Discussion came up recently around everyone’s favorite Spartan Race venues. We’ve *ALL* had this conversation, no doubt. But when you sit down and think about it, it’s really not that easy to keep it to a list of just five. Everyone around the office has their own favorites for various reasons, just as racers do. So, in no particular order, here is what we came up with. Our Top 13 Spartan Race venues with some commentary thrown in for fun;

1) Temecula, Southern CaliforniaVail Lake Temecula SoCal Spartan Race

 

Cookie – “It has so many nooks, crannies, little hidden away trails that don’t present themselves unless you go looking for them. It has a lake. A glorious, shimmering, beautifully cold lake that beckons you with a mischievous grin carved across its face. Hills as far as you can see. Terrain? You name it, they’ve got it. So good that it’s the home of an HH12HR, Sprint, Super, and Beast in 2014.”

John – “This is one of my favorites as well. The location of my first Super ever. It was amazing. I remember coming around the hill at mile 7 or so in 2013 thinking I was close to the end only to be greeted by what was essentially a scramble hand over foot to climb up further. I couldn’t believe when Hobie Call finished that race in something like an hour and 13 minutes.”

Tony - “One of the most gorgeous venues I’ve ever seen to date. The hills, the lake, the beautiful weather, the luscious green grass that covers the festival floor. If you are looking for a venue to really soak it all in, this is the one. Not only is the race demanding of all you’ve got but the rest of the venue gives you that reason to stay, hang out and enjoy the most important aspect of it all, the people.”

Jason – My first Spartan Race in 2011. I had just signed on as digital marketer and found myself with a fucking hammer trying to finish obstacles before race time, and breaking down stuff and loading a trailer with Matt M at end. Great hills – my first vision of rugged ridgelines lined with Spartans making their way across the landscape. This was our first Super. It was so brand new. People were like, what the fuck is going on.

2) Palmerton, Pennsylvania

Palmerton PA Spartan Race Sprint Blue Ridge Mountains
Cookie – “For anyone that knows it, let me just say this. The sandbag carry. If you’ve experienced it, then your body will have just sent psychosomatic shivers down your spine. Ever seen grown men in tears because an obstacle has beaten them down so harshly? I have. It was at Palmerton, PA.”

3) Midway, Utah

Midway UT Spartan Race Beast Utah Festival Mountains
John – “Utah is stunning. I had never really been before the Beast there last year. The hills were my favorite, and most hated, aspect of that race. Going up I couldn’t stand them. Once at the top and pausing to take in the view I didn’t want to head back down. It was really hard to leave Utah and I look forward to it now.”

Holly – “This race is awesome! The location provides captivating views to all racers while they trek up and down the mountains.  This helps create a welcome a distraction while the steep inclines seek to wear you out.  This event embodies what a Beast is all about, and dishes out an intense challenge.  I’d have to say this specifica venue boasts one of the most beautiful locations in the US.  It’s truly breathtaking!”

4) Malibu, California

Spartan Race Sprint Malibu California Calamigos Ranch
Cookie – “How about that barbed wire crawl the goes up and around? And when that mist rolls in over the hills and the monkey bars become so wet that gripping them is a challenge in itself? Yeah, Malibu is everything you want it to be. It’s beautiful, but ugly. It’s a great course, but it’ll punish you. The air may be warm, but the water is oh-so cold. Malibu is a total contradiction which, on paper, shouldn’t work, but it does and it’s a superb race.”

John – “Whoever thinks they are going to show up for a ‘fun in the sun’ run is way off base. I don’t think I have seen the sun once in Malibu at a Spartan Race…and I loved every minute of it. The mud on the trails stole a guys shoe off his foot right in front me. The water was cold as hell, and the finish left you feeling like you accomplished something big.”

Tony - “When you think Malibu you think palm trees and sunshine. Someway somehow year after year, the weather has been anything but. However this venue is one of the most challenging and riveting ones you can encounter. The endless climbs will leave you breathless, especially when you get to the top of that cargo climb and look out at all the beauty that Malibu has to offer.”

5) Bigfork, Montana

Spartan Race Bigfork Montana Spartan Sprint Founders Race
Cookie – “You could argue that Montana is the most beautiful race in America today. You could also argue that it’s the hardest Sprint, too. I believe it’s both. There’s something about running through acres and acres of mountains and dense forest that soothes the soul. You might see an osprey, eagle, deer or some other furry or feathered friend. This is the hidden x factor of the Montana Sprint. It’s a little bit special.”

John – “The Founders race was there this year and over 5,000 people showed up to race in Montana. If you’ve been you know why. It’s picturesque on every level. The course is a butt kicker too so if you want a solid challenge Montana is a can’t miss experience. Nicest people EVER.”

6) Washougal Park, Washington – Pacific Northwest

Spartan Race Washington Pacific Northwest Sprint


Cookie – “It will generally take around three or four hours for the barbed wire crawl to reach the point where it becomes like a sheet of glass. The barbed wire crawl – one of the most infamous ones on the circuit – goes upwards at a steep angle. Conquering this crawl is immensely satisfying and a joy that should be shared by everyone. Set in the hills just outside Portland dancing along the Oregon/Washington border, this is another course that boasts beautiful scenery, nature and more trees that you can shake a lumberjack’s axe at.”

John – “Home sweet home. I grew up out here. My family is all still in the PNW. The tall green trees, fresh clean air, and terrain that will keep you honest. Its surprising how many of our female Elites are from this area at first, then you run the course, realize how technical the terrain out in the Northwest is and you gain an understanding of why they are such talented athletes.”

Tony – “What an incredible venue this is. One of my favorites of all time. You arrive and everywhere you looks it’s just green, you’re surrounded by it. When you arrive you realize quickly that there will be a lot of ups and downs on this course, it is built partly on a motocross track of course. The wooded areas are what make this place come to life, birds chirping, wild life running all about. As you drive to the location you can even pull over on the side of the road and pick the freshest blackberries to eat. It’s a gorgeous location that will test you physically and treat you mentally.”

8) Burnet, Texas

Super Spartan Race Texas Sprint Burnet Austin TX
Cookie – “Arguably one of the flatter, ‘easier’ courses on the circuit, but don’t let that fool you into believing it’s one you’ll just waltz through without difficulty. The rocks and tree roots making running very technical and while the surroundings are very easy on the eye, it order to run safely, you spend a lot of time looking at your feet! The jewel in the crown of this site is the river that flows through part of it and water in any course is a surefire winner with any Spartan fan, especially when the course is actually navigating the river. “

John – “There is a reason we have been to this venue for 3 years in a row. Its EPIC. This last year we expanded to both a Sprint and a Super in the same weekend to the tune of 12,500 racers and over 5,000 spectators. The hill top with the cross that over looks the valley provides one of the most amazing views ever. I’m definitely looking forward to going back to Texas.”

Tony - “Texas has become my new home and with that this location has become one I truly cherish. The venue is incredible, held on a ranch that provides you with all types of terrain, from rocks, to grass, to wooded areas, single track trails and sand-filled stretches. Here you can find out what you’re really made of as the terrain will always keep you guessing.”

9) Fort Carson, Colorado

Spartan Race Sprint CO
Cookie – “The thing about Colorado is that the weather is a bit of a crap shoot and that makes for a great race. One day can be gloriously warm and the next the temperature drops 30 degrees and racers will find they’ve suddenly lost the ability to grip and the cold water in the rope climb obstacle steals your breath. If you manage to steal a second and let your eyes drink in the mountains in the distance, you’ll find that the view is very agreeable, too. “

John – “The place of my only DNF race in my life ever. The elevation of the race is 6000 ft. Think about that for a moment. The Rocky Mountains in the distance are incredible. The BBQ joints in the area are really damn good. I owe that place something. I’m going back.”

Tony - “Few things here, the venue is located on a military base, right from the get-go you know you’ll be in for a one-of-a-kind Spartan treat. You’ll be racing at altitude which means you’ll be testing yourself under some of the most demanding circumstances. Though you won’t be running up any mountains just being at 6,000 ft. of elevation will beat you down. My advice, come a few days early, get your body acclimated and prepare for one hell of a race. Be sure to visit the Garden of the Gods after the race is over, what a sight!”

10) Killington, Vermont

VT Killington Beast Spartan Race Sprint WC
Jason – Killington is called the Beast of the East for a reason. One of the best views in New England – one of few places untarnished wilderness surrounds you in a 360 panorama. I love seeing all the Tri state folks – thinking this is a regular type of event – laying down and crying on the side of the trail. All sorts of people suddenly leaving the ‘fun run’ world and facing sheer freezing survival on the side of an inhospitable and uncaring mountain. This is where people come to hear the call of the wild.

Cookie – “Killington is Mecca. There’s a reason why it is the home of Spartan and there’s a reason why it’s considered the hardest Beast and why the Ultra Beast is set there. It’s hard. It’s painfully, frustratingly, will-this-never-end hard. You will swear, in much the same way I did, that you feel that the course spends more time than is geographically possible going up. Why does it feel like you are always climbing? The laws of physics go out of the window in Killington. Just suck it up and enjoy inclines that will make your legs scream for mercy, your lungs burn, but the whole time, nourish your soul.
The densely wooded areas are a delight for nature enthusiasts, so keep an eye out for critters and birds. Famously, there’s THAT lake that you’ll be expected to grapple with in one form or another, too.
Make no mistake, if you like what Spartan is doing and you want to experience the race of all races on the schedule, no list is complete until you’ve done the Vermont Beast at least once.”

Tony - “There’s a reason we use Killington, VT for the World Championship race, not only is it set in the backyard of the original Spartan HQ but it’s also one of the most beautiful mountains in all of Vermont. Do not under estimate the Vermont Beast, it is unforgiving, it will laugh at you as you try to crawl up it’s Black Diamond slopes. Oh, you thought you’d be running this race? Think again, you’re more likely to be crawling on your hands and knees with a 75lb sandbag on your back so long as Norm Koch has anything to do with it. Come prepared. Come hydrated. Hopefully, we’ll see you at the finish line.”

11) Wintergreen Resort, Virginia 

Wintergreen Resort Spartan Race Super VA

 Tony – “Wintergreen Resort is set on the eastern slopes of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the resort rises from approximately 600 feet above sea level in the valley at Stoney Creek to an elevation of close to 4,000 feet on the mountain. You may have heard murmurs throughout Spartan Nation that the Spartan Super crafted by Race Director Norm Koch is one of the most difficult races in the circuit. If you’re looking to prepare for the World Championship in Vermont, there is no better location than the VA Super to test your mettle. “

12) Marseilles, Illinois  - Chicago

Chicago IL Spartan Race Super Spartan Sprint

Tony – “Arguably one of the most unique Spartan Supers out there, set on an all terrain park where typically there are Jeeps and ATVs tackling the relentless hills this location has recently become home to a permanent obstacle training facility that features many unique obstacles not found anywhere else. When you think Illinois, flat typically comes to mind but that is not the case here. Some way some how this location has some of the most varied terrain of any Spartan Race out there.”

13) Miami, Florida

Spartan Race Miami FL Florida Super

John – “Florida is one of my favorite states. I love the weather there. Miami is as beautiful as they come. It’s a flat course but don’t think for a minute that means it will be easy. The technical aspect of the trails requires some real work. Nice thing is that you get to jump in the water while on course…a few times.”

Holly – “This is the perfect event for the urban Spartan who loves to remain close to the city while still escaping into nature for a challenging event.  With skyscrapers looming in the distance, this course tackles technical root and shale filled trails.  The Florida heat mixed with an onslaught of staple Spartan obstacles makes this course a great challenge!  The best part?  It’s hosted in the perfect vacation destination.”

 14) Atlanta, Georgia 

Spartan Race Sprint Georgia Atlanta GA

Holly – “The Georgia Sprint is the perfect race to give your endurance and elevation skills a test.  While not a flat course, the hills are much more conservative than many of its counterparts, and this combined with the Sprint distance makes this event is a great way to gain confidence towards tackling the longer events which boast greater elevation gains.  The venue is absolutely gorgeous, and although it can be rather cold since this event is held early in the year, it just adds to the overall awesomeness and challenge of this race.”

15) Tuxedo, New York

Spartan Race Sprint Tri-State NY Tuxedo

John – “This was my first year in Tuxedo. It was incredible. The ski hill is no joke either. The soft ground is hiding boulder after boulder waiting to roll your ankle if you get careless. Still it’s a great test of your endurance and honestly the Spartans that showed up there were top notch. I cleared every spider-web on that course with my face Friday night pre-running it. Everyone is welcome.”

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By Leslie St. Louis

The Colorado Military Sprint is a one-of-a kind, race like no other! Taking place on the Fort Carson Army Base and featuring a slightly longer length, special medals, unique finisher shirts and more than 15 obstacles, including some designed by the 4th Infantry and Special Forces Unit, the weekend also promises military tributes, over $7,500 in cash prizes and the added elements of Colorado’s unpredictable weather and high altitude.

Isaiah Vidal wins the Colorado 2013 Sprint.

Volunteers have been working all week to build the obstacles for this western-area event, and with 14,000-foot Pike’s Peak towering nearby, racers can expect to take full advantage of the base’s up and down rolling terrain, to complete many of the usual Spartan challenges and perhaps even try the new, net monkey bars that made their debut in Miami. If the past Military Sprints are any indication, runners may also find themselves using the army’s “weaver” training obstacle and hiking up hills with rock-filled ruck sacks.

There are important instructions for parking (see below) and racers should allow at least an hour or more before their start times. While parking is free, there is a shuttle to race site that costs $5 per person ages five and older.

Coloradoans often joke about the state’s temperamental weather, so there is the possibility of sunny skies or snow storms, even the possibility of both occurring during the same day! Three water stations and one at the finish are planned, but keep in mind that this event has averaged longer finishing times than other Spartan Sprints; the fastest men and women averaging an hour or more and two hours or more for open heats.

With an Olympic Training Center only a few miles away and the state’s cities filled with some of the nations fittest* athletes, professional racers from around the nation will face a challenge in making this weekend’s podium, as locals have dominated in years past. To top off the appeal, the Navy Federal Credit Union is offering $2000 for first place, $1000 for second and $750 for third. Currently in first place for Spartan Points, April Dee of Peyton – who  served in the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division and later the 10th Special Forces Group at Fort Carson - has won the Saturday race both years and is returning to reclaim her title. Last year’s first and second place men on Saturday, Justin Jindra of Larkspur and Isaiah Vidal of Peyton are also returning.

Founders Pro Team Member Leslie St. Louis of Morrison, won last year on Sunday, will be competing again both days. Flying in for the race are Pro Teamers K.K Stewart-Paul, Amelia Boone (possibly), Corinne Kohlen, who took second on Sunday last year, Brakken Kraker, who won last week’s Indiana Sprint, Shawn Feiock, Matt Novakovich and Elliott Megquier, who will be looking for redemption after his flight to Colorado was delayed last year (he still managed to squeeze in the fastest open heat time on Saturday and take second Sunday).  Also taking their spots on the elite start line will be top ranked Casey Jindra, Jenny Harper, Tonya Stogsdill, Sue Luck, Chad Trammell, Brian Gowiski and Brian Hoover. Look out for the ever-present Stephen Sinek, aka, “The Painted Warrior” sporting the latest artistic creation made by his fantastically creative make-up and FX genius, Aeni Domme.

In addition to the elite and open races, there will be Junior Spartan Races and fun activities in the festival area, including Spartan Group Training Warm-ups and Tutorials, beginning at 7:30 am and Festival Challenges, starting around 10:00 am.

Finally, one of the most meaningful aspects of the Colorado Military Sprint is the additional opportunities for racers to honor current or retired military members.“I wear blue and run to remember the fallen, the fighting, and the families,” said Lindsey Leiker of Palmer Lake, who is racing Saturday. Her husband Jeremy is on active duty and is racing on Sunday.  Former Marine John Becker of Greeley will be running both days and said while he always appreciates those that have or are currently serving, this race will have special significance. “I will be running Saturday in Memory of an Army soldier that was KIA (killed in action) in Afghanistan and was stationed at Fort Carson.”

Spartan recently announced their charity partners, which fittingly includes Homes for our Troops.

Want to know more about this unique race? Colorado Obstacle Racers has a three-part series, including a Visitor’s Guide.

Colorado Crowned Fittest State - click here to read more.

Please be aware that parking on Fort Carson will be strictly organized by staff onsite. A such, please heed the following advice.

RACER & SPECTATOR PARKING – SATURDAY AND SUNDAY

Fort Carson Army Base

Fort Carson, CO 81240

HEAT TIMES THAT END IN :00 OR :30 (E.G., 10:00 OR 10:30): YOU MUST GO TO THE EAST LOT VIA FORT CARSON GATE 20 @ EXIT 132 OFF I-25

HEAT TIMES THAT END IN :15 OR :45 (E.G., 10:15 OR 10:45): YOU MUST GO TO THE WEST LOT VIA FORT CARSON GATE 5 @ HWY 115 AND TITUS BLVD (2 MILES SOUTH OF GATE 1)

PLEASE BRING THE CORRECT PARKING PASS FOR YOUR LOT (download above)

BE PREPARED TO SHOW “CURRENT” STATE, MILITARY OR D.O.D. IDENTIFICATION, AS WELL AS PROOF OF INSURANCE AND VEHICLE REGISTRATION

FOLLOW ALL SIGNS TO PARKING ONCE IN FORT CARSON

FORT CARSON IS A FEDERAL INSTALLATION. NO WEAPONS OR DRUGS ALLOWED.

THERE WILL BE A ONE-TIME SHUTTLE FEE OF $5 PER PERSON (CHILDREN 5 AND UNDER RIDE FREE)

Leslie St. Louis is a trail runner, obstacle racer and mom of two mud-loving girls in Morrison, Colorado. She is currently ranked 9th in the Spartan World Points Series and the founder of a local obstacle group, resource and blog, Colorado Obstacle Racers, http://coloradoobstacleracers.com/.

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By Tony Matesi

FORT CARSON – SPARTAN MILITARY SPRINT

 There is no better place than one of the most well known Army bases in the nation to host our Spartan Race Military Sprint. Named in honor of legendary Army scout, General Christopher “Kit” Carson, who explored much of the West in the 1800s, Camp Carson was established in 1942 and Fort Carson was changed from Camp Carson in 1954. Fort Carson’s beautiful scenery has made it one of the most requested duty stations in the U.S. Army with Pikes Peak right there in it’s backyard. This venue is one you do not want to miss with all its natural beauty and history. Ft. Carson is a destination fit for an incredible adventure on and off the course.  

Fort Carson sits on a 137,000-acre (550 km2) installation just 40 miles north of Pueblo, Colorado in Pueblo County.  Given the nature of this being a military base naturally, there is a lot of history here. Did you know, more than 125 units were activated at Camp Carson and more than 100 others were transferred to the Mountain post from other installations. Nurses, cooks, mule packers, tank battalions, a Greek infantry battalion, and an Italian ordinance company trained at Camp Carson during the war years. There’s a lot of history at Ft. Carson military base so take it all in.

 OH, THE WEATHER OUTSIDE IS WEATHER

Colorado is one of those less than predictable venues this time of year. Last year we saw everyone hanging around the festival area enjoying the warm sun on Saturday but come Sunday it was a sea of silvery foil blankets everywhere. Remember, Spartans show up prepared for anything and everything! Keep in mind when you are packing for this adventure, the average first weekend of May in Fort Carson can range from a high of 66 to a low of 39 with a record high of 86° and record low of 17°. With that in mind be sure to bring some cold weather gear – long sleeve compression shirts and compression pants – as well as some warm weather gear so you have your bases covered. Don’t forget to bring a towel for the showers, no matter what that water will be cold. Also be sure to have some spare warm clothes so you can take advantage of the food, fun, and challenges in the festival area after the race. 

 LODGING

If you’re looking for a place to stay near Fort Carson don’t worry we’ve got you covered. There are a bunch of great hotels nearby in Colorado Springs including the DoubleTree by Hilton Colorado SpringsFairfield Inn & Suites Colorado Springs South, La Quinta Inn & Suites Colorado Springs South AP, or the Hampton Inn & Suites Colorado Springs/I-25 South all of which are under six miles away from the venue.

TONIGHT WE DINE IN

If you’re looking for some grub in the area you are in luck, we’ve gone ahead and taken care of searching Yelp for you and found the best spots to crave that Spartan appetite you’ve built up on race weekend. For those looking to get a handle on their raw fish fix you can check out Sushi o Sushi or Sushi Ai located outside Fort Carson in Colorado Springs. If Pad Thai or Pad See-ew is more your thing head over to NaRai Thai or Thai Satay. Have more of a southern, BBQ appetite? Check out Colorado Smokehouse in Fountain, CO, just don’t forget to order your veggies with all those delicious meats they serve. Maybe you are looking for some Schnitzel? Be sure to check out the Edelweiss Restaurant in Colorado Springs. Or perhaps you just want some good ol’ American cuisine, look no further than a local favorite, Shuga’s, where you’ll be sure to find something to fill that Spartan appetite of yours.

THERE’S SO MUCH ROOM FOR ACTIVITIES

Looking for something to do with the whole family after the Spartan Race in Fort Carson? How about a visit to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo with over 200 species of animals sitting at an elevation of 6,800 feet. You can stop in for an hour or two for a wildly good time and you can even feed the giraffes from your bare hand! They even offer a sky lift that takes you to the top of Cheyenne Mountain, but we know you Spartans will probably insist on climbing to the top yourself to catch the magnificent sunset.

Garden Of The Gods Colorado

If you’re looking for other outdoorsy activities in the area don’t miss out on the Garden of the Gods also located in the Colorado Springs area. Where else can you catch such dramatic views of 300′ towering sandstone rock formations with a majestic backdrop of snow-capped Pikes Peak and beautiful baby blue skies.

Colorado is a wonderland of outdoor actives so don’t forget to check out these other hot spots, Seven Falls, Cave of the Winds, Helen Hunt Falls, Palmer Park or America the Beautiful Park. No matter where you end up you are sure to find a place to capture some epic moments with your crew. Don’t forget to tag us in all those Instagram shots, #SpartanRace.

Sign up at Spartanrace.com for the Ft. Carson Military Sprint. We look forward to seeing you in Colorado!

Credits: jdpoyda.blogspot.com,  army.mil, samanthakrieger.blogspot.com

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