Chances are that by now you’re either sick of climbing Owl’s Head, the venue of the 2016 Montreal Spartan Beast & Ultra Beast, or you’re sick of hearing about how hard it was to climb Owl’s Head. The final race on Spartan’s Eastern Canada circuit ended in style with hot/humid temperatures, a drinking water shortage and 2,075 meters (6,808 feet) of vertical gain over 21.2 km (13.2 miles) for the Beast and 4,493 meters (14740.8 feet) of vertical gain over 47.42 km (29.5 miles) for the Ultra Beast. That equates to 98 meters of gain per KM (516 feet per mile).
What exactly do those numbers mean and more importantly, how can you put them in context so that your friends and co-workers understand? The most dramatic way of course is to compare it to climbing Mount Everest. The Beast equaled 24% of Everest’s peak (8,850 meters, 29,035 feet) from sea level, while the Ultra Beast equaled 51%. Seeing as how no one climbs Everest from sea level, it is more accurate to compare the Montreal Beast and Ultra Beast to the climb from Everest’s southeast basecamp, which resides at 5,334 meters (17,500 feet) above sea level, as it is the most favoured starting point for Mount Everest summit attempts. The Montreal Spartan Beast now equates to 59% of the elevation gain of a Mount Everest ascent while Ultra Beast finishers climbed Mount Everest 1.28 times that day.
However, bear in mind the oxygen deprivation, 44 pounds of mandatory gear in 1953 (22 pounds with today’s contemporary lightweight gear), snow, ice, avalanche risk and 55% success rate of climbing Mount Everest before 2004. There are also no water stations on Mont Everest. For the record, the Montreal Ultra Beast success rate was 18%.
If you’d like to compare the Montreal Beast and Ultra Beast‘s elevation gain to that of recent Spartan Beast and Ultra Beast events, observe the following numbers. Note that distance and elevation data was tracked using a Suunto Ambit3 Peak set to maximum accuracy.
|Spartan Beasts||Elevation Gain (Meters)||Elevation Gain (Feet)||Distance (KMs)||Distance (Miles)||Meter/KM||Feet/Mile|
|2016 Montreal Beast||2,075||6,807.7||21.2||13.2||97.9||516.8|
|2014 Vermont Beast (WC)||1,940||6,364.8||25.3||15.7||76.7||404.9|
|2013 Vermont Beast (WC)||1,733||5,685.6||22.4||13.9||77.4||408.5|
|2016 Tri-State Beast||1,606||5,269.0||24.6||15.3||65.4||345.4|
|2015 Ottawa Beast||1,520||4,986.8||25.2||15.6||60.4||319.1|
|2015 Tahoe Beast (WC)||1,407||4,616.1||23.6||14.7||59.6||314.8|
|Spartan Ultra Beasts||Elevation Gain (Meters)||Elevation Gain (Feet)||Distance (KMs)||Distance (Miles)||Meter/KM||Feet/Mile|
|2016 Montreal Ultra Beast||4,493||14,740.8||47.4||29.5||94.7||500.3|
|2015 Vermont Ultra Beast||3,736||12,257.1||44.7||27.8||83.6||441.3|
|2014 Vermont Ultra Beast||3,466||11,371.3||45.8||28.5||75.7||399.6|
|2015 Ottawa Ultra Beast||3,214||10,544.5||51.3||31.9||62.7||330.8|
|2016 Tri-State Beast||3,213||10,541.2||49.1||30.5||65.4||345.5|
|2015 Tahoe Ultra Beast||3,030||9,940.8||47.7||29.6||63.5||335.5|
|2014 Sun Peaks Ultra Beast||2,423||7,949.4||43.0||26.7||56.3||297.5|
The key take-aways here are that the 2016 Montreal Beast and Ultra Beast have the most elevation change of the featured hilly long distance Spartan Races. The 2014 Sun Peaks Ultra Beast had the least amount of elevation gain despite being hosted at the ski resort with the most vertical 882 meters (2,893 feet). The 2015 Spartan Race World Championships at Squaw Vally. Lake Tahoe included the second least elevation gain while being hosted at the ski resort with the second highest vertical 870 meters (2,850 feet). And perhaps most noteworthy, the 2016 Montreal Beast included only 348 fewer meters (1141.7 feet) than the 2014 Sun Peaks Ultra Beast.
Photo Credit: Darryl Michael Fallon, Alan Arnette.
By : Adam Kwitko | Is an endurance sports journalist and race operations professional. He is an avid OCR racer, trail runner and advocate for mandatory completion OCRs who gravitates to the longer distances. He also consumes large amounts of honey and maple syrup.