Race Recap: 2017 Spartan Race Beast in Vernon, NJ
A FAST COURSE
Reebok Spartan Race returned to Mountain Creek in Vernon, NJ for the a weekend full of tough endurance events: the Spartan Race Beast, Ultra Beast and 12-Hour Hurricane Heat. The Ultra Beast, a 26-mile obstacle course race (OCR) with 60+ obstacles, kicked off the weekend Saturday morning, with Matt Liptak winning the men’s elite heat in 6:09:56 (yes, that’s six hours) and Nicole Root winning the women’s elite heat with a time of 7:54:24. Next up was the Spartan Race Beast, which spanned nearly 14 miles with 30+ obstacles. Ben Kinsinger won the Saturday men’s elite heat with a time of 2:31:12 and Rachel Pacquette finished with top honors for the women in 3:03:07. On Sunday, Chris Schapman won the men’s elite heat with a time of 2:30:42 and Katie Huber posted a winning time of 3:22:12.
On a day that was unseasonably warm (80 degrees Fahrenheit in April), I lined up for competitive heat and finished with a time of 4:41, which was good enough for 168th out 837 overall and 26th out 85th in my age group. Here’s how everything went down at a course that in 2016, was designed by former Spartan Race Race Director Norm Koch, but this year, was left up to a new Spartan lead since Koch is now working with BoneFrog. Even without Norm, this course was challenging enough for me but there were 1,000+ Ultra Beast finishers which is a high number for the Ultra Beast.
MILE 4 STRIKES
Wearing a long sleeve Skins A400 Compression Shirt, G-Form Compression Shorts and knee pads, Inov-8 190s (precision fit), Reebok running shorts, and a CamelBak circuit packed with energy gels and gummies, I took off to conquer my second ever Spartan Race Beast. In 2016, I finished in just under 6 hours so my personal time hack was 5 hours and I wound up meeting that. I completed this race burpee-free, meaning I successfully conquered every obstacle, but I wasn’t cramp-free. At around mile four, my left quadriceps started to get tight and I thought, “Wow, this is way too early for a cramp” so I kept pushing on. By mile 8 or 9, I had probably stopped a few times to stretch my legs out and eat some Honey Stinger energy chews/waffles. The one thing I’ve never brought to any event is salt pills, just pure sodium, and I learned on this day that those can help cramping. I accepted two different friendly Spartans offers for a salt pill and I definitely felt immediate benefits. Strength obstacles like the Hercules Hoist, Atlas Carry, Log Carry, and Plate Drag are never an issue for me and I’ve hit now hit the spear throw at my last four Spartan Races, at least.
I’M A CRAMPER
The course topped out at around 4,000 feet in elevation gain but none of the climbs seemed completely insane. I’ve never ran the Killington, VT Spartan Beast, and that’s a bucket list item for sure, so I’m mainly comparing this year’s NJ Beast to last year’s. By mile 10-12, both of my quadriceps started to cramp but I kept my goal of under 5 hours in mind. Towards the end, I used a “walk 60 seconds, rest 30 seconds” strategy for the Bucket Brigade, I tore my hand wide open on the Twister, and it took me a few minutes to snap back into things at climb the rope after my hand was ripped, especially since I never use legs for the rope climb. By the end of the race, I was injury-free, unlike last year when I was literally limping the last 3-4 miles because I hurt my knee. I attribute the reasons for my early cramping to a lack of training and pre-race hydration—two things I used to do a lot more of for OCRs than I do now. Nonetheless, I’m happy with my finish time yet still can’t wrap my head around training for an Ultra Beast.
Few days prior:
1 serving XEndurance Extreme Endurance in the morning and evening
1 serving SI Nutrients, which is NAC (an expectorant) and turmeric (an anti-inflammatory) combined
1 200mg extended release caffeine pill
1 serving XEndurance Extreme Endurance
½ serving Cellucor Alpha Amino Extreme
1 GLUKOS Energy Gel
2 Egg whites and 2 whole eggs, scrambled
½ cup of traditional oatmeal with blueberries, 1 scoop of whey protein powder, banana, and cinnamon
1 Vermont Meats Jerky Stick
4 DAYS OF SORENESS
The only part of my body that was very sore were my quadriceps, as my glutes, hamstrings, and calves were all fine. My biceps were a bit sore from the Rig and other hanging obstacles but that subsided in 1-2 days. My quads’ soreness didn’t go away for about 5 days, although I didn’t do anything too special to recover aside from drink some glutamine and use the Bellecore Bodybuffer once on my thighs. Overall, I can’t say that anything was missed on this Spartan Race Beast course, except perhaps the dunk wall being at the end instead of the beginning. I couldn’t imagine doing the 12-Hour Hurricane Heat Sunday morning at 8am, which is a 12-hour endurance event through the mountain, so kudos to those brave Spartans!
Check out some obstacle videos and photos from the festival area below.