Race Review: Fenway Park Spartan Sprint

This spring my friend Grant came into town for a quick visit. We caught up over drinks and he said “I want to do a spartan race. There’s a sprint in Fenway Park, it’ll be great, will you do it with me?” I was already signed up for the Tri-State Spartan Sprint in June so I figured, why not? I loved the concept of OCRs (obstacle course races) and thought it would be a great reason to keep up my strength training. Fast forward to the week of November 10: I was getting nervous. I hadn’t done near enough stair training (stadium spartan races are notorious for making participants run stairs to add distance) and I was beginning to worry about the weather. The high on Saturday, November 15 was 39 and our wave was scheduled to begin at 8:45am so it would be much colder than that when we began.

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We signed up for the 8:45am race because it was the last “confirmed” start time. In addition to being one of the first waves to go, you are almost guaranteed to start early or on time. I highly recommend registering for one of these. Not only does it give you more time to enjoy your day after the race, you’re less likely to have to wait at obstacles because there’s less people out on the course.

Spartan suggests you arrive 2 hours before your start time, but knowing how cold it would be at 6:45, we arrived a little before 7:30am. Check in was the one of the easiest I’ve ever had. He volunteers were knowledgeable about where the athletes need to go, taking your (THREE) waivers and helping spectators. This race was a no-safety pin race so the bibs were only a souvenir. Spartan provides a headband that’s used to display your number, which I find brilliant considering how muddy and torn up your bib can get in the non-stadium races. Your timing chip is a plastic piece the size of a small beeper that you attach to your wrist and return after the race. We geared up and headed into the park to warm up, use the restroom one last time and head to the start.

Inside the stadium was packed with participants getting ready and elites/athletes from the earlier waves that had finished commenting on the course. There were vendor booths and merchandise tables where we picked out our victory shirts while heading to the start line. Since Spartan races are their own special breed of OCRs, you have to climb a 7-8 foot wall just to get to the corral. They only started 12 people at a time to keep the course from getting congested and these starts were spaced out about 1-2 minutes apart.

Obstacles:
Ramp bear crawl
Water jug carry
Ball slam
Hand release push ups
Sandbag carry
Atlas Carry
7 foot wall
8 foot wall
10 foot wall
Military hurtles (4 7-8 foot walls)
Cargo wall climb (from the field into the stadium seats)

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Transverse wall (failed obstacle – 30 burpees)

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Monkey bars

Jump rope (a crossfit rope with an elastic band around your ankles)
Spear throw (failed obstacle – 30 burpees)
Hercules hoist
Rope climb (failed obstacle – 30 burpees)
Box jumps
Hanging heavy bags

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Just to reiterate, Spartan races are ones you must train for. Stadium races are pretty tame as they’re limited to what obstacles they can construct. There was no inverted wall, barbed wire, or mud pit and you don’t have to conquer a mountainside with extremely uneven, rocky terrain, but training will almost guarantee a more pleasant experience. (If you’re interested, go to the Spartan site and sign up to receive the work out of the day.)

Overall, I loved the race and am already researching races for next year. Let me know if you’re interested in joining for the adventure for your life!

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Race Stats

Race price: 3 – $75 early registration. $150 day of registration was offered. While this is expensive for a 5k distance, you get access to places in the stadium you would never have access to otherwise (such as the visitor locker room and their dugout)

Race Organization: 4 – The course was clearly marked, as was the interior stadium

Level of Communication from race organizers: 4 – I received a confirmation of registration, a race day essential email, and one outlining how to confirm my start time. *Bonus point – I reached out to change my name on my registration from my maiden to married name and they were extremely helpful.

Race Course: 4 – As I mentioned above, we had access to areas of the park that we wouldn’t have had access to otherwise. We ran on the field, took photos with the Green Monster and had to stop a few times just to appreciate the experience. Grant was especially excited because he is a Red Sox fan and we passed his seats.

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Swag (in the race packet): 0 – no swag in the bag

T-shirt: 2 – Spartan prints large batches of cotton Finisher shirts that do not specify the distance or location to give their participants. This is very smart from a business perspective, but it leaves the runners (me anyway) wanting something more.

Medal: 4 – Spartan also tends to give out generic medals for each of their distances with nothing that denotes the location. However, Spartan commentated the Fenway Park Sprint with a custom ribbon and a finisher medal engraved with the Boston skyline. In addition to the finisher medal, they provide a pie piece medal to piece together with their Super and Beast races to denote a trifecta (completing all three distances within a calendar year).

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Post-Race Swag: 3 – We were immediately given our medals, finished shirts, Cliff builders snack size protein bars and a banana. Pretty standard and very appreciated.

Spectator Support: Most of the obstacles were out of site of the spectators. People cheered on as they could whike participants and volunteers cheered everyone on along the rest of the course.

Overall rating: 4

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