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 Elite Spartan Racer Cody Moat

Hills that don’t quit? Check. Relentless sun baking the venue? Check? Breathtaking scenery from the tops of aforementioned hills? Absolutely. The occasional curve ball thrown in to keep Spartan racers on their toes? Ah yes – we must be in Utah again.

Spartan Race’s annual visit to Soldier Hollow – venue of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games – is always a red letter day on the Spartan calender, so it’s no surprise to see the event village and starting corral heaving with smiling faces, fists in the air and the echoes of “AROO!” reverberating around the hills.

Cody Moat is all smiles at the start line.

The Utah Beast started with a bang when John Yatsko started fast from the beginning. I knew he was going to go out fast and push the pace because that’s the way he likes to race. I was happy that I would be able to go out fast without having to push the pace myself. So I started out on John’s shoulder and within the first mile we had started up the mountain and had gotten a substantial lead on the field. I knew judging from the pace that it would be a battle the whole way.
And it was a battle through the first 4-5 miles at-least up until we hit the spear throw. John came into the spear throw first and picked up the spear and hit. I think maybe I was too concerned about whether he would hit or miss instead of about my own spear throwing or maybe I was a little  over-confident. My spear grazed the edge of the hay bale and broke out without sticking. So I did burpees while John ran away unscathed. Then throughout the rest of the race, John and I stayed pretty equal the whole way. So what should have been a great race was quickly turned sour with the spear throw. John finished in 1:41. and I finished in 1:43 and 3rd place went to Glenn Racz, who also brought an incredible element to the race. I would like to congratulate John Yatsko on an incredible victory.

The female elites also saw a dramatic race, with Alex Roudayna de la Huerta Susilla eventually managing to get a 3 minute gap on Rose Wetzell-Sinnet, with Jenny Tobin grabbing a well-deserved 3rd place after running an awesome race. With so many ebbs and flows in the race, it was hard to see a winner at certain sections throughout the race.

In the event village, it was all about the green medal, as some were proudly displaying their first and in some cases, their second Trifecta of the year. Muddy high-fives all around, as well as the obligatory muddy hugs. For some, it was their first time at a Spartan Race and choosing to start with the Utah Beast is a commendable feat. One racers at the finish line were overheard saying, “I’m broken and my body hates me, but I feel fantastic. How does that even work?”

As ever, the Spartans of the future rocked their stuff with a testing Kids Race. With the younger Spartans in the community growing ever more excited about emulating what they see from the adults, it’s comforting to know that there is another generation of  those pushing themselves.

I would like to thank Spartan for putting on such a great event.

See you at the next Spartan Race! 

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By Spartan Elite Cody Moat

Spartan race is coming to the mountains of Utah for the second Beast of the 2014 season. I hope you’re ready for a long grueling course at an elevation of over 5,000 ft. above sea level. The venue comes to Soldier Hollow near Midway, Utah, located at the base of the Wasatch Mountains.  In 2002, Soldier Hollow was home to the Winter Olympics. And now is home to one of the toughest races you’ll find in the United States, The Utah Spartan Beast. Spartan racers be ready for a tough 13 + mile course with 30+ obstacles. This course is not for the faint of heart.

On the men’s side things could get exciting! Every year an athlete shows up out of nowhere to claim a spot on the podium. Competition should get interesting with Glenn Racz and Alec Blenis coming to Utah with a vengeance and determination to not only podium but to be on the top. I am also coming to the Beast with a take-no-prisoner attitude.

The women’s field should also be very interesting with several outstanding athletes. Rose Wetzel, winner of the New York Tuxedo Spartan sprint, will be in attendance. Utah’s very own Tyann Clark is also coming with a determination to claim top spot. Never count out Idaho’s Jenny Tobin and Leslie St. Louis who will also be aiming to finish highly.  If you are looking for some excitement this weekend come and participate or volunteer at the clash of the Spartans Utah Beast. You will not be disappointed.

With this being only the second Beast on the calendar, many racers will be looking at completing their set of medals in order to become Trifecta holders. However, with the unforgiving inclines that wait for them in Midway, it won’t be as easy as showing up and simply collecting what is due. Beast medals and finish lines are earned the hard way!

Also something to look out for will be the Spartan Kids race. Going at various times throughout the day, get a chance to see the Spartans of tomorrow as they take on half and full mile courses, with the coveted orange medal waiting for them at the finish line.

Remember to hydrate well and we’ll see you at the finish line! 

Bio of the Author: Cody Moat from Fillmore, Utah, began his Spartan journey here at the Utah Beast in 2012. Some highlights of his 2012 season were World Spartan points winner and Spartan World Champion. In 2013,  4th place in the World Championship.

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How many times in the life of the average person can they say that they competed at an Olympic-quality venue? When was the last time you were in an event at the same place Olympians were tested in their pursuit of gold? We’d wager that the number would be quite low. But register for the Beast in Utah and you will be scaling the very same hills that competitors from around the world were tested on during the winter Olympic games in 2002. And let’s not make any mistake here, we’re talking about events that needed not just muscle, but will too; the biathlon, cross-country skiing and Nordic combined (the cross-country skiing portion).

Since the Olympics and Paralympics, Soldier Hollow has continued the tradition of ski racing and biathlon, by playing host to the Under 23 World Championships in 2004 and U.S. Championships in 2005 and 2006. Spartan Race takes its choice of venues very seriously. This is the Spartan Beast and you’re going to know and feel it.

In less than an hour’s drive from Salt Lake City, just outside of the beautiful Swiss-settled town of Midway, the Soldier Hollow venue sits under the watchful eyes of the Wasatch Mountains. A truly epic venue and one of the most stunningly beautiful landscapes in the Spartan Race calendar. With the weather also expected to reach its usual high 80’s temperature, be prepared for a testing, but memorable day. Naturally, running at altitude in this heat, we’d always advise you to carry your own hydration in addition to the water stations we will have on course.

For the traveler, there are a range of accommodation options very close to the venue in the aforementioned town of Midway.  On the Midway website of the town itself, you will find lodging options there and given the friendly and hospitable nature of the locals, this may be an avenue you’d like to explore. Drink in the atmosphere of the Swiss theme throughout the town, making note especially of the architecture which oozes Germanic charm and overtones.

If you’d prefer the bright lights of the big city, a wider selection of hotels can be found here for options when it comes to accommodation. Given that you’ve made the journey, why not make a long weekend out of it and try out some more fun things to do? There’s go-karting, Seven Peaks Waterpark or even the always fun time of paint-balling.

But naturally, you’ll be hungry. Whether it’s the carb-loading the day before, or replenishing those calories that you burned off, frankly, you are spoilt for choice. There is even a specialized site you can use that is all about the Herber Vally area. Within this, there are drop down menus for the cuisine style, category and even price level, so you can choose precisely the type of experience you like. This very same site offers options for places to stay, and things to do, so be sure to check that out.

If you’d prefer to head back to Salt Lake City, Urban Spoon has listed almost a thousand places for you to choose from. With the same handy drop down menus that can target specific cuisine styles, prices and even the neighborhood local to where you are staying. So, should you decide that something Asian would tickle your taste buds after conquering the Soldier Hollow course, then the options are there. Brazilian, Indian, European… it’s all there.

Salt Lake City always welcomes Spartan Racers.

If a taxi is what you need, Yelp has a great selection and naturally, as is the nature of Yelp, you can read past reviews of their service. Of course, if you’d much rather hire a car and drive yourself, there are plenty of car hire options via Expedia right here.

You may have heard about how alcohol is dealt with a little tighter in Utah than perhaps other states. To make it very clear for visitors, Utah.gov has neatly listed the laws regarding the buying and consumption of alcohol right here. Naturally, Spartans behave appropriately at all times anyway, but sometimes if you’re unsure of local laws, it’s always wise to make sure you know what the situation is.

So get ready for the Beast and make sure your training includes lots of muscle memory. If you fail to prepare, then prepare to fail.

See you at the finish line…

credit: balladspahr

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