The racers lined up, nerves and tension in the air interrupted by the chant of “I am Spartan” three times before they were off.
This scene repeated multiple times at Saturday’s Spartan Race at Greek Peak Mountain Resort in Virgil, where about 3,800 people from across the world competed, said Race Director Missy Morris.
The 3.5-mile adult race included 20 obstacles such as rope climbing, wall climbing, javelin toss and finished with a fire jump. The kids competitions featured similar obstacles — except the fire jump — in half-mile, one-mile and two-mile lengths.
“We got some snow last night to make it a nice wintry ambiance,” Morris said. “Lots of smiles on the racers’ faces.”
Registration for the nation’s only winter Spartan Race began a year ago, she said. Saturday was also the fourth year the event was at Greek Peak Mountain Resort.
“If you haven’t experienced one, it’s something you got to try,” said Ben Heckathorn of Delevan, southeast of Buffalo.
Heckathorn, who competed in his first Spartan Race in 2017 at Greek Peak Mountain Resort, said he liked the competitive nature of the race but also the feeling of community.
“You watch UFC or whatever and there’s just bitter animosity, lot of trash talking,” he said. “It’s not like that (with Spartan Race). The elite guys that do this are good guys and all get along.”
This feeling of community comes from bonding over the suffering the racers deal with when trying to complete the obstacles and race, he said.
Heckathorn said he wanted to use Saturday’s race to gauge his mental and physical toughness for other Spartan races.
“I want to get through today and see how much I can improve through the year,” he said.
Sheena Tuthill and Jonathan Perreault, both of Saratoga County, said they liked the challenge.
“I like testing myself physically, mentally,” Tuthill said.
The race, she said, provides new ways of testing herself.
“It’s just like overcoming mental and physical barriers and doing something out of your comfort zone,” Perreault said.
The couple said the terrain, more than the obstacles, was the biggest challenge.
Tuthill said she had to keep adjusting her stride over the different densities of snow and mud.
There’s “no other (Spartan) race you can run in the snow so it’s pretty cool,” Perreault said.
Like Heckathorn, Tuthill said she liked the community feeling of the race.
“Everyone is like a family,” she said. “At the finish line, everyone is like, ‘Hey, you did awesome.’”
Saturday was just the start of Spartan races for the couple this year as they were looking ahead to April’s Tri-State New Jersey 50K Ultra and 21K Beast race.
“We have a bunch of races lined up for the year,” Perreault said. “It’ll be fun.”