Sun Peaks Beast/Ultra Beast Review

The 2017 Canadian Spartan Race season came to close with its final event at Sun Peaks British Columbia. As usual, races were held on both Saturday and Sunday. The Beast and Ultra Beast took place on Saturday, and the Sprint was held on Sunday.

This review will focus on the Beast course as I did not participate in the Sunday’s Sprint, and there was no deviation between the Ultra Beast and Beast courses (Ultra Beast racers just got to do the beast course twice).

The Beast course was simple by design, as it was one big loop around the resort. Although simple, the course covered 24 km (25.8 km including carries), 3 peaks totaling 2000 m of elevation gain, and 32 obstacles!

In order to give you an idea of the complete course I’ve broken the race into 5 sections: Start, Peak 1 (Sundance), Peak 2 (Morrissey Mountain), Peak 3 (Mount Todd), and The Obstacle Course.

Start (1.8 KM, 110 m of elevation, 6 obstacles):

The race began with a few switch backs, leading racers up a decent way up the mountain, before they came barrelling down, back towards the starting area. Racers encountered an Under Wall on the way up, and a 4 ft Wall on the way down back towards the base of the mountain.

Once near the base, racers encountered a short Bucket Carry, Through Wall, Barbed Wire (uphill), and Olympus. These obstacles were situated near the festival area and were easily viewed by spectators, although the Bucket Carry was a little hard to see.

Pros:

  • No bottle necking off the start line.
  • Obstacles were encountered early on in the race.
  • Spectators had a good view of the obstacles.

Cons:

  • None.
  • In a perfect world, a longer bucket carry would have been nice.
    Through Wall, and Uphill Barbed Wire Crawl, seen near the festival area.

    Olympus, the last obstacle before the first ascent.

Peak 1 (6.5 km, 460 m of elevation, 3 obstacles):

After completing Olympus, the course began to slowly take racers back up the mountain. As racers climbed to the first peak, the course consisted of mostly wide dirt roads. The roads climbed the mountain gradually, allowing for racers to run most sections of the ascent. Located one third of the way up, and half-way up to the first peak were the 6 ft Wall and Inverted Wall respectively. After the inverted wall, the course took more of a direct route up to the first peak through steep slopes, covered in long grass and the occasional deadfall. The steep slopes, resulted in most participants power hiking their way to the top of the first peak.

Stairway to Sparta, resided at the top of the first peak. Then it was all downhill to the base. The route down took racers across more dirt roads, and gently sloping ski runs.

Pros:

  • Slopes, runnable uphill
  • Slopes, runnable downhill

Cons:

  • 5 km is a long way to travel with only 3 obstacles.

    Inverted Wall, halfway up to the first peak.

Peak 2 (6.9 KM, 440 m of elevation, 4 obstacles)

At the base of the second summit was the Tire Flip. Racers then took off on an aggressive climb towards the second peak. The climb to the second peak was dominantly through tall grass, and gentle to moderately steep slopes.

Halfway up the second peak was a Sandbag Carry, at the top were the Monkey Bars, and near the bottom on the way down was the tractor pull.

Running down the second slope was more technical than the first peak as it encountered steeper slopes. Although steeper, the slopes were still runnable.

Pros:

  • Good mixture of runnable climbs, and power hiking.
  • Runnable downhill (technical, but runnable).

Cons:

  • None.
Map of the 2017 Sun Peaks Beast and Ultra Beast.

Peak 3 (9 km, 850 m of elevation, 7 obstacles)

At the base of the third and final climb was the Tyrolean Traverse. After the Tyrolean Traverse there were no obstacles till the summit of the third peak. However, the trek up to the peak was an obstacle in itself. After the Tyrolean Traverse racers climbed a gently sloping fire road, turned off the road and headed up a short but steep power hiking section. The course then rejoined a fire road, rounded a corner, where racers were greeted with one of the longest, and steepest ascents ever put into a Spartan Race. Racers headed straight up a double black diamond ski run (Challenger) covering 0.6 km and 364 m of elevation! This particular hill was unrelenting and forced racers to bear crawl (climb with hands and feet) up the treacherous slope. For perspective, my pace over this section was 50 min/km!

At the peak was the 8 ft Wall, and the Sled Drag. On the way down to the base, racers encountered the Z-Wall Traverse, Atlas Carry, Creek Crawl, and the 7 ft Wall. The Z-Wall Traverse and Atlas Carry were situated near the top of the Sunburst chairlift, which enabled spectators to view these mid mountain obstacles.

The route down the mountain began with an extremely steep technical descent, but quickly transitioned into more runnable terrain. The descent mostly consisted of fire roads, and gently sloping ski runs. Once again allowing racers to run down the descent. However, tired legs made the runnable terrain much more difficult.

Pros:

  • Runnable descent.
  • Epic climb up Challenger! Using the natural terrain as a pseudo obstacle.

Cons:

  • Only 2 obstacle on the 4.5 km ascent (not including Challenger).
  • Only 2 obstacles at the top of the chairlift. Spectators therefore did not get to see a whole lot of the mid mountain action.

    Only part of Challenger!
Reaching the top…of Challenger.

The Obstacle Course (1.6 km, 140 m of elevation, 12 obstacles)

Once back at the base of the mountain, the course ran by the festival area. Racers were greeted with boisterous cheers from the flock of spectators. The Hercules Hoist, A-Frame Cargo Net, and Rope Climb were in quick succession and right on the edge of the festival area. After the rope climb racers headed back up the mountain for a short climb through a dense wooded area littered with fallen trees.

After bushwhacking racers emerged from the trees and went through the Trench Crawl, before taking a quick turn and heading back down the mountain. While heading back down racers encountered the Vertical Cargo Net, Platinum Rig, Rolling Mud, and the Dunk Wall.

The Platinum Rig had a particularly difficult set up, as the second half of the rig consisted of a Low T-Bar, High T-Bar, Rod (aka the Dildo), and a Ring. Having the Low T-Bar, High T-Bar, and the Rod back to back to back, was a great challenge for the majority of the field and was the cause of many burpees that day.

Once again back at the base of the mountain, racers were faced with the final set of obstacles. A 0.5 km sand bag was the first of the final obstacles and was a real ass kicker. All that was left after the second and final sandbag carry, was the Spear Throw, Slip Ramp and Fire Jump.

Pros:

  • Obstacle heavy section.
  • Challenging Platinum Rig.
  • Long Sandbag carry.
  • Obstacles right along the festival area.

Cons:

  • No Cons…except on having to use the word “Dildo” in my report, because how else do you describe a long, black, hard, shaft, with a knob on the end?…I guess just like that…

    Obstacles primed for viewing from the festival area.
Second place Ultra Beast finisher John Schmidt, going up the rope climb on his final lap.

Final Thoughts

The 2017 Sun Peaks Spartan Beast, was without a doubt one of (if not) the hardest Beast courses I have ever run (and I did do the Owls Head Beast in 2016). The 2017 Sun Peaks Beast covered ~26 km and  ascended 3 peaks covering ~2000 m of elevation! These stats alone make the Sun Peaks Beast a fierce course. The gruelling ascent up Challenger, and the final sandbag in particular were great ass kickers, and really upped the difficulty of the course.

But tough doesn’t always mean good (see my review of the 2016 Owl’s Head Beast). However, in this case I feel this was not only one of the toughest courses I’ve ran, but also one of the best! In particular I loved the course layout. Each of the 3 major ascents got progressively harder throughout the race. With the biggest and most challenging ascent saved for last. The majority of the descents were runnable. Water stations were in abundance, with 7 stations in all. The final obstacle gauntlet was fantastic and enabled the spectators to really get in on the action.

My biggest dislike for this course was the obstacle distribution. I know Beast’s are long, obstacles are limited, and it can be difficult to get obstacles up and down a mountain. That being said though, I would have loved to have seen a more even distribution of obstacles. My second and final dislike was the Spectator area at the top of the Sunburst chairlift. Only two obstacles were placed here (Z-Wall Traverse, and the Atlas Carry), which doesn’t seem totally fair for the Spectators who had to pay $20 to ride the chairlift up to not see a whole lot once at the top. $20 ticket included a ticket to the after party.

Overall this course was tough as hell, well designed, and a great challenge for all. I loved this course and had an absolute blast out there. And easily by FAR my favorite aspect of this course…was FINISH LINE FOOD!

FOOOOOD! No Clif Bars, but good enough.

ELITE RESULTS

Men’s Beast

  1. Josh Stryde 3:33:23
  2. Adam Kuhn 4:00:21 (yup, that’s me!)
  3. Bo Hill 4:01:01

Women’s Beast

  1. Christine Conibear 4:07:26
  2. Amanda Nadeau 4:18:54
  3. Pavla Luonova 4:22:39

    Beast Elite Podium. Left to Right: Adam Kuhn (me!), Amanda Nadeau, Christine Conibear, Josh Stryde, Pavla Luonova, Bo Hill.

Men’s Ultra Beast

  1. Doug Howson 8:25:01
  2. John Schmidt 8:50:18
  3. Brayden Jessen 9:38:11

Women’s Ultra Beast

  1. Allison Tai 9:41:19
  2. Kayla Hardy 9:47:59
  3. Arwen Caines 10:40:11

Men’s Masters Beast

  1. Frank Phipps 4:09:22
  2. Keith Oftebro 4:09:23
  3. Walter Orb 4:10:44

Women’s Masters Beast

  1. Ara Steininger 4:52:28
  2. Heidi MacKay 5:04:59
  3. Amber Fripp 5:05:10

Men’s Masters Ultra Beast

  1. Murray Tuininga 9:58:01
  2. Jason Burrows 10:44:34
  3. Jason Kasawski 11:15:46

Women’s Masters Ultra Beast

  1. Jen Houk 11:10:00
  2. Kyla Presley 12:46:24
  3. DNF

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