Let me start by saying how amazing it felt to get out to a Spartan Race, get on the course, and see some of the OCR Community!!!
As a little side note before I get into the safety protocols: to be honest, the past year has, at times, brought us a lot of anxiety.
HOW’D WE DEAL?
We’ve of course had our individual up and down days, like I think pretty much everyone in the world. But, we focused on what we could control and what made us happy. Neither of us were unemployed, sick, or experiencing any other hardships, and for that we are blessed. For us, what we could control and made us happy was continuing to eat healthy and train. We bought what equipment was available (or even on backorder) and waited for it to show up while we continued to train at home and outside in place of our closed gym.
As you may have read, we signed up for TONS of virtual runs to help keep companies afloat and keep us motivated. We continued to follow our strength training programs, modifying when we didn’t have the tools we needed, and Eddie continued to write and adjust our running programs as necessary.
So, when we realized a real, live Spartan Race was going to take place a few hours away in “Las Vegas” in late March 2021…. Eddie got on the horn and signed up!
As for me, I had other priorities and halted all my training on 3/2. I did not think I would be competing at all this year even if races returned. Unfortunately, as it turned out, this was only temporary and I realized I could compete this year… with this realization coming only a week before Spartan Las Vegas. (I won’t get into the topic here as to why. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably read all about it already.)
Once I was signed up for the Spartan Sprint (the super was sold out!), I began to wonder what it was going to be like to do a live, in-person race in a COVID-19 world. Here I was, looking at the very thing I longed to do all of 2020, and now completely nervous to actually show up and race come 2021. Our last live race prior to the 2021 Spartan Las Vegas was the Stadium Blitz at ASU on 2/29/2020, just before COVID invaded our lives. (I always did think leap years presented issues.)
Questions swirled through my mind, and here came the anxiety rushing back now that I had actually signed up for the race. Some of my concerns were eased upon scouring photos from both Spartan Races in Jacksonville and San Antonio the couple of weeks prior. But, the questions continued in my head: would people just wave from afar, fist bump, hug, stay in their own little pods? Was it going to be so strict that it wouldn’t be fun? How would they enforce certain things… and on and on and on.
So… here’s my view on it in case you’re hesitant to sign up because of the unknown.
Safety Measures and Implementation:
- 30-minute advance entry – this was adhered to. I elaborate more on this below and why it could be an issue for some.
- Hand sanitizer – it was everywhere, and I definitely saw several people using it.
- Reduced heat sizes – if you’ve run a stadion event before, it was kind of like that. People go off in waves in smaller groups (so someone in your age group could start before or later than you).
- Social distancing – this was mostly adhered to in lines and definitely at the start line. At the start line, they’ve drawn boxes on the ground and each racer stands in the middle of their own box. The elites expected to place well were called by name and allowed to take the front boxes..
- Additional sanitizing – for the first time ever, the TP supply was constant throughout the day in the port-a-potties and they actually seemed clean (you know, for an outhouse). This safety measure should not go anywhere, ever. LOL. This was my only observation of additional cleaning, but I’m sure they were on top of it elsewhere.
- Self-serve finish line – to be honest, this part sucked. While I understood it, I really hated getting my own medal off of a table. The shirt stations had plexiglass and they slid the shirt under it like at a bank. The rest was basically the same.
- Masks – this was enforced…mostly in the starting corral and entrance.
- Bag check – exactly the same system as always, except you put your bag away and retrieve it yourself as well.
- Spectators – so far, they aren’t allowed inside. Many hung out in the parking lot.
- Obstacles – water obstacles and the sandbag carry are removed for now. (Yes, including the dunk wall.)
- Shade – there were no tents for shade. It was fairly warm in Vegas, so I imagine this will be an issue come summer. Bring a hat and sunscreen or an umbrella if you’re inclined to sunburn (I am!).
To elaborate more on the 30-minute entrance rule:
In our experience at Spartan Las Vegas, the actual heat starting times were inconsistent from what our assigned start times were.
- On Saturday, Eddie ran elite which should have started at 7:30. He got out right away and his watched clocked a start time at 7:33. No big deal to be on the slower side of things.
- On Sunday, Eddie ran age group and was assigned an 8:15 start time. Again, he got out and his watched clocked a starting time at 8:06…. nine minutes early.
- On Sunday, I ran age group as well and my heat was scheduled for 8:30. I waited until they called my age group to enter the corral. They did tell people standing by that they could go earlier if they wanted. Knowing the prior rule of you can race later but not earlier, I waited until they officially announced my age group to enter. So, starting with my actual heat as called, my watch clocked as starting at 8:18am– a full 12 minutes early.
No wonder the “30-minute” entrance rule felt so crunched for time.
To be behind schedule isn’t a big deal. For racers wanting to compete in the same batch as a majority of their own heat, it’s less than ideal to be sending racers off before assigned start times in my opinion.
It wasn’t entirely clear if the whole age group was being sent off at once or in batches. If in batches, I suppose this is less of an issue in the end much like the stadion races. Just something to keep in mind. Granted, this was one race weekend and we know that this is not the typical experience from Spartan.
As for the festival area, it seemed people stayed close to those they already knew. There was not a lot of congregating in the festival area amongst racers as is typical in many races. The beer area was not confined. You could walk around with your drink, making any chance of mass congregating less likely.
Overall, the experience felt different, but it was still a great time. Once you got out onto the course itself, it felt so, so normal. And, don’t we all need a little bit of the chance to just feel normal these days? Let me tell you, getting out there and racing was so good for the soul.
I can’t wait for more!
If you need help training for your next Spartan Race or other obstacle course race, let us know! We offer custom running plans and full strength training programs written by a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist) that are sure to help you crush the course.