Calgary Spartan Race 2017 – Review

The Wild Rose Motocross Park is no stranger to hosting the Calgary Spartan Race. Throughout the years racers were often left with a bad taste in their mouth after the Calgary event. Abundant rainfall has plagued the venue the last few years, which would essentially turn the entire course into a gigantic mud pit…Yes mud is a part of obstacle course racing, but running through ankle deep mud for 5 km isn’t overly enjoyable.

Beyond the weather, Calgary Spartan races were rarely innovative with essentially the same course being reused year after year. Coupled with subpar obstacles, the common theme around the racing community was that the Calgary Spartan race wasn’t worth the money.

The Wild Rose Motocross Park is a small venue with limited space to create a 5 km course. Past Sprint courses were essentially the same and barely reached the 5 km mark. Therefore racers were concerned about the feasibility of creating a new exciting course as well as a full length Spartan Super. Many people (including myself) assumed that the Super course would be two laps of the Sprint course, which doesn’t sound like a whole lot of fun, and more like a scam. In 2016 the Calgary Spartan Race (2016 review) saw a few positive changes by incorporating more obstacles, which included the Multi-Rig, and Bucket Brigade. However there was still more room for improvement.

Clearly I had some doubts about this event. Although I wasn’t blown away with this past weekend’s event, Spartan Race Canada did deliver the course that Calgary needed!

Stairway to Sparta making its presence known.

Course Highlights

Course Layout: I recognized essentially every part of the Calgary course. With the event being held at a small venue there are only so many places racers can go. Although, the segments may have been familiar, they were pieced together in an entirely new arrangement. The course at the Calgary Spartan Race was essentially brand new!

Engaging Course: The compact course was full of twists and turns, which kept runners engaged as they zig-zagged their way through. The short straightaways and quick turns made it challenging to hold a constant pace, but the constant changes in direction helped the km’s fly by.

Strength Obstacles: The Hercules Hoist and Sled Drag were present for the first time at the Calgary Spartan Race, and were welcomed with open arms. Additional strength based obstacles included the Atlas Carry, Tractor Pull, Sandbag Carry, and Bucket Brigade. Both the Sandbag Carry and Bucket Brigade, were on steepest and biggest hills at the venue. The steep slopes added to the already tough carries as they were quite long, and heavy. In the Super the Bucket Brigade was made even more difficult by extending the carry to include a second hill. Again adding to the difficulty of the Bucket Brigade was having heavy buckets! Either I’m getting weaker or the dirt/rocks are getting heavier, but either way it was nice to have a substantial load to carry during the bucket brigade.

The incline on the carries was no joke!
Heavy bucket, and a steep hill, equals fun times.

Barbed Wire Crawl: The barbed wire crawl was placed 0.5 km into the course. This created a unique experience as racers had to battle for position underneath barbed wire. The barbed wire was wide enough to not cause any bottlenecks, but racers had to be aggressive when an opportunity was presented to pass someone. The barbed wire crawl also took a sharp U-Turn, doubling the length of the crawl which took everyone by surprise. Little tricks like this is can really mess with people’s heads and I really enjoy such surprises.

Think you’re almost done the barbed wire crawl? Well think again!

Platinum Rig: The Platinum Rig wasn’t too easy, nor was it too hard. The addition of long ropes in the middle of the rig, resulted in a good challenge that was more fun then just swinging from ring to ring (skipping the more challenging holds).

Spartans crushing or being crushed by the Platinum Rig?

Warm Up Area: A wall, and mini Platinum Rig was set up in the festival area, allowing racers to practice their techniques before the race. Not a must at any race, but it’s definitely nice to see and adds to the racer and spectator experience.

The warm up area wasn’t much, but it’s nice to have.

No Bottle Necking: Beyond fighting for position in the barbed wire crawl, there was minimal bottle necking on this course. Single track wasn’t encountered until 3 km into the race, therefore allowing for everyone to spread out.

Course Length: Even in the confined space of the Wild Rose Motocross Park, Spartan Race Canada managed to put together a 6.5 km Sprint course, which is easily one of the longest courses at this venue in recent years. The Super on Sunday, to my relief was a 1 lap circuit and added 4 km to the Sprint course, resulting in a 10.5 km Super. Although 10.5 km is a relatively short super, the fact that the entire course was able to be squeezed into the small venue is remarkable!

Course Lowlights

Barbed Wire Crawl: The barbed wire was low to the ground, mounds covered the ground (making the distance between the ground and barbed wire even lower), the ground was littered with rocks (from pebbles to boulders), and the barbed wire was not pulled tight which meant the wire sagged even lower in places. All this adds up to way too many scrapes, bruises, and cuts (some required stitches) on participants. Crawling under barbed wire has its risks for sure, but keep the wire tight (no sags), get rid of the boulders, and avoid the mounds. Some people may feel bad ass with a few scars for a short while, but those feelings soon fade.

One of my many barbed wire cuts

Where’s My Food At? Clif Bar is supposedly “The Official Protein Bar of Spartan Race.” Yet no bars, no food, no nothing upon finishing the Calgary Spartan Race. Western Canada appears to be getting the shaft in this regard, so make sure to bring your own food if you’re planning to do Sun Peaks.

“The Official Protein Bar of Spartan Race”….yet it’s not available at any Western Canada Race?
Two lonely jugs of water await the competitors at the finish line.

Spectators: Last year I thought the Calgary event was spectator friendly. However the Red Deer event showed me what a true spectator friendly event is like. Spectators could oversee most of the Calgary course…but from a distance. Therefore spectators weren’t able to truly join in on all the excitement, as they were in Red Deer.

Bonus Highlight: The Man, the Myth, the Legend Ryan Atkins, made his first Spartan Race Western Canada appearance, by destroying the Sprint Course on Saturday. Albeit not easily as 2nd place Mikhail Gerylo was hot on his heels, with only 13 seconds separating the two!

OVERALL

Spartan Race Canada delivered a fun, new, exciting, and challenging event to the Wild Rose Motocross Park. The new layout of the course, along with new obstacles created an entirely new feel to the Calgary event. Although new life was pumped into this venue, I believe for the Calgary event to really flourish once again, a new location is needed.

SPRINT RESULTS

Men

1) Ryan Atkins 36:18

2) Mikhail Gerylo 36:31

3) Austin Azar 39:14

Women

1) Faye Stenning 45:07

2) Linzee Knowles 48:18

3) Jessica Lemon 48:35

SUPER RESULTS

Men

1) Mikhail Gerylo 57:45

2) Austin Azar 1:00:08

3) Kristian Wieclawek 1:00:08

Women

1) Faye Stenning 1:09:40

2) Jessica Lemon 1:12:50

3) Linzee Knowles 1:13:39

Calgary Sprint Podium: (Left to Right) Austin Azar, Jessica Lemon, Faye Stenning, Ryan Atkins, Linzee Knowles, and Mikhaily Gerylo

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