The Western Canada Spartan Race series got underway with the Vancouver Spartan Sprint on June 4 at Mount Seymour Ski Resort. The venue is located on the northern edge of North Vancouver making the race extremely accessible for anyone living in the Greater Vancouver area.
The course was extremely well designed providing racers with a complete mountain running experience as they ran over dirt roads, grass/thick brush, loose gravel, boulder fields, snow, single track, and even swampy sections. Coming in just over 6 km with 372 m of elevation gain (according to my GPS) the course was a typical Spartan Sprint distance and was jam packed with 22 obstacles. Switchbacks were nowhere to be found on the course, adding to the difficulty of the race and resulting in big grinds up the steep ascents and speedy technical descents. The ascents and descents were relatively short except for one long slog to the summit of the mountain.
Multi Rig (NEW for Western Canada)
The Multi Rig is a great addition to the Western Canada Spartan Race series, as it provides a new exciting challenge that has been missing from the Western Canada races. The multi rig is not as flashy as other rigs but it gets the job done, consisting of a horizontal pipe, three rings, a Tarzan rope, and another horizontal pipe. Only time will tell if the set up changes from race to race (I hope so).
Knotless Ropes (NEW for Western Canada)
Another obstacle Western Canada Spartan Racers have been deprived of for too long are the knotless rope climbs. However our suffering is now over with the addition of knotless ropes! Half of the ropes contained knots while the other half did not. Anyone competing in the Elite or Competitive Heats must use the knotless ropes, whereas Open Heat racers could use any rope they choose. I for one am extremely happy with the debut of the Multi Rig and Knotless Ropes in Western Canada and hope that they are here to stay!
As many Spartan racers know the Sandbag Carry is a staple obstacle in Spartan Race events. What made the Sandbag Carry on this course a highlight was the terrain the carry was located on. The carry was stationed on a steep and rocky slope. Racers had to navigate jagged basketball sized boulders up and down the slope while carrying a sandbag. The terrain transformed the normal boring sandbag carry into something truly unique and memorable.
Another Spartan Race staple, but what made this obstacle memorable was its location on the course. Located less than 100 m from the finish line, the bucket brigade was a relatively short carry but was down and up a very steep ski slope, which made for a challenging carry and forced racers to battle it out right to the finish line.
As stated above, there was a wide variety of terrain on this course, which created a fantastic mountain running experience. There was a good mix between relatively flat surfaces (dirt roads) and grueling technical sections (boulder fields).
Spectators/Beer Gardens/Post Race
The course design and festival area layout complimented each other extremely well. Many exciting obstacles were visible from the festival area and beer gardens. Whether you are cheering on fellow Spartans or enjoying a nice cold beer, the ability to watch the action was phenomenal. The Start Line, Vertical Cargo Net, and Stairway to Sparta were all visible from the beer gardens with the latter two being directly adjacent to the beer gardens. In the festival area spectators were able to watch the exciting finish to the race as they had unobstructed views of the Bucket Brigade, Rope Climb, Barbed Wire Crawl, and the Fire Jump. Many other obstacles were visible from the parking lot, including the Multi Rig and Slippery Wall. The Multi Rig in particular is always an exciting obstacle to watch, so it was great that it was easily visible for spectators to cheer on their family and friends.
I have nothing bad to say about the Vancouver Spartan Sprint. The course was extremely well designed, there were no bottle necking issues, the course covered a wide variety of terrain, and the addition of a few new obstacles made for a truly challenging but most importantly, a fun experience. Not only was the course well designed but the venue is fantastic as well. From the festival area there are many gorgeous views of the Greater Vancouver and with that combined with a fantastic course truly makes for an exceptional event. The 2016 Vancouver Spartan Sprint, is one of (if not) the best Spartan Sprint I have done to date and I highly recommend this race to anyone looking for a difficult but rewarding course.
Adam Kuhn lives in Calgary Alberta, where he works as a Geologist in corporate Calgary. Playing high level hockey and football in high school Adam has always loved competitive sports. Upon entering University, sports and exercise fell to the wayside as a life of partying ensued. Spartan Racing has gotten Adam off the couch (and booze) and has revitalized his life. A relatively new face in the OCR scene Adam’s competitive nature is back as he pushes his body to its limits as he competes in the Elite Heats, testing himself against the best of the best. Follow him on Instagram @adamkuhn20 and checkout his personal blog readysweatrun.com for more on his adventures.