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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All the signs are there. The Tri-state double header weekend is looking to be the biggest Spartan Race event of all time and arguably, the biggest OR of all time. As it stands, 17,000 people will witness the brutality that the Spartan staff have designed for them. So, not only would being there make you a part of history, but you’d have bragging rights amongst all your friends and relatives within the OR and running community.

Let’s have a closer look at the venue. The mountains alone stretch over 100 acres within the staggering 25,000 acres of Sterling Forest State Park. You could say it’s big. There are 4 double chairlifts, so if you want to get a bird’s eye view of how your husband, wife, brother, sister or whoever it may be, you can do so from the comfort of your chair and see below you as they sweat and grimace through the course that we’ve laid out for them.

But here’s the thing, why don’t you make a weekend of it? Tuxedo Ridge is less than an hour from Manhattan and realistically, why wouldn’t you want to take just one bite of The Big Apple while you have the chance? You’ve seen it in film, TV, magazines and online so many times. The Statue Of Liberty, Ground Zero, Madison Square Gardens, Wall Street, Coney Island… the landmarks and things to see are waiting for you and the list of things to see and do just go on and on. Why not check out Ellis Island and visit the immigration museum and learn about how immigration made the U.S. so great?

Only a hop and a skip further down the street from the ferry that lets you take in Lady Liberty and Ellis Island is the famous bull on Wall Street. Who cares if you’re clearly a tourist? These are landmarks worth noting. Broadway is another sight to behold and obviously, Times Square at night is something quite magical.

From Northern Manhattan all the way down to Brooklyn, there is simply so much to see and experience, whether it be Soho or Chinatown, to Little Italy or the world famous Central Park, there really isn’t time to get bored. There’s simply too much to see. Don’t worry if you start to flag or get tired, from personal experience, there seems to be a coffee shop on every block, so you’ll perk up in no time!

If accommodation is your first hurdle, then don’t worry. At the last count, Expedia.com tells us that there are over 600 hotels in the New York City area alone. Finding somewhere to rest your muddied head shouldn’t be a problem. Although we’re pretty sure that they’re prefer it if you showered first.

If you don’t have a car, there are still means of transportation to Tuxedo. This link will help those out that prefer not to drive. On that note, the subway system for getting around NYC, should you decide to stay before and after the race, is superb. Add the famous yellow cabs to that and you’re pretty much covered in the traveling stakes.

Nightlife? Where do you start? There are thousands. Literally, hundreds upon hundreds of places to eat, drink and be merry. It’s hard to even know where to start. Thankfully, TimeOut compiled a handy guide that even the grumpiest or hard-to-cater-for individual will find useful for finding a spot to try out.

Eating, drinking and dancing not your thing? Don’t care for historical landmarks? How about touring New York’s various movie landmarks? You could always check out Riverside Park in Manhattan, just north of 96th Street where in the meeting of all the gangs, Cyrus asked us in the movie “The Warriors”, “Can you dig it?”, as well as all the other landmarks from the classic. Here’s a link that gives you a heads-up. You could even visit the Ghostbusters HQ at what is the 8 Hook And Ladder fire station at 14 North Moore Street. Although we wouldn’t recommend driving like Popeye Doyle in The French Connection, you could always see where Gene Hackman played the famous role in that scene on Brooklyn’s 86th St. If you go down 4th Avenue in Brooklyn, be sure to strut your funky stuff like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever. Although, unlike the kids from Fame, dancing all over the hoods and roofs of cars in Times Square would probably have you arrested now. You may live forever and learn how to fly (high), but you’ll be doing it in jail. For the ultimate classic, how about going to 52nd St. and Lexington Ave? That’s where Marilyn Monroe had the skirt scene in The Seven Year Itch.
Naturally, it would be impossible to list every film ever shot on location in NYC, but for unashamed movie nerds, New York is a gold mine.

If not film, then how about music? Visit 53rd & 3rd if you’re a Ramones fan, sadly, CBGB’s – the classic music venue – doesn’t exist anymore at 315 Bowery, but you can see where Kiss took the album cover photo of ‘Dressed To Kill’ at 23rd & 8th or perhaps Led Zepplin’s ‘Physical Graffiti” at St. Mark’s Place between First Avenue & Avenue A. The Door’s got their picture from ‘Strange Days’ at 150-158 East 36th Street and let’s not forget The Who’s ‘The Kids Are Alright’ at the monument at 116th Street and Morningside Drive.

Simply put, the list just goes on and on. Theatre, indoor pursuits, outdoor pursuits, museums, parks… it’s hard to know where to begin and end, and making a long weekend of your Spartan Race here will be the beginning of a love affair with The Big Apple. Go on, have a nibble. They say it keeps the doctor away.

Credit: gru.edu,  dailyfilmdose

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By: Tony Matesi

CITI FIELD

Welcome to the most ethnically diverse urban area in the world, the Queens borough of New York City. With a population of over 2.2 million people in Queens alone, the borough represents over 100 nations and speaks over 138 different languages. Don’t worry you won’t need a translator, English is still the most commonly spoken language.

Citi Field is the home to Major League Baseball’s New York Mets and is located in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, adjacent to the previous team home, Shea Stadium, which is now the Citi Field parking lot. Citi Field has the capacity for 41,922 Spartans! This stadium is no stranger to hosting events other than baseball either, on July 17, 18 and 21, 2009, Paul McCartney performed a series of three sold-out concerts at Citi Field. On top of that, Citi Field hosted its first soccer game between the national teams of Ecuador and Greece on June 7, 2011. They tied, 1-1. Now, Citi Field will be invaded by Spartans. You will conquer the course while spectators watch you fight through the modern day colosseum. Become part of Citi Field’s history.

What’s the weather like?

Normally the weather is quite perfect for a Spartan Stadium Sprint with an average low of 41° and high of 60°. Don’t let those comfortable temperatures fool you though, New York has a way of playing tricks. You’ll want to bring clothes for any situation. With a record low of 25° and a record high of 88° and all this talk of the Polar Vortex, we suggest coming prepared for anything. You know how it is, shorts weather one day and the next you are bundled up like an eskimo. Pack accordingly.

The Course:

The Stadium Race series provides a unique look at stadiums. Come to Citi Field to experience the standard Spartan Race obstacles along with some unique Stadium Only obstacles as you tear through the stands. Run across the baseline, climb into the dugout, navigate in and out of the bleachers, and catch a quick glimpse of the locker rooms. Conquer the Citi Field Stadium. Become a Spartan.

Where to sleep?

With Citi Field being so close to LaGuardia Airport the options for a place to crash are plentiful. There’s the Comfort Inn, Holiday Inn LaGuardia, Corona Hotel, Sheraton LaGaurdia East Hotel, the Flushing Grand Hotel, and the Fairfield Inn New York LaGuardia Airport/Flushing all within a very close radius to the ballpark. Book one of these nearby locations before they fill up! Trust us this is a race you won’t want to miss.

Tonight we dine in

After doing some extensive research there were a few select spots that kept popping up as must see spots in Queens, NY where Cit Field is located. First up is the Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden. As you’d guess its a beer garden, they offer up barbecue and Czech recipes. If you’re feeling up to something a little more fancy there’s the Water’s Edge Restaurant. Yes it’s located on the water’s edge and provides a magnificent view of the Manhattan skyline. No matter where you decide to dine the one place you must go to is the Lemon Ice King of Corona. Delicious flavored ice to celebrate a Spartan victory sounds delightful.

Nightlife:

If you’re looking to get out and shake your tail feathers after conquering the course – be smart, don’t get toasted the night before – we found some killer spots to check out while you spend your weekend in Queens. Soak in  some live entertainment, craft beers, burgers, sausages, and soulvaki at the German beer garden, Studio Square. Alternatively you have an opportunity to  transport yourself back to the 1890s with the speakeasy feel of Dutch Kills. Stop in and enjoy live jazz and ragtime music and the impressive hand-cut ice that is served in all their signature drinks. Are the European nightclubs more your scene? Check out the Central Lounge where the DJs spin hip-hop and dance music while you’re served sushi under the twinkling candlelight.

Family Destinations:

If you plan on bringing the whole family and want to offer them some options that expand their cultural knowledge be sure to check out the Unisphere at Flushing Meadows Park. This giant globe is the symbol of Queens and is an excellent place for outdoor activities. Nearby, you can check out the Queens Museum of of Art where you can view the Panorama of New York City, an extremely detailed scaled model of the city.

Dabble in a little theater action and catch some improv by checking out the Secret Theatre. During the weekend of April 11-13 you can catch the following shows, A Full-ish Deck, Pirate Pete’s Parrot, and A Sunday Smile.

There will also be a few events happening in Queens that area including the Myrtle Avenue Festival taking place on April 13, 2014 on Myrtle Avenue between Forest Avenue and Wyckoff Avenue. Young kids can take part in an egg hunt at the Barnyard East Egg Hunt on April 14, 2014 between 12pm-4pm at the Queens County Farm Museum.

New York, the Big Apple. There’s a lot of opportunity for a Spartan. It’s a massive city with more to do than we can write about, so go fourth and explore! We’ll see you on the course, Spartans. AROO!!!

Credit: sheratonjfk

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