The Spartan Super and Sprint weekend in sunny/hot Jacksonville was a FANTASTIC experience! These were the first two races of the year for me, and the Super was the first race in the Spartan National Series. It was amazing to see the Elite and Age Group athletes that came from all over North America to battle it out for a spot on the podium.
I arrived at the venue at 6:30am so that I'd have a full hour to get ready to run the elite heat. Unfortunately, there was an issue with the registration and everyone ended up waiting in line for about 20 minutes which really cut into our warm up time. (That was Spartans first obstacle for us.....). The start line was packed full of some serious competitors. Some I had met at other races and others I had only seen on the live stream, but either way I knew it was going to be one heck of a battle. When we finally heard "GO!" everyone shot off so fast that it seemed more like a 400m dash then a 8.5 mile obstacle run.
The first 2-ish miles of the course were packed full of obstacles. I really like how Spartan did this because it really gave the spectators a great view of some intense obstacle action. (It also made for some great pictures). Once we made it past the line up of obstacles, we were onto the technical terrain. The course was flat, but of course Spartan won't let it be easy so there was plenty of muddy and swampy terrain to slow us down!
Scattered throughout the rest of the race were some of the new obstacles like The Helix, 8 Ft Wall, and Beater. All three were a TON of fun and more challenging then I would have thought from the videos online, but still easier than obstacles like Twister for example. On The Helix, you had to contort yourself at some awkward angles and try not to slip because of the mud. 8 Ft Wall was harder than expected because there wasn't really anything to grab onto since you can't grab the top bar. Beater was tons of fun and challenging because it started to rain right before I got to it, but again, I twister is harder.
I didn't finish where I wanted to either day but I am surprisingly okay with it. Maybe it's because I got to travel to another state, race in a custom jersey, go up against some of the top OCR athletes in the world, push myself to the limit, and meet some awesome people?
All in all Jacksonville was a blast and I am really encouraged and excited about the direction that Obstacle Course Racing is taking. Unfortunately this was the only National Series race that I can attend, but hey, that's what the Stadion Series is for! PS. My wife and I ate at Joe's Crab Shack after the Super on Saturday and they have some delicious seafood :) I highly recommend it!
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Luke Hayes (Article Author)