Spartan Gold Coast returned to the picturesque Numinbah Valley on Australia's Gold Coast last weekend bringing the high octane event they are known for.
But for me and many other seasoned racers I spoke to, it seemed as though some of the magic was missing, suppressed by poor organisation and mistakes that a well established company like Spartan Australia shouldn't be making.
Before this becomes a smear piece, I want it clear that I think Spartan did a fantastic job of creating the course at the Numinbah venue.
The individual races themselves were fantastic, with Spartan obviously listening to feedback about carries becoming ridiculously easy, we saw some actually challenging farmers, sandbag and bucket carries at the GC. There were more water stations and we had elites doing burpees at places like the rope climb after rolling mud pits.
In my opinion, this is what Spartan should be. An event that keeps you guessing and courses that trip up the top tier athletes. I ended up personally doing one set of burpees over my trifecta weekend, just missing the twister in the super.
The races were tough but achievable.
Unfortunately though, from an organisational standpoint things seemed to come apart in a whole lot of places. I write this in the hope that Spartan listens and fixes these issues. I'll list some points below.
1. From the get go, checking in was a disaster. Spartan went with a new timing company who were either not briefed correctly or just didn't understand the scope or have the capacity to get everyone in headbands for the event. Spartan had to delay the starting times for waves on Saturday morning.
The timings appeared to be off for a whole lot of people I chatted to at the finish line too. Racers weren't able to see their results straight after they finished and on Sunday there were huge problems with timings leading to the podiums not starting until most people had left.
2. There were not enough volunteers who knew what they were doing. This is a sport that runs on volunteers and I appreciate every single person who helps out on the day but the people at obstacles need to be briefed on the rules of the obstacle they are at in the very least. I heard advice from multiple vollies at obstacles that was incorrect. Competitive racers were advised they could help others, plus things like vollies saying you couldn't hold corner posts at the z wall.
To me, briefing volunteers on the rules in a race where there is prize money seems like a basic standard you would have when organising your event.
I was also told that at the twister the vollie came and hand delivered cups of water to competitive athletes doing burpees in the super but only those without a hydration pack. This vollie was amazing and was very helpful but in competitive waves people can't take assistance. Just poor communication between the Spartan team and vollies on the day.
3. On a similar theme, there weren't enough qualified Marshalls at obstacles, also nowhere near enough cameras set up in burpee zones. I was told at one point that the GoPro wasn't even filming.. There were competitive athletes getting assistance over walls skipping obstacles and burpees and athletes with red headbands burpeeing out must complete obstacles like the rolling mud.
4. There were no showers at the event. After speaking to Numinbah locals this week, many complained about how muddy all the creeks were. This is what happens when you send thousands of people through mud pits and only have what was a once pristine creek for them to rinse off in. I think it's fairly irresponsible from an environmental standpoint to not have showers at an event where you have the rolling mud obstacle.
5. The shirt sizes appear to have changed again. I've raced about as much as anyone in Australia and I have lots of finisher shirts. Every single event it seems as if the sizing is different. I have shirts from last year in a medium that fit me and I just squeeze in to an XL from the GC. I was told on Sunday when I asked to swap my Large Beast shirt that it would be too difficult and to email them. With the response rate and action times on the Spartan Aus emails, I won't be bothering with that.
6. The MC. I won't say much here, If you were there then you know what I mean. Seemed like a nice guy and everyone in a new role has an uphill battle but It seems as if whoever brought him onboard doesn't seem to understand the vibe of their own event and if they do, they didn't tell him about it. The MC is there to hype the crowd up and there wasn't much of that happening.
7. After promising athletes at Marulan that the multiple trifecta medals would be at the next event, they were nowhere to be seen and no-one seemed to have any idea about them. I was told to email Spartan aus. See point 5 above.
That's about all I can come up with at the moment, I think all of these points would be easy enough to rectify with the right person at Spartan caring enough to make the changes. Spartan Australia are unfortunately continuing a trend of delivering less while charging more and this is leading to more and more racers becoming disenfranchised with the brand. From the volunteer point debacle to how admins run the Spartans of Australia group, Spartan have done a fantastic job of alienating their core group of customers. Many of the regulars told me they won't be back after this last event and many of the regular vollies told me Spartan can get fucked when it comes to volunteering again. I personally was getting pretty tired with how they are running things and assumed the the brand worldwide was in trouble. After racing overseas a few times recently, I can confirm that these are local problems, my recent event in Spartan Chaing Mai was fantastic and I will be taking clients to race with me over in Phuket in November. Covid was tough on the events industry but after seeing the quality of both True Grit's and Raw Challenge Gold Coast's recent events, it's clear that Spartan Aus can and as the market leader should be better. The event numbers on the Gold Coast show just how far they have fallen, with signups for this event being lower than their 2020 Gold Coast event. Read that again, they couldn't outsell the event that happened during the first year of the pandemic. I'm fairly certain Raw Challenge Gold Coast had better numbers last weekend and that is a smaller local event, they also had crazy weather and the fact that Spartan set up one week earlier just 3km down the road. Raw Challenge GC have to knock back volunteers as they literally have too many people putting their hands up. Spartan could learn a lot from how Raw treat their community and I hope they do, it would be such a shame to watch something I love so much disappear.
The Elite Report
Liam McKenzie came out of the gate with something to prove on Saturday morning and prove it he did.
No-one came close to touching him on the challenging 21km Beast course. With his recent tour of the US and huge training block he was looking about as fighting fit as I've ever seen him. He came over the line 14 minutes ahead of 2nd place, Scott Cummins.
Scott managed to just get Liam in the 10km Super with just 15 seconds between them. I would have loved to watch this race I think it would have been a fantastic finish. Scott went tit for tat with Liam all weekend, finishing second to him twice.
Liam ended up taking back the Gold in the Sprint later on in the day, finishing with a near perfect Trifecta weekend.
Liam's dominating performance was made even more impressive with both him and partner Bec welcoming little Dakota less than a month ago. Huge congratulations to both of them on the arrival.
Jordi Gunn is proving she is dangerous at any distance, after putting a few minutes on 2nd place Spartan veteran Monika Holmwood during Saturday's Beast. I'm really excited to see Jordi continuing to develop in OCR, she clearly has huge amounts of potential and is great for a chat too, I'll do my best to bring her on a live chat with me at the One Moore Rep FB page soon! Huge shoutout to local Holly Richards who put in a solid effort for the Elite females, with 2 x bronze and a silver finish over the three events.
Elite Beast Male Results 1 - Liam Mckenzie - 02:03:38
2 - Scott Cummins - 02:17:51
3 - Adrian Jannenga - 02:19:00 Elite Beast Female Results 1 - Jordan Gunn - 02:45:05
2 - Monika Holmwood - 02:47:02
3 - Holly Richards - 02:48:24 Elite Super Male Results 1 - Scott Cummins - 00:54:13
2 - Liam Mckenzie - 00:54:28
3 - Quinton Gill - 00:56:47 Elite Super Female Results 1 - Joanna Hepton - 01:06:25
2 - Holly Richards - 01:12:33
3 - Daina Maher - 01:16:25 Elite Sprint Male Results 1 - Liam Mckenzie - 00:29:38
2 - Scott Cummins - 00:30:17
3 - Tony Curtis - 00:32:13 Elite Sprint Female Results 1 - Katie Rogerson - 00:18:13
2 - Robyn Koszta - 00:40:43
3 - Holly Richards - 00:40:55
Where the main Spartan team dropped a heap of balls over the weekend, I feel like the Hurricane Heat team did a great job of picking them up. New head Krypteia Mick Stuart put on a fantastic event with the help of Spartan lunatic Jim Bullard and veteran Rob Cardillo. I completed the heat with Brendan and the team did an outstanding job of customising a few things so we could get him through the event. I could not speak more highly about these Hurricane Heats, they are hard to put into words but so very valuable for those that get them completed.
The pink OMR army continue to amaze me with their amazing vibes, perseverance and willingness to help each other on course.
I'm so very blessed to be surrounded by you all and so very proud to see every single finisher medal, especially the podium finishes.
We had quite a few age cat podiums over the weekend, with Cam Crouch taking out the a win and a 3rd. Sam Gilchrist taking the win in all three, Sharon Watene picking up a first and second, Matty Day taking a gold and Kerrie Luscombe taking a silver and bronze. Want to find out about training and racing with OMR? Either send me a message or book a free chat with Matt below.
Local to the Gold Coast? Join us on the next OMR Raw Challenge Bootcamp, a 3 hour bootcamp on a real obstacle course. Alternatively, Matt runs free OCR workouts almost every weekend at EMF Nerang on the Gold Coast!