but at the finish line there was a sense of accomplishment.
I feel honored to have been a part of this journey with them. Not for what I did, but for what I saw them accomplish. I made several references to “real” Spartans. In my opinion and in many others opinions as well, these athletes are as much a Spartan as anyone. Their journey is yet to be completed.

* Race Details

* Rating
Above Average

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* From: Dan Eldredge

* Event Details
The Boston Spartan Sprint was my first Obstacle Course Race (OCR). The past few years had been tough on me and my family, and so seven weeks before the event I signed up as a way to motivate myself to try to get back in shape. Given the condition I was in, seven weeks wasn’t long enough to prepare for a Spartan race, but at least I could get started. I was confident I would be able to finish, and this race would serve as a means to learn what I needed to work on to better prepare for the next one.

As an additional motivator, I held a fundraiser, hoping to raise $1,000 for the Oral Cancer Foundation. My wife had gone through surgery, and then grueling radiation and chemotherapy treatments for oral cancer in 2011-2012. If she could pull through that, I could do an OCR. I announced on social media that I would cut my hair into a mohawk for the race if I reached my fundraising goal. By the day of the race, I had raised $905, and even though I had fallen short, I cut my hair anyway to thank those who contributed.

I arrived at Seabrook Greyhound Park a little over an hour before my heat time at 11:30am. Fortunately parking was well organized, and I was directed into the parking lot with little trouble. There were porta-potties set up close to the shuttle buses, which I thought was a good idea. There were several buses ready to go, and although there were a continuous stream of people arriving at the parking lot, there was essentially no waiting at the buses and I was on board and on our way within minutes.

Amesbury Sports Park was a zoo. Tents and people everywhere, but despite the chaos, it appeared well-organized, with plenty of signage. I had read multiple times on the Spartan website to get print out my waivers and sign them ahead of time, as well as learn my bib number. Yet the race organizers were aware that a lot of people wouldn’t do this, so there was a tent for waivers and another to get bib numbers, both of which had long lines. I breezed right past them to the registration tent, where I picked up my registration packet without a wait and was into the festival area. Kudos to the organizers for handling this well.

I was looking for the NE Spahtens team tent, and so I wandered aimlessly for a while in a daze and couldn’t find it. It turned out the tent was near the exit from the park, so I gone past it and was looking everywhere but where it was. Fortunately I saw a team member in Spahten swag named Glen who brought me over to the tend. I met a handful of people too quickly to really take it all in, and before I knew it, it was time to head up to the Start line for the team photo.

We had to climb a 6’ wall to get to the Start line, which whetted our appetites for the start. I found myself surrounded by teammates who I didn’t know since I was a newbie, and I was too keyed up and confused to start introducing myself. After brief pep talk from the MC, we were off up the hill.

* Race Details
Mile 0-1
In the midst of the dense crowd, I crossed the starting line at a walk, but the crowd thinned out enough that I was able to jog to the crest of the hill. And then we were in the mud. The first part was a mud pit maybe calf or knee deep that got us all dirty right off the bat.

A quick jog/hike through the wood brought us to a large field, and the first obstacles. “Rolling Mud” was the first, which consisted of several thigh to waist deep muddy water pits, the last one crossed by logs. Soon after that was “Over Under Through”, which was a set of three walls that, predictably, you had to go over, then under, then through.

This was followed by a long jog generally downhill along a trail that led to a water station at the 1-mile marker. Right after the water station was the 6’ / 10’ walls, and you could either go over the 6’ wall individually, or go over the 10’ wall as a team. After helping a few people over each wall, I went over the 6’ wall by myself.
Mile 1-2
Next was a run into a field where you were given two options–a 250-yard jog with a hill, or a flat 200-yard jog plus 15 burpees. Most people, including me, chose the hill. Back into the woods following a winding trail, we ended up faced with a large mud pit. Most of us skirted the edge, but then a big guy behind me decided to go right through the middle and immediately sank into the mud up to his thighs and became stuck. I was closest to him, and tried to give him a hand, but naturally I sank in too, and it took several of us to yank him out. Soon after, another guy nearby suddenly yelped, “Hey, what’s with the bees?” and started slapping at himself. Almost instantly a bee landed on my chin and stung me. Great.

Next was an Inverted Wall. I helped several people over while contemplating if I would be able to manage it myself. But when I tried it, it was a lot easier than I expected and I did it just fine.

More trail running (or mostly walking in my case), and we reached the Tractor Pull / Log Carry. You could either carry some logs as a team, or individually drag a lump of concrete by a chain for a distance across muddy ground. I chose the chain, and this obstacle wasn’t too bad.

More trailing running and then there was the Tire Drag. For this you had to pull a large tire towards you with a rope, and then drag it back with your hands to the starting place. There were many tires available for this; I foolishly chose a tire that was mired in mud. I succeeded, but it took time and I was exhausted. I had to rest a long while for my heart rate to go down enough for me to continue.

More trail running up and down steep hills in the woods, and then was the Sandbag Carry. I’m not positive but I heard the sandbags were ~40lbs for men, and ~20lbs for women. We had to carry the sandbag down a hill and then back up to the starting point. After that was the 2nd mile marker and a water station.
Mile 2-3
Following this was a lot more trail running, and then the Monkey Bars. Not ordinary monkey bars, however, as these bars were of varying heights. I got to maybe the 4th bar (of about 20) before I slipped and fell. Then I had to do the penalty 30 burpees. I was already spent at this point, so they weren’t easy.

Following this was more trail running, up and down some truly heinous hills, and my already slow pace slowed to a crawl. At this point in the race I noticed several people were stopping to rest, and one man was face down on the ground. He was already being attended to when I arrived, and he was conscious and lucid, but had a muscle spasms that forced him to stop. A medical team was on the way. I didn’t pass a single person who was resting without hearing people ask them if they were all right or needed help. Spartans look out for each other.

At the top of the hill was the next mile marker and water station, and we were back at the hill where the race began.
Mile 3-4
At the crest of the hill was the Rope Swing. You had to swing across a gap on a knotted rope above muddy water. I was worried about this one, but when I finally did it, it was a lot easier than I expected. On down the hill.

At the bottom of the hill, and back on the field turf and in front of the crowd, was the Hercules Hoist. A heavy sandbag (I later heard it was ~110lbs for the men, ~70 lbs for the women) attached to a rope that went over a pulley. You had to hoist the sandbag to the top, maybe 25 feet in the air. I got it maybe ⅓ of the way up before my arms and my grip gave out, and got a small rope burn on my fingers as it slid back down. My second failed obstacle, this meant 30 more burpees for me.

Next was the Bucket Carry. We had to fill a 10-gallon bucket (no handle) with stones, then carry it at waist height halfway up the hill and back down again. You were not allowed to carry it on your shoulder or your head, but despite the volunteers constantly telling people not to do that, some people did anyway, intentionally or not. This was brutal, and people were frequently stopping to rest. I stopped three times–twice on the way up, once on the way down, but each time I rested the bucket on my thigh rather than let it touch the ground (which was legal to do–I just didn’t want to do it)

Then the Flyover. We had to climb up a tall wood ladder made of 2″x6″s, then walk across more 2″x6″s (with gaps, which was scary to people who are afraid of heights), then back down another ladder. I was a little shaky at this point due to exhaustion, so I took it slow and steady.

Back up the hill, and then a crawl under barbed wire over rough ground. Then a Slip Wall, which is a steep wall to climb with a rope you can use to help pull yourself up. This ended up being easier than I expected.

Climbed up the rest of the hill and towards a field filled with obstacles, and at the front was the 4-mile marker water station.
Mile 4-4.8
After the water station was a 7’ / 15’ wall. I helped a guy over the 7’ wall, then he came back around and helped me over. Then onto the Rope Climb. I knew that this one was going to be tough, and it was the first obstacle I was convinced I was likely to fail. You had to climb a vertical rope and hit a bell at the top. As I approached, I heard people complaining that the ropes had no knots, and also that the ropes appeared thinner than usual. At the bottom of the ropes was muddy water that was about mid-chest height. I sat on the edge for a while, watching other people attempt the climb while I psyched myself up. I did notice that very few people were using any real technique–most of the guys succeeding used only their arms, and flailed their legs around wildly. One kid maybe 20 years my junior charged in, and then immediately froze in the water, his muscles cramping up, and he needed help getting out.

Finally I bit the bullet and went in, and grabbed the rope. The bottom was like quicksand, the longer I stood on the bottom, the more I sank. I tried going up the rope, locking it with my foot using the “scoop and stomp” method and then pulling myself a little higher on the rope. I managed that twice, but on the third time I couldn’t get hold of the rope because I couldn’t see it in the muddy water, and I fell off. I swam to the far side of the water pit (much easier than trying to walk it), clambered out and did my 30 penalty burpees.

Next up was the Horizontal Wall Traverse. This one looked hard. It consisted of a climbing wall with small 2″x4″s nailed to it to serve as hand/foot holds. I found it hard enough to even get onto the thing. I got barely 1/4 of the way through when I slipped and fell. (all the holds were muddy & slippery). I was angry at failing this one. 30 more burpees.

Then the dreaded Spear Throw. Before the race, a lot of people call this one the “automatic 30 burpees” obstacle. You have to throw a javelin at hay bales. You only have one attempt. If your spear hits and sticks, you pass. If you miss or the spear falls out, you fail and 30 burpees. I hit the target, but it didn’t stick. 30 more burpees. I was up to 150 burpees at this point, and my form wasn’t exactly good by now.

However, I had seen what the rest of the course looked like at this point, so I actually felt like I could relax somewhat the rest of the way. The next obstacle was a long Barbed Wire Crawl. I thought it was maybe 60 yards long, but some people said it was more than 80. Either way, it was long. It was also crowded under the wire, and most people rolled their way through it. There were some log jams, and people were laughing ruefully about the mud and the sharp rocks. Some were complaining about the rocks as well. At the I didn’t think much of their whining, but then I got my comeuppance when I rolled over and a large stone jammed me right in the pubic bone. Ouch. I took out my anger by tossing the rock away so no one else would roll onto it.

After the interminable barbed wire was a Dunk Wall. It was a muddy water pit with a wall over the top, so you had to dunk your head under the wall to get past it. A lot of people didn’t like that idea and were hesitating, but I just dunked and went through. On the other side I saw a photographer taking pictures, so I tried to look tough and manfully charged out of the water, and then promptly slipped and splashed around instead.

Back to the hill above the festival area, and the Finish was in sight. At the top of the hill was the Fire Jump, which is mainly a photo op as you leap over some burning logs while an automatic camera snaps pictures. Then a jog down the hill to the Finish Line at the bottom.

At the finish line was two volunteers handing out medals, followed by more volunteers handing out fresh bananas. At that point the racers left the finish area and there were more volunteers handing out Cliff bars and water. After eating my post-race loot, it was time to find the washing area to get rid of all the mud.

I felt accomplished making it to the finish line, but not as much as I thought I would before the race. Perhaps I was just too spent to feel much more than relief. There wasn’t any big “moment of truth” or anything. For most of the race I guess I was just in the zone and therefore didn’t think to philosophize about my predicament or give myself any pep talks to keep me going. I was angry at failing some of the obstacles, and that has just made me wish to train more to do better next time. And since training to get back in shape was the point of this whole enterprise, I definitely succeeded in getting that started. From now on, I will try to improve my performance.

After the race I got back onto the shuttle bus and looked at my phone, and I saw that I had received an email informing me that barely an hour before my heat started, I got another donation that put my fundraiser over the top to $1,005. I had accomplished both my goals, my first OCR and my fundraiser. Aroo!

* Rating
Excellent

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* From: Scott L’Ecuyer

* Event Details
Everything I saw ran smoothly.

* Race Details
The course offered plenty of difficulty with the freshly cut trails, rocks, steep terrain and mud.

* Rating
Above Average

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* From: Drew
* Event: Hurricane Heat 57/Spartan Race Amesbury

* Event Details
For the Hurricane Heat parking was straight forward and easy to get to so there are no complaints there. Maybe add one or two port-o-potties for the HH around the corner that only those who participate will know about. Not required, but would have been nice. I noticed there were a few women there and they had expressed concern over going in the woods. Anyway, details were straight forward. Just remind people to read and re-read the e-mails sent so they do not forget anything.

* Race Details
All in all the even was a lot of fun. I had a great time and met a few new people, which is what the HH is about anyway. It is not meant to be easy and I like that. It was challenging and the burps were annoying yes. However, if you sign up for an event created by a guy who has a record of 4,000 burpees and expect to do only a few then sign up elsewhere. That is the image of SR and when I signed up I anticipated over 500 burpees. Did they suck? Yes. Were the hard? Yes. Were they annoying? Totally, but that is what I signed up for and who cares how many you do, because they don’t put a gun to your head and say you absolutely have to. I got tired at times and took a quick rest when I needed to. They understand and never gave me a hard time. So for those who complain about that, I am not sure what all else to say. However, there are two things I notice about the event. One is, a lot of things were taken from GoRuck and creativity was limited like having us sing t
he Spongebob Squarepants song. I am letting that one go because NBC had to do their filming. Fine. Two, and this one is the most important because this is serious. There Jokes were awful.

In all seriousness, the event was all that it was expected to be. I came in knowing only one person and left knowing ten more. Which, I believe is the point of the event. More time on the course, less time telling bad jokes. Could it be better? Sure, anything can be better but still had a great time. Hope this helps. Thanks.

* Rating
Above Average

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* From: michael downey

* Event: spartan race – hurricane heat

* Event Details
parking for HH is in a lot about a half mile from the venue so thats a nice perk to have. no need to tell about the venue we all know about amesbury sports park and the other reveiws for the normal race will cover that. the swag is the normal dog tag and HH tee shirt

* Race Details
So last year was my first HH and that was the one that kinda soured a lot of peoples taste for HH and caused a lot of spahtens to skip out but i figured since it was my first i had no frame of reference and would give it one more shot all i can say is i wish i dident. first i will say the reason they gave us for why HH went the way it did was because onf the NBC taping of the ealier than usual elite heat., i call B$ on that because it was no surprise there was going to be a earlier elite heat and tv taping and they could/ should have moved HH to either friday or saturday night so it could have been a more proper HH. the way i have always been kinda explained and sold HH was that its a lot of burpees, and a lot of time on the course going at obstacles forwards, backwards, upside down and such but on this HH the only obstacles we touched were the barbed wire crawl where we had to keep our candle ( from the mandatory gear list ) lit the entire way through the crawl. the other o
bstacle we touched was the rope swing, after that it was 2 and a half hours of them making up things on the fly and not really having a game plan so the just filled it with burpees, group air squats and a few trips on the kids course. as this went on more i heard and saw more than a few people just kinda have that look of WTF is and just getting less and less happy. overall this second HH did the same thing that last years did for most spahtens and kill any desire to want to do another. but honestly that seems to be how business overall with SR is these days there forgetting what they did to get therm to this point and out of touch with what there core message was ” ripping people off the couch and getting them active again” . HH is geared towards if your more a fan of go ruck or death race style events and less a strictly only OCR fan.

* Rating
Terrible

* Event: spartan sprint – amesbury 08/09- 08/10

* Event Details
parking was the usual seabrook dog track and 10 min bus ride in, facilities as usual were top notch this is where spartan excels is putting together the best festival area out there tons of showers and porta potties, a few vendors and tons of merch ( although hasent changed very much this year) . schwag was usual round and pizza pie medal and tee shirt although it appears they have stuck to the simple cotton shirt as opposed to the tri blend shirts that i think were last seen at citi field.

* Race Details
wow what can i say about this course after last years sprint that was just over 5k . spartan really went full out this time around with the help of some new land acquired by ASP. but was very disappointed by the lack of obstacles other than terrain for the first 1.5 miles we only saw one set of walls,this also introduced us to a new element in spartan race the SOLO or TEAM version of a obstacle at before mile one it was 6 ft or 10 ft wall that instantly lead to the gambler option of 15 burpees and short down hill path or a slight up hill path and no burpees. after that it was trail time for a bit more and and then the incline wall in the sand pit where tractor drag usually was. more trails and then into the next solo/ team obstacle this time it was solo- tractor pull or team- changed log carry more trail time then into tire drag with 3 options women’s/mens/team tire and a short jaunt up a path into pancake sandbag carry very brutal down and up hill. after that a lot of nothingness for a while till mile 4 and we emerged at the top of the hill to the main festival grounds. this is where depending on what day and time you ran determined what kind of event you had, first the rope swing where on saturday there was no real rule and people did it till they got to the other side just like how we do the walls, but on sunday there were rules of you get either 3 swings to try or till you hit the water and then burpees. next same the herc hoist saturday it was just mens or women on sunday it was mens/team and women’s and for a while they were letting people grab the rope and just run with the rope a good 10-15 feet out to “pull” the weight up and once you had 2-3 groups doing that it because a lil unsafe and hard to navigate the area. next the bucket carry saturday to start the path was all the way up and down the hill then at some point mid day the course was cut in half because of the backups this was causing but sunday they did not do that and it was obvious
ly a bad decision because they got to a point where they ran out of buckets and gravel and a long line of people waiting for buckets and gravel to come down and just passing the full buckets to each other, also another place where rules kept changing saturday it was no buckets on above shoulders but sunday they did not seem to be making any mention of that. also seemed what the proper fill amount varied some said gravel had to touch the bottom of the tape line some said it hd to cover it. then back up the hill to slippery wall 7ft ad 10 ft wall, rope climb, traverse wall, spear man and the dreaded barbed wire crawl that was all dry until the dunk wall. its quiet obvious this was a course designed specifically for tv and to manufacture a specific results and drama for tv, they wanted the strong runners to be able to take off and leave some of the more strength guys in the dust but then have the smaller runners choke away there lead of the strength stuff and have those guys catch up to them in the last mile it also made it so with 2-3 camera points they got to cover 75% of the obstacles . overall it is a great race but its becoming more obvious spartan race and Joe Desena are basically selling there soul to make there pathetic bid for the olympics and TV coverage. the races are getting better but at what cost they went from making a great course for the sake of a great course to now designing the course to create specific tv drama and results. i see spartan is coming to a cross roads where they have one of two choices to make, the current path there on of trying to get in the olympics, more tv and more geared towards elites or a path to go back to the basic element of trying to get people more active and create a positive fitness movement. my $0.02 is i think joes wall street days are creeping back in and Vt simple life is slipping away and he will be going the first path. all the more reason to support #racelocal

* Rating
Excellent

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* From: Stephen Rodericks

* Hurricane Heat Event Details
Parking was about 3/4 of a mile maybe, and it was free, the shirt looks identical to the regular race finishé up front, with the exception of the verbage being changed, the back reference the storm.

* Hurricane Heat Details
Very interesting i can not compare it to another hh, but we started off with a bunch of burpees, but it was a team effort, we did each one together, which at 5am is a great slow wakeup. It was very disappointing that nbc was there because we got a bunch of changes from them being there. We had to be careful to go on on the other side of the obstacle to avoid the camera, barb wire crawl was cool with candles, but ding the kids lap in stead of the obstacles on the main course. So it was fun, they tried to do good with the fact that nbc did not allow us to be seen (which is very disappointing) but they adjusted and. Had us do the kids course with buddy carry, heavy tires and slosh pipes. It was fun but not sure if it is in the future for me to do again

* HH Rating
Below Average

* Race Details
The race was an improvement over last year, longer and harder new places open for this course. We got a bucket carry as well as a sandbag, the swing was interesting. No more knots in the rope climb if the build crew has anything to say about it. I keep hearing the herc hoost weight is getting heavier and i agree so look for a buddy or burpee city it is. There were several spots in the woods that needed volunteers one spot was steep and loose sand that caused a huge back up because people decided to do single file and easily had about 100 people back up. And with nbc being thee made it annoying but still doable overall fun, and the mew tone of spartan is longer and harder sprints they are trying to separate themselves from the fun 5ks look forward to next year as well

* Rating
Excellent

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* From: Nicole Sibley

* Event Details
I had a great time hanging out with the NE Spahtens yesterday at the Boston Spartan Sprint at Amesbury Sports Park in Amesbury, Massachusetts. I left the house bright and early to get to the inconveniently located town of Amesbury.

Honestly, you can find an OCR at Amesbury most weekends in the warmer months. The venue is a favorite of race directors and for good reason. As a racer, I have mixed feelings about racing at Amesbury. For starters, the drive there is almost always a hassle as 495 is a very congested road on weekends in the summer. Second, the parking for Amesbury is off-site at a casino in nearby New Hampshire. This means you have to get bussed about ten minutes from the parking lot to the venue. Buses are always plentiful, however, and there is never a wait, so this is well handled even though it’s kind of a drag to not have on-site parking. Also, they don’t allow in outside food or drink, which is a hassle for days like yesterday when it’s 80 degrees and you want to stay hydrated while you wait to race.

Amesbury has some nice hills. Nothing too killer, but your legs will definitely feel the burn traipsing through the woods there. Spartan Race did a great job using the terrain and nicely mixed-up the sections your run on flats, downhill, and uphill. The trails were well-marked and easy to navigate. The woods of Amesbury are poison ivy central — with all the races they hold there you think they might want to take care of that — so you have to proceed with caution. We will see how well at avoiding a rash I did in a few days time.

I arrived at the race at around 10:15 a.m., just a little over an hour before the NE Spahtens team heat at 11:30 a.m. That’s right; there were so many Spahtens in attendance that the group got it’s own heat. Check in was a breeze. I had my wavers all set and went right up and got my packet. Conveniently, everything was pre-organized in an envelope. Spartan doesn’t have you wear your bib (because honestly you’ll just lose it anyway), so they provide a headband with your bib number that you use for identification along the course. I put on my chip for timing and my headband and headed over to the biggest team tent to find some of my Spahten friends.

I will be honest that I did not really visit any of the vendors. I rarely do. The swag that Spartan provided — a medal and t-shirt were fine for me though my t-shirt, which at size small is almost comically over-sized. I hope that eventually more races do what BattleFrog is doing and get women’s t-shirts too.

* Race Details
We began the course by running straight up the hill. We took a quick left and headed towards the first obstacle, Rolling Mud. There were a set of two or three mud pits that we had to navigate and they were deep. I was wet up to my chest. Rolling Mud also featured a short log balance beam that we had to traverse.

From there, it was immediately on to Over-Under-Through where we went over a wall (probably around six feet), under another, and through the third. No problem so far.

Next we headed off towards a part of the sports park that I was not familiar with. We probably jogged around 1/3 of a mile until we came to a field with two walls. There was a 7′ or 8′ wall for people that wanted to go over by themselves and a 10′ or 12′ wall for people to do as teams. There were lots of Spahtens about, but I knew some of them were helping newer people and were busy. I decided to handle the shorter wall myself. I was going over the wall and put my foot on the side support. Behind me I heard, “Burpees!” (Note: For failed obstacles at Spartan Race, you have to complete 30 burpees.) What? Apparently you were not allowed to touch the side of the wall. I apologized, saying I didn’t know about the rule, agreed I should have, and said I would definitely do the burpees. The staff person, either out of kindness or my attitude being respectful, said that I could do the wall again and if I did it correctly would not have to do the burpees. I can do a wall that size with
out the side supports no problem (I had just been trying to save energy), so I did and reminded myself to take the walls the proper way going forward.

Next up was the Gamble. There were two signs:
1. Do 15 burpees and run 200 meters flat
2. Run 250 meters with a hill.
I decided to opt for option number two since I was guessing I would have to do burpees later and running an extra 50 meters is nothing even if it is with a hill — much easier than burpees. This ended up being a good choice because the hill was a downhill. Gamble won!

From there it was back into the woods for more trail running. I think here is a good place to comment on my main complaint about the course. The obstacles were very poorly spaced. They were all concentrated at the beginning and end of the race with only a few scattered in between. I understand that this is likely to make filming easier for NBC and makes for awesome spectating — Seth said he had the best spectator experience at this race of any to date. This sort of set-up might be the reality for convenience, but it’s not great for the participants.

I would estimate there were around nine obstacles in the last mile. There were maybe 2/3 of that in the first almost four miles. This meant that we had long stretches of just running in the woods. At 4.8 miles, the course was fairly long for a Spartan Sprint. I think that’s great — more bang for your buck — but I would have liked to see the course be laid out in a way that was more participant friendly so that I didn’t feel like I was running down the same hill a few times just to pad the mileage and tire you out before the obstacle glut at the end.

The next obstacle was Inverted Walls. I’m a fan of this obstacle and tend to find them fun. The ones at Spartan were actually the easiest that I have come across. Along the back of the wall were two rungs of boards that you could grab onto and step on. This meant that you could almost climb to the top like you would a ladder. You still had to be able to pull yourself up and over the top, but it was a lot easier to get there. The Inverted Walls had similar boards on the back to let you climb down easily.

After the Inverted Walls was the Tractor Pull / Team Log Carry. Individuals could drag a cement block on a chain and teams could go a log carry. I was not in sight of any Spahtens that I knew, so I did the Tractor Pull. This was done over some muddy and uneven ground, but the pull was short and we weren’t having to pull uphill or anything crazy like that. As long as you kept moving the Tractor Pull wasn’t too bad.

After some brief running, we came to the Tire Drag. The Tire Drag was over a fairly short distance. We had to pull the tire towards us using the rope that was attached and then carry it back out. Seth had been at the Tire Pull waiting for me and had noticed that the volunteer who was running the obstacle often had to bring the tired back out for people. To do this, he was stepping in the tire, lifting the front, and then walking out. Seth recommended I try this tactic. I did, and it worked extremely well. I struggle on the obstacles that require lifting and carrying, but I got this one easily.

Next up was the Sandbag Carry. I knew this was coming and had fears based on my Shale Hill Sandbag Carry pseudo-meltdown. I need not have worried. Spartan had nice soft little sand disks that were probably around 10 pounds for the women and I am guessing around 25 for the men. We walked down a hill and then back up. I rested the sandbag on the top of my back kind of across my shoulders and it was totally fine. I didn’t even feel like I was suffering.

From the Sandbag Carry we went back into the woods for quite a bit. This entire stretch was just running with some hiking up and down the hills in the woods of Amesbury. As I mentioned before, these hills were enough to get you breathing and your legs working but they were certainly not killer killer hills. That being said, over time, they definitely started to cause fatigue and when we excited the woods for the last set of obstacles, later in the race, I was feeling it.

After our trail run / hike, we excited to the Monkey Bars. These were not your standard Monkey Bars. The bars were at three levels so you had to bring your self up two bars and then down two. I have to admit that the Monkey Bars are one of my favorite obstacles and this variation was super fun. I think I am lucky enough to have a body-type that is well suited to the Monkey Bars, and I like the feeling of being able to tackle an obstacle that others have trouble with. That’s not to say I was always good on the bars — I definitely failed them at my first Tough Mudder. But I’ve been working at it, and now this obstacle is one I have come to enjoy.

From the Monkey Bars, it was back into the woods for a very long stretch of running and hiking. This was a very long stretch with out obstacles. I think we could have run for even a mile or so with nothing but terrain and woods. It was a bit of luck that I came upon some Spahten friends to chat with and pass the time; otherwise, this bit of course would have been very tedious. When we excited the woods, it was at the top of the hill in Amesbury overlooking the festival area. We had probably around 1.5 miles to go, and they looked to be obstacle heavy. Finally!

First up was the Rope Swing. We had to grab a rope and swing from one side to the other over a pool of water. I usually nail this obstacle on the first try, but didn’t get enough momentum the first time and had to do it again. (You got three tried before having to do the burpee penalty.) The second time I did a much better running start and made it across with no problem.

We ran down the hill to the area adjacent to the festival area. It was time for the Hercules Hoist. I hadn’t been all that concerned about this obstacle after doing fine with hoists at Down & Dirty and Shale Hill. Perhaps that had been foolish. The Hercules Hoist bested me for sure. I’ve heard reports of the weight for the women’s hoist being between 75 and 85 pounds. I believe it. I could hardly get the bag moving. At Shale Hill I had learned a technique where you pull down once and then walk back using the strength of your legs to do the hoist. However, at Spartan, I could not get the bag more than a couple of feet of the ground. From there, I was unable to move with it at all. Nor could I get my arms to pull it up. The result: my first set of burpees for the day.

The Hercules Hoist (and my burpees) led directly into the next obstacle, Bucket Brigade. This was what I feared the Sandbag Carry would be — brutal. We had to take a bucket, orange for women and black for me, and fill it with rocks to the top of a taped line. We then had to walk the bucket about half way up the hill and then back down. We were supposed to keep the bucket in front of us at all times and not carry it on our back or shoulders. What a struggle! I made it but not without having to take a few rest stops. Since pretty much everyone else was doing this too, I didn’t feel so bad.

I had about a mile left in the race. I had been feeling pretty good, but the hoist + burpees + bucket carry combo was a killer. I was definitely getting tired. It was also a very warm day and I had brought limited fuel. I had thought the race would be a bit quicker than it was. Spartan took good care of us with four water stops on the course. I drank thirstily at each one but wished I had brought some fuel. I ended up being on the course for 2:19, and only had one GU. I definitely will bring more next time and might even consider bringing a hydration pack if I know it’s going to be a hot day because I could have used more fluids. This is not to say that I boinked terribly. I had just anticipated having a slightly faster race and should have brought more food so that I could have felt a little more charged at the end.

I was immensely relieved when Bucket Brigade was over. We got to climb the Bridge that we had entered the course by passing through. This wouldn’t be a good obstacle for you if you mind heights, otherwise, it was a snap and a nice rest after all that heavy work.

From the Bridge, we headed back up the hill and did the Slip Wall, and inclined wall that you climbed with a rope. I got great traction with the Icebugs and climbed up the wall no problem. The wall wasn’t very steeply inclined, so it was a fairly easy climb in my opinion. After the Slip Wall, we finished climbing the hill and took a right back towards the area where we had started our race. We had less than a mile to go!

The obstacles kept coming fast at this point. There was a second set of 7′ or 12′ Walls (for individuals or teams). Then it was on to the Rope Climb. My arms were a bit tired from earlier but nothing terrible, and I was feeling good about the Rope Climb, especially after making it up the super slippery rope at BattleFrog last weekend. As at most races, we had to get on the rope from a pool of water — thought I might say that this was was a bit deeper than usual. I was in up to the top of my chest. This made it a little hard to get started, but I was able to pull myself up and get my legs wrapped around the bottom of the rope. Seriously this technique of wrapping the rope around the legs to take weight off the arms has changed the rope climb for me a ton. I am now much more confident when I do it. Yesterday, I nailed it!

Right after the Rope Climb was the Traverse Walls. These are usually a favorite obstacle of mine. Because they were right after the Rope Climb, they were drenched and very slippery. I actually slipped trying to get on the wall and had to reposition. My arms were a bit tired after the Rope Climb, so I was glad that this was not the longest Traverse Wall I have ever done. Placed elsewhere on the course this might have been easy, but with a slick wet wall and tired arms, it was a nice challenge where it was. Well done, Spartan!

We went right from the Traverse Wall to the Spear Throw. The Spear Throw is an infamous burpee maker since so few people actually hit the throw. For it to count, the spear has to stick in the hay figure. I made a valiant effort and my spear did manage to make it to the figure and sort of hit the side, but I did not sure nearly enough force. Time for my second set of 30 burpees for the day.

The Spear Throw led directly into the longest Barbed Wire Crawl I have ever done. There was actually a bit of a pile-up here, and people were moving a bit slowly as they rolled or crab crawled under the wire. There were four sections of the Barbed Wire Crawl. The first three were dry, the last was wet and muddy. I was getting kind of scratched up on the crawl and was looking forward to the muddy section if only so that I didn’t get more bruises and nicks; however, the muddy section was somehow even rockier. I always think the Barbed Wire Crawl is more of a drag than a challenge since the discomfort of it is about getting scrapped up instead of dealing with a physical challenge. I’ll take a Barbed Wire Crawl on grass any day but these rocky ones are a pain — literally.

The Barbed Wire Crawl ended up at a pond of muddy water with a wall. You had to submerge yourself and swim under the wall. For those of you who are water / swimming adverse: don’t worry. The wall was only a couple of inches into the water. I was actually eager to get into the water and get some of the mud off from the last section of the Barbed Wire Crawl, plus I was hot. The water felt great!

There was just one obstacle to go before the finish line, Fire Jump. This may sound crazy, but I have been waiting for years to do an obstacle where you jump over fire. Somehow, have never attended a course that had a Fire Jump until now. Was it fun? Yes. Was it as epic as the pictures make it out? Not quite. There wasn’t really a lot of fire at the Fire Jump, per say. It was more hazy with smoke. So, no, there aren’t any epic pictures of my jumping and emerging through the flames, but am guessing that they can’t really do that without fear of danger to the participants anyway. Still, you can be sure I will comb the Spartan pictures for one of me doing Fire Jump soon. I was glad to get to living the dream.

It was just a short run down the hill from Fire Jump to the finish line. I was lucky to race through and get my medal from a fellow Spahten.

I had a lot of fun at the 2014 Boston Spartan Sprint. I have heard that it was one of the most challenging races people have ever done at Amesbury. I found the race a challenge but certainly not killer and definitely not as taxing as BattleFrog (last weekend) or Shale Hill (two weeks ago). Overall, I liked the obstacles but didn’t love the obstacle placement or how it felt like we did a bunch of random running to just add miles. I think the mileage would have been fine if the obstacles were evenly spaced across them. Spartan always seems to do a lot of carry / lift obstacles like the Sandbag Carry, Tire Drag, Bucket Brigade, and Hercules Hoist. These are not personally my favorite sorts of obstacles. I tend to prefer obstacles that require climbing and agility over ones that are just tests of muscle. For that reason Spartan Races will probably never be my personal favorite. This is not a statement against the race or a criticism — it’s just me, as a consumer, being honest ab
out what I like. I had a lot of fun at the Spartan Sprint this weekend, but I loved Shale Hill last month. That’s the difference.

Probably the best part of the Boston Spartan Sprint was getting to spend time with my fellow Spahtens. I would probably sign up again next year just for the chance to hang out with the team and race with some cool people.

Note: Read more and enjoy photos and video on my blog at http://perseid85.blogspot.com/2014/08/2014-boston-spartan-sprint.html.

* Rating
Above Average

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* From: mike mckenzie

* Event Details
As always, Spartan knows how to run off site parking and shuttle services. Getting athletes to the events as early as 630am and always running. Never saw a back up here in the morning. The Festival area is always well thought out and professional. Finisher shirts are top quality and the Medals and first piece of trifecta medal is pretty awesome.

* Race Details
4.8 Miles. This course was probably the most difficult Sprint course i have run ( i have done the Race at Amesbury since 2010) The Elites came out of the woodwork for this NBC aired event and really pushing it hardcore. Having to do 2 Sandbags and 2 Tractor pulls really upped the difficulty. First the first time ever i failed the Vertical rope climb. That super thin nylon rope was virtually impossible after burning out my forearms and grip on the sandbags, tractor pull, and buckets.

Nailed the Spear throw again which is always a confidence booster. Just when you think you’ve mastered everything they can throw at you, they double it or make it heavier.

Expensive Yes, Worth every dollar? Absolutely.

* Rating
Excellent

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* From: Jonna Capecci

* Event Details
Parking was easy. We were guided to the front of the lot near the buses as we arrived around 9:30am.
The facility was awesome! It was so organized with food and beer to the left with the bag check (which we didn’t need due to our team tent) and schwag near the start of the race in a nice row. Most vendors in the middle or on the right.
Everything was easy to get to.

* Race Details
This was my first Spartan race. Ever! It will NOT be my last!
I loved the difficulty of the terrain being rocky and hilly. It was really a pretty venue as well. Sounds weird to say that, but it’s true.
The course was 4.8 miles from what I was told. Every mile marker was easily marked and there were 4 water stations along the course. The water stations were pretty important on this course as it was hot!
I loved that we got muddy right away. It really cooled you down and got you mentally ready.
I was excited to do only 60 burpees and I already went into this race knowing I would likely not be able to do the rope and the spear throw, but being able to do the rest gave me such a sense of accomplishment.
I loved, loved, loved how everyone steps up to help others. Being part of the NE Spahten team was amazing. I have met so many cool, athletic, diverse people I would never met typically in my life.
There was a hold up at the barbed wire as several larger guys couldn’t roll that fast, but other than that, the course ran very smoothly.
It was a challenge, but it was do-able. I am so glad I did the Spartan WOD. Between that and going to Harvard Stadium with the NE Spahten elite fitness group headed by Marc Ford, I was prepared.
Great race. Very organized. Challenging.
My ONLY suggestion is to get healthy food vendors in after the race. Even food trucks could be healthier and cool. Loved the banana and cliff bar at the end, but made a protein bar my lunch instead of a hot dog or burger.

* Rating
Excellent

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* From: Erick Coleman

* Event Details
Parking: Amazing. Purchased V.I.P. parking, easy in / easy out. Pricey, however, at $44. Previous races I have always used the shuttles which, for this race, are always plentiful and top notch. We decided to give the V.I.P. parking a shot and it was pretty cool to have access to our stuff.

The sports park is what it is, an easy to navigate place. Good showers, plenty of bathrooms. The food is always on the pricey side (and not very good). But the beer is cold. Spartan has taken it up a notch lately with their schwag and hasn’t been running out of things as much. Then again, we were looking for stuff on Saturday…it’ll be interesting to see how it pans out for our friends racing on Sunday when things have been picked over.

* Race Details
Initially I thought “pretty good show.” And then it sunk in. I have opinions.

So, here’s my bitch and I’m going to start with it and not beat around the corner:

If you’re dead set on making your sprints a longer distance, fine. Good. Kudos. But add obstacles. Period, end of story. When sprints were a 5K distance, 15 worked. At 4.8 miles it doesn’t. With the extended distance it becomes a glorified trail run with Spartan attempting to take advantage of every inch of the elevation in the sports park to give the “this is really hard” vision, and then clumping a bunch of “burpee stations” at the end. They did this at Tuxedo, they did it in Connecticut, and they did it yesterday.

The solution? Go back to the 5K distance and stick to the 15, or add obstacles. Here’s a tip: Unlike Tough Mudder, you, Spartan, have the advantage of longer distance races in Super and Beast (and stadiums). You don’t have to mess with sprints. However, if you do, please do it right. There was a stretch where we went 1.5 miles and completed three, maybe four obstacles.

Me? I’m for a longer sprint. I LOVE stretching my legs, getting 4.5-5.0 miles. My vote is a longer sprint…and MORE OBSTACLES. If I wanted to go for a trail run, I would stay home and do it in my back yard.

Okay, bitch-rant over: It was a good event. Long, as I rambled on about, however the obstacles were clustered. They made good use of the terrain. The end was the hardest part with a bang-bng-bang succession of a 8′ Berlin Wall (or 12′ team wall), rope climb, traverse wall, spear throw, and barbed wire crawl…all within a quarter mile of each other.

Interesting twists this year – sandbag carry in the woods, the gravel bucket carry. The tarzan swing (which if you didn’t gauge right was harder than it looked). And a lot of climbing. Climbing, climbing, climbing.

I don’t have another sprint on my schedule this year, just two Beasts and a Super (plus Fenway). So I’ll be reading reviews carefully…I hope they stick to the longer ones and add obstacles. It IS obstacle course racing…right?!

* Rating
Below Average

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* From: Courtney Crooks

* Event Details
Parking at Seabrook Park – easy in, slow going out with all the traffic of people leaving. Shuttles were in full effect and we never waited more than 5-10 minutes in either direction. We took the highway there and it was a quick ride, but for some reason they took back roads back to Seabrook which took longer. I’m assuming it was to avoid traffic – not a big deal.

There were portapotties aplenty at the race, as well as in Seabrook while you waited for a shuttle. This is always appreciated after a two hour drive up!

Not sure about the vendors because I was too busy watching or racing to check anything out. I know Core Power was there giving out free samples though. The food was OK – though I’ve never been so happy to have a crappy cheeseburger in my life. They had a couple healthy options (fruit, water) but other than that it was typical fast food type stuff that you had to purchase with tickets. Kind of a pain to do that, but I guess I understand how that would simplify things.

Typical Spartan schwag – finisher tshirt (which I love) and medal, bananas and Clif Builder Bars at the finish for racers. Stickers on the way out of the gate.

* Race Details
I found this course incredibly difficult. The hills and technical trails added their own difficulty that made it great. The mud was absolutely insane in portions (think Neverending Story), requiring several operations to get people unstuck.

I think 4.8 miles is a great distance, but maybe it could have been shortened without such a looooong barb wire roll into the dunk wall. That thing was CRAZY! This being only my second Spartan Race ever, I saw some obstacles I’d done at Mohegan as well as some newer stuff like the Bucket Brigade and the Rope Swing.

It was really fantastic having so many Spahtens out there on the course. Even outside of the Battle Buddies I was running with, there were always helping hands at the ready and that’s what I love about this group. I never could have done this course by myself (as it is I had to do burpees on 5 obstacles).

A couple of minor things: I didn’t notice as many volunteers at the actual obstacles as I noticed at Mohegan. And the hoses had almost no pressure to rinse off (which makes for a long, dirty ride home). Other than that, I don’t really have anything negative to say. Spartan put on a great race and the Spahtens made it a great day.

For more, plus pictures, you can check out my blog as well: http://dontblinkjustrun.com/2014/08/10/spartan-sprint-amesbury-ma-race-recap/

* Rating
Excellent

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* From: Josh Chace

* Event Details

* Race Details
The Amesbury Spartan Sprint is the premier New England OCR event and the headlining event both in expectation and attendance for the New England Spahtens. This is the one that every one looks forward to all year. This year especially with the combination of big name runners attending, NBC media coverage, and the promise of fresh new terrain to use at Amesbury Sports Park attracted more than 300 New England Spahtens to attend the two-day event.

The day began with a 4am wake up call and a commute the volunteer lot located less than a mile from the venue. Racers were directed to the now standard offsite parking lot at Seabrook Race Park where they could park for $10 cash and hop a short shuttle ride right to Amesbury Sport’s Park’s front door. From there it was right through registration where you signed an additional waiver for this event, authorized NBC Sports to shoot you for their upcoming series of Spartan Race broadcasts. The New England Spahtens were once again the largest team to attend so we were awarded our own team tent, which was quite spacious and afforded us plenty of room to get ready, and reacquainted with our battle buddies of past.

It was clear right as you came into that park that this course was different. Years past “The Hill” at Amesbury was used most commonly for a start/finish line but this year it was much more. Within site you could see atop the mountain a new obstacle, the rope swing leading down to a few familiar, albeit groan-inducing, obstacles; the Hercules Hoist and an Amesbury Sprint first, the Bucket Brigade.

Also different than past years, was the festival area set up. They had a vast array of different tents and sponsors including the Army National Guard, SGX Spartan Training demonstrations, and obstacle trials like the rope climb, walls, monkey bars/pull ups. They also had, what I referred to as “Bathroom City” which was a pleasant distance away from the main area so as not to offend. They also had dozens of hoses and power washing stations set up for post-race clean up.

The Male & Female Elite waves headed off with much pomp and circumstance and certainly more to come with NBC Sports highlighting this race in one of their episodes. The New England Spahtens wave went off around 11:30 and was introduced to the cameras by our favorite superhero, Dustin Dorough, before setting off onto the 4.8-mile course.

The course Spartan used included both common and uncommon paths; I don’t think I have run the same route twice after several races here. The starting corral was about halfway up Mt. Amesbury and the sprint atop the hill led you right into a mud puddle to ensure that from start to finish, you’d be wearing this hill upon your body for every step. Shortly after peaking the hill you were plunged right into mud pools and over log balance beams before you catch your first view of the field above the park. As you sprint down the hill to the first OUT walls, you catch glimpses of a rope climb, mud crawl, and spear throw all in your not so short future. Before that however your had a short run to a new area of the mountain that kept a 6ft or 10ft wall. The larger walls were apparently there for teams to get over (or us tall folks, too). After the walls there was a gamble where you could opt for flat ground by way of 15 burpees, or a 200yd hill sprint before plunging into the woode
d trails we’ve all become oh so familiar with. A clearing brought upon the inverted wall, and a short break from the woods led us to the tractor pull and then on to the tire drag. Once finished there, the sandbag carry, traditionally placed upon the hill at the front of Amesbury, this time was a trek up and down the backside of the hill. After some short bursts through the trails we came upon a revised Monkey Bars obstacle which had uneven bars that you needed to traverse. After the monkey bars we put a good mile into the trails again before spanning the top of the hill to bear the bulk of the obstacles in a short period of time. First, there was a rope swing, which is as simple as it sounds. Swing over a small pit. No real challenge but fun at least. Racing to the bottom of the hill to the Hercules Hoist, which I did twice with assistance from a fellow racer. With zero rest you had to take on the hill after filling a bucket with gravel. This one conquered many a Spartan.
I stopped twice myself to regain myself before going almost too fast down the mountain to return those god-forsaken rocks. You then climbed the Spartan walkway above the festival area and up the slippery wall before heading into the field one last time. You had to traverse another 6’ or 10’ wall before meeting the “new and improved” rope climb. No knots. Smaller nylon rope. I was shortly introduced to my first set up burpees on that one. Dammit. Immediately after you had the traverse wall and then spear throw and then the final obstacle, the mud crawl. I heard someone say it was approximately 250 feet of crawling under barb wire, which seemed accurate based on my bruises and fingernails. A plunge underwater ensured that you weren’t going to jump fire or cross the finish line dry by any means, regardless, I crossed and was greeted with a medal and hugs from Spahten Cupcake Mistress, Cathy Chace.

This course was brutal. It got rave reviews from almost everyone I conversed with before and after and if this is the start of a new caliber of course, I need to get myself back to the gym in a hurry to prepare for NJ and VT.

Course – A+
Spartan utilized new and old spaces intelligently and creatively to ensure that this location felt new even though we had run it plenty of times before.

Organization – A-
Race registration, festival layout, vendors, facilities, and more were great. Speaking from the volunteer standpoint, buses were delayed, registration was delayed and lengthy, and people working 12+ hour shifts weren’t garnered the sweatshirts they were promised. Unfortunate considering the efforts they put in.

Atmosphere – A+
Everything was stepped up. Possibly because NBC Sports was on sight, or possibly just because Spartan knew that this is one of their biggest events and they needed to bring it. Either way the crowds were amazing, Dustin was amazing leading each wave off, and I remember coming up to the rope swing after being in the woods for an hour and saying “holy sh*t, look at the crowd down there!”

Overall – A+
Spartan has been through this plenty of times, which can be a recipe for mediocrity, but they continue to surprise. They are getting more and more challenging while also still being original. Every time I finish one of their races I am immediately excited to see what will be coming next.

* Rating
Excellent

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