By Carrie Adams
As the clock ticks closer to the start times in Vermont, the chatter that has resonated all season is reaching a more fevered and frenzied pitch. Conversations and speculation run rampant on Facebook and the decided lack of information (everyone knows we never release maps of our races) on the course except a leaked photo or two here and there and ominous rules and emails from HQ that has left a lot to the imagination of our athletes. It’s been promised that this course will be one even the most tried and tested Spartan has never seen and the crew on the ground in Killington is working night and day to ensure that is delivered. From the tongue in cheek – a picture of alligator infested waters with the caption “New addition to the course” (posted by yours truly) to the serious – the operations team on the ground coordinating with local medical and search in rescue teams in preparation for the two days of heats, the competitors have much to reflect on before they race off into the dark Vermont mountains for their Spartan Beast experience.
Spartan Races have never been for the faint of heart. Most of our athletes who venture out on race day seek only to finish the race and cross the finish line but for others, the Spartan courses are providing a new level of competition and a new sport complete with world rankings, an international point system and a professional and Olympic level athleticism that sees participation from athletes across a myriad of sporting backgrounds. The competition in Vermont is stacking up to be monumental. The highlights of some of the top men in the field we released earlier this week in this BLOG, touting some of the beast alongside the most notable up and comers in the evolving sport of Obstacle Racing. But the newness of the sport also affords the opportunity for the wild cards, the unknowns to take a stab at their affinity for an event that forces competitors to be well-rounded in strength, speed, stamina, agility, and power.
The women’s field that we previewed yesterday in this BLOG will prove just as competitive and with the inclusion of the world’s first ever Ultra Beast competition, a marathon(ish) distance obstacle race, history will be made in the Killington Mountains. As a sport, we’ve grown and expanded and the Spartan Vermont Beast is the official Spartan Race 2012 Championship Race. As you may recall, in 2011, the championship race was held in Texas in December, Glen Rose to be exact. Hobie Call and Jenny Tobin walked away with our top male and top female spots. However, for 2012, the winner of the Vermont Beast in Killington will be declared Spartan Race Champion and the World’s Greatest Obstacle Racer for 2012. Both Tobin and Call will be on hand in Vermont.
Multiple elements make Vermont unique. Held in the backyard of the infamous Spartan Death Race, the mountains are dark, mysterious, and treacherous for all who enter. Making it more challenging this time around, the Vermont Beast is mostly self-support. Meaning there isn’t a friendly water station every few miles stocked with water, Gatorade, or bananas like there was last year. To increase the difficulty of the experience, it was decided that these distances would be constructed so that the athletes had to prepare to support their race themselves with nutrition and water they had to bring with them for the duration. This decision, inspired by the adventure racing Race Directors and staff at HQ used to self-support races, is a redefinition of “tough” in an age of mud runs, and fun runs emerging around the globe. This isn’t that kind of fun. Spartan Race HQ’s own Mike Morris, who serves as the Race Director for the Vermont Beast gave some tips on how to successfully self-support and also included some crucial tips on the right kind of gear necessary for an event of this kind. See those links here:
Last year’s course was brutalizing with over 3,000 feet of elevation gain in the first 5K alone. That’s just 3.1 miles and one of the three mountaintops the competitors faced last August. The same elevation gain was experienced in the 2012 Tri-State Spartan Race in New Jersey as well, but was spread out over the entire 10.5 mile course. Weather may also prove a factor in 2012 with temps around the 40 degree mark expected on Saturday morning, when last year’s temperatures were warmer – the August heat still easily felt from peak to valley.
From self-support to cooler temps and promises of a tougher, more intense course, this weekend is quickly stacking up to be the one to watch. We’ll be bringing you updates all week on the blog and on FB and full coverage of the weekend of racing heats will be provided from our Facebook page on race day. Stay tuned…