Big Fork, Montana once again played host to the Montana Spartan Beast and Sprint Weekend. The weekend consisted of the Beast on Saturday, Hurricane Heat Saturday evening, and the Sprint on Sunday.
The Beast course was ~20.4 km long with 34 obstacles and ~940 m of elevation gain. The Sprint course was ~8.6 km long with ~440 m of elevation gain and 22 obstacles.
Spectator Friendly: There were a number of easily accessible vantage points that allowed spectators to see a number of different obstacles. In one particular location spectators could watch racers take on Olympus, Hercules Hoist, Rope Climb, and the Sandbag Carry, the course would eventually loop back to this location allowing spectators to also view two 4ft walls, Bender, and two Dunk Walls. Other easily viewable obstacles included Bucket Brigade, Farmers Carry, Multi-Rig, Barbed Wire Crawl (before the slip ramp), Slip Ramp, Barbed Wire Crawl (after the slip ramp), and Twister. Bringing the total viewable obstacles to 13 (12 for the Sprint, as Bender was taking out), which is a 1/3 of the total obstacles of the Beast course and just over half of the obstacles in the Sprint course!
Ruggedness: A significant portion of the course did not have typical single track or double track or any track for that matter. The track you ran on was the one you chose to create as you blazed through the brush. Bushes, shrubs, trees, stumps, undergrowth, long grass and deadfall were all a part of the course. Essentially Spartan set up its course markings on either side of extremely dense brush, and said “have at it”. This provided a unique ruggedness to the course that not many venues replicate. Trudging through dense brush as you get scraped and tripped by the overgrown plants, is difficult both mentally and physically, but it provides such a unique and exotic feel that it is well worth it.
Technical Terrain: The descents on this course were insane! Nearly every descent on this course consisted of extremely steep, single track. If one were to fall on the descents it likely would not end well. But the enhanced challenge was well welcomed and the descents were nearly an obstacle on their own.
Barbed Wire: In Saturday’s beast, there was a downhill barbed crawl. Crawling/rolling downhill, is’t overly difficulty but it adds a new challenge, forcing you to control your decent/roll downhill. For if you lose control rolling downhill you may end up with some nasty scars and/or tangled up in the barbed wire itself. One of the last obstacles on both the Beast and Sprint course, was a long barbed wire crawl to a slip wall. Upon climbing over the slip wall racers were greeted with another long barbed wire crawl.
Nothing like a little mental beat down right near the finish line… “Man that barbed wire crawl was long. At least it’s done and I just have to climb this slip ramp then it’s off to the finish line.” (Climbs slip ramp) “More barbed wire!”
The Views: Montana has some truly breathtaking landscapes. From the drive into the venue to the course itself the views are incredible. However nothing tops the view from the highest point on the course. After the Log Carry racers headed to the A-Frame cargo net, and with a quick look to the left, you’d see a mesmerising view as you overlook the trees below and see Flat Head Lake shimmer a crisp blue. Unfortunately only racers on Saturday were able to enjoy this view, because Sunday’s weather consisted of dense clouds and tons of rain.
Easy Mult-Rig: As the name implies you’d assume the Multi-Rig to have multiple different types of hand holds to traverse. However the Mult-Rig in Montana wasn’t “multi” at all as it consisted of only rings. I understand rings are still a challenge for many racers out there, but the name “Mult-Rig” holds so much daunting power that racers never know what crazy set up they will have to face, and to only use rings on the Multi-Rig is somewhat of a letdown.
Easy Twister: All of the Twister’s at previous Spartan Race’s had 3 segments of twisting fun. At Montana racers only had 2 twisting segments to get through. The twisting segments of this obstacle are quite long, so a reduction from 3 segments to 2 makes this obstacle substantially easier.
The Montana Beast and Sprint weekend is a fantastic event. Despite minor grievances with slightly easier obstacles, everything else was fantastic. Gorgeous landscapes coupled with grueling terrain makes for a unique venue. There is no doubt in my mind that I will be back here in the future.