* From: Christopher Provost
* Event Details
Parking: Ran on Saturday with the team 10:30am heat. Arrived at 9:00am. Parking was a cinch. The shuttle, not so much. There was such a back up for the shuttle that I ended up walking to the venue in order to make the start time. Turns out this was foreshadowing for the rest of the day.
Facilities: My only concern was that there would be enough port-a-potties. There were. Registration was easy because I had my pre-filled out forms.
Vendors: Didn’t pay much attention to this because I was too worried about making my start time at the beginning and too exhausted and wanting to get home at the finish. Zico coconut water at “mile 9” on the course was much appreciated but their passionfruit coconut water tastes horrible. The Core Power protein drink and Bodybuilder mint chocolate chip protein bar at the finish were also much appreciated and better tasting.
Schwag: The same t-shirt as the Amesbury race = lame. Spartan couldn’t shell out the extra for a shirt that actually says Beast on it? Come on. We pay good money for this race and it IS the “world championship” race after all. Treat it as such and make sure there are shirts that designate it as such and that there are enough of them. Fail. Medals were fine. Even got an extra banana at the finish. Woo hoo!
* Race Details
This was my first Beast. Easily the most difficult course I have ever raced and I loved it! The course itself was crazy in terms of miles and elevation. It pushed my limits and that was exactly what I signed up for. The obstacles were great from the walls of varying degrees of difficulty to the Tyrolean traverse. The only complaints I have about the obstacles were the MAJOR back up at the balance beam/log hop obstacle and the Tarzan swing. I waited a good 20-30 minutes at the balance beam/log hop because I actually wanted to attempt the obstacle and didn’t want to just bypass it by doing my burpees. Eventually, the back up was so massive they just pushed everyone through by having them walk through the trenches so I never got to do it. I never got to do the Tarzan swing either. It was shut down by the time I got to it. Turns out they thought someone had drowned or something earlier so they closed it down. I was really looking forward to doing that one. There were a
lso a lot of bottlenecks on the single track trails due to the volume of people. I passed when I realistically could, but more often than not, the conditions were too treacherous to pass safely so I just had to wait. The rig was awesome (although I failed it) and the extra spear throw and brutal bucket carries were a nice touch. Glad to see they relented and put knots in the rope climb (although I still failed it by the time I got to it). I also loved the endless barbed wire crawls towards the end of the race. On a side note, which is no fault of Spartan but of the racers, the amount of trash and garbage on the course was embarrassing. It was like racing through a landfill at points. I wish racers would respect the course and the environment and pack out what they pack in. All in all, a great course, a great race. I’m glad I did it.
* From: Alex Kaloostian
* Event Details
The logistics, as usual for a Spartan Race, were fantastic. Tents were clearly marked, it was easy to move around even when it was croded, and lines never got interminable at bag check, food, or parking. We walked rather than waited for the bus to the starting line, so i dont know anything about that situation. And I didnt partake of food or drinks so I cant say if therew ere good selections or not, though I suppose wtih the base lodge open, there were more than enough choices. I didn’t mind paying $5 for bag check, thats pretty typical and even on the low end these days, and you get it back towards merch. But I question paying $10 for parking: this wasny a local park, this was Killington resort. Any other day of the year, were we hiking, biking or skiing, parking at Killington would have been free. I dont know why it couldn’t have been this time as well.
Though a lot of races are offering tech shirts now, for a cotton tee, PSartan’s is a really nice one. I have several now and wear them all the time. I do wish they were different, and I hate the subtle way the plug the trifecta.
Unlike many MANY people, I didnt mind the trifecta medals: even on their own, they are still a medal, after all. Lots of meals are different shapes, so what if this one is wedge shaped? Who says they have to be a circle? And I really appreciated the special world championship megal, that was a pleasant surprise. My kids LOVE their Jr Spartan medals too, they could have cheaped out and made them smaller or plastic, but they didnt, and it was appreciated.
* Race Details
I came for a terrible, horrible, spirit-crushing course, and it definitely delivered. I came to feel that I had every ounce of myself tested, and it delivered. I liked the use of terrain, I liked being up on the peaks with beautiful views. liked the way the course, at points, hid what was coming so you could turn a corner and be surprised, while at other times, when you thought you were at your lowest, you could look up at an even HIGHER peak you would have to be scaling eventually.
I also enjoyed the repeat obstacles. A lot of people on course were complaining about two bucket carries, two spear throws, two sandbags, three barbed wires…. but I admired how the first one lulled you into a false sense of security. I heard MANY people uttering “oh, that wasn’t so bad!” after the first barbed wire crawl.. and though I didn’t have any foreknowledge, I grinned because I just KNEW there would be another, and it would be worse, oh yes. It was 25 obstacles, clearly they couldn’t ALL be unique. This was a good way to repeat but make it even harder. Tire drag on an incline? Wicked.
I loved the new upper body rig, with the rings and poles and ropes and whatnot. I liked the spear throw on the rope, it made things go more quickly. I loved how the spear throw was on the windy peak for more difficulty. I loved the big, scary cargo net at the top of the tallest, windiest peak, shaking and creaking in the gusts.
I have noticed a trend in Spartan races this year. I could be mistaken, but when I ran the 2012 Amesbury Sprint, 2013 Killington Sprint and 2014 Las Vegas Super, it felt like there was a descent spread of obstacles, beginning, middle, and end. But in Mohegan they started to be closer to the end, and I noticed this strongly at Amesbury 2014 and Killington 2014. How many obstacles were in the last mile? I recall rope climb, spear, wall, barbed wire, wall, mud pits, barbed wire, monkey pole thing, monkey bars, hoist, bridge, fire…. at least a dozen obstacles all in a row. I know it is more exciting for the spectators, and can be intimidating and fun at the same time for competitors. But there are two reasons I really dislike this trend. One: It made the rest of the course far more boring and uneventful. In a race with an advertised 25+ obstacles, we never should have had to hike 2-3 miles at a stretch with nothing else to break it up. And 2: It makes it far too hard.
I know, i know; Im being pounced on now. of COURSE the Beast is supposed to be hard! And I totally agree. I didnt just sign up for A beast, but THE beast, because I wanted to know I’d done the hardest of the hard. Before you write me off, let me try to explain what I mean.
Spartan changed my life. Its a cliche, but for me it’s literally true. When I did my first Sprint (in three hours, finishing in the bottom 1%), I was 300 lbs, couldn’t do a pullup, and could barely squeeze out 5 pushups. I tried the rope climb and failed utterly. But I had a goal. The next year, 50 lbs lighter and a lot more fit, I almost, alllmost reached the top. People cheering me on were disappointed for me and said sorry, like I had failed, but I felt great! That was the highest I’d ever climbed a rope, and I knew with a little more work, the next time I’d nail it. Unfortunately, at my next 3 races, the rope was near the end, and I was exhausted and out of gas. I didnt even come close. It wasn’t inspiring any more, it was discouraging. And if those had been my first races, I’d have felt like I could NEVER climb a rope, so why even try.
Look, some people are going to say the obstacles are saved for the end, to be extra hard, because its Spartan and it SHOULD be hard. But Spartan is also about pulling normal people off their couches, right? I think obstacles should be hard, but ATTAINABLE. A bunch of obstacles all in a row are intimidating, its hard, its exciting for the spectators, yes. but why cant there be a bunch of obstacles at the beginning instead of at the end? I feel Spartan needs to decide, are these races about everyone, or are they about the elites? If its about the elites, carry on. otherwise, lets spread the obstacles out a little more. OR they shouldn’t be marketing the beast so hard at everyday weekend warriors who just barely finished their very first sprint.
One other issue we had was apparently there was some confusing at the tarzan swing, and the water crossing was shut down when we reached it, for safety. I totally, totally get this. Spartan needs to be cautious, and I have always felt they treat safety as paramount. It was disappointing, but totally understandable. But it could have been marked better; there were no Spartan employees or volunteers at the bridge to explain what was happening, and only a few signs to guide us. At the other end, the signs were confusing and even pointed in several directions at once! I wasn’t sure I was even still on course until I was passed by some runners and followed them. This could have been much better communicated.
The first thing that really bothered me was the tedium of the course. It was Killington, and I expected hills; LOTS of hills. I’m not complaining about that; the hills almost broke me, and I love it. But the downhills… man. I enjoy a good technical, dangerous, muddy downhill with roots and stumps and wet rocks. It makes you slow down and question every footstep, it makes you grab branches and trees so you dont have a tumble. Your knees are bent, your quads are burning. But this was every single trail of Killington, and it just got so tedious and boring! There could have been more open spaces, more rolling hills, more places where we could open up and RUN. But it was just single track trail after single track trail after single track trail. And with so many people on the open course, the trails were clogged all day long and there was no change to pass anyone. It made for a repetitive and VERY SLOW course. Keep the scary, slippery single track trails, but mix it up some mor
The second thing was I dont feel they planned around darkness well. The tarzan swing was closed for safety issues as they searched for a potentially missing swimmer, I got that. But then we reached the tyrolean traverse shortly after 8, and it was closed because of the darkness. I felt this could have been easily planned for- Spartan knew how many people were racing and could have had an idea of how many of them would not be elite. They had an idea of how slow the course was, and they certainly knew when sunset was. The traverse should have been near the beginning of the race, along with the tarzan swing, so everyone would have reached it while it was still light out.
To make matters worse, it was right after a long, boring single track trail, and followed by yet another. So it felt we hiked a long way into the woods (again) just to walk past the traverse and head right back into the woods. And what about safety gear? The guide clearly stated racers must have glow sticks and headlamps to continue after a certain point. I had them, and I kept waiting to be checked, and I never was. Somewhere approaching the second spear throw, a volunteer was shouting “If you dont have a headlamp, stay with someone who does.” Excuse me? Those people should have been pulled!
After this, we got back near the base lodge, and the rope climb and spear throw were closed as well! Why were these closed?? What was the safety issue? Why werent there lights? I had kicked my ass for miles and miles, dragged my broken body through the woods in anticipation of obstacles, things I cant do at home, things that make a spartan race a spartan race. And they were closed. I would still finish the beast, but there would always be an asterisk in my head- I hadnt REALLY finished the beast, not all of it. I hadnt given up- but at that moment I felt that the spartan race had given up on me. it felt terrible and crushed me, and after that I just walked past the remaining obstacles to be finished.
As I said, Spartan races changed my life. They were hugely inspirational and motivating to me. But I am very sad to say, I will never do another Spartan race if I know I will be paying as much as everyone else, working as hard as everyone else, but wont get to do the same race as everyone else. Spartan gave up on me.
* From: Mark Seyster
* Event Details
Everything was as expected, I.e. Expect the unexpected! Registration, obstacles, course well marked – all good.
That being said this was an OCR race. If people are going to avoid obstacles (which I don’t think they should be able to do) then the penalty should be severe enough to outweigh doing the obstacle. Many avoided obstacles, did 30 burpees and were able to complete race in a much faster time than those who either did the obstacle (think Tarzan swing) and did burpees if they failed. Also need better burpee monitoring – many don’t do the 30 required. These issues skew race results big time. Not fair to those who follow rules! I hope this changes going forward. Fair is fair! Think personal integrity! Thank You!
* Race Details
* From: Rick Cushing
* Event Details
Parking: This was the most frustrating part of the day. Unlike last year, Spartan Race moved the start line up the mountain and distanced it from the main event parking. I spend 40 minutes in line waiting for a shuttle from the parking lot up to registration. Between the heavy traffic leading up to the parking lot, and the long line for the shuttle, I ended up missing my 9:30AM heat. Luckily I was able to jump in the 10:00 heat without any issues, but this aspect needs to be improved for next year….
Facilities: N/A (didn’t use them)
Vendors/Schwag: Slightly above average for a Spartan Race. They didn’t run out of anything (that I noticed). I was able to buy my two shirts, trifecta holder, and a patch without issue.
* Race Details
Course: Compared to 2013, the 2014 VT Beast Course was even harder. It was longer in distance and also included significantly more vertical elevation gain/loss overall. There were times when I would turn a corner or come out of a single track forest trail and look up and see a never ending trail of racers (who looked more like ants) hiking up an impossibly high trail to the clouds. There were several times when I just had to shake my head and come to the reality that “yep, looks like we’re going up this crazy mountain yet again!”. It felt like we spent more time in the woods this year on single track trails than the previous year. This is fun because I feel like trails are more interesting mentally as you run, and are also a little easier to traverse compared to going downhill on extremely steep ski slopes. The negative aspect however is the bottleneck of racers. I make it a goal to run whenever I’m not on a steep incline. This was a challenge in the forest sections
due to the hundreds / thousands of people just walking along at a slow pace (while going on flat or downhill sections). I did my best to politely pass people, but it’s a challenging in the narrow single track sections since many people don’t seem to watch their surroundings or anticipate that some racers may actually want to run.
Obstacles: I have run a lot of Spartan Races, but this one was the most challenging of them all in terms of upper body obstacles. The number of obstacles, difficulty, and creativity of some of the new challenges was awesome!! Obstacle Course Racing is supposed to be a full body challenge of strength, endurance, balance, and mental grit. Many races end up being more of a “trail run” with some small “inconveniences” tossed in for good measure. Well, the 2014 VT Beast was certainly not one of those races! It offered double bucket brigade carries, double sandbag carries, tryolean traverses, a long swim section with a 20′ high tarzan swing, rope climbs, double spear throws, Hercules Hoist, memorization, uphill tire drag, multiple monkey bar style obstacles, and more! What a great and challenging range of obstacles this year. OUTSTANDINGt!!
Difficulty: I ran the 2013 VT Beast (my first Beast) and did good according to my standards (finishing in 6:26). I had a couple of mishaps however along the way. Sliding down into the rope climb mud pit, I caught my calf on a rock and tore it open, suffered major leg cramping in the 2nd half of the 2013 course, and I slipped on a slick muddy section at the end and broke my knee. Needless to say, I had a very challenging time last year, and also failed 4 obstacles (attributed to grip strength and technique issues). Fast forward a year, and I was able to shave 2 minutes per mile off of my pace, didn’t fail a single strength obstacle (only failed the log hops), and made it through without any muscle cramping (course time: 6:40). Now, it sounds like 2013 was the harder of the two courses…but that’s not the case. I believe that both the terrain (hill climbs), longer distance, and more challenging strength obstacles of 2014 made it harder overall. The difference was my t
raining this year, improved grip strength, more intelligent race nutrition, and attention to obstacle specific technique leading up to the race. I would give the difficulty in 2014, and A+
There have been a lot of reviews on Facebook of racers wondering if Spartan Race is trying to cater more to the elite racers and “push out” the average Joe. I don’t believe that is the case at all. The World Championships and VT Beast are known to be the hardest race of the season and created by the most brutal of Spartan Race’s course designers. Anyone who goes into this race without proper training or who thinks that it’s going to be a Warrior Dash, has nobody but themselves to blame. There are many racers among us who are always looking for the limit of their abilities. So many races fall short in terms of really bringing a challenge when it comes to both hard terrain and difficult obstacles. The 2014 VT Beast brought it all, and left nothing behind. Without being pushed to our limits, we’re unable to discover our weaknesses and focus on ways to keep continually improving. The VT Beast is exactly what it should be…the hardest race of the year on the Spartan Circu
it, and a challenge that will leave you hobbling around for the next week after you conquer it. If that’s not what you’re looking for, you came to the wrong place (or should have signed up for a Sprint). Aroo!
* From: Jesica Kirrane
* Event Details
So where do I start. First I will start by saying this is a SPECTATOR review. I did not run the race, I don’t have interest to try. On the other hand, my husband is insane (in my eyes) and “needed” this race for his Trifecta.
We found parking to be very easy. We parked in the lower lot, by the Snow Shed lodge and walked (huff and puffed) up the road to the festival area. For my husband and his friend, this was a great warm up, for me, in jeans, a sweatshirt and a jacket also carrying a back pack, I was a little grumpy by the top and wish I had seen the shuttle… still that was my own fault, not Killington’s.
Registration was the normal cluster that it always is. I filled out the wrong waivers, my fault. Got in the slowest of all lines, my fault again… but made it through with my white wristband, map and $5 spectator bucks!
Inside, the vendors were pretty good. Seemed like lots to do and try. I was SO pleased the lodge had their bathrooms available, with running water, for potty breaks and clean hands. Food inside seemed like typical lodge food, no complaints there, just a little pricey… but it’s Killington so I expected it. I found out on Sunday that there is a restaurant on the peak, but couldn’t find it in the clouds on Saturday. But when I came back on Sunday, hubby and I took the gondola up and had a nice lunch and beers on the summit. When one of our fellow Spahtens came off the course, ill, I asked a vendor for a hotdog bun to calm his stomach down, vendor had no problem just giving it to me. It was great.
All the volunteers I dealt with were so nice.
Schwag…. I LOVE the medal. Heavy, Shiny, DIFFERENT! Like a lot of other people have said, I wish my husband’s finisher shirt was race specific. I think Spartan dropped the ball on that one. You could BUY a World Championship shirt, but come on… you could just give one to the people that complete this beast? Knowing my husband was earning his Trifecta… and knowing Spartan usually runs out of stuff before the races are over… worrying that it might jinx him, I still went ahead and bought him the Trifecta pie plate and Trifecta jacket. When I got to see him on the course I told him he couldn’t quit…. ever…. because I already bought his stuff. He didn’t want to quit anyways and smiled all the way through. I’m glad I chanced jinxing him because he did make it AND Spartan did run out off things.
* Race Details
Since this section is about the race, I’m going to talk about spectating it. I have to say I was more than pleased with the spectator guide route. I loved that I was able to cheer on my husband and other Spahtens from many obstacles and even from the peak! It kept me moving all day. I, personally, racked up 6 miles on my pedometer! Obstacles looked hard, but what do I know.. 🙂 From a wife’s perspective, I’m glad the Tarzan swing was closed, from a supporter’s perspective I feel bad that my husband didn’t get to at least try it. Because of the guide I was able to take so many up close and personal pictures of so many people. That was great. I really hope more races think this way in the future. The better the experience for the spectator, the more support we can give to the racers, I think the more people would actually go. I’ve been to a few races, cough cough Amesbury, cough cough Warrior Dash in Barre, where I kiss Eddie good bye and don’t see him again until the
finish line. This race was fun (for me). I didn’t even need the vendors to keep me entertained, my husband did. It was fantastic. I enjoyed watching all the Spahtens. You guys really are amazing. So many of you, in complete beast mode. When I would cheer and point my camera, I was greeted with smiles and Thank Yous. Spectating and cheering for 10 hours can be very exhausting too, not like what you guys did, but in a different way. But to see you guys still smiling by the time you reached the hercules hoist, was awesome. I lost my voice this weekend. I’m buying more batteries for my camera. An extra SD card…. maybe some mustard packets and packets of salt and I will see you guys at Rugged Maniac! Make sure when you hear me cheer, you smile! I’ll probably be pointing my camera!
* From: Charlie Walsh
* Event Details
Parking was a cinch. My battle buddies and I got to the mountain early, so go got to park on the side of the road within walking distance to the base lodge. Registration was easy for me, who had the needed waivers, and my friends, who still needed to sign the waivers. There was barely a line for bib pickup. Sometimes it pays to have a last name towards the end of the alphabet! Shortly after finding the team tent, I checked out the vendors, some of which were still setting up. I bought a couple of World Championship shirts, perused the rest of the selection and went back to the tent to panic at what I was about to endure.
* Race Details
Spartan Miles. Yes, it sounds like a travel rewards program, but it is actually something very, very cruel. For those who were still in the dark about what that meant before this race, it was a harsh reality. If you want to know what they are, it’s time to brush up on your geometry. You see, Spartan doesn’t acknowledge the hypotenuse of a triangle unless it’s part of a support structure. So that mile of ascent you just scrambled up? Too bad that it was only a half mile, as the crow flies, because that’s how they measured that distance. Additionally, that half mile, 70 lb sandbag carry loop at the base that you that had to crawl? That didn’t count toward the total mileage, either. It’s misleading. It’s unfair. It sucks. BUT! It’s what we all signed up for.
My biggest gripe about Tough Mudder at Mt. Snow this year was the lack of obstacle to terrain balance. That gripe also applies to the 2014 VT Beast. There were miles (also read: HOURS) where there were no obstacles. For that, I was not pleased. I’m a stickler for balance to break up the monotony, because let’s be real: you’ve seen one tree you’ve seen them all.
The obstacle selection was your standard Spartan fare: barbed wire crawl, OUT, inverted wall, monkey bars, cargo net climb, sandbag carry, log carry, spear throw, etc. Some obstacles were repeated, that might bother some people, but personally I don’t see a problem with it.
I appreciated the number of water stations there were, as they were all welcome sights, even for those of us with hydration packs. Although the aforementioned Spartan Miles made some seem further apart than expected.
There were several bottlenecks, a couple of which were caused by the fact that the event organizers let large swaths of racers pass through a couple of obstacles. One was due to emergency while divers searched for a swimmer at the rope ladder/tarzan swing. The other was at the log hop, and that was to alleviate a huge backup. Most of the other bottlenecks were caused by large groups of people having to squeeze into a single track. That caused a lot of slow downs.
This course was incredibly challenging for first time Beasters (like myself) and experienced racers alike. The camaraderie among complete strangers is one of the best aspects of OCR and this race was no different. My thanks to the Spahtens I met along the way.
* From: Jason Worswick
* Event Details
Arriving at 9:30, the traffic was backed up for a couple of miles along the road to the resorts. It took us about 30 minutes to reach the parking lots. Once there, parking was a cinch, and the volunteers made it very clear where they wanted us to park. The location of the shuttles was written above a tunnel that belongs to the venue, but I didn’t see any Spartan Race specific signs. We just followed the people hoping they knew where to go.
* Race Details
I want to start by giving a shout out to the Geigerrig guys in the shop. I lost the seal to my hydration bladder at some point while packing or travelling, and didn’t realize it until I was trying to fill up at the race. Without hesitation, the sales guys cannibalized another bladder and gave me a new seal, no charge. You guys probably saved my life.
The mountain itself was brutally hard. It was about 45-50 degrees in the morning and foggy all day, which gave the course an eery feeling. The ascents and, especially the descents, were the most difficult obstacle in the race. The “Death March” in particular, near the halfway point, was a breaking point for many.
The obstacles that I encountered (see the below) were standard Spartan fare. The location of the obstacles was actually rather uninspiring. NBC was on location filming the World Championships, so I assume that Spartan Race was trying to make things more exciting by grouping the most exciting obstacles together in one spot. This made for long stretches of boring single tracks through the woods without anything to break the monotony. This is NBC guys, they can afford to send a few extra camera men up the mountain.
This was a relatively clean race for me. Every water obstacle was closed down when I went through, so the only time I got wet was during the first barbed wire crawl. (Again, see below)
I have two big complaints that I want to elaborate on:
1) This is not the fault of Spartan Race nor the Resort, but this was the trashiest race I have ever run. There were nutrition wrappers scattered literally everywhere on the course. After the first mile, I honestly don’t think you could have gone 20 feet without encountering at least one discarded wrapper, and there were some places that just looked like somebody had dumped bags of trash on the trails. If you brought it in, you can bring it out, period.
2) I DNF’d this race. I felt great, I was prepared with everything I needed and then some, I never stopped, but I did not finish. The course material claimed that headlamps and glowsticks would be required for all racers who were on the course after 5:00. At 7:00pm, wearing them was supposed to be mandatory. We reached the woods for a long stretch of treaturous single tracks around mile 9 at 6:30.
I ended up in lockstep with groups of runners who did not have any light source, who I assume were either not pulled from the course by officials, or ignored them and continued anyway. The next 4 miles were a frustratingly slow crawl through single tracks, leading the blind, lightless runners safely through the dangerous terrain. I tried to “deposit” them with officials at the tire drag, sandbag carry, platinum rig, and tyrolean traverse, but rather than pulling those who were not equipped with light at these obstacles, the volunteers “assigned” them to groups who had light and asked us to keep them safe through the “dangerous tracks ahead”.
At 9:00pm, at the memorization test on mile 13, we were all pulled from the course by one of the race directors, who said that if it took us until 9:00 to get this far, there was no way we could complete the last mile in the hour we had left.
Because we were expected to keep the under equipped racers safe, we were pulled from the course just prior to the “big finale mile” that Spartan created for NBC.
The swim, tarzan swing, and tyrolean traverse were closed by officials before we got to them, while we were pulled from the course prior to the memory test, rope climb, second spear throw, 8′ wall, barbed wire #2, barbed wire #3, dunk wall, pole traverse, and fire jump.
The final obstacle, the human element, proved to be too difficult to overcome. Because of that, I was not able to finish my first Spartan Beast.
For the safety and enjoyment of everyone involved, Spartan race needs to enforce their light rule strictly.
Fantastic support from vendors (Geigerrig specifically)
You paid to “run” the hardest spartan race in the world, and you certainly got that.
The venue was beautiful.
Aside from the backup caused by the sheer volume of traffic arriving, the actual parking situation was handled very well.
With 30 obstacles, this was (in theory) and obstacle dense race.
Obstacles were not spread evenly throughout the course. There were stretches of miles that were nothing but narrow single tracks.
Extreme littering by participants
Reuse of the same obstacle multiple times.
Complete failure to apply the light safety rules.
I *want* to give this race a great review, because the portion that I completed (96.3%) was challenging. Not fun, mind you, but rewarding. However, I only completed 63.3% of the obstacles due to closures and the cutoff, and that tarnishes my experience substantially. The beast goes through Hell and back, but I never made it back.
* From: Richard Berthao
* Event Details
As far as events go, this was well organized. I had no issues with parking or registration. Volunteers and staff were helpful and everything was clearly marked. I cant speak to the vendor areas as I did not really look around as it seemed pretty dead. That would be my only negative in this area. A long-day event such as this should ask vendors to setup and breakdown early and late.
* Race Details
As someone fairly experienced in OCR, this was my first Spartan Beast. In the interest of not being too redundant, I want to focus on my first-timer experience.
Prior to running The Beast, I spent months researching and planning for what I needed. Much of my insight and preparation came from the NE Spahtens. As always, I was not let down by the group and almost all guidance was accurate and helpful. I will admit that, with 13 other events under my belt, I thought “these people are over exaggerating.” You were not and neither was the race packet that said “…this race is no joke.”
….on to the review.
As I arrived at the race area, I knew I was in store for some climbing as I saw the mountain ahead of me. I looked at the start line and watched an earlier heat take off downhill. I knew this game from other mountain events and I didn’t even bother to look around the corner. Soon enough, I was there and made the short dash and U-turn that became a climb. This was the first climb of many that I endured and expected. I never have a problem with the existence of long climbs because; it is a mountain. Where I did have a problem was with the monotonous single-track trail hikes. These were just time-wasters meant to burn up the day and claim more mileage for the course. Regarding the obstacles, I concur with many people that the clusters down low and large gaps with no obstacles makes for a very un-OCR obstacle course race. We were near many fire breaks and road that could have been utilized as obstacle points. For this reason, I don’t buy the safety aspect of putting them down low
. I do believe it had more to do with NBC Sports cameras catching the action where it was convenient. In terms of quality and quantity of obstacles, they were simply adequate. There was nothing much new or special on this course I hadn’t seen other than “the rig” and the (closed for safety when I got there) swim and Tarzan swing. Overall, this race was a physical challenge and was setup in an acceptable manner.
While I found the race acceptable and a true challenge, I do have some issues with the Spartan Beast overall. The first issue I have with every Spartan event is that they exist to be self-fulfilling of their own marketing hype. They say they are hard so they often do things that are hard versus challenging. How do I qualify this? A perfect example is the up and downhill over and over. Were they hard? Yes. Were they a challenge? Not if you prepared and knew what you were getting into. In comparison, a challenge may come from moving across technical terrain or designing some type of involved or complex obstacle. It may seem like semantics, but hopefully, my point is made.
Another issue I had with this event was the lack of early and clearly distributed communications and preparation guidance from Spartan Race. Yes, information was on the website and generically referenced in an email. But, it should have come in the form of a detailed email with a checklist and links to what to do and bring. Other competitors do this and Spartan should as well. I knew to look for it because that is who I am. But people who don’t look for details arrived often clueless.
The final issue I have relates to this communicated guidance. Not only should Spartan send guidance. But, they need to enforce it. Have some kind of check-in and inspection station. Give people standards and hold them accountable. Don’t simply “recommend” water, food, and headlamps but require them. If you are so fast that you don’t need these things, I’m sorry I cost you 30 seconds on your finish time from a hydration pack. Check these things pre-start time and give people the option to come back for a re-check if they are missing something (the vendor area will gladly sell anything they need). Finally, if you have a standard like a headlamp after dusk; enforce it! Pull people who don’t have it and move on.
So, as a first timer to the Spartan Beast, I was challenged, impressed, unimpressed, frustrated, and proud to finish. Will I do it again? At 8:30 Saturday night, the answer was “hell no!” As of today, I say yes. But Spartan, please get your act together and make this about the race and the racers and not just your push to make it a sport, keep Reebok marketing dollars flowing, and NBC sports coverage rolling. You have a lot of competition these days and you count on your marketing machine over racers word-of-mouth at your own peril.
* From: Janine Andrews
* Event Details
* Race Details
2014 Beast Review
6am wake up call came really early and the sound of the chopper flying around outside was when things really began to sink in and for lack of a better phrase “ Shit got real!” My husband ( battle buddy) and I headed out for the 8:30 heat and right on time, Bang, we went off at 8:31 sharp. To be honest, I don’t remember much about the first 3 miles except the chopper flying overhead and battling my race anxiety. But mile 3.5, the Tarzan swing obstacle I do remember, very clearly. My husband jumped in the water as I waited quite awhile for a PFD to arrive. Once I got it, I jumped right in and immediately my body went limp. A feeling I have never experienced, like a motor that you forgot to choke, it just went still for a minute, until I guess eventually my blood started circulating to adjust for the sudden drop in temperature, which was somewhere between 55-60 degrees. Not being the best swimmer, I flopped my way to the ladder to at least give that a try, since
it was the thing I feared most about this race. Have I mentioned, I am not a huge fan of open water and not a strong swimmer? Yeah, so I made it to about the fifth rung and since I had no strategy for this obstacle I never progressed past that rung. I was pretty much horizontal at this point with a huge gap between my arms and the sixth rung. I flopped wildly to the shore and ushered my way to the burpee corral to warm up, burpee style. Then back in the water to wreck my knees and legs on some rocks while my husband’s face turned blue from the cold water experience. Back into the woods and up we go battling hypothermia for quite some time. My lack of training was coming in to play as our trek hit about the 8 mile mark but I expected it. When I signed up for this thing 7-8 months prior, my plans were pretty normal, train 5-6 days a week solely with this race in mind. In fact, I have a backyard obstacle course of my very own to practice on. Not long after this b
rilliant plan, life took many unexpected turns that no matter how many times I swerved the wheel, I was pulled off course. To sum things up without straying too far from my Beast review, I lost both my parents within four months of each other and spent my training time, making memories and mourning instead. Before I knew it, the race was here and after watching the way my mother fought to live, I could not back down and swore that I would finish “this thing” no matter what the toll may be. It still could not compare to what both my parents had been through, one battling Alzheimers and the other battling advanced bladder cancer. I know there are some negative feelings in the community about people being “unprepared” for this type of race and I agree on many levels. I do not however, believe in any way, that I was, “unprepared”. I knew exactly what I signed up for. In fact, I attempted it last year with a broken tail bone from the NJ Super, up until mile 7 whe
n I decided enough was enough. ( See Beast 2013 review.) I had all the proper gear, food, proper footwear ( no fancy grey and yellow tennis shoes), headlamp, hydration pack, glow sticks, salt, inhaler (which I happily shared with a fellow racer who was in need) and most importantly, race etiquette. I fully expected to be out there upwards of 10 hours, with my husband by my side for every leap, step, or crawl. He was as determined as I to get me to that finish line. So back to the review. The next vivid memory I have was at the log carry, hearing the first yell of “Log!!”, then seeing it speed violently down the hill and take out a racer at the ankles, who luckily ended up uninjured. To skip ahead and to not bore anyone, it was time for the Cargo structure with 30 mph winds and bodies everywhere scampering across just to get out of the wind and back to the shelter of some trees. It was finally on to the Javelin toss at the peak of the mountain and my first successful
attempt at it. You tube videos really can be beneficial. I watched one a few nights before and studied the technique and it worked like a charm so I shared it with a few other Spartans to try and save them some unwelcome burpees. The rest is much of the same, up, down, across, relentless carries which I completed mostly by going 10-30 steps at a time and resting. On my return up the mountain for who knows what number time this was, I saw a racer sitting on his bucket of gravel, looking completely unraveled and I overhead him say to his partner, “ I don’t think I can finish this!”. So I stepped aside and looked him in the eye and simply said “ 10 steps, put the bucket down, then 10 more steps, until you are back at the bottom, you can do this!” I was so blessed to see this guy further on in the race and he stopped to thank me and told me that he was about to quit the race until I talked to him. This in turn, helped to fuel the rest of my journey to the finis
h line. I had my own doubts the whole way but knew there was only one way to complete this, stay focused and do not let any negative thoughts run my course. Before I knew it, a walkie talkie blared and a volunteer at the now closed Tyrolean traverse told us we had 5 minutes to make it to the cut off and that we could probably make it. So like Bambi on ice, visibly limping with the expected back and knee pain, I took off through the greasy single track with legs sliding in opposite directions, and probably at the same speed I attacked the first 3 miles (fight or flight mode kicked in), anything to assure I got my moment of glory after an extremely turbulent, painful year. To release you from this never ending story, skip ahead another 35 minutes or so, I could see the smoke. I turned to my husband and with tears in my eyes I muttered to him that I truly never thought I would see this today, meaning the fire. We jumped over hand in hand, embraced each other, and collect
ed our medals after 12 hours and 51 minutes on the course, with the sweet sound of Sandy Rhee (aka Mama Hen) yelling “Congratulations, you did it”, from the side lines. God how I love this team for countless reasons throughout the day. That is an entire separate review that needs to be written. Trifecta complete and emotional journey complete. Nothing to see here so please carry on. AROO!!!
* From: Jonna Capecci
* Event Details
I showed up at Killington an hour and a half before team picture was supposed to happen.
I was surprised that this race didn’t seem as organized as past Spartan races. The line for parking was long. I should have left earlier.
After parking, I followed another Spahten who I was staying with to registration. We didn’t see any signs, but noticed a long line in front of the shuttle bus so assumed we were in the right place. Others seemed to say the same thing and were just following the leader.
I didn’t really have time to go through all the vendors. I did go directly to get my t shirt in case they ran out and my metal holder. I was thinking it may jinx me to buy before I finished, but I figured I wouldn’t wear the shirt unless I finished and I could use the metal holder when I earned it.
I was disappointed that the medal holder wasn’t magnetic and the pieces just fall out. It would be nice that they stay put. And $20 seemed like a lot, but it was heavy and cool looking so I bought it!
* Race Details
I am ALWAYS a bit nervous before any race. I am still new to OCR’s and this was my first Beast. I was talked into the Super 2 weeks prior and wasn’t having as much fun with that race as I did with the sprint which made me think the Beast was going to be torture.
I trained and was on FB continually getting advice on gear, etc which helped tremendously. I came prepared! I had a headlamp, a new hydration pack that I didn’t even know had a lock until a fellow Spahten told me when I was getting worried I wasn’t able to get any fluid out. I brought a lot of mustard and fuel to last me and I came very hydrated! I even peed 4 times during the race!
The course was tough. I have hiked twice in my life and both times was weeks before with a 10# weight vest. It helped. I am a runner so I put in the miles pre race which helped with a 12 mile hilly run one week before. I tapered pre race which also seemed to help a lot. Last real workout was the Monday before with small workouts Tuesday and Wed and Thursday and Friday off. Going in fresh to a long race made such a difference to me! This course was truly more of a hike, but when we were able to run, it was so nice. I found myself running more at Killington than in NJ at the Super. There was a lot of climbing/ hiking involved, but being with so many like minded people made it bearable.
The obstacles were familiar except for a few new ones. I was surprised to see 2 spear throws, 2 bucket carries, 2 barbed wire crawls and 2 sandbags. I guess they had to get in as much as they could!
New obstacles for me included the tarzan swing under the bridge, the tyrolean rope, the cargo nets, the “rig” and the upper body bar on chains at the end of the race. I’m from California and swimming isn’t a fear for me, but the drop in freezing water was. The tarzan swing obstacle was closed when we came to it so I didn’t have to do that. The tyrolean rope obstacle was at the end of the course and I didn’t want to get wet despite wanting to do this obstacle. I decided to do burpees and then the obstacle was closed for safety. I burpeed the rig as I didn’t think I had it in me and saw so many strong guys fail. Again, I skipped the last upper body obstacle and didn’t do burpees. I am still regretting that. I was done at that point. I was tired and wanted the race to be finished, but I didn’t want to quit.
I really liked the cargo net obstacles. It was fun climbing both and holding the upright net up to help others.
The walls I needed help, but there was always someone there to give a hand.
For me, the upper body obstacles, especially at the end of the race were too much for me to do. I regret not at least trying. I felt obligated to keep moving with my battle buddy.
My battle buddy was really hurting with intense knee pain and we avoided the second sandbag carry. I also regret that. I knew she couldn’t do it, but I wish I still did.
I have never seen “the rig” or the upper body bar on chains at the end of the race before. Both were fails for me.
I think being obstacle heavy at the end was the difficult part.
I was expecting 12+ miles as they advertised, but found that several with GPS watches telling me the mile markers Spartan posted were way off. This really affected me as I thought I would have finished much sooner than I did. Last I heard, the race was over 16 miles.
As I said, I came prepared. I didn’t cramp and I tried to make the most of the race. I was happy and having fun until it got dark. Then it became difficult and slow being in a single file line in a dark trail. My fear of turning an ankle and getting hurt was on my mind. I just took it slow and got through it.
My big complaint was so many people seemed under prepared. I saw several guys without shirts and without packs and fuel. My buddy and myself handed out mustard, salt and glow sticks.
I need to do this race again for myself. It is great to have someone next to you, but I feel I missed obstacles I should have at least tried and I skipped burpees on 3 obstacles due to just being done with the race and trying to keep moving with my battle buddy who was really hurting. It is still eating at me. I still feel I finished the race and earned the medal, but I want to do it all over and do it my way.
It was definitely the hardest and longest race I ever have done. I have ran marathons 10 years prior and this took me close to 2 1/2 times longer as my best marathon was 4 hours and this race took close to 10.
* From: Lisa Cullity
* Event Details
parking – $10, free for volunteers, most parking was walkable to event- further parking had a free shuttle
Vendors – several, free Core Power, Builders Bars, several products to learn more about
Schwag – Special edition finishers Medal – which I found very cool, ordinary finishers T shirt – very NOT cool
Spectator access – awesome! – free gondola rides to top of mountain, many obstacles at the bottom meant spectators could have excellent viewing opportunities. lodge was comfortable and accommodating, Many food vendor choices, prices were moderate but not outrageous. beer garden with weather protection for spectator comfort- could even view race from these clear huts (don’t ask me how I know)
Merchandise- popular items, like always, sold out. That is unfortunate.
* Race Details
This was my first Spartan Beast. I have done some Sprints, but I knew this would be a very different race, and hard to complete. This race delivered on that promise, and there is very little I would change.
I researched carefully what I would need to do to be ready for the challenge I would be up against. A little background – I only started training of any kind May of last year, when I was extremely overweight and could not run a quarter mile. I discovered Spartan Race in the fall of last year, Fenway Park. I was hooked. From then on googling anything SR related, and discovered the Beast. I booked a hotel room in February, and trained faithfully six days a week from then on – on to the race……
Parking for me was easy, and a medium walk to registration. My registration line was very short and I had my 3 waivers signed a ready so I flew right through. I easily found New England Spahtan tent, and meet several nice folks right off the bat. Its nice to know people while running, but I get wicked race brain, so I almost never run “with” anyone. The start was crowded but organized, and everyone fit into the corral and off we went. A short run down and around a corner and we were on our first (and in retrospect shortest) uphill climb. Everyone was in good spirits and chatting. This would end by mile 5 or so. Most of what I will call the first series of obstacles were relatively easy by Spartan standards. Sandbag, bucket, OUT walls. Then on to some more serious climbs and thickly wooded treks. These wooded stretches would prove to be numerous and treacherous throughout the day. I personally watched two people break their ankles that day. The trails were narrow
and steep with little room for either passing, or getting out of faster racers ways. It would be one of my few complaints about the race.
I honestly do not remember the exact order of obstacles or which path came after another. I do know we ascended the summit K1, and two other major climbs including a death march under the gondola, and several smaller ones. All the trade mark Spartan obstacles (atlas carry, multiple barbed wire crawls, traverse wall, log hop/log walk combo, monkey bars, herculean hoist, 2 bucket brigades, 2 sandbag carries, 2 spear throws, tire pull, memorization, Tyrolean traverse) were there as well as the new “Rig” – a ring/bar/foot ring contraption and the now infamous Tarzan swing with its 90% failure rate.
I myself ended up with 215 burpees. I fail all upper body obstacles late in a race (I am 5’1″ , and fatigue =failure) and I have never hit a spear throw yet. Lol
I agree with some – better spacing of obstacles would be nice. There a logistical problems with that on a mountain too. So I guess Ill just consider that part of the challenge.
I loved the challenge of this race and I for one would not want it to have been much easier. I wouldn’t have had the same feeling of accomplishment at the end. I will be back next year- if sign ups were available I would already be registered. The atmosphere and attitude of almost everyone I met was amazing.
On to the areas for improvement. Spartan simply has to do a better job, and earlier, of informing entrants of what is expected of them. Physically, mentally, attitude wise, and physical gear needed to complete the race they are entering. I felt very bad for every person I saw either walking of the course because it was to much, or they were too hungry, thirsty, cold, or in pain. I have no problem with people of varying fitness levels – but they should know what they are getting in to, and how physically challenging it will be. Something along the lines of: This race will take several hours, and require the physical workout of: (a half ironman Triathlon -for example in the case of the beast) To me a Spartan sprint is about as hard as a sprint triathlon, a little less than a half marathon, with more upper body). I don’t think many people know how hard it will be.
I guess maybe my view is a little skewed, I also do triathlons. Your gear is checked, if you do not have a mandatory piece of gear you don’t start. Period. This is for everyone’s safety. While I was happy to help people on course handing out food and pain meds, I was very surprised to be asked by a volunteer to lead people with no light at all through the dark woods. The rules were very clear on this. After sundown, if you did not have two glow sticks and a headlamp you would be taken off the course. Had I DNF’ed by missing time cut offs because of this I would have been well, very angry. I have seen three online post of racers that had the same thing happen to them, two of which stated they did DNF because of this. I understand that many people did not think they would be on the course after dark – but that is their mistake. No competitor should be put in a position of having their race and finish put in jeopardy to accommodate another without required equipment.
If someone volunteers to lead someone – great, but they should not be put on the spot by Spartan staff. All that being said – I’d have probably done it anyway.
Trash – if you carry it in, carry it out. There was so much trash thrown everywhere.
This is not he races fault – unless you think they should do more to enforce penalties for littering.
Last – The commercialization of Spartan Racing. Or should I say Reebok Spartan Race. I have only just started OCR’s but I seem to be less bothered by the commercialization then others and I’ll tell you why. I want this sport to continue, and continue to grow and expand and improve. None of that will happen without money. If there is no money to be made by running the events, OCR operations will shut down. Anyone remember Rukus? Run for Your Lives? and others? – I do. They are gone. It is because of Rukus’s closing that I discovered Spartan Racing. And I don’t want it to close.
So if partnering with Reebok brings in cash and or resources to help these races continue – so be it.
So go ahead Reebok – pitch me shoes, pitch me clothes, and hey – if they are good – I’ll buy them -but that’s a whole other review.
I will be back for more.
* From: Nate DeMontigny
* Event Details
Parking: Simple enough and on site. $10 fee which is standard. If you parked in the far lot there were constant shuttles running back and forth, again simple and it ran effectively.
Facilities: The racers were spoiled, the restrooms were all indoor, no portapoopers that got messier by the hour. There was on site food via the lodge at Killington. I thought it was brilliant that they covered everything in plastic, less mess. Was it aesthetically pleasing? No, but that’s not what they were setting out to do.
Vendors: Minus the usual suspects (Core Power, Reebok and Clif) there was only the Spartan merch store. Which was sold out of everything people were looking for by late Saturday night. If you arrived on Sunday and expected to buy anything that said “Trifecta” on it, or even the Championship specific shirts, you were out of luck. Spartan really needs to do a better job at this, it’s a cash cow and they are losing out!
* Race Details
Let me say, I should have stayed at the hotel Saturday night, and I should have stayed off of Facebook. But, stupid me, I went down. I went there with the intention to cheer team-mates on and see the awards ceremony for the elites. I heard everyone talk about how difficult the course was. The water was cold, people were dropping from hypothermia. I was freaking the heck out, man!
Sunday morning, against my better judgement, I showed up. I got as pumped as I could and went over to the start for my heat. I had my Geigerrig full of water and electrolytes, I had my nutrition packed in as well and luckily, I had brought a headlamp! I was as prepared as I was going to get!
Even the day after, details are a blur a week later. At this point I was still on that damned mountain. There wasn’t much time for running as it was either uphill or downhill. Not that much of that mattered because the downhills had destroyed my left knee, so I was hobbling nearly the whole race. I nailed the usual obstacles I excel at. I was 50/50 on the spear toss. I was demoralized by all the bucket and sandbag carries. The monkey bars have been one of my faves and I swore I would fail them being at the tail end of the race. Not that day! I nailed them and was pumped as I dismounted the final bar.
The final obstacle, the fire jump, I had to reach deep within to make it over. I swore my foot maybe hit some of the wood, but I got over anyway. I hit that finish line drained of everything I had, EVERYTHING! I got my medals put around my neck and nearly dropped to my knees with overwhelming emotion. Luckily, teammate Sean Gifford, called me over for some support and a man-hug and all was good with the world. That meant a ton!
I am not sure I will be back. But it’s not because of the race or the difficulty. I enjoy running a bit more and until I am trained to full on run a course like this, slogging it through is not my goal.
Did I enjoy it? Yes, I did. I wanted to quit more than a few times, but I dug deep and swore I would not give up.
Oh, ok maybe I will be back….
* Name: Nick Murphy
Once again I returned to Killington mountain for the 2014 Spartan World Championship Beast. This is my third year attending this event so I knew pretty much what to expect in relation to travel time, traffic, parking etc. This time I came in from East Mountain Rd off Route 4. I remembered there being quite a bit of traffic on Killington Rd last year, early even, and I was arriving around 8:30am for my 10:30 start time. Just before I reached Killington Road, I realized I forgot cash. A quick trip into the Golf course club house (downstairs ATM, $4 fee) on East Mountain Road, took care of that. As expected, there was quite a line of cars on Killington Road which I was quickly let in and just a few car lengths away from the lot attendants collecting $10 per car. I received a normal red “Keep this Ticket”, numbered. I recall in the past receiving a numbered, green Spartan and date specific pass, but that’s a minor detail. No information was given as to where to park, what to follow or shuttles etc. Parking seemed all over the place. It looked as though there may have been 1000+ cars between parking lots and on the sides of the road already. I noticed shuttles, and that is when I figured the start had moved from where it was in past years. I elected to walk to the registration tents though which was a good incline that many weren’t expecting. I think I saw more fail that hill then the Beast!
I came prepared with (3) waivers, completed and signed, only to be told that I needed a different 2 page yellow one, and I guess I didn’t need the NBC wavier at that time. I only had a 2 person wait to receive my packet and green wrist band with my start time written on it. I was expecting a green Beast sticker in my packet, but there wasn’t one. Side note – the quality of those stickers seems to be sub-par. They seem to last only several months on a car. By then I normally run another and get more stickers to replace it though!
I made my way to the festival area, in search for out Biggest Team tent. Somehow, being one of the biggest tents and teams this always seems to be more difficult than one would think. I got a decent look around at the normal festival tents and merchandise. In my mind had an image of a more grand festival area for the World Championship but instead it seemed a little small scale. What seemed to make up for it was the use of the ski lodge and their beer gardens. I didn’t get much use out of any of the above, besides my free beer (took a while to figure out which one of the 3 tickets and the bottom of my bib they needed). The best part of the location I think was the view of the obstacles. Not only good for spectators but good to know what lies ahead while on the course! I didn’t even browse the merchandise tents. I pretty much knew what was out there for new stuff before I arrived. I had already purchased the long sleeve beast WC shirt online before hand, then saw the even more expensive T-shirt version online before the event day. I am normally a sucker for an event specific shirt now and again. I’m not one that holds their breath waiting for and event specific finisher shirt to be given out though. Once that happened at Fenway, and it was awesome. I guess then they figured they could make a truck load selling them instead at the races. It is a business, I understand. I would say the festival area was an improvement from the previous years though. Still lacking in some area’s, but the slam dunk…. heated changing tents!!! What an unsuspected surprise!! I believe someone unplugged the heater (on accident) by the time I left though, so I hope someone took care of that.
After the team picture, I made my way to the start. It was a bit remote but there was plenty of room for spectators etc. I find that I liked it was away from chaos and those that were there were there for a reason to see someone off or getting ready to line up. And I was just mesmerized by the helicopter buzzing around! That pilot sure can fly! We all crammed in for the start, pretty run-of-the-mill hype-up and off we went.
The course began a small ways up a hill and headed down, then around, and then up. This was a common theme throughout the day. There was a fair amount of climbing until coming across the over, under and through obstacles. Run, then to the pancake sand bag. Decent run to the first bucket carry. Knowing that this was not the only one since it wasn’t the one I saw from the festival area, I knew this was just the warm up to the other one! Run, and onto the traverse wall. Nothing new here. Next, well, would have been the swim to the Tarzan swing. I saw people coming out of the water as a course marshal announced that this obstacle was closed and to make our way around the pond. I saw divers and rescue workers searching the water under the swings and someone said that there was someone underwater that didn’t surface. Quite concerning. I made my way around the pond, stopped and did 30 burpees for the missed obstacle as another course marshal told everyone to get out of the waters edge and walk on the road (at the time, I wasn’t aware that it was an obstacle to walk the waters edge). I continued on, rather worried that it had been maybe 10 or more minutes that I watched people dive under the water and come up empty handed. Fast forward – I found out at the end of the race that everyone was accounted for. The details beyond that are a good game of telephone. Now that everyone is ok, I can say I was disappointed I didn’t get the chance to attempt the Tarzan swing. I have never completed it in my now three years. This year, I actually built one in my backyard and practiced until I was sure I could get it this year. Better safe than sorry though. After that we hit some good trails. I enjoyed the trails. This is how I like to train. As many have mentioned, bottle neck was very heavy at this point with the previously closed obstacles. I did not let that determine my race though. As politely as I could, I announced “On your left please, thank you!” and it worked wonders! Didn’t run into a single problem with people giving way, some even thanking me for announcing. There are times I cut a bit off course, around a tree or rock to keep my momentum and it worked. When I felt I could run, I ran. I decided my pace, not the crowd. You just had to want it bad enough I guess and be polite about it!
After a while came the Atlas carry. The only thing about this out of the ordinary was a 14 year old boy (I heard him say his age) that maybe weighted 85lbs, had is hands out ready for me to transfer the concrete ball I was carrying to him. “No offense bud” I said, “There is no way I’m giving this to you, it weighs about twice what you do!” Luckily a course marshal explained he could at least use the red or the woman’s weight. I admire his eagerness to STFU though. Barb wire crawl came up next. I was happy to see that it seemed they had the wire a little higher then on a sprint. Very welcome since I had a large Camelbak on but didn’t even remove it and made it through with very little to no snagging. Log carry came after that. The volunteer was great shouting the directions to this! I believe that was already commented on in our page. Logs were a good size. I got handed one and headed up the somewhat short loop. I did see one person get taken out by a rolling log. It was announced but just didn’t have enough time to move. A little ways away was the Log jump to balance beam to log jump. There was a bit of a line at this. I saw people failing left and right, myself included (first PENALTY burpees). The best thing I saw was two guys, unknown to each other I was told, start to fall on separate beams in towards each other, but grabbed hands and made an “arch” supporting themselves and stayed up. They side stepped together like that to the end! Everyone thought it was genius! Yet no one else tried it…
There was a wall right after that. Once I hit that wall, cramp city! I parked at the top, complained, got down, stretched quickly and kept going. That led to a horizontal cargo net between trees. This was not very high up, but still had the signature added obstacle for the men at the top! More single track running after that, a good distance to the top and maybe the highest point of the day? There was the A frame cargo net, in the clouds, wind and must have been about 40 degrees. The elements where more difficult than the obstacle! A short ways to the tractor pull which was down then up a bit of a hill. Up a bit more of a hill (lined with spectators) was the memorize chart. This bothered me a bit. It was a memorize test, not a writing test. So many people brought markers to write down their code. To each their own I guess. Next, my nemesis. Spear throw. This is also something I have built and practiced in my backyard this year. Amesbury was my first event since building and practicing, and I missed that one! This particular throw had the added “bonus” of a rope attached to the spear, and winds so strong it made me think the spearman was going over! I trusted my training that threw… got it! I am surprised to say, the rope was different but while running to the next obstacle and celebrating I thought the rope was a nice touch to retrieving the spear rather than shutting down the obstacle to restock. I know it was necessary for where that one was located, or there will be many of spears down a hill.
We trekked down a section of the mountain were the gondola ride was. Heard a guy shouting from one “suck it up” from the comforts of his seat above us all. This lead us down to the festival area. I straightened up and gave my best show on the inverted walls. Amazing how a large group of watchful eyes gives you a bit more strength! I needed it too, next was the second bucket carry. I do my best not to put the bucket down at all, picking it back up and going on is never fun. I did stumble however, keeping all of my rocks thankfully, and enjoyed a few sips from my pack from the ground before toughing through the remainder of the carry. I clocked this as being about 10+ miles in. As I went to head up the hill, I actually saw then hugged a friend I had been hoping to see since the closure of the Tarzan swing! With that was a load off my shoulders, and I pressed on. What was next could only be called the Death March. This was the most straight shot up the mountain of the day. Seemed to go on forever! It must have been about 3/4 a mile and it was wearing everyone thin. A few people I came across were mentioning the “Q” word. I just kept going.
I came across the mountain a bit to the tire pull, which of course was up hill. At least returning the tire to the start potions was downhill! A bit of a trek and then I saw it. I had been dreading this since I saw it from the team tent. The Sandbag Carry. This went up quite a steep part of the mountain, probably a half mile total. It went up, then it went up even steeper. I refused to look up though, just one foot in front of the other until it was done. Sucked.
Back up we go. Finally I come upon a highly anticipated obstacle, the Platinum Rig. Heard about it, read about it… maybe even dreamed about it. I was excited to tackle it. I watched a few failures as I approached. It looked like the perfect recipe for failure, requiring grip strength, balance and patience. All were pretty shot at this point, but I conquered it! I was feeling pretty good about my performance now, running on a new high. And then came the Tyrolean Traverse. I completed this obstacle last year, wasn’t pretty but I it got done then. I had put in some practice on new technique for this time around and felt pretty confident with it. They changed it up a little bit this year. They seemed to make it so you can’t or shouldn’t attempt to go all away across to the other side by using a smaller thinner rope after the bell. After watching Hobie go all the way across in the NBC broadcast of last year, I had it in my head that that is what I would try until I saw the altered rope. Anyway, not much of a wait thankfully, so I climbed under and went. I felt as if I was flying along, the rope sagged a bit and my pack / back were in the water a little. I looked for the bell that sounded within reach, well it wasn’t. The last body length or two, I’m sure resembled the ugliness of last year but I rang the bell and dropped. This was my first dip in the water of the day. Cold, but refreshing at that point. Out I went, through some woods and right up to some volunteers with clip boards. From MEMORY, I recited my code: Hotel 042-1818. Received a high five, and off I went.
Rope climb was next. This is one of my better obstacles, knots or not. Very glad for the knots this time cause I was starting to really feel the burn of my forearms and dwindling grip strength. Up I went, rang the bell and then, spear throw again. No rope this time on the spear and very few spears. This obstacle did not seem manned at all. I grabbed one though, aimed and nailed it!! Pumped!! On to a wall, barb wire crawl dunk wall and another barb wire crawl. That second crawl, right there was my low point. I went downhill very fast at that point. I felt as though my mind was slipping along with my body. I had hydrated and eaten enough. Cramps where there but not over powering, but I was just drained. Physically and mentally. I went under the dunk wall and saw burpees, I mean a pipe obstacle. I watched many failures here, and a couple completions too, in different fashions. Having never done or seen this, I went for the facing-forward sliding-hands technique. Made it to the transfer to the other bar when my arms straightened out and that was the end of me. 2nd penalty burpees. I knew of the next few obstacles because I saw them earlier. Hercules Hoist, nailed it. Seemed lighter than at Amesbury. Good thing or I would have failed. The fly-over (I think it’s called), quick up, over and down. Then the monkey bars. The varied height of these had me worried being near the end, and for good reason. I had two rungs left when my strength gave out. Burpees. From there though, only the fire jump to go (so I thought)! I rounded a corner and looked left at the markers pointing up the mountain a bit yet again, with logs and sticks making that path quite the obstacle for tired legs. I didn’t skip a stride, and I kept my thoughts to myself after what I just witnessed and trudged on. Once I rounded the top and looked down, I saw it. The fire jump and the Finish line!! I started talking to myself like a mad man, forcing myself to spend everything I have left on running down that mountain over the fire jump and across that finish line, and that is exactly what I did! Victory!! Finally!!
Again, this is my third World Championship Beast. By far the most difficult and the longest. I was still able to conquer it faster than I have any other year and that is because of year-round training. The Beast is not to be taken lightly. There is a reason there are 3 different levels of Spartan (maybe 4, as the WC being the 4th). There has been a lot of talk about how brutal this course was, and well, it was with good reason. Everyone should or could have been aware of what they were getting into, and no one forces them to complete it if they felt they couldn’t. It is your own race when you sign up. I think you should at least always attem the obstacles and complete all of the penalty if you fail. If you order a large coffee but can’t finish it or handle it, you don’t call for the coffee shop to stop making such a large drink, you order a medium or a small. If you bit off more than you can chew, learn from it and move on. Next year’s course will be harder, that I’m sure. Form me to be ready I will train harder, smarter and plan on beating this years time even. Because if you are not improving, you are….
* From: Amy LaPanne
* Event Details
Parking – fine. Shuttle, not so much. There was a ridiculous wait for the shuttle so we hoofed it up the mountain to get to the registration tables. That ended up being our warm up. We had to wait so long at the registration tables that we missed the team picture (again) and ended up getting through the bag check with about 15 minutes to spare before our start time.
Vendors – Here’s pet peeve #1: On the first day of the race, they were out of trifecta shirts by the time we finished (8:30pm). Seriously?! IT’S THE FIRST DAY OF THE EVENT. How can the planning be that bad? Let’s face it, they aren’t location-specific (pet peeve #2), and you have to know that people were planning on this very race to complete their trifecta so why in the name of all that’s holy do you not just load the trucks with them? Then just bring them to the next race along with the obstacles that you packed up & put away. When we finished all they had were XL sweatshirts. GRR. For a change this time I was able to get a small finishers shirt. It’s bigger than the last small finishers shirt that I got at the NJ Super, but at least it’s closer to my size than the dress of a shirt that I had to get at Mohegan.
Facilities – the ladies’ changing room was deserted by the time I got there, and that was fine with me because there were chairs in it that I got to use! YAY! And a heater! YAY AGAIN! I didn’t bother with the hoses before I changed because I was already cold and figured that I’d just make it worse. The port-a-potties that I used before & after the race, and on course, were surprisingly not as disgusting as I had expected.
Schwag – OK, can we all agree that the World Championship medal was freaking awesome? Super impressive, snazzy event-specific ribbon lanyard, substantial weight. Now I know how Mr. T feels.
* Race Details
Race details – I’m not going into all of the obstacles since that’s been repeated so many times by others but I will say that having spectators on course was so heartwarming to me. There were so many times I just wanted to walk off that mountain and I came across someone who looked me in the eye & told me to keep going…I honestly get choked up thinking about it. The two ladies near the concrete block drag who were so proud to tell me that another racer told them that they could be heard all the way down the mountain (no exaggeration) warmed me to my soul. They cheered for me like they were my family and I haven’t stopped thinking about their kindness.
What I will say about the obstacles is that I thought there were too many “clumps” of them, and too many long stretches of hiking. The obstacles themselves were pretty standard too, but I did like the platinum rig. We missed out on the Tarzan Swing & Tyrolean Traverse due to darkness and the missing guy thing. I didn’t want to do either due to a health condition, so it didn’t break my heart, but it would have been cool to see people do them.