By Pro Team Member Tiffanie Novakovich

Brace yourselves, Nutmeggers! Spartan Race will make its Connecticut debut June 28, 2014. Hosted at the Mohegan Sun resort, a lavish Vegas-style hotel and casino, this Spartan Sprint will prove to be a first-class muddy event. The tourist town of Uncasville is located in the foothills of Eastern Connecticut, along the Thames River, adjacent to Trading Cove. As it’s less than 100 miles from Boston, MA, Hartford, CT, Providence, RI, and just a 2.5 hr drive from New York City, the race is expected to draw visitors from all over New England. Approximately 8,000 competitors and 5,000 spectators are expected to attend the Saturday-only Connecticut Spartan event.

As with all Spartan Sprints, the race will include 15+ obstacles over 3+ miles, run through the breathtaking Connecticut woodlands of the Mohegan Tribal Reservation land. The venue includes a variety of terrain, including single-track and Thames River-view trails. With the Trading Cove body of water so close by, I’m sure you can expect to get wet and muddy at this race!

Being held on a Native American Reservation will give the race a special feel, marrying the warrior philosophy of Spartan Race with the warrior heritage of the land. Kevin Brown, Chairman of the Mohegan Tribal Council says, “I am very glad to hear that our reservation land has been chosen for the Reebok Spartan Race.  Let’s face it – the Mohegan Tribe traces a lineage and a heritage of brave Native American warriors who lived, worked, and fought in these Eastern Woodlands. The race will bring a modern challenge into historic territory – it’s a great fit.”

Some familiar faces are expected in the men’s Elite race.  Expect Elliott Megquier to be racing for a podium spot. He’s coming off of an impressive showing in the Tri-Cities New York Spartan event, where he raced four times in nine days, pulling in two second- and one fifth-place finish. Also expected to show some dominance is Spartan Pro Team member and Ninja Warrior extraordinaire Alex Nicholas, who pulled off an impressive 12th place finish at the highly-competitive NBC-televised Tri-Cities Sprint. Expect some speedy New Englanders to fight their way into the top 10 on this low rolling-hills course.

With the Utah Beast (held on the same day as the CT race) drawing the attention of many left-coast pros, several top spots in the women’s elite race are up for grabs. Some East-Coast race favorites include Karlee Whipple, who took first place in the first Saturday race of the Tri-Cities Sprint and eighth place in the NBC-televised second Saturday race. Don’t be surprised if Orla Walsh, who recently moved to Vermont to train, shows up to test her grit. She’s had impressive finishes lately in the Colorado Springs Military Sprint as well as the NBC Tri-Cities Sprint.  Don’t forget East-Coast staples Laura Messner and Amanda Ricciardi, who may throw their hats into the ring this weekend. And you never know what pro-team members might decide at the last minute to show up and dominate!

Also on the docket for Saturday are the Spartan Kids Race and the Special Needs Spartan Course. The Kid’s race includes two distances for younger and older kids and always proves to be one of the many highlights of every race. The Spartan Special Needs Course is a new addition being included at several events this year. There will be a course designed especially for intellectually and/or developmentally disabled individuals who want to challenge themselves against Spartan obstacles and also want to challenge what is “normal.” Spartan Pro Team members will be participating as mentors and volunteers in the Special Needs Race. As Spartans, we defy the perceptions of “normal” at every race, while our special needs competitors do the same everyday in a way that is highly impressive and honorable.

If you haven’t already registered, do it now!  You don’t want to miss the beautiful scenery and punishing obstacles of Connecticut’s first Spartan Race. Put yourself to the test and . . . 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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