Originally I was planning to race the Spartan Race weekend in Pennsylvania, USA, but I decided that I needed to go check out, and race, the new Mont Owl’s Head venue prior to the upcoming Spartan Canada Race weekend (July 30th and 31st) that will include the Super, Beast and Ultra Beast distances and courses. My lower back is not getting better and I needed to get an idea how hard the new venues mountain and terrain are to help me decide if I will be able to complete the Beast on July 31st.
Registration and Festival
As always, registration was fast, easy and awesome. I think I am going to film myself registering at my next Spartan Canada race, so others can see how easy and fast it really is.
Spartan Canada always has a good set up when it comes to the festival area and this venue was no different.
Spartan Canada has a new MC for its races located in the Montreal predominantly French speaking community region. They have hired MC Anthony Horng Perso who I personally have always been a big fan of. Anthony happens to be the MC for several other Canada OCR’s that I have raced and I always look forward to seeing him and listening to him. Typically, he doesn’t speak English at most of the events I have seen/heard him at, but he has always killed it and fired me up regardless.
I noticed right away that Spartan had him sticking to a script, which was something that I wasn’t used to with him or Spartan Canada, but he still did a great job on Saturday. I actually spent a lot of time after the race talking to the brain trust that runs Spartan Canada and I made the suggestion they let Anthony go more freestyle on Sunday and from what I was told he was allowed to do that. I know I personally would love feedback from racers that raced both days, if you enjoyed Anthony more on Sunday, I am sure both Spartan and Anthony would like to know as well, so please let us know your thoughts and opinions.
Most seasoned/experienced Canadian OCR racers know that mountains and some difficult climbs go together with Spartan Canada likes tacos and Tuesday and the new Mont Owl’s Head venue lives up to that expectation. The course started out with a climb straight up the mountain and made its way all the way to the top. About halfway up the first climb, I witnessed more racers climbing on all fours, than trying to stand up and walk up the steepest part of the mountain. This part of the course literally was over a mile without a single obstacle, which I personally am never a fan of, but that is just me.
The good news was (I am sure this won’t apply to the upcoming Super, Beast and Ultra Beasts) this was the only time on the course that racers had to go to the very top of the mountain or deal with a very steep and physically taxing climb.
Once the course made its way to the top, it turned and started to head back down, but the best part of making it up to the top of the mountain wasn’t the feeling of accomplishment or survival, but at least for me was the amazing breath taking views. I personally had to stop a moment and just take it all in. It then came time to head back down the mountain and I was actually able to ignore my lower back pain and make my way back down doing a slow but at least not standing still jog. The course made its way back down the mountain with a mostly going straight down and only a few zigs and zags that took racers more across the mountain. Some of the obstacles back down near the festival area that spectators could see were the Hercules Hoist and the rope climb.
The course also included the following carry type obstacles: The Sandbag Carry, Jerry Can Carry, Tire Carry, Tire Flip, Atlas Carry which both at America and Canada Spartan racers typically seems to develop backups/delays to complete this obstacle and small tires attached to a chain that racers dragged around a small circular course. Unfortunately, just like the previous Spartan Canada race, they didn’t have enough of this obstacle so racers became backed up/delayed.
I have to mention the first obstacle on the course, the Camouflage Cargo Net Crawl, which I am never a fan of because my hydration backpack typically gets stuck in the thin nets, but the reason I bring this obstacle up, is the course used this very same obstacle three times on the around 7k course and I actually heard several racer’s comment that it was overkill and a waste of an obstacle.
The course also included many of the signature Spartan Canada obstacles, like the very unique monkey bars, the Inverted Wall, the Z Traverse Walls, Eight Foot Walls, Barbed Wire Crawl, the O-U-T that was actually Thru – Under – Over this time, the balance beam to slack line crossing which I personally always try and find a partner to hold hands with to make it easier for both of us, the Stairway to Heaven, which is new for 2016 and built by Platinum rig and an obstacle I have seen often in America and happy to now see in Canada, the always fun and challenging Dip Bars Walk, and the Spear toss, which for the first time that I can recall, used a much shorter stick/spear and pointed tip which I personally can see being a plus for new racers as it takes less strength to throw the spear, but I also think for experienced racers that will be racing for their best finisher times, it could be harder than normal as the muscle memory will be different.
The course finished up with the Platinum Rig, then made its way to the Fire Jump and last but not least was the Slip Ramp and then came to the finish!
The bling for Saturdays Sprint was last year’s Spartan finisher medal and the typical Spartan Sprint finisher shirt. I was a little shocked we didn’t get the new 2016 medal and for the second Spartan Canada Race in a row, the lanyards are the same as America and didn’t have a special Canadian lanyard like they did last year. The lanyards are not a big deal to me, but several of my friends voiced disappointment with this. I was disappointed we received last year’s medal, but such is life and on the bright side it’s easy to know which race the medal is from.
Overall Feelings and Event Rating
I am glad I decided to go to Canada for this Sprint, because Mont Owl’s Head is no joke and I now know what to expect when it comes to the Super and Beast in less than two weeks. As always, I had an amazing time in Canada and even though I ran into less friends than normal, I made some new friends and had a great time.
The course was fun, challenging, and had a decent amount of obstacles for a Sprint and the mountain made it even tougher. I am disappointed that Spartan Canada has very few new obstacles for 2016, but I can tell you that is about to change because they are going to debut new obstacles for the Super, Beast, and Ultra Beast. As always the staff and volunteers were awesome and the bling is what it is, so I am rating this race/event a 4.5 out of 5 stars.
My lower back is really bad right now and I am just not ready to stop racing all together, so I am on the fence about going to Canada for the Sunday’s Beast. I guess I have little over a week to decide.
Text by : Walter F Hendrick (OCRSandy)