by Khaled Allen
Whenever I have to drive through Pennsylvania, I always bring along a hunting knife and extra rations. You can drive for hours without even seeing a town, just impenetrable trees and looming ridges. It is a surprisingly wild state, home to thousands of square miles of forest, some of the most remote and rugged mountains in the Northeast, and highways that make Connecticut’s hiking trails look tame.
On Saturday, September 10th, the first Spartan Race being held in Pennsylvania will kick off in Palmerton, a mere 75 miles from downtown Philly. The venue is the Blue Mountain Ski Resort; past experience has taught our race directors that ski resorts make great course locations, thanks to the extreme and rapid elevation changes, rough terrain, and plenty of mud. A lot of Spartan racers have come out of Pennsylvania to attend races in other states, according to Mike Morris, one of the race directors, and Blue Mountain provides a great opportunity to host a race in a state that so many Spartans call home. At 4.5 miles, this is a Spartan Sprint, making it a perfect opportunity to introduce new Philly-area racers to the Spartan brotherhood.
So what goes into the decision to pick a location? It’s pretty simple. Look for a big space near a big city. Of course, it also needs to have brutal terrain, some unreasonable elevation changes, lots of mud, plenty of potential for obstacles, and somewhere for racers to park. So, maybe not quite so simple. You can rest assured that our race team has picked a spot that will push you to your limits and pack those 3+ miles with plenty of challenges to test your Spartan determination.
I spoke with Theresa Hickey, the Northeast Regional Sales Manager for Spartan Race, to get an idea of what racers might be able to expect in this race. Theresa handles everything from race setup, to getting people to the race, to sending out congratulations afterwards.
So what can you Spartans expect? When I spoke to Theresa, over 2500 people had already signed up for the race, a month before it was set to start. There are also some Spartan veterans in the ranks for the Blue Mountain race.
According to Theresa, “We have a following. We are seeing some of the same faces at each race, it’s great. They come out to do a Sprint, after the Sprint they are curious about what the Super is about. Then they are all geared up for the Beast.” The competition is fierce. But you already knew that.
Race Director Mike Morris was thrilled when he first scouted the location last winter. Blue Mountain will be unique for a variety of factors “Blue Mountain has multiple water sources, high pressure water, elevation gain, epic obstacles, single track, gnarly descending, bushwhacking, and… well, the list goes on.”
He goes on to say, “I never knew PA could deliver such good terrain. I’m excited to get back out and scout a final course once the snow melts. In the meantime, the ideas are already flying around in my head for what promises to be an awesome event challenging our most competitive athletes while also creating an unforgettable experience for those of you who have never run a race before.”
So our first race in the untamed wilds of Pennsylvania is shaping up to be a pretty awesome event. If you have been considering getting in on the Spartan craziness, this is the perfect opportunity, since the distance is relatively short and the location is accessible to anyone from the areas around New York, Philadelphia, Washington, or Baltimore. For those of you who have been through a few races, this is your chance to sample what Pennsylvania has to offer, which seems like quite a lot. There’s still time to sign up and take on the Spartan Sprint in Pennsylvania!
1660 Blue Mountain DR
Palmerton, PA 18071
All parking is on site or at very nearby satellite lots; you will be directed by mountain staff as you arrive. There will be a $5.00 per car (cash) parking fee collected by the venue when you park. Please don’t park on the roads or you will be ticketed. This applies to anyone (spectators, racers, King Leonidas, etc). Be prepared to have to park in one of the satellite lots and take one of the many busses we will have running throughout the day to and from the main event area.
See you in the Poconos!