Spartanburg South Carolina Ultra/Beast/Sprint weekend – 11/17/18 & 11/18/18

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For my 2018 OCR season, this past weekend was scheduled to be the last races. When I had originally planned to do this race weekend, it was for a few reasons. First I wanted redemption from my rained out finish at the NJ Ultra. Plus I thought it might actually be a little warmer then some of the races I had done that were in the northeast.

Well I was wrong. It was pretty much cold all weekend, in the 30s in the morning, and only reaching the high 50s. It had also rained all week, so I was anticipating a very muddy course. However the course actually wasn’t too bad all weekend, except for a few spots. The ground was sketchy in some of the creeks, with people slipping in water up to their chests. Also a few of the paths into the water had eroded so much, they were almost mini cliffs.

At the start of the Ultra, the Course Director Garfield had advised us that they did have to cut off a section of the course due to the fact that all the rain had turned a small creek into a raging river. So the mileage was actually under the 30 miles for an Ultra, since you skipped that section twice. Think most people said the course ended up being about 28 miles in total.

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Venue

The venue itself was located right outside of a local college campus. So all of the parking was in a parking lot, which was a nice change from the field parking at most OCRs. Little bit of a walk in to get to the venue, but not too bad. The area is pretty flat so it was good for spectators. Once you were in the festival area, the kids race was to your immediate right. The adult start was located just a little further away, followed by lots of obstacles on the left hand side. Spectators didn’t have to walk far to see the start and the first obstacle, hay bales. Then a short walk over would take them to Twister. Up the hill and back into the venue was Olympus, Herc Hoist, and the Spear Throw, followed by a long Barb Wire crawl. The next obstacles Spectators could view was the A Frame and the combination of Rolling Mud, more barbed wire, and Dunk Wall.

Spartan was nice enough to save the Dunk Wall as the second to last obstacle. In the south, there is lots of orange clay, and that isΒ what we were dunking ourselves into. Which meant everyone coming out the other side looked like orange mud monsters. The clay was so thick, once someone went in, it was actually kind of hard to tell who was who. This drew a large crowd and most of the spectators seemed to enjoy watching this. Also watching all these orange people try to climb up the Slip Wall right after was a pretty funny sight. I think Spartan was quite devious with their plan for this course!

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The setup for the venue was very well-organized. The bag check was right next to the bathrooms as well as the showers and changing area. Saturday the showers had plenty of water, however Sunday was another issue. By the late afternoon the water was barely coming out of the hoses and there was no water pressure. Which was a pretty big issue for the people trying to get all the clay off of themselves.

There was one food vendor and the food was pretty good. The free beer was ok, just Michelob Ultra and a cider beer. There were lots of various vendors, my favorite being the massage machines. After the Ultra, using those thing felt like heaven!

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Pros

The course itself was designed pretty well. We had to run through numerous creeks and sections of technical terrain. There was a real lack of elevation at this course, under 1000 feet, so this was definitely a runners race. Because of the missing section of the race, Spartan added an extra Sandbag Carry onto the course that wasn’t on the course map. So there were 4 total carries.

Saturday morning at 6am when the Ultra racers started, there was lots of frost on everything. Which made a lot of the obstacles extra difficult. Olympus was the toughest it’s ever been, as the whole boards were now sheets of ice. I had never seen a burpee pit fill up so fast as I did at Olympus. They threw a lot of grip intensive stuff at us early and really made us work for it.

The course also had a lot of switchbacks, and they really messed with your sense of perception. It would seem like you were coming up to an obstacle just ahead, but then the trail would take you off in another direction. It definitely played mind games with you. Also because of this, you were frequently passing other racers going the opposite direction as you. Most OCRs don’t tend to do this as anyone looking to cheat can “cut the course” especially when on an Ultra, after the first lap you know where all the timing mats are.

There were lots of water stations, think every mile and a half had one, so hydration wasn’t really an issue. I left my Camelbak in transition on my 2nd lap, because I knew there was enough water on the course. Also the transition area was large and flat as well, so it made it real easy to get in and out of.

Again this is a fast flat course. Anyone looking to do their first Beast or Ultra, this is the place to do it. I would expect the Did Not Finish rate to be extremely low at this race.

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Cons

So because of the lack of elevation, I was hoping for a little more mileage to add to the difficulty of the race. I get that the weather played a role in it being cut short, but I would have liked the course to be over 30 miles even before that happened since it was so flat.

Start times for the Ultra were also really delayed with most of us being 15 minutes behind. Probably not an issue for the majority of racers since this course was so fast, but at a harder Ultra that can’t happen.

Also at the end of the Ultra, instead of us being able to get our buckles right away we had to go to the Trifecta tent and have them check in our timing chips in order to get our buckles. Not sure the reason for this and it was kind ofΒ a bummer to have to stand in a long line just to get your buckle and shirt. Then you had to stand in another long line if you were getting your trifecta that weekend. Very weird that they had us do all that.

The lack of water in the showers on sunday was a big issue. Can’t have that happen when people are covered in that thick orange clay.

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Lastly, why is there an Open class for the Ultra? It’s supposed to be the hardest to achieve medal, but you can basically just walk a course to get it. I know it’s a business decision, more money will be made if Open racers can sign up. But me personally I kindof wished you had to run by the Age group rules in order to achieve the buckle.

Conclusion

Thank you again for your support this 2018 OCR season. If you have any questions or comments about this race or any other race, feel free to comment on here or message me through Instagram or my Facebook page. Any suggestions are also welcome!

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