Author: Kathleen Davis
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Greetings readers! Welcome to the fourth Spartan race of the season and the first stop of the 2020 US National Series. We’ve got new medals, new finisher shirts and a Slipwall made of aluminum. Let’s dive in, shall we?
Pre-Race / Venue
The Super was held on Saturday, February 22 at the WW Ranch Motorcross Park in Jacksonville with the Sprint following the next day. My Age Group heats were scheduled to go off at 8:15am each day and generally started on time. On Saturday the men were sent off a minute or two ahead of the women while on Sunday everyone started together. This was notable because there were significantly more racers in the corral Sunday leading to some bottlenecks at the first few obstacles.
My sister and I flew in from Philadelphia on Thursday and stayed in the area. We checked out an OCR class at Gett-Itt Core Fitness Thursday night to get in some last-minute obstacle practice. If you’re ever in the area we highly recommend you check them out!
We arrived at the venue around 7:00am both days. Parking was on-site with a short walk to registration. Check-in was quick with no issues. We were warned by Spartan via social media that there was essentially zero cell phone service at the venue and grabbing a screenshot of your barcode was recommended. Spectator passes were available for purchase onsite but are less expensive if you get them online when you buy your ticket. Like last year, parking and bag check fees are still included in the ticket price.
Race Details / Obstacles
Having done these races last year and us being in Florida, there was an expectation that we would be racing in warm weather. This proved to be 100% false. At my start time on Saturday, it was a windy 37 degrees. Sunday was the better of the two days. It eventually warmed up to 70 degrees and there was no wind.
The Super was announced at 6.7 miles, not including a penalty loop for Olympus with obstacles spread throughout. The Sprint was 3.6 miles plus a penalty loop for the Spear Throw. Many obstacles were visible to spectators from either the festival area or a short walk, including the A-Frame cargo net, Helix, Spear Throw and Herc Hoist. The course was flat and fast with varied terrain, from sandy track to wooded trail to open grass. Regardless of where you were on the course, it was most likely wet and muddy. There was a waist-deep water crossing in the first half mile that was significantly longer than last year. The bucket carry took us through many twists and turns; if you checked your GPS map afterward you’d see we spelled out AROO. “New Olympus” was there with its Teflon honeycomb coating and more challenging grips/holes although I first saw it at Ft. Campbell so I’m not sure it’s that new anymore. You may have heard the Slipwall is now aluminum and no longer wood. This is true, but even wet and muddy it wasn’t as treacherous as you may think.
Everyone entered the venue through the merch tent on the other side of registration. Everything was clearly marked with flags; bag check, results, Trifecta tent, etc. Given the mud the porta-potties were surprisingly clean all weekend. My sister would like you to know that the cold wash was well water and smelled like sulfur. There were vendors giving away samples + items for sale and food was available for purchase.
Spartan introduced new medals for 2020 which still include the trifecta wedge piece. Sunday’s medal for the US National Series had a different design from typical Sprint medals and was slightly larger. The finisher t-shirts have also been redesigned. In the ongoing debate between synthetic vs poly/cotton, we’re back to poly/cotton shirts for now. Both the medals and shirts seemed to be well received by everyone I spoke with throughout the weekend. No Spartan race is complete without the usual free beer/banana/FitAid. Photos are posted online for download a few days after the race.
Overall, I enjoyed both races. They weren’t sufferfests like a typical mountain Spartan Race but the cooler temperatures and mud certainly added to the challenge. Sunday’s US National Series Sprint created an opportunity for racers of all experience levels to really push themselves on a fairly short, fast course.
Were you in Jacksonville? What did you think of these races? Let me know in the comments!
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