The Green Bay Packers’ leadership has done of great job over the past two decades of turning Lambeau Field into something that can make money for the team when there is no football happening. The Atrium, the improved Hall of Fame, the expanded pro shop, and the year-round tours. All of this helps the Packers bring in money to stay competitive.
On June 17th, the Packers hosted Billy Joel. While I did travel to Lambeau Field for that event, I returned seven days later for something completely different. Lambeau Field hosted its first Spartan Sprint. Sadly, tailgating was significantly smaller than a game day crowd...and also smaller than for the Billy Joel concert.
The Spartan enterprise is similar to Tough Mudder or Warrior Dash events. Spartan Races began in 2007 and have been sponsored by Reebok since 2013. While they do the traditional mud pit/cross country course, the Spartan race series also has stadium events. There have been events in Fenway Park and AT&T Stadium. I was one of several others to have done the Miller Park Spartan Sprint over the last few years.
While there are varying distances (the Spartan Super is 8-10 miles while the Spartan Beast is 12-14 miles), Lambeau hosted a Spartan Sprint (3-5 miles). The stadium races also tend to allow access that is not open on a normal day. For example, during the Miller Park Spartan Sprint, one of the stations is release hands push-ups in the visiting club house.
The day was long, but the weather was very cooperative. It was warm and sunny. Parking was free and the registration was right outside the Oneida Gate. The race went up and down the stairs of Lambeau Field and through multiple areas on the lower and upper concourse — no fun trips to the locker rooms, unfortunately. Racers went over walls between four and eight feet tall, climbed cargo nets, did box jumps, many burpees, and even a spear throw. 4,506 competitors entered Lambeau Field to run the 3.1 mile course. The overall winner finished the course in 22:02 and the 1,000th-placed competitor finished in 53:41.
The event was well handled. Water stations were well-positioned and they made good use of the areas they had. It became far more apparent as you ran the stairs exactly how much the bowl cuts out the wind. Furthermore, they front-loaded most of the stairs as well as running stairs with sandbags over your shoulder.
Maybe the best way to tackle the course is using the team option. It can give you someone to help with a boost or the simple motivation. I will grant you, my team this time ended up being a single person beside myself (shout out to Aaron Flottum for figuratively carrying me).
Now, this was the very first Lambeau Field Spartan event. Spartan opened up registration in October 2016. The initial registration was $1 to reserve your place. It was a conditional registration because Spartan was only going to be conducting the race if they got 3,000 registrants by January 2017.
This was another chance to use the draw of Lambeau Field to help keep the team competitive.