Since we published this review, and Amesbury Sports Park hosted the 2014 Spartan Race, it’s safe to say, things have changed. Putting courses through conservation land, and a lack of correct permitting (both on the park of ASP *and* the town’s lack of enforecement) has put the venue up for sale and an end to all OCRs hosted there. A late Oct edition of a local paper details the situation in a little more detail.
** original article **
We also didn’t know MaryCarol, the venue owner, and we had no idea how pivotal the location and her support was going to become for the region and the exploding OCR scene over the next four years.
Here we are, half way through 2014 – and I have no idea how many events I’ve attended there. From Spartan Race, Civilian Military Combine, Warrior Dash, Superhero Scramble – along with her other locations in the region, MaryCarol has hosted all the national events in some form or other, and the quality of venue and support offered is clear – they keep coming back.
Amesbury itself is fantastic for races – with it’s dominant tubing slope offering fantastic spectator viewing of what usually ends up being the most dramatic portion of the races, to huge open fields that support digging for big obstacles and water pits – the park also offering a few miles of single track trail, some wooded regions suitable for trail blazing, a couple of small creek crossings and even a sand pit. There’s enough variety, that despite four years running multiple events here, I’ve yet to run the same course twice – every event owner who comes in puts some unique spin on their course.
For spectators, the astroturf at the bottom of the slope never gets muddy, and even when I’ve raced in storms, you only have some standing water to deal with – they can see right up the main hills, which if the event director is smart, they have several obstacles here for people to watch. Sometimes, they’ll let you up the slope, or into the open spaces – but this varies race to race.
The ancillary support offered is great too – satellite parking at remote sites, with buses to bring you in is rarely a big deal (although sometimes they can get backed up, depending on the race and time of day), and the sports park offers various beer and drink vendors – depending on what the event director wants to spring for (hint: racers prefer good quality beers … none of this coors light crap, please and thank you!), and they usually cater the food themselves, selling it on a ticket system. I’d love to see this food selection have more variety and healthier options – especially considering the active, athletic crowd – but the prices are fair for an event, and food is delivered quickly. We have brought in our own healthier choices when we know a burger and fries wasn’t going to cut it post race.
However, thanks to this venue, national race series have a known entity in the region. MaryCarol and her crew will ensure that everything in their control goes smoothly – which sometimes can be the difference between a poor and a great race. It’s REALLY easy for a half decent race to screw up with food vendors, or parking, and customers walk away with a miserable experience – and thanks to the wealth of experience at the sports park, a race that isn’t from New England knows they can rely on her for this stuff to go well, and focus on doing there thing.
Amesbury Sports Park is one of the big reasons why New England is so attractive to traveling races, and a big reason why we have such a high quality of OCR experience.
Thanks MaryCarol and crew!