Race Recap: 2017 Spartan Race Sprint in West Point, NY
A BEAUTIFUL DAY
What a day to hold the inaugural USMC Sprint at West Point. This was the first Military-themed race of its kind in the Tri-State area and one of four in the military series. The military aspect was immediately felt as you saw soldiers running around warming up for the race. The site also had so many military vehicles being strewn across the events area you felt like you were at the West Point Academy itself.
The temperature pre-race and at registration was a cool 54 degrees. Cool enough for a hoodie and some pants, but the nervous energy of the race builds a heat in the racer and any thought of temperature goes away. The only fault of the race is a 20-minute bus shuttle to the race but the view and conversation on the bus ride over makes up for that.
We arrive at our destination as the sun starts to rise. Registration is quick and the air begins to warm. Gear is set aside and it’s time to warm up. Race time is supposed to be 7:30am with the elites but I hold off to do the 8:30am heat with the friends I came up with. As your warming up in the main area you can see about 9 obstacles: Olympus, A-Frame Cargo Net, Fire Jump, Slip Wall, Barbed Wire, Spear Throw, Herc Hoist, and multi rig. This holds true for most of the race as the majority of the obstacles are in the front end and back end of the race.
Aroo, Aroo, Aroo! We are off, about 150 racers in this competitive heat. The race starts fast. As in places like Tuxedo and Palmerton there were no big hill or climbs right from the get. Within a half mile you hit the first 5 obstacles: hurdles, 6 foot walls, Over/Under/Through, Olympus, and a-frame cargo net. The beginning of the race moves quick and is seamless.
The next two miles move quick. The majority of it is running. Surprisingly there is a decent amount of elevation.
The day before and day of the race looking at the map and coming to the course it didn’t appear we would experience much elevation. The downhill terrains are the most challenging part as some of the hills are steep and there is not much grip as the rock face is extremely dry and dusty. They also added a tricky uphill sandbag carry that had a good mid distance feel and helped separate a lot of racers.
The last mile is what grit and grip are made of. You find almost all the rest of the hard obstacles at the last mile in this race, 12 to be exact. The list looks like this: Bucket Brigade, twister, vertical cargo net, rope climb, water pits and Dunk Wall wall, atlas lift, multi rig, Spear Throw , Herc Hoist, barbed wire crawl , slip wall, and fire jump. This configuration is a difficult task even for a seasoned racer. Grip obstacle after grip obstacle can be extremely taxing especially when you’re doing it at the end of the race. I experienced a lot of people doing burpees on the Twister, multi rig, and Spear Throw. This was definitely an interesting twist as most races have the obstacles more spaced out but as Joe De Sena says it's about doing and working through the unexpected. It is as much mental as it is physical and just like life you never know what may get thrown at you. I burn through the last 3 obstacles and jump the fire pit and if I weren’t with other people I would have jumped right back in for another lap. Despite the sheer amount of obstacles at the end the course it was very manageable and quick.
FRIENDS AND CAMARADERIE
This wasn’t my first rodeo but I brought up with me two first timers from my gym CrossFit Kingsboro and a few others whom have only done one or two others. It’s funny how you see someone's mindset change from pre-race to the end of the race when it is all over. Weeks leading up I almost had to plead them to come and do the race and there was a lot of hesitance. Perseverance prevails though and I got them to commit to it. Despite the butterflies right before the race, at the end of it both new racers seemed euphoric and my friend Dave dropped a nice casual “I’d do that again” in true Dave fashion.
All of them finished top 50 in the competitive heats. Coach Ashlyn from my gym came in first amongst all ladies in her age group and 7th overall in the women's group. Josh and Dave were right in the middle of the top 50. They instantly connected the transferable movements and training from CrossFit to the Spartan Race. I may have spawned a group of future Spartans.
At the end I met with many of my friends from past races. Some racers, some fellow SGX coaches and OS coaches, and even some friends from my hometown. It’s always a great inviting atmosphere with many smiles at the end.
As we gathered our stuff and took the bus ride back the faces maintained their beaming smiles. And why not? So much accomplished before 10 am! As we got back to the parking lot we could see the droves of people parking and waiting for their shuttle to the race. The line looked like one you would see at a roller coaster at Six Flags. I believe the day in all had 8100 registrations. The lure of the race grows and more and more new Spartans are discovering their love for the race as seasoned racers continue to challenge and push themselves to be better and stronger Spartans.