December 1, 2021

‘You can and will’

Competitors push themselves at Spartan race in Virgil

Shenandoah Briere/contributing photographer

Erika Mannewitz, 37, lifts herself over the slip wall obstacle Saturday during the Greek Peak Winter Sprint competition in Virgil.

As Garrett Meriwether raced through the 3-mile course Saturday, he pushed himself to make it up the hills and other obstacles.

“Mainly, I just kept telling myself that ‘you started this, you can and will finish it,’” he said.

Meriwether, 14, was among several Cortland County residents and more than 4,000 other competitors participating Saturday in the Greek Peak Winter Sprint in Virgil. The event is part of the Spartan races which began in 2010 in Vermont. They are intense obstacle course races held year round across the United States.

The 3-mile sprint use the resort’s Odyssey black diamond and the Olympian double black diamond trails, and the adventure and tubing center for its third year at the ski resort.

The race, which started at 9 a.m. with groups of participants starting every 15 minutes until 1:30 p.m., included 20 obstacles such as sandbag carrying, snow tunnels, a rope climb and an inverted wall.

Meriwether won the youth Spartan race last year. This year the Homer resident competed with people in the 14- to 18-year-old age group. Rather than focusing on winning, he set his mentality toward doing well and having fun.

“I don’t worry too much about the other people I’m racing,” he said. “I just focus on my own race.”

He said that having gone through the race once before eased his mind a little. However, this race he said involved heavier and more technical obstacles, so it also helped that he had friends and family cheering him on.

“It motivates me to do well and try my best,” he said.

The race was tough at certain points, but he wants to participate again next year. Ben Wheaton of Cortland got mentally and physically ready for his second Spartan race by going to an obstacle course in Whitney Point called Newbsanity.

“The hills were definitely the hardest part, as well as trying to run through the powdery snow,” he said. He isn’t the best runner, but loves the obstacles. “Mentally, I was able to stay pretty positive the whole race,” he said. That was in part because of other participants.

“I didn’t see anyone I knew on the course, but there seemed to be a general positive vibe on the course,” he said. “I chatted with a few people and everyone was pushing each other.”

Wheaton also said he just kept in mind that he had no reason to quit.

“I’ve done much harder things so this is just about getting out there and having fun,” Wheaton said.