Life is pretty quiet in Georgeville, where “traffic” means a cow wandered onto the road.So when thousands descended upon the quiet community for an obstacle-course race last weekend, folks realized eastern Cabarrus County has become a destination for sports tourism.The Spartan Sprint is the entry-level version of a Spartan race, a 5K obstacle race through mud, water, fire and “classified” challenges. Spartan courses are never the same, said Jim Beson, race director for Charlotte Spartan Sprint, which took place March 22-23 at Porter Farms in Georgeville. Once a site is selected for a Spartan race, the race director tours the venue, then develops the course and its obstacles. Those obstacles mostly are kept secret until participants arrive on race day.At Porter Farms, the obstacles included a tractor pull, barbed-wire crawl and fire jump. Mud is an important feature of Spartan races, and it was in no short supply. Thanks to plenty of rain, the mud reached near-biblical proportions for participants and spectators alike. Yet Spartan participants took it in stride.“It was awesome,” Melina Choate said of her first Spartan race. She was there with a group of co-workers from Greensboro and friends from all over the country. “People I don’t even know were cheering me on.”Choate’s teammate Shereureka McDavid said she was way out of her comfort zone. “I don’t even like bugs,” McDavid said, “and now cows are watching me, and I can smell the manure.”Matt Novakovich of Alaska, who won the men’s race, said he appreciated the “country feel” of the race. “It’s beautiful here,” he said. Novakovich had served on a church mission team in North Carolina as a teenager and was excited to be back for the race, his 12th so far this year.For runners like Novakovich, Spartan races are competitive, but for others they are just a lot of fun. Spartan Kids offers shorter races with obstacles designed for children. “It’s fun. You get exercise, and you get muddy,” said Charles Canero, 11, who had traveled from Parris Island, S.C., to run the kids’ race with his 7-year-old brother, Jerome, while their father – who also is training for a Tough Mudder race – ran the Spartan Sprint. Another popular obstacle-course event, Tough Mudder came to Mount Pleasant last fall and plans to return in October. Beson said having two successful events in the area six months apart helps both organizations and the industry in general.Julie Hinson from the Cabarrus County Convention and Visitors Bureau said the county’s diverse landscape offers variety to event organizers. “Since the success of Tough Mudder in Mount Pleasant, we’ve seen the rural areas like eastern Cabarrus County become a popular choice for these types of races,” Hinson said. Judging by the smiles on those mud-covered faces, the Spartans had a good time in Georgeville.Next year’s race at Porter Farms already is on the calendar.
Friday, Mar. 28, 2014
Spartan Sprint was back for a 5K obstacle race in Georgeville