RACE REVIEW: Spartan Race VegaZona – 2021

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Spartan Race VegaZona:

This was my first time back at the Spartan Race VegaZona venue since 2017 (technically the Spartan Las Vegas venue).  Back then, I had just barely begun my OCR journey and was still overwhelmed by the whole magnitude of an Obstacle Course Race.  (I think the Las Vegas venue was my 3rd Spartan ever, followed by Breckenridge and Seattle).  I basically got my feet wet in OCR, began pushing myself to compete for a couple years, minus some injuries here and there, and then 2020 hit.

And then you have this year… 2021. A year after the world was forced into taking all of 2020 off, this was set to be our first competition in over 13 months.

I didn’t really know what to expect. Yes, we read all of the protocols and guidelines and what not, but there is something to be said about experience… it always prevails.

RACE DAY THOUGHTS:

The checking in 30 minutes beforehand is a bit of a time crunch.  It was almost like the race started the second you checked in.  This sums up my personal experience both days….

“Okay, I have to get my headband on, now my start time band, okay… now my timing chip, okay, now hurrying to warm your body up– but not too fast, okay… but I need to get to my starting corral in 5 minutes. Oh screw it.  I’m just going to drop my bag off and head to the starting corral. Hopefully I’m in the first wave and I am warmed up enough.”

If anyone knows me, they know I am adamant about a proper warm-up!

So lesson learned (until things change): still get to the venue early and do your warmup outside the venue so that you give yourself adequate time.  With the current 30-minutes prior protocol, you are basically just working your way to the starting corral after you check in.

To save you time and boredom on my take on Spartan’s other COVID protocols (which are always subject to change), I’ll just say: the experience is different and I pray we go back to the way things were very soon.

WHAT ABOUT THE RACE ITSELF?

The Spartan Race VegaZona course itself was a lot of fun, fast, and the obstacles were well spaced (with plenty of hand sanitizer at every obstacle).  I thoroughly enjoy running in the desert, so for me it felt like a normal training run.

The short river run felt good because it was pretty hot that weekend, and being early on allowed you to dry off quickly and then just get into your running pace afterward to set the tone for the rest of your race.

It was kind of weird to not have the dunk wall which I definitely missed, but Bethany did not–haha!!  The sandbag carry has also been eliminated for the time being.

The long hill climb towards the end was still there, only this time it was just a climb.  The last time I did it (as the photo above shows), they had tires you also had to climb over as you went up the thing.  It’s not super long compared to other courses, but it’s at a pretty good incline. After that, you’re back downhill and into the final gauntlet of obstacles where the finisher line, medals, and post-race beer await! (They’ve really gotta work on better beer partnerships though… for real.) 

The camaraderie on the course was still there with everyone pushing each other, encouraging one another and competing against each other, and it just felt so darn good!!

As much as we enjoyed the actual and virtual challenges of 2020, it felt truly amazing to be in an actual race environment. To compete!! To see some friends we hadn’t seen in some time, to encourage, and cheer on other racers to achieve their goals.  To watch real people overcome their obstacles is an amazing thing and something that my soul hadn’t had in some time. We were saying it all weekend.  “Man, that just felt good!”

I said numerous times since 2017 that the Spartan Race VegaZona venue wasn’t necessarily on my list of races to do each and every year, but I am so happy we went back and raced it this year!

You, the OCR community, are some of the most amazing, incredible human beings we have ever met.  We are so incredibly thankful for you and your support.  Now let’s go and #crushthecourse!

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