Race Recap: Citizen’s Bank Park Spartan Race Sprint
Event: Spartan Race Stadium Sprint
Date: September 24, 2016
Location: Citizen’s Bank Park
THE CITY OF SPARTANLY LOVE
The Citizen’s Bank Park Spartan Race Sprint provided interesting results: according to Spartan.com, the fastest finisher Kraker McCauley (23:43) was in the “Open” category, while elite winner Brakken Kraker finished in 24:14. On the women’s side of things, Chelsey Hagan took home the elite 1st place award with a time of 32:04 which was the fastest in any category. On a day that started off overcast then got sunny in the afternoon, Spartans breezed through this short course.
I didn’t wear a GPS watch but this course couldn’t have been more than 3 miles in distance. I don’t think GPS accounts for going up and down stairs too accurately anyway. I ran the first lap in the “Elite” category, although I’ve learned this year that this is probably not where I belong, at least not with my current hand injury that I’m going to see a hand specialist for. Immediately after that race, I met up with my cousin and we ran an Open lap at around 9:30 am. I finished the Elite in 40 minutes, which was my fastest stadium sprint but that doesn’t say much since this course was shorter any of the three Citi Field stadium sprints I’ve ran.
The obstacles were standard stadium Spartan: (thin) rope climb, foot scooter crawl, box jumps, hand-release pushups in the locker room, heavy jump rope, atlas stone carry, jerry can carry, sandbag carry and more. This was my 10th Spartan Race course since 2014, yet I’ve still never learned how to climb a rope using the J or S hook. I’ve never needed to use my legs to climb a rope as I’ve always just used my upper body. This holds true for the time I did three laps in one day at Citi Field earlier this year. I didn’t fail any of the obstacles at Citizen’s Bank Park, so yes, I did two legless rope climbs, one per lap. I did a legless rope climb during the NJ Beast too. Perhaps I won’t be able to do two legless rope climbs during an Ultra Beast if I ever do one? I don’t own or practice on a rope and I climb the ropes without legs easily. As for the other obstacles, I had fun for sure, but I also enjoyed seeing my cousin conquer unknown elements.
She climbed the 8-foot wall by herself, did the monkey bars by herself, and the only obstacle she failed was the rope climb. Not bad for her first Spartan. The power of Spartan prevailed as literally all I did to convince her to do this race was text her saying “You should do this race.” She lives in Philly, which was a plus, but still. Not enough people step outside of their comfort zones just because “Spartan Race” sounds intense.
There is one thing that occurred during this race that had never happened to me or anyone else that I’m aware of. On the spear throw, I threw the spear and the point stuck, but the wood shattered, leaving the spear tip stuck into the target with about three inches of wood connected to it. This was reminiscent of when MLB players break their bats on fast inside pitches. The Spartan staff and volunteers said that it still counted so I hit the spear throw on one lap, but failed it on the other.
Between laps, I fueled up with a Smash Pack, which is a resalable pack with liquid fresh fruit, sunflower oil and 14 grams of protein. It was the perfect between lap snack. I actually had some before the Elite heat. I was out of the Stadium by noon and off to spend the day with my cousin. Spartan’s stadium races are very efficient in terms of bag check, getting to the start line, and parking. You really can be in and out fairly quickly if you wanted to be. Overall, the race served as a great introduction to Spartan to a relative and two laps gave me a good workout, even tough I've been dealing with a hand injury for two months This day was an example of how Spartan can bring families together, as I literally saw three other family members aside from my cousin since I was in the Philly area.
EVALUATING MY SKILL
I know that I need to work on running faster for short distances but that will come once my long distance events (half-marathon, NJ Super) are complete. I’m embracing the fact that one must actually train for Elite heats to be elite. I know, it’s crazy that I thought I would somehow succeed at something I didn't train for but that’s how I always approached the gym. I’d make huge strength gains in the gym with only 2-4 weeks of training. Spartan Race is not like that. It takes years of calculated running training to shave time. Honestly, I’m not quite sure if that’s what my fitness goals are. I want to continue running Spartan Races, but I don’t think I’ll be doing them at an elite level next year unless I actually train.
Philadelphia is an awesome town filled with great restaurants and perhaps this Citizen’s Bank Park Race will become a yearly tradition for my cousin and I. Doing this race also made me think of the idea of specialization: some athletes “specialize” in a certain type of distance: for example, Stadium Sprints or Supers and Beasts. The idea is intriguing-to become better at one type of Spartan Race-but I personally enjoy nature and being outdoors too much to just do Stadium Races. If someone has just done a Stadium Race and never a course on a mountain/in the woods, they are missing out for sure. Nonetheless, Spartan Races at Stadiums are perfect for athletes of any level, even bodybuilders who are looking to get a different type of cardio workout in on the weekends.