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Stairs and Rain: Citi Field Sprint

If you don’t like stairs, don’t do anything related to the Spartan Stadium Series. If you do like stairs, then I will always recommend Citi Field. It was my very first Spartan Race in 2015, and I intend to do it every single year that I can. First, I live in NYC and don’t have a car so getting to Citi Field is the easiest of any of the races I’ve ever done. This year I was lucky and a friend drove (door-to-door service—I felt so special!). There is tons of parking if that’s your option. The 7 Train is also right there if you’re coming in from the city. Second, I do like stairs. You can count on never-ending stairs at Citi Field. Just when you think there can’t be any more stairs left in the stadium, there will be more stairs.

This year’s Citi Field was special….it was raining. I don’t think any Spartan is truly averse to the elements, it adds to the fun! I went into the week before the race quite anxious as I was racing Elite. The rain helped to take off some of the pressure. No matter how ready I was, or wasn’t, add water and the game changes.

Registration, as well as a few vendors and the Finisher t-shirt tent, were outside; so we are all wet right from the start. Unlike past stadiums, we were given the wristband chip trackers instead of the usual shoe band. I’m guessing this was due to the rain? From there it was the traditional security bag search and wanding, then up the steps or escalator (though as my 2016 training partner would say: “Spartans take the stairs!”). As it was about 45 minutes before the Elite Heats went off, things were still getting going, just men and women running back and forth to warm-up. The layout was fairly easy to follow as Bag Check lead straight to the start area.

I mentioned in my first review, I like to get hyped up at the start of the race. Getting to see some of the top racers for the Men’s and Women’s Elite Heats certainly helped. I’ll admit, I get “Spartan starstruck” when I see folks like Brakken Kraker. Starts at Stadium Series races take a bit longer because of staggering. I can’t tell if this is why I missed the “race rules” announcement, or if the sound just wasn’t very loud. Not so much of an issue for me, but I heard other racers complaining when it came to the Monkey Bars and having to do burpees because they kicked the bell. Take note, y’all, that’s no longer allowed!

The course itself felt fairly standard for a Stadium Series race. All the usual suspects for a Stadium were there: ball slams, jump rope (thankfully minus the ankle bands), “Rolling Epic” (the little ab coasters), hand-release push-ups in the locker room. The water jug stair carry was missing. I wasn’t necessarily sad about that. The rain made the stairs slick, and I witnessed quite a few near wipe-outs among the Elites and faster Competitive Heat racers.

The first big obstacle was the A-Frame Cargo Net. I’m not one to sprint up the A-Frame or flip over the top, but I did take more care with it as the rain had made the straps a bit looser than normal. Nothing to worry about, but I wondered how it would be later in the day. Outside in the parking lot, there was a nice grouping: 6 and 8-foot walls, Z-Wall, Atlas Carry (Can you say “LIGHT!”?), and the Spear Throw. Other than the Spear, I really enjoyed this section. The built-in Atlas Carry burpees were my first of the day swiftly followed by the 30 penalty ones for the Spear. At the point, I was moderately wet from the rain, but nothing like chest to puddled parking lot to make it almost feel like a terrain course with water obstacles! Most of the carries and lifts felt fairly light. The Hercules Hoist was under a covering. Had it not been, the rain certainly would have made those sandbags something to talk about. The Monkey Bars, however, were not covered. Not saying I would have gotten them if they were dry…but a girl can dream…

Regardless of finishing slower than Mr. Kraker, the course flew by quickly. As we entered the field for the first time, I actually called out to another racer that we couldn’t be there already. The final stretch seemed similar to past Stadiums with the Rope Climb followed by 30 box jumps. That number did seem to surprise everyone. The numbers for the standard stadium obstacles varied more than I’ve seen before: 25 ball slams and push-ups, 20 jump rope, 30 box jumps.

I’ve never had the privilege of battling gladiators at the finish. The Gladiator Gauntlet as it stands now will have to do either until Spartan brings back the shirtless men or figures out how to have a Fire Jump for the Stadium Series. The hanging punching bags did make for some good photos this time around. There was no photographer for a “Victory Wall” photo on the field. There was a backdrop for those photos up in the festival area of the stands for everyone to do their own photos. We got the traditional banana, CLIF® BUILDER’S®, and water. There were also multiple vendors giving out food samples and coupons.

By the time I finished and got back to the main level, things were in full swing. The mix of wet folks walking around with medals and those just arrived built up the fun atmosphere I look forward to post-race. Yes, it was cold and wet, but that never stops a Spartan! I am glad I raced earlier rather than later, however, as we were leaving you could see the puddles deepening in the parking lot around the Registration tents. HUGE shoutout to the Spartan staff and volunteers who had to stick around all day in the elements.

Overall, Citi Field 2017 was a fun, wet, and quick race. The weather was the only thing that really set this one apart for me. New Stadium Series obstacle: RAIN!

Two-thirds of the Trifecta done! Next up: Virginia Super on June 3rd!

About Kathryn Conners

Kathryn Connors is a personal trainer and group fitness instructor at The Sports Center at Chelsea Piers in New York City. She also works in TV, film, and commercials throughout the Tri-State area. Kathryn received her Spartan SGX Coaching certification in 2016. She loves elephants, everything purple, and Star Wars. Kathryn is the NYC coach for the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation's Team Challenge endurance training program.