By Pro Team Member Tiffanie Novakovich

One of the main aspects of the Spartan Race that is hammered home time after time is that if you choose to take part, you should expect the unexpected. You can watch past videos, you can check out the dozens of online photo albums and you could even talk to experienced racers. It will give you a vague idea of what to expect. Bring those expectations to the start line and you’ll immediately be on the back foot. If the race isn’t what you were expecting, the terrain wasn’t what you thought it would be or the obstacles are not how you envisioned them, you were not prepared for the unexpected.

Bearing that in mind, the inaugural Connecticut Spartan event, held in the beautiful town of Uncasville, is now in the books, with medals around the necks of thousands of competitors.  Hosted at the Mohegan Sun Hotel and Casino, the race seemed to stay more true to the resort’s lavish atmosphere, with just a modicum of Spartan torture.

The course started and ended in the resort parking lot, between zig-zagging through the parking garage, along flat stretches of small-town streets and highways, and through picturesque leaf-covered trails.  The course was mostly flat and favored speed runners, totally flying in the face of some events where mountains, hills and incline after painful incline tested the Spartans.

However,  many staple Spartan obstacles were present, including over & under walls, tire flip, atlas carry, rope climb, slick wall, barbed wire, herculean hoist, and traverse wall. Conspicuously absent was mud!  The barbed wire crawl was shorter than what is considered “normal” and was on grass. This surprised many racers who thought they knew what to expect. The water pits under the rope climb and the slick wall were lined with tarps, preventing any grime on the rope or mud in the eyes obstacles.

The course was no cake-walk though. The sand in the buckets/bags at the Herculean Hoist was saturated with water, making the obstacle significantly and surprisingly heavier than usual.  Several top racers failed this usually doable obstacle, resulting in unexpected burpees near the end of the race. Complacency and thinking you know what to expect again catching people out.

In the end, racers enjoyed a spectacular scenery in a beautiful place, but were still tested to their limits on a course that was a little different than most Spartan events, but just as grueling. In the men’s elite race, Matthew Kempson ran away with a narrow victory of only 7 seconds over Junyong Pak. Elliott Megquier completed the podium in third place. On the women’s side, Elise Fugowski bested the field by over two minutes, with Karlee Whipple finishing second and Orla Walsh in third.

As with all Spartan races, you never know what you might or might not encounter when you sign up, show up and never give up.

But one thing’s for sure: You’ll know at the finish line!

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On June 28th, the Spartan Race tour will see the Sprint land in Uncasville, CT. Specifically, at the Mohegan Sun – a venue where it’s pretty much impossible to get bored. Let’s take a closer look at what’s in store.

Firstly, let’s look at the terrain, as in truth, that’s why we’re all here. Well, of course, as with most Spartan Races, you can expect hills. Rolling, relentless hills. Naturally, we prefer the ones that won’t quit and seem to play a game of cat-and-mouse with you. Of course it sucks. That’s the whole point! The surrounding area has a forest deliberately planted as a carbon offset established for the Mohegan Tribe, so be prepared for all kinds of surfaces to run on. With the vast expanse of forests and wooded areas, some of the trails we will have for you may be shaded. Or not. You honestly didn’t think we would just straight-up tell you, did you?

One thing we will give you a heads-up about is the weather. With the race taking place towards the end of June, expect the sun to beat down a tune that strikes chords well into the 80’s. We’d advise that you hydrate well and if you’re worried about not getting enough fluids, then please consider investing in a hydration system such as a camelback or fuel belt.

What about after the racing is done and you need somewhere to stay? With ample room for the traveling Spartan, your bed is on the race doorstep. With close to 1,400 rooms available, accommodation is well catered for. Never forget that the Mohegan Sun is one of the biggest casino and hotel resorts in the world.

As such, the evening festivities boast a long list of options. Firstly, the very same night, it just so happens that rock gods Boston play with special guests Cheap Trick. Imagine getting rested after destroying the course and then rocking the night away to two of the world’s most popular giants of classic rock in a 10,000 seater stadium. Tickets on sale here.

Classic rock not your thing? Well then how about the lure of over 6,500 slot machines and close to 400 table games? The Mohegan Sun casino is well known for its gigantic size, so why not have a cheeky flutter while you are there? Don’t forget the poker room has 40 tables that are open all day. The race book offers live horse or greyhound racing from around the U.S. as well as from Australia and England. It also offers wagering on jai-alai from Florida.

The resort also boasts many other features within the complex, including a 350 seater cabaret room, multiple restaurants and over 130,000 sq ft of retail shopping.

Other features include The Casino of the Sky, a planetarium-like domed ceiling, utilizing fiber optics to display the sun, moon, and stars (though not in actual star patterns), accompanying the lighting effects of the Wombi Rock, which is a three-story high crystal mountain crafted of alabaster and more than 12,000 individual plates of hand-selected onyx from quarries in Iran, Pakistan, and Mexico; which were transported to Carrara, Italy and fused into glass. There’s also the 55 ft (17 m) high indoor waterfall called “Taughannick Falls”, representing a treacherous crossing point during the Mohegan tribe’s migration.

The decor is Native American style in many aspects. The artwork throughout the casino and the structural design has Native American feel. In addition, several mechanical wolves stand high atop rock structures inside the gaming areas that occasionally sit back and howl lightly. There’s also a new buffet called the Seasons Buffet that replaced both the Seasons and Sunburst Buffet.

Are you certain that staying for just one night will be enough?

But if you don’t want to stay in the resort and would like to drink a more cultural flavor, then why not take a sip of the The Mystic Seaport, the museum of American and the Sea. With a less than 30 minute drive to the south, you can visit this fascinating archive of all things American maritime. Over the weekend of the Sprint, The Mystic Seaport will be going through the event, The Plein Air Painters of the Maritime Gallery.

A similar distance drive away to the south and you’ll find the Mystic Aquarium. With animals like penguins, Beluga whales and even reptiles and the resident star, Ziggy the seal, there is more than enough to put a spell over the kids as well and mom and dad alike.

Still need more options? Try this link for over 100 other things in the area that are either cheap or free that has things for everyone to consider.

With more accommodation available around the Groton Shopping Center including Hampton Inn, Hilton Garden, Best Western and more, you’ll still be well within driving distance of Mohegan Sun with more things to do before and after the event.

Here is some help with the accommodation.

Mohegan Sun (Staff and Host Hotel)
Hyatt Place Mohegan Sun
Group code: G-SPRR

Best Western
1.888.863.7847
Mention “Spartan Race” for discount rate

Courtyard Marriott Norwich
Courtyard Marriott Norwich Spartan Block
Book your group rate: Spartan Race

Mystic Marriott
1.877.901.6632

So what are you waiting for? Sign up now and we’ll see you at the finish line…

credit: newenglandboating, Mohegansun.

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