November 17th 2018
Old Bethpage Village Restoration, Long Island, New York
Home. Mine. Spartan has for the first time come to my backyard on Strong Island and did so in their typical demonstrative fashion. Held at the Old Bethpage Village Restoration, a beautiful local park area with hiking trails, antique structures that house seasonal themes that families enjoy coming to year round. This day, however, this village was a battlefield for many as Spartan in your backyard means excuses on traveling to venues are out of the window.
3.7 miles of racing was plenty for many. It was straightforward OCR that provided enough terrain and spacing in between the obstacles for the more competitive racers to make move and make up ground when needed. The Tough Mudder organization has laid claim to the park for the previous few years with their brand and I must say that it was unrecognizable the difference between how the two rivals set up shop. Registration was located inside an old building which was greatly appreciated by everyone especially the volunteers as the cold November weather made conditions less than pleasant, even in the sun.
The festival area was in the coral area for horse riding, large space used very well. Probably the most open of festival areas I’ve seen in a while. Flat courses with little to no elevation lend themselves to having open festival areas, not being condensed by hills.
The starting coral was similar to other races and the layout of the opening obstacles were what are expected with a few barrier obstacles and some running to spread out the pack. The slap to the face was the 40 degree weather dunk wall that came as the 4th obstacles. By the time you broke a sweat, you were underwater completely and back off running in the woods. With no heat or sun to dry you out, the mental game set in earlier than in most races. Again being November the course was a carpet of leaves as we were in and out of the woods thus creating a blind technical track where fallen branches and roots and stumps were camouflaged. For the most part the path was marked well and clear of dangerous footings despite the leaves. The “burpee obstacles” showed up after the first mile and helped to mix things up for the racers who are varied in the skills of running vs obstacle navigation. Albeit my first time encountering the Twister and Olympus in a race as I had a two year hiatus from Spartan, there were no surprises. Looking back at the course map, the route had us run the expanse of the course and utilized the outside borders more than the inside, this prevented course cutting due to little or no overlap. However the last bit of running in the last half mile deviated from this, to be discussed in my conclusions. The festival area saw 3 obstacles, two skill/agility, one strength.
This had potential to lend itself to an exciting finish and no fire jump, most likely due to park regulations.
Reality is not lost on me, this was a small race, late in the OCR year so my finish, which was my highest in Spartan, may not have played the same for a more popular in-season race. That said, I am proud of my race. I was easing back after a 6 month lay-off due to injury and was able to gain entry into the race and said to myself I am my own competitor…until I saw people I wanted to pass 😈. As I said earlier, the registration was great, parking was hit or miss, if you ran early and arrived early, parking in the adjacent neighborhood was a possibility as long as you got in before they closed/regulated the neighborhood streets. Otherwise, busing was coming from a local community college approximately 20 mins away. Weather is uncontrollable, but race planning is. I am of the opinion that races located in the neighborhoods of areas as opposed to mountain courses are going to attract the local element who will not travel. So, with weather in the high 30s/low 40s, with a bunch of rookie noobs running around, dunking them is not exactly an invitation to come back to race again, especially if you are 20 mins to the commuter parking lot. Maybe waist deep but no dunk at all is an option.
The course was marked pretty well until immediately after the last wall the last 1/2 mile. This was on concrete on a road heading back to the festival, once you cleared the wall straight ahead was the multi-rig rings. I was focused on my next obstacle until I was interrupted by volunteer saying the course shot up a hill and around in the woods for a bit. What should have been cones and a clear” Left turn here” sign was just some course marking streamer lines on the concrete. Worse yet, once up in the hill area, again completely carpeted in autumn leaves the course was guesswork. You could literally chunk out or add precious time slashing/guessing the path between markers, it should have been so much more clearly and tightly marked as that was the last bit of technical running down to the rings before it went down to the finishing area.
Too much could happen there in terms of cheating intentional or unintentional that could be easily alleviated with quality markers. Unacceptable, 13 mile races up and down mountain race course are clearly marked so a 3.7 mile flat course should have been properly marked. Besides that the plate push was probably better relegated to a open grass area as the location was so muddy and rocky the differences in movement in plates could be the differences in spots on a podium, equity was not the primary focus.
Overall, they laid out a solid course, spacing was good in between obstacles, hard runners or efficient obstaclers could compete, the muddiness helped to balance the field a bit. I enjoyed it, the second lap was fun as it was a group and not too over crowded.
They would do well to try it in the warmer months, larger draw, and faster times.
Arsenal (gear and nutrition):