Tuesday, September 27, 2016

2016 Philly Spartan Sprint Race Report

Disclaimer: I was contacted by Spartan Race's Dan the PR man and given a free entry into any Spartan Race within the continental U.S. in 2016.  I was not asked to write a favorable report. All opinions herein are my own.

Well the time has come, friends.  After so many years of writing about the Spartan Race, I was finally able to get myself to one of the events and join #SpartanNation.  I participated last weekend in a Spartan Sprint, which took place at Citizens Bank Park, home of the Philadelphia Phillies baseball team.

It almost didn't happen.  I signed up for this race back in the spring when we had Saturdays completely free.  But last week Stevie got a job teaching Saturday mornings, and then we had a last minute babysitter scheduling snafu (#parentlife).  I tried tweeting at Spartan Race a few times to see if they allowed racers to switch time heats on the same day as the event, but no one ever responded.  I finally contacted a friend on Facebook who was working registration who told me running in a later heat was no problem.  Crisis averted, even if it meant I had to miss out on the competitive heat I'd signed up for at 8am.

I love that Spartan Race has an elite heat first thing in the morning, followed by a competitive heat that anyone can sign up for, followed by all the jebronies throughout the rest of the day who don't care about their time.  The race still focuses on camaraderie, much like the Tough Mudder, but unlike the Tough Mudder, a sense of competition is not lost.

So I drove over to the stadium in the afternoon and parked in the stadium lot and headed inside.  I found the start area and got in line, and after about twenty minutes of waiting, I was sent off in a group of twenty.

The course immediately sent us into the visiting team's dugout, then up a stairwell and into the visiting team's locker room where we had to do twenty pushups.  We quickly made our way up to the top of the stadium where we spent a lot of time going up and down the stairs, zigzagging through the sections, sometimes carrying heavy things like sandbags or water jugs.  I learned that Spartans love carrying heavy things.

Other obstacles included the spear throw (racers get only one shot to throw the spear into the target, which I nailed), jumping/climbing over walls of varying height, crawling under bungee cords, climbing a rope to ring a bell, box jumps, etc.

I only failed to complete two of the obstacles: Using a rope and pully to pull a heavy sand bag to the top, and the monkey bars (my hands were too slick with sweat).  If a racer chooses to skip an obstacle or cannot complete it, he has to do 30 burpees.  I also learned that Spartans love burpees.

After finishing, we all got a shirt, a banana, and a protein bar, and you could use the beer ticket at any of the concession stands to get a free large can of Coors Light.

Racers wear the same orange chips on their shoes that runners wear, and each racer gets an official time.  I ended up finishing in 50:09.

I loved this race.  If you're a Phillies fan, even a casual one like me, getting to go through the dugout and locker room and onto the warning track of the field is a pretty cool experience. Every future Phillies game I go to I will always think of the different obstacles I did all over the stadium.

Parking was free and easy.  Registration was quick and organized.  The course was challenging and fun with music being blasted on the stadium sound system and video on the jumbotron.  The shirt is comfortable and looks awesome (take note Rock n' Roll, with your hideous neon green tech shirts this year).

My only complaint is that while the course is marked to show racers where to go, there are no mile markers to give racers a sense of how far along they are.  There are so many twists and turns in the stadium that it's easy to lose track of how far you've come and how far you have to go.  I was trying to conserve energy with some of the obstacles and may have saved a little too much.  I felt I could have given even more.

I'm definitely hooked on Spartan Race now, and hope I get to do another soon.  If so, I plan to upgrade to the Super next.

Until then, AROO!

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