In the Santa Monica Mountains, hidden from society below, thousands of athletes emerged through the early-morning fog and prepared for a grueling Saturday morning.
Dressed in bandanas that read “Spartan,” they stretched, did jumping jacks and engaged in other methods of pumping themselves up for what they were about to do.
Then, after some rally cries, they were off.
Racers of all ages trudged through mud, scaled walls, climbed ropes and maneuvered under barbed wire and through spiderweb-like rope during the 3-mile Spartan Race Malibu Sprint on Saturday, Dec. 6, at Calamigos Ranch in Malibu.
Professional athlete and Malibu native Cassidy Watton finished first among the elite women.
“It feels amazing to win your hometown course,” Watton said.
The course consisted of 17 total obstacles. At the end of the race, each runner jumped over logs that were on fire, marking the end of their 3-mile journey.
Saturday was Jodie Perry’s second Spartan Race. She said the Malibu version was different from her first race in Temecula, and surprisingly difficult.
“Lots of hills, lots of mud, very narrow paths,” Perry said. “So it’s tricky to not fall off the mountain.”
Perry said she liked racing alongside similar athletes and felt a sense of camaraderie.
“I just love the people that do it. I think they’re a different type of people – everyone’s crazy,” said Perry, laughing.
Michael Reinhart traveled three-and-a-half hours from the central valley to run Saturday’s race. He said he also competes in other types of races and triathlons.
Reinhart said he enjoys the races because he has always been a competitive person.
“[It is] kind of a combination between exhilaration and exhaustion,” Reinhart said about what it’s like to run the race. “It’s a lot of fun, good challenge and good people.”
The day’s activities weren’t only enjoyed by adult racers. Later in the morning and throughout the day, kids participated in the Junior Spartan Race, an obstacle course geared toward younger athletes.
Mark Shaffer’s son Cody and daughter Riley both ran in the Junior Spartan Race. Shaffer, who said he has competed in 10 Spartan races, feels having an event for children is important for their development.
“It gets them off the couch, gets them involved, gives them something to do, keeps them active,” said Shaffer, who added he grew up surfing in Malibu. “The parents are definitely involved in the sport and I think it’s definitely important to keep the kids active as well.”
Several booths sold Spartan Race merchandise, food and beverages. Other booths gave out samples of products to attendees.
Watton said having a big event like the Spartan Race in the Malibu area was great because those types of things don’t happen very often in the city.
“We need to get some more Malibu people out here, because Malibu is a little bit of a segregated community,” Watton said. “Not a lot of Malibu people know about it. We could use a little bit more Malibu support.”