Thursday, November 01, 2018
Spartan Racers often use the host city’s name as shorthand for a reoccurring race. That helps them remember more about the host city, with many racers deciding to visit again after conquering the obstacle course race.
Crystal Pace – who visited West Virginia after racing there last year – knows this could be a big deal for Spartanburg.
“If we can hold on to the race here, people in the Spartan community, and this is hundreds of thousands of people, start associating the race with the town and vice-versa. We don’t say we’re going to the Spartan Ultra in New Jersey. Everyone says, ‘Oh, are you going to Palmerton this year,’” Pace said. “They start associating it, that’s like, the place to be. You see glimpses of how cool the place is and say, ‘We’ve got to come back here.’ I’m hoping that will happen here. Spartan…Burg. It fits.”
Spartanburg hosts its second Spartan Race weekend Nov. 17-18 with an additional course – the Ultra race – added to this year’s slate of obstacle-filled runs.
Pace has been running Spartans since about 2013, when she completed her first race with a friend on a whim.
“2013, I think it was, I had never heard of Spartan. My friend said, ‘Hey, there’s this thing called Spartan, it’s like a mud run, but harder. Do you want to do this?’ I said, ‘Sure, I’m not in shape at all, but sure,’” Pace said. “Long story short, I did kind of just jump in. My friend said let’s do it, and I did, and I became obsessed. I want longer, faster, harder. I travel around the United States just trying to catch the next race.”
Longer and harder are exactly what Pace has gotten each time she competes. She trains with running and weight-lifting – sometimes at the same time – much to the amazement of her fellow gym-goers.
“Now there’s this whole community and people get it. You can go to the gym with a 100-pound weight on the treadmill and they’ll look and know she’s probably training for something,” she said.
A community has sprouted up with Spartan Racers becoming friends and supporting each other as they travel across the country to tackle obstacle courses. The community has continued to grow, Pace said, with Facebook pages of racers connecting based on when and where they’re running.
Pace said a combination of factors should lead to a bigger crowd visiting Spartanburg for this year’s races. Some racers will simply try to finish as many races as they can during the weekend while others will want to get out and explore their host city.
“Spartanburg is going to be very surprised at the traffic this brings. Everybody knows and it wasn’t a last-minute location switch,” she said. “Adding the Ultra, that’s going to add a cool 1,000, at least.”
Pace has become sort of a Spartan ambassador in Spartanburg. She’s been getting asked about places to eat and things to see by competitors who will make the trek to Spartanburg later this month.
“Everybody knows that I’m here, so everyone on the Team Southern Spartans says, ‘Where should we go, where should we stay, where should we eat?’” she said.
The diversity of Spartanburg’s dining options has helped Pace’s recommendations stick, since there’s a place for just about everyone to chow down, regardless of whatever strict, athlete-minded died may have to be adhered to.
Pace said she expects Spartanburg to wow any Spartan Racer adventurous enough to get out and explore.
“I’ve had it happen to me. You get to a new place and had no idea what they offered but you come away really liking whatever you got to see,” she said. “I really think that’s going to happen for the people who get out and about after the race in Spartanburg. I hope they come away liking what they get to see.”