Since its first competition in 2010, the popularity of the Reebok Spartan Race circuit has exploded. More than 120 of these obstacle courses are planned around the world this year, with the next one set for Saturday, Oct. 17, in Mobile County.
The Alabama Super will be spread across 90 acres in Saraland. The international organization said it expects more than 4,000 runners to participate.
Danny Corte of the Mobile Sports Authority (MSA) told Lagniappe he first heard of the series in April 2014 while attending the National Association of Sports Commissions meeting, a trade association for the sports tourism industry. A conversation about bringing the event to the Gulf Coast began.
“I had worked with Saraland officials to bring the Alabama Bass Trail circuit here,” Corte said. “The Spartan course requires a lot of land, and I knew Saraland had this. When I approached the people that I had worked with on the fishing tournament, they grabbed a hold of the idea.”
According to the event website (www.spartan.com/en/race/detail/847/overview), the course will cover “sandy based high lands to spring fed creeks and swampy bogs to heavily forested regions.”
There are three Spartan courses that escalate in distance, number of obstacles and challenge level. The “super” level planned for Saraland will cover eight-plus miles, feature between 24 and 29 obstacles, and have 30 elevation changes.
“The Spartan group will come in two weeks prior to the race to build their obstacles,” Corte said. “They will not announce what they are putting up. They want it to be a surprise. They change it up as much as possible, because the don’t want the runners to be bored.”
Competitors will be divided into several divisions. The Elite Men start at 7:30 a.m., while the Elite Women follow at 7:45 a.m. The morning session for the Open Race will be from 8 to 11 a.m., with an afternoon session set from 11:15 a.m. to 4 p.m. A group of 250 athletes will start every 15 minutes. The course can take more than two hours to complete.
This could be the most well-attended event hosted by the MSA. Corte said the Color Run, another extreme race, had close to 3,000 competitors in Mobile.
“Half of the entries will be from out of town,” he said. “When you add in friends and family, the economic impact for that many people could be $2 million. I’m both excited and apprehensive. With something this big, you just meet it head on and get through it.”
The entry fees are $155 for Elite Men, $125 for Elite Women, $140 for the morning Open Race and $125 for the afternoon Open Race. Verified military and first responders can save 25 percent on entry fees. Races for children (4 to 8 and 9 to 13) are also planned, with a pre-registration fee of $25. The cost for spectators is $20 in advance or $25 at the gate.
Paid parking will be available at Saraland High School, 1115 Industrial Parkway. The actual course will be at 8787 Celeste Road.
“The Mobile Sports Authority is funded by the city and the county,” said Corte, who credited Jeff Kahn, the past president of the Saraland Chamber of Commerce, for his efforts. “It is something that we can bring the top obstacle race in the world to Saraland.
“We had the organization and the venue for this. Even our planning committee had members who have competed in previous Spartan Races. This may be our first try, but we want this to be the best Spartan race in their series.”
Jaguars ready to take on Wolfpack
South Alabama filled Ladd-Peebles Stadium last season while hosting Mississippi State (MSU) of the Southeastern Conference. The Jaguars get to take another shot at a Power 5 school this Saturday as they face North Carolina State of the Atlantic Coast Conference.
The contest kicks off at 7 p.m. Just like last year’s game with MSU, this contest will be available nationally on the ESPNews network.
USA has scheduled a pep rally and parade downtown to start the festivities on Friday, Sept. 25. “JagNight on Dauphin” will begin at 7 p.m. The parade will feature the football team, the USA Marching Band, the cheerleaders and dance teams, plus team mascots South Paw and Miss Pawla.
The march will start on Dauphin Street at Cathedral Square and conclude at the intersection of Spring Hill Avenue. Head coach Joey Jones and team captains will speak at the pep rally. Entertainment will continue until 9 p.m. at Moe’s Original Bar B Que.
Free shuttle service will be provide to USA students from the dining hall starting at 4 p.m. and will run until 10 p.m. Fans are encouraged to wear their Jaguar gear to receive special offers from local venues.
This will be the third time the Jags and the Wolfpack have faced each other. North Carolina State won the previous meetings in Raleigh during the 2011 and 2012 campaigns.
For ticket information, call 251-461-1USA (1872).
Time to horse around
One of the most unique events along the Alabama Gulf Coast takes place this Saturday. The annual Polo at the Point will be at the Sonny Hill-Clearwater Polo Complex off U.S. Highway 98 in Point Clear.
For those not familiar with polo, it is a sport that combines the excitement of horse racing, hockey and soccer on a field that stretches 300 yards. In addition to two matches, Polo at the Point is known for its fashionable hat parade, divot stomping between chukkas (divisions of play), an impressive silent auction and a post-action player’s party. The Thomas Hospital Foundation and the Mitchell Cancer Institute are the two primary charities benefitting from the event.
Tickets are $10 for the tailgate side of the field, while luncheon tickets are $150. The gates open at 11:30 a.m. For additional information, call 251-928-9704 or send an email to [email protected].