The Spartan race is a different type of obstacle course race. The focus is on team work and helping to overcome fear, pain, and inability. Together, Spartan runners help one another to accomplish things that may not be possible alone.
This particular race, the Super Spartan Las Vegas, took place in the middle of a mountain desert about 20 minutes south of the city of Las Vegas. Shuttles picked up runners from the Goldstrike Hotel and Casino parking lot, and traveled roughly 7 miles north to the venue.
Parking was efficient and the shuttles moved runners to the venue quickly. The registration lines were long, but moved quickly allowing just the right amount of time to check in, make it to bag check, hit the porta potty and line up at the start.
Our heat started on time, and began with a flat run through desert terrain. The flat, quick run rapidly turned into an up-mountain hike as runners went up, over, down and around a sizable mountain. A handful of obstacles such as the OUT (Over, Under, Through), hurdles and more were dispersed throughout the run. Many runners were surprised by the amount of running that was involved between obstacles. One thing to keep in mind when running a Spartan, is that you do not know the actual obstacles, distance, or water aid availability before the morning of the race. A Super Spartan can be anywhere from 8-10 miles in length, and this specific Super Spartan totaled just over 9 miles.
It is definitely important to come prepared with your own hydration pack and fuel, as water aid stations are not guaranteed. There were enough aid stations for me to keep my hydration pack filled the entire race.
Volunteers are a major component of any Spartan race, and while there were many volunteers around near the bulk of the obstacles, there were no staff or volunteers on the mountain. Several runners did need assistance during this portion of the race, and were helped by other race participants.
I personally recommend bringing some essentials with you for any Spartan race. These include a hydration pack, fuel/electrolytes, gloves and non-cotton performance clothing.
One special element to the Spartan races are that you receive a high quality finishers medal and shirt. Each medal also comes with a segmented piece. As a racer completes each of three distances over time, a full medal is made from the segments. This is referred to as a trifecta. In order to complete a trifecta, a racer must complete each of the three distances (Sprint 3-5 miles, Super 8-10 miles and Beast 11-13 miles) within one calendar year. Some travel will probably be required in order to complete all three distances.
While I was anticipating this race to be much more difficult than the Sprint distance I had previously completed, I found that it was not necessarily harder but it was 4 miles longer. There was definitely a significant amount of running.
Overall, I felt very satisfied with my experience. Some things that the race coordinators could work on for next year would be better communication and training for volunteers, additional support staff in areas throughout the run and mountain traversing, and potentially moving some of the wet obstacles towards the middle of the race (as they were all at the end, after racers had run 8 miles in the desert in mid-April). These small changes would take this race from great to fantastic!
I highly recommend completing a Spartan race (or trifecta) to anyone! The Spartan motto sums it up best: "You'll know at the finish line."