Spartan Race for kids in Snowmass Village highlights family ties
They started with a battle cry.
“Who are you?!” an announcer asked.
“Spartans!” the group of athletes yelled in reply.
After a few “aroo” call-and-response shouts, the competitors were off, crawling, climbing, running and burpee-ing their way to the finish line of the Spartan Race obstacle course.
Every race on Fanny Hill held last weekend as part of the Spartan mountain series started in this fashion.
Although Tough Mudder athletes have taken on similar feats in Snowmass Village before, this was the Spartan Race debut. Over 4,000 people took part in the various competitive obstacle races held Aug. 3 and 4, which aimed to be both mentally and physically challenging, according to the Snowmass Spartan race director, Ryan Durnan.
“It really is a test of your endurance and stamina,” Durnan said of the Spartan race series.
On Aug. 4 toward the end of the weekend, Durnan felt the Spartan Snowmass event had a good first year turnout, noting that the whole village community was great to work with.
“Snowmass puts on large events on a yearly basis and we are just happy to be the newest addition to that event series,” Durnan said, hinting he hopes Spartan will return to Snowmass next summer.
But although there are several competitive components that make up a Spartan racing event, one tends to stand above the rest for Durnan — the kids race series.
“It’s by far the best part of the race weekend,” Durnan said of the kids’ races. “Spartan developed its community as a family, and the kids series definitely plays into that family dynamic.”
Over the weekend, roughly 400 kids ages 4 through 13 competed in smaller-scale versions of the adult Spartan races on the hill above the Viceroy Hotel and beneath the Elk Camp gondola.
From rope climbs and sand bag carries, to bear crawls and jumping over tall, wooden barriers, these young athletes took on half-mile, mile, and 2-mile obstacle courses — more often than not with the support of either a parent, sibling or both who had competed in the adult Spartan racing series.
One of those kids was Cole Skinner, 13, from Broomfield.
As he embarked on the 2-mile competitive racecourse Aug. 4, which was guided by a stricter set of race rules than the others in the kids’ series, his dad was there with him every step of the way.
“We run together most of the time,” Skinner said of his dad, Chuck Skinner, who competed in both the Spartan Beast and Sprint races over the weekend. “He tried the Spartan races out and did pretty well so I figured I’d try too because I thought I could beat him someday.”
Skinner took home a bronze medal last year during his Spartan debut in Breckenridge, and back-to-back first place medals this year over the Spartan Snowmass weekend in the 2-mile competitive kids races.
His two siblings also raced on Saturday, but were too tired to come out again Aug. 4 to take on the obstacle courses, the Skinners said.
“These race weekends are like mini-vacations for us,” said Chuck Skinner of his family. “We all train together and stay fit for life. … It really builds confidence in the kids.”
Cole Skinner wasn’t the only young athlete inspired by a relative to give Spartan Race a try — Joelliana Rohde, 11, also placed first overall in the girls’ 2-mile competitive race Aug. 4 and was driven by her older brother to try it for the first time.
“I just wanted to be more fit and healthy and my big brother Dan is my inspiration,” Rohde said after the race.
Rohde and Skinner are just two of the dozens of kids with older relatives part of the Spartan Snowmass races.
According to the Snowmass kids race series lead staff member Bryce Gonzalez, this is a common scene at most kids’ Spartan events across the country he’s been a part of.
Gonzalez said the Snowmass kids’ races didn’t have as big of a turnout as other race venues, likely because it was the first year at the village location, but that the energy was high and the weekend was a ton of fun.
“It’s all about inspiring kids to want to be active. They look at this course and see a playground and want to play,” Gonzalez said of the Spartan kids race series. “Even the kids who cry because they’ve never done something like this before push through because they don’t know what it means to say no yet … that push is what’s so exciting to see.”
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