Racers returned to one of the original Australian Spartan venues this past weekend to battle unseasonable heat and relentless hills in Picton NSW.
Spartan offered a full trifecta, kids race and 4 and 12 hour Hurricane Heats at the iconic venue, with plenty of hills and rugged terrain to go around.
The Picton venue has always been a crowd favorite and for good reason. The scenery is beautiful and there’s a surprising amount of elevation to be found.
With a heat wave hitting on race week in Sydney, temps were up in the mid 30’s which is pretty crazy for this time of the year. Now racing in mid 30’s might not seem too intense, we’ve definitely had hotter races. I can remember racing in Bright and the Gold Coast in the 40’s.
But anyone who has raced overseas or travelled a great distance for a race knows just how hard the temperature can be if you aren’t acclimated to it.
Sydney went from low temps in the teens and low 20’s to mid 30’s and it took it’s toll on the athletes. Many people took the time to tell me just how hard the event had been, everyone out there earned those medals.
When talking about Picton it’s hard not to mention the fkn spiky bushes that seem to be everywhere. It’s probably one of the venues that leaves athletes the most cut and bloodied. It’s like nature is against you out there, this is juxtaposed by the beauty of the place.
Spartan race director Michelle sent athletes for a merry jaunt over pretty much every hill they could have conceivably been sent over, leaving a whole lot of tired legs by the end of the weekend.
For a place that doesn’t have a big mountain, the elevation crept up across the 3 events, with the Super hitting 380m of vert, the Sprint clocking 180m and the Beast a respectable 700 give or take.
For anyone interested in my thoughts on why I think the tough Picton venue is perfect for Spartan, check out my thoughts in my blog HERE
For anyone who attended the race at Picton, it’s clear that Spartan Australia are making a conscious effort to improve the quality of their events. While it’s only my opinion, I think they realise there have been some missteps over the last few years and are doing what they can to steer the ship back in the right direction.
I’m really confident that they are going to be able to do this and if any of the rumours I hear are true, then I’m excited for 2024 but for now I think they need a bit of help from us.
The attendance at Picton wasn’t what it has been in previous years but they managed to keep a good vibe, the new MC was pretty good on his first day on the job.
With the continual decline of numbers at Spartan, the volunteer numbers have taken a big hit and it’s reached a critical level.
Racing was delayed by 40 minutes on Saturday with a lack of vollies. Sunday saw similar issues with many obstacles unmanned.
This adds a bit of a tarnish to what was otherwise a fantastic weekend, but as I said I know SRA are doing what they can to improve and I’m confident they will do just that.
For now, if you have any capacity to volunteer at upcoming events, this will go a long way to help Spartan get back on their feet.
THE ELITE REPORT
A solid male elite Super field kicked off the weekend, with the fastest gents in the country taking off hot.
Young Dylan Pardy slid into an early lead in front of Liam McKenzie and didn’t slow down for the rest of the weekend.
This was the most dominant performance we have seen from young Dylan, who has been climbing the ranks in the sport for the last few years.
Dylan ended up taking home 3 golden triangles from the event, while Liam kept pretty tight with him in the Super, no one else was close to him in the Sprint or Beast, with Dylan winning the 21km race by nearly 20 minutes. Catch what he had to say after taking out the 3rd race and some of his highlights in the short clip below
Joanna Hepton (Hills) turned up on Saturday to handily win both her Super and Sprint. She put around 2 mins/km on the closest competitor Rachael Cardillo in both events.
That’s no criticism of Rach either, Joanna is just that good. There is no one remotely close to her in Australia in terms of pace and I’m keen to see how she shapes up in Fiji against Nicole Mericle.
Rach managed to take out 2nd place in all three events, with Jenny Hynes turning up on fresh legs on Sunday to run a fast Beast for the win. I missed chatting to Joanna, but check out this finish line chat with Rach with some highlights, there's more content from this event at the OMR Insta page.
Want the full results from all categories at Picton, download the Onetime app HERE
Congratulations to all of our OMR legends that crushed their events at Picton!
Here’s a few of my favourite shots from the team over the weekend.
We took home a heap of bling, some podiums and some new PB’s
I’m so proud of all of you!
Bring on the next one!
I'll be chatting to Dylan fresh of the back of his dominant performance. Join us Live next Monday on FB HERE
Picton saw the first 12 hour Hurricane Heat since Bright in 2019 and Head Krypteia Michael Stuart had all sorts of tricks up his sleeve to ensure participants received the personal growth they signed up for. The barefoot bandit himself Jim Bullard got the participants shoeless almost immediately and the chaos only built from there. From the head of HH in Australia Mick Stuart; “While Jim and Mark controlled the 4hr I was left with the task of challenging 16 crazy individuals through the 12hr Hurricane Heat.
Everyone was warned that they would not all be getting a shirt,medal and patch at the end of this.
4hr is all about the team getting through. 12hr we start looking at the individual as well.
Students did well, managing elements like slip wall, rope climbs, stair to Sparta while collecting pieces to build 6/10 transformer jigsaw puzzles.
At one point students got to feel the weight of carrying a 20kg weight on their stomachs and how it effected even simple tasks. We came in to congrats the 4hr students on their completion but also to pick up Mark and Bull before we made our way up the mountain and into the darker parts of the night.
On closing ceremony all students had done enough to claim a shirt and a medal but only less than half could claim the patch as well.
Returning to Picton was great and bringing the 12hr back there was also amazing.
With that, we did leave the students with one warning, “next year will be bigger and tougher for 12hr, so don’t think because did this one means the rest will be the same”.
When it comes to all our Hurricane Heats we pride ourselves on making each one unique. So always expect the unexpected.
The 4hr saw Mark make his debut as Lead Krypteia and after talking with the students that finished the 4HrHH he didn’t disappoint.
His combination of tough physical output and mental challenges really demonstrated the level of quality we aim for with Hurricane Heats in Australia.”
Spartan Fiji will be closing out the year for Spartan Australia, this one is in November and you can get your tickets HERE
If you want the OCR itch scratched sooner, Raw Challenge Gold Coast is the next big one in the calendar and I couldn't be more pumped! Join us for an elite wave Saturday morning or come along in fancy dress on Sunday where you could win prizes for your costume! Use code MmOm2023 for a very cheap ticket and get those tickets HERE