- 5 miles/8K
- Mud/Obstacle Race
Registration was available online and increased in price incrementally as race day approached. I had a 20% off code and registered at the early bird rate, so I ended up paying only about $80 (I ran the shortest available course, the 5ish mile Spartan Sprint). Race day registration was available, but quite expensive.
Parking was a breeze--I arrived an hour before my scheduled heat (10:15 am) and had minimal traffic to deal with, and got a parking space pretty close to the start/finish line. Shuttle buses ran every few minutes to carry runners from the further away lots. The registration area was very well organized--tents were set up for specific bib number ranges, and I had my packet within minutes of arrival. Extra waivers were available if you forgot to fill yours out in advance, and bib numbers were listed in case you forgot yours. My only gripe at this point was that spectators had to pay a $25 fee just to watch the race, which to me seems like blatant money grabbing. No one should have to pay to stand around and watch a race.
Waves of runners were released every 15 minutes, and there was a brief warm up before each wave. Plenty of porta-potties about 200 yards from the starting line, all of which were relatively clean and had LOTS of extra TP. Several vendor tents were in the area as well.
During the Race:
Overall, the toughest part of doing any Spartan race at Killington is the fact that you essentially have to go up and down the mountain. The elevation gain/drop is no joke, and since it rained on Saturday night, the trails were quite slick and muddy at times. The views, however, were absolutely gorgeous. The course was supposed to be about 5 miles and have 20+ obstacles, but I sat down after the race and even though I'm confident I remembered every obstacle I came up against, I only came up with 16 total. I guess you could count the mountain itself as an obstacle or two.
The obstacles we faced were not as challenging as I initially feared--climbing up and over things at about 4-5 feet high was a common theme, along with climbing up a rope, rock climbing walls, a spear throw, sandbag carry, jumping over fire, barbed wire crawl, tire pull etc etc. The penalty for any obstacle you're unwilling or unable to complete is 30 burpees, but nobody is really watching you and counting unless you're in a competitive heat, so you could totally just skip them if you didn't feel up to it.
The "up" portion was very grassy, as we were going parallel to a lift line. The "down" portion was a lot of single track trail--muddy, rooty, and rocky. My second complaint is this: there are often Sprinters, Beasters, Ultra Beasters, and "elites" on the course at the same time, and those who are more competitive tend to yell and push around those who are just out there to finish. I witnessed several near collisions and one instance where an "elite" runner was so focused on pushing past a group on the single track trail that he went off track and ended up tripping and falling, hard. I strongly feel that there should be completely separate competitive and non-competitive days, to avoid situations like this. I know it's hard, particularly because the Beat and Ultra Beast courses take so long to complete (anywhere from 7-11 hours), but it's not safe to have people pushing other people around like that, especially when the course is already so challenging.
Third complaint: there wasn't a water/hydration station until mile 3.5. Most sprinters didn't bring Camelbaks or water bottles, assuming that there would be hydration available on course, as advertised. Thankfully, it wasn't a super sunny or warm day, but even so, by the time I reached the water station, I was already dehydrated, and ended up getting some ferocious calf cramps at several points during the race, to the point where I couldn't even walk. If the day had been any hotter, I doubt I would have made it through the entire course.
Immediately upon finishing and receiving my medal, there was a Clif tent where they had several flavors of Builder Protein bars available. I also got a really delicious, Paleo-friendly, gluten-free recovery drink called FitAid, and half a banana. There was a tent for post-race photos, and then there was a beer garden set up in the center, and each runner got a free beer, either Shock Top or Goose Island on tap. There was a large area for hosing off, but no actual showers, and changing tents for men and women. Killington Resort had also opened up their lodge and was selling food, but it was incredibly expensive. The shuttle buses continued to run every few minutes to bring runners back to their cars, which was very helpful.
In addition to the medal and beer, each finisher received a "Finisher" shirt, which was a nice cotton/poly blend. I was just disappointed because they were a unisex fit, and I would have liked something cut a bit nicer for women. I also felt rushed in making the size decision and wish I'd taken a bit more time, because the shirt I ended up with is far too big to wear other than around the house. For the price of registration, a tech shirt would have been nice, too, but what can you do?
Spartan events seem to be very well run, and I only had a few complaints, which I will reiterate here:
- MUST have more hydration on course for Sprinters
- For safety reasons, I would prefer separate days and or times for competitive runners so they're not pushing non-competitive runners around
- Regarding t-shirts, gender specific sizing is always preferred, and I would have loved a tech shirt I could actually run/train in rather than the cotton/poly blend
- Charging spectators $25 to watch the event is NOT OK
Otherwise, it was a challenging, but totally doable event for someone who is reasonably athletic, and I had a lot more fun than I expected to.