What if I told you it was possible to run a Beast faster than a Super, on the same course? Well, if you haven’t been to the Meadow Wood Equestrian Center outside of Seattle, WA in the last five years or so for Spartan Race, you would probably think I’m a crazy person. If you have attended either the spring Super or fall Beast, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
First, take a look at this year’s recap of the Spartan Race Seattle Super, a National Series event. Please note the awful weather and course conditions. Ok, you all caught up? Let’s talk about the Beast!
You cannot beat 65 degrees and dry weather for race day, especially for a Beast! The PNW in late summer/early fall provides some of the most beautiful weather imaginable for racing conditions. While it was a bit on the chilly side for Saturday’s early heats, participants were quite excited to be dry, and not bundled in gear that would hamper their performance.
The Meadow Wood Equestrian Center is known in the Spartan world for its flat surfaces, scattered steep inclines and a chilly river; a strong runner’s dream course. Following the mess that was the Super in April, my biggest concern was the fossilized muddy footprints on course, where ankles could be sacrificed easily. It seems as if the course was tilled recently, and a soft, almost dusty layer covered a large amount of the venue. Of course, there were those occasional visual memories of the dreaded Super throughout the trails, but for the most part, as long as you kept an eye on your footing, you were able to open up your stride and breeze through the 13+-mile Beast.
While Spartan has been hosting two race weekends a year at the venue, this year, the Beast course was laid out a bit differently – for the best, in my opinion. Normally saved for the latter half of the Beast, participants were immediately sent through the rock quarry, where gunshots from the firing range, cattle droppings, and a few angry bees brought a little excitement to the mostly flat surfaces. For the first five miles or so, racers only encountered seven of the 33 obstacles – mostly walls and hurdles, with Olympus thrown in there for a bit of a challenge.
Making our way back from the eastern area of the course, participants encountered the longest area of elevation gain, through the covered trail area, where after about a mile up, the Bucket Carry was waiting in a clearing, normally reserved for a Double Barbed Wire Crawl in years past. I ran with the bucket on my shoulder for a few of the sections of the long, slightly inclined carry, per new Spartan rules, and I’m not quite sure how much I like it yet.
After the Bucket and the Inverted Wall, we were back into the woods for more single-track running on technical trails. Once we emerged into the open fields, a gauntlet of obstacles awaited the tired racers around mile 8. The Dunk Wall and Slip Wall prepared racers’ hands for the Monkey Bars, right before the Spear Throw, which is one of the most visible obstacles from the festival. All eyes were on Spartans heaving their spear with nervous energy in front of the cheering crowds. “Oohs and ahhs” echoed throughout the festival as participants challenged the Spearman. Immediately following the successful fist pumps or devastating burpees at the spear, we took on the Rope Climb, Helix, and Vert Cargo 2.0.
Participants had one last area of significant elevation gain through the woods before taking on the last few miles of the Beast, which were mostly flat, relatively boring miles. There were a few obstacles thrown in the mix, including the Super- and Beast-exclusives Pipe Lair, Beater, Vender, Armor, a two-section Twister, and the Box, with a chilly river crawl to break up the monotonous 3-mile run through the flat field.
Finishing up the course was another gauntlet to test the exhausted racers: Atlas Carry without the burpees, a long Sandbag Carry with a short-yet-intense incline, the beast mode Multirig, Hercules Hoist, and Fire Jump.
There was no tire flip, to the dismay of many of the competitors.
I’d be doing a disservice to the Pacific Northwest if I didn’t mention the intense thunderstorms that ravaged the area at the end of the day, and overnight, cutting the Hurricane Heat short and soaking the course for Sunday’s Sprint.
A huge congratulations to all of the participants at the Seattle Beast and Sprint. One of the most exciting and unexpected news pieces from the weekend was the underdog win for the men’s elite competition at the Beast, where Spartan Race rookie Nic Maszk took first place. According to the Spartan website, he’s only participated in four total races to date, including the Seattle Beast. He finished 25th in the Seattle Super in April with a time of 1:22. Going back to my earlier statement, his time for the Beast was 1:38. While it wasn’t literally faster in this case, it was still quite the impressive feat!
Spartan Pro Team members Aaron Newell and Josh Fry rounded out the men’s elite podium.
Megan Flanagan, Pro Team member Sara Knight (the same gold and silver duo from the Portland Sprint) and Cera Edgley were your top elite females on Saturday.
I’m just going to toot my own horn a bit: I earned my first Spartan Age Group gold medal at the Sprint!
The Seattle course is iconic. While it doesn’t present much of a challenge in terms of elevation gain, it provides an opportunity for racers of all abilities to come out and test their skills – rough terrain, steady climbs, and bundled obstacles. Late summer/early fall is the perfect time to hold a race in Washington State (PLEASE STOP HOLDING THE SUPER IN APRIL, SPARTAN RACE).
I do think it’s time to find a new location for this event, at least for one of the two weekends. It would be great if Spartan dove a bit deeper into the vast states of Oregon and Washington. However, I do highly recommend you attend the Seattle Beast and Sprint weekend in Snohomish, Washington whether or not they decide to venture out.
Have you done an Spartan Race?
Leave your own Spartan Race review and feedback...