Sprint Recap found here.
Super Recap found here.
The Heritage Ranch in Red Deer Alberta played host to the Spartan Sprint and Super weekend yet again. Past races held at this venue have been extremely similar, to the races held before them. Well, that was not the case at the 2017 Red Deer Spartan Sprint and Super. If you ran the Red Deer Spartan previously, you would not recognize the 2017 event. Spartan Race completely flipped, and revamped the Heritage Ranch venue into an exciting and challenging course!
Completely Revamped Course
As mentioned above the Red Deer Spartan Race received a huge face lift and it was phenomenal. Below are a few of my favorite aspects of the new layout.
Big, Fun, Challenging Obstacles
A large number of big, fun, challenging, and diverse obstacles were onsite to test racers at Red Deer. A few favorites include the Plate Drag, Hercules Hoist, Olympus, Platinum Rig, Atlas Carry, Stairway to Sparta, Water Crossing, and the large A-Frame Cargo net. Of these obstacles the Bucket Brigade and Platinum Rig, posed a greater challenge than what it is typically seen in Western Canada.
The Bucket Carry in Western Canada is often light and not much of a challenge (our dirt just must be lighter). The Bucket Carry at Red Deer still wasn’t as heavy as other venues, but it was heavier than years past, so that’s a plus. The path for the bucket carry was fairly short, but consisted of bushwhacking through dense trees, and technical single track. A relatively heavier Bucket Carry combined with bushwhacking added up to a fun challenge.
The Platinum Rig in particularly was a burpee maker. A combination of back to back ropes (in the sprint) followed by, a low ring, to high shaft, to low ring, to high T-bar, to low ring, was difficult for most participants, and near impossible for many. On Sunday the Platinum Rig was made a little easier for the Super, by replacing one of the ropes with a ring. Easier is a relative term, as the Platinum Rig always poses a challenge.
The Festival Area was huge and extremely spectator friendly! From the festival area spectators could watch racers charge through a number of obstacles, including: Vertical Cargo, Rolling Mud, Hercules Hoist, Olympus, Multi-Rig, Spear Throw, A-Frame Cargo, Barbed Wire Crawl, Slip Ramp, and Fire Jump. In addition to the obstacles visible from the Festival Area, spectators could also easily watch racers tackle the Monkey Bars, Rope Climb, Atlas Carry, and Stairway to Sparta, by taking a short 1-2 minute walk.
25 obstacles laden the 6.8 km Sprint Course, with 29 obstacles present in the 11.6 km Super. In both races the obstacles were well distributed throughout the course. Most of the big obstacles were near the festival area which allowed spectators to join in all the excitement, as racers zipped by.
Racers at most had to complete 3 obstacles in a short distance, which resulted in great obstacle distribution throughout the course. However, in the Super there were a few long running sections with no obstacles at all. Overall though there was a great mixture of running and obstacles throughout the race.
In addition to well dispersed obstacles, there was a variety of terrain that was covered. From open fields, easy flowing single track, technical single track, steep technical descents, dirt paths, paved paths and even a significant amount of bushwhacking, the course had it all. The variety of the terrain was fantastic, and it was constantly changing which created an exciting and dynamic course. The variable terrain kept racers engaged, thereby making the long sections of running in the Super not feel so long.
Sketchy Course Markings
When bushwhacking through the forest, course markings were hung from various trees in a dispersed manner. Many times throughout the course, racers were found looking around for the next course marking, or simply crossing their fingers and hoping they went in the right direction. Unfortunately due to the sporadic markings a number of elite racers ran off course. Which ultimately ruined their race as they were top contenders for the podium. Course markings should be created so that an animal could run the course (rough quotation from elite racer Kristian Wieclawek). If an animal would keep walking straight and miss a turn, so can a racers who are pushing themselves to their limits. Therefore every turn should be marked with taping strung from tree trunk to tree trunk, not loosely hung in the branches of trees.
No Life Jackets If there is a swim/water crossing there should be life jackets. Even if every participant can swim, there should be life jackets. Participants could be exhausted when they approach the swim, and therefore participants may panic in the water, or not trust themselves to be able to swim in a fatigued state. Therefore life jackets should be on site. Additionally not everyone can swim, so for that reason alone there should be life jackets.
It’s been brought to my attention that there were indeed life jackets and flotation devices available at the water crossing. My mistake.
Sandbag Boulder Field
The Sandbag carry required racers to wade through ankle deep water, then ascend a small climb covered in boulders. The boulders were roughly 1-3 feet in diameter, and in order to make your way up the climb you had to walk on top of the boulders. Ascending a small boulder field while carrying a sandbag is a unique challenged indeed. However after hundreds of racers wade through the water before clambering up the boulders, the boulders will become wet and slippery with time. Wet rocks and a heavy carry is only asking for trouble. Therefore this particular tweak to the course is rather unnecessary.
No Finish Line Food
Typically a banana and/or an energy bar (usually Clif Bar) is supplied at the finish line. This what not the case in Red Deer. Food at the end of the race isn’t a must but it is always nice to have a banana or a bar to snack on, after such a strenuous effort.
The Red Deer races from year’s past were so similar, that the course was becoming dull. However Spartan Race totally revamped the Red Deer event and pumped some much needed life into this venue. The addition of a number of new and challenging obstacles, along with the great use of the terrain, made for a truly remarkable event. The Red Deer Spartan Race weekend was without a doubt one of the best races Western Canada as seen to date. Hopefully Spartan Race Canada can continue to pull off a similar transformation to the tired course at Wild Rose Motocross Park in Calgary…
1) Mikhail Gerylo (36:58)
2) Austin Azar (37:43)
3) Kristian Wieclawek (38:09)
1) Faye Stenning (45:25)
2) Linzee Knowles (45:53)
3) Allison Tai (47:41)
1) Mikhail Gerylo (56:24)
2) Austina Azar (58:16)
3) Kristian Wieclawek (58:52)
1) Faye Stenning (1:06:49)
2) Allison Tai (1:08:16)
3) Nancy Loranger (1:08:40)