Tuesday, May 2, 2017

2017 New Jersey Spartan Ultra Beast Race Report

Spartan Ultra Beast Logo

The 2017 Spartan New Jersey Ultra Beast was held at Mountain Creek in Vernon New Jersey.  This was my first Spartan Ultra Beast.  We are from outside of Pittsburgh, PA so we decided to get a hotel for the night.  (By the way Super 8 is extremely nice for the price.)
I signed up for the competitive wave, which was scheduled to start at 6:15 AM.  So we arrived at the venue at 5:15 AM.  My wife and her friend were volunteering so we decided to pay the $30 for VIP parking so we could have access to our vehicle, to avoid the 20 minute bus ride.

First I went to check in and it was changed a little this year.  No need to find your bib number any more, just print out your page with the bar-code on it.  I think this will make the check-in process a little quicker.  Now the volunteers don't have to dig through packets to find your name and number.  They gave me my packet which included my band that had my time on, a green band, beer band, and my Green sweat band that signified I was running the Ultra.  This made it easy for volunteers to know who was running which race. (Beast participants had a blue band)

New Jersey Spartan Ultra Beast Transition Area

After check-in I headed over to the drop bin area and dropped off my bucket.  For my bucket I used a 5 gallon bucket that I put some stickers on and some bright duct tape. 
I am happy I did this because there was a lot of drop bins in the area.  This did make it easier to find between laps.
Next I headed off to the start area.  The start area was part way up a ski slope.  On my way up to the start my Garmin watch beeped, informing me that I had reached my floors climbed goal for the day.  Ha!  At this point I realized that we may see a few hills in our future.  My start time was 6:15 AM, and I climbed the wall to enter the start area around 6:10 AM.  They were running a little behind because they had an issue with a bus that they were hauling volunteers to their stations at the different obstacles.  We ended up starting around 6:30 AM.
Shortly after leaving the start we encountered our first obstacle, the Hay Wall, which wasn't much of a wall, just 5 or 6 round bales laying on their side.  Then we started the climb.  The first climb went on for awhile, I am not sure about the distance but there was not much running for quite some time.  Finally we got to the top of the first hill where there was a 6 ft Wall.  After getting over this wall on the second lap there was a Memory Test station. I didn't recall seeing it on the first lap, I guess they didn't have it up or my memory was really bad.  Regardless, runners doing the Ultra were exempt from the memory test.
Then we started down hill for a little, most of the trails were single track, and just newly marked.  The first lap through they would have been difficult to follow many of them if they were not marked by white ribbons.  By the second lap they were much easier to see and a lot more worn down, especially anywhere there was a little water.  The first lap it was like I got my shoe a little wet, the second I had to hope my shoe stayed on.

Here is a list of the obstacles as I remember them, I think I got most of them in order.
Monkey Bars:  Offset bars that you see at most spartan races.  They were a little slippy and wet the first lap.
Dunk Wall:  The normal dunk in the water under the wall.  This was very early in the race for this obstacle, normally it is closer to the end. 
Slip Wall:  The wall was very wet because it was right after coming out of the Dunk Wall.
Log Carry:  This was a up and back on a decent sized hill.
7 ft Wall:  Standard Wall, sturdy as always at Spartan
A-Frame:  Standard Spartan Net covered A-Frame
Water Crossing:  This was through the edge of a pond.  Near the edge it was between my knees and waist, but as you got closer to the marker I could barely touch in some areas.
Invert Wall:  Standard Spartan Inverted Wall.
Tyrolean Traverse:  Hang from the rope and pull yourself across until you can ring the bell.
Plate Drag:  Standard Metal pan with sand bags in and a rope attached tied to a stake.  You pull the plate with the rope until it hits the stake then drag it back until the rope is stretched back out.
Over Walls:  Two smaller walls
Multi Rig:  First a Pole, a ring or two, base ball, a short rope, ring, baseball, and two rings before the bell (or something close to that)
Olympus:  This was new this year and my first time seeing it.  The first loop I tried to use the Red climbing grips and slipped on the 4th or 5th one.  They were very slick and wet in the morning.
Spear Throw:  I am about 50/50 with the spear.  I got it the first time.
Barbed Wire Crawl:  Not super long, but there was plenty of logs and other items to crawl over and around.
8 ft Wall: Standard Wall
Hurdles:  2 4x4 shaped beams about 4 ft. in the air you had to go over.
Vertical Cargo Net:  Cargo net over an aluminum structure that you climb up and over.
Herc Hoist:  Sand bag tied to a rope through a pulley, that you pull the rope down until the knot above the sand bag hits the pulley.  Make sure you let it down easy so you don't hurt the baby.  I don't know I heard one of the volunteers keep saying it.
Sand Bag Carry:  This was not the most difficult sand bag carry I have done at a Spartan, there was no real elavation change, just some zig zagging through the woods.
Memory Test:  This is where you have to repeat your letter and number combo.  (Not required for the Ultra participants)
Z Wall:  Climb around the Z shaped wall without touching the top of the wall on blocks of 2x4s to hold onto.
Bender:  This was a new obstacle for me this year.  It looks kind of like a bent latter that was missing the lower steps.  It was also bent so it was inverted.  So one of the hardest parts was getting over the top similar to the inverted wall.
Stairway To Sparta:  Standard Spartan obstacle, a large A-frame with a wall at the bottom.
Atlas Lift:  Carry the Atlas Stone across to the other flag, do 5 burpees, and then carry it back to the start location.

New Jersey Spartan Ultra Beast Bucket Brigade

Bucket Brigade:  This was a standard bucket carry, guys had black buckets, girls had red buckets.  Fill it up to cover the holes and march the course.  This was definitely the toughest bucket carry I have done at a Spartan Race.  It was up a pretty steep hill then around the turn at the top and head back down.  By far the toughest carry of the race.  I also heard a few people that said they had to redo it because there bucket was not full enough when they got to the bottom.

New Jersey Spartan Ultra Beast Twister

Twister:  This was another new obstacle for this year and this was my first experience with it.  It kicked my butt.  I usually do fairly well with these type of obstacles but I just couldn't get it.  I am not sure if it was because the bucket carry burned out my grip or if I just didn't have a good technique with it.  It got me both laps. (Burpees)
Rope Climb:  Same as last year up the rope and ring the bell but this year they had thick mats at the bottom.

New Jersey Spartan Ultra Beast Transition Area

Next it was back to the gear drop area, where I filled my water bladder, had a salt tab and Clif bar, and headed back out for my second lap.  There was a small uphill on a single track that lead us back to the trail right after the start gate.
Next we simply had to do everything again, (well maybe not simply), it took me a little longer to get around the second lap.  The course was a good bit more crowded.  But the staff and volunteers were great at getting the Ultra participates to the front of the line for the obstacles.

New Jersey Spartan Ultra Beast Finisher Medal

I did get my second chance at Olympus and made it across with no problem using the chains.  After getting around the second lap you get to pass the bag drop area, do the Fire Jump, and cross the finish line.  After crossing the finish line you don't get your Ultra Beast medal.  You then have to go to a tent where they verify that you finished both laps and crossed all the check points.  My wife got this picture at the end I think I was a little dehydrated and trying to decide if I wanted to get pizza or icecream.  Don't worry I got both to be safe.  As I said this was my first Ultra Beast and it was a great experience and a great challenge.  My Garmin showed a final mileage of 25.82 miles and 8,471 feet of elevation change. 

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