Joel Rodriguez, of Sacramento, climbs the “Slip Wall” at the Spartan Race at Paicines Ranch on Aug. 27. Photo: Chris Mora

Hundreds of athletes and adventure racing hobbyists traveled to Paicines Ranch in San Benito County Aug. 26-27 from throughout the West Coast and beyond—and some from outside the U.S.—for the San Jose Spartan Race. 

Competitors ran, walked and crawled along numerous courses on the ranch’s remote, sun-exposed hillsides while traversing, climbing, wading through and jumping over seemingly endless obstacles—including the wall climb, bucket carry, rope climb, a-frame cargo climb, balance beam, sandbag carry and many others, some featuring water/mud challenges. 

Among the Spartan Racers who traveled to Paicines for the weekend were Armando and Gabriela Jasso, of Santa Maria. They competed as a couple in the “open” division, helping and encouraging each other through each course as they attempted to finish as quickly and safely as possible. 

The Jassos have become Spartan Race veterans, as the Paicines event was Garbriela’s eighth and Armando’s ninth such competition. Their first Spartan Race was in 2019, and they quickly became hooked. They have competed in Spartan Races up and down the Central Coast. 

The course in Paicines was particularly challenging—the key ingredient for fun among Spartan Racers—due to the steep terrain and hot, sunny weather, Gabriela said. 

As racers in the open division, the Jassos don’t typically compete against the other entrants, but rather against their own goals and previous finishes. 

“Armando and I do it as just a hobby and to challenge ourselves, to keep ourselves physically occupied and try to be healthy,” Gabriela added. 

For the Aug. 26-27 Spartan Race, the Jassos finished two courses throughout the weekend. On Saturday, they completed a 7-mile course with 25 obstacles in 4 hours, 51 minutes. On Sunday, they finished the 5-kilometer “sprint” with 20 obstacles in 2 hours, 11 minutes. 

“It was challenging but to overcome the extra obstacles and get to the finish line made me and my husband feel we really succeeded in finishing up one more race,” Gabriela said. 

The Spartan Races offer the Jassos many recreational and health benefits when they’re not working their respective full-time professions—Gabriela as a teacher’s assistant and Armando as a truck driver. The races and the grueling training they push themselves through to prepare for them give them a heightened sense of accomplishment. 

“It’s great satisfaction knowing you got through those obstacles when you thought you wouldn’t be able to,” Gabriela added. “Crossing the finish line makes you feel really good.”

Armando and Gabriela Jasso, of Santa Maria, competed in two courses in the “Open” division during the Aug. 26-27 Spartan Race at Paicines Ranch. Photo: Chris Mora

The events and their preparation also allow the Jassos to spend extra time together, and they get to meet competitors from around the world and make new friends at Spartan Races. The events are also steeped in a strong sense of camaraderie among the competitors who are otherwise total strangers before each Spartan Race begins. 

“Everyone is helpful, and cheering you along” if they see a racer struggling on the course, Gabriela added. 

Even though the couple was still sore three days after the Paicines event, the Jassos said they hope the Spartan Race returns to the San Benito County venue—which they said was well organized in addition to providing the appropriate space and terrain for the challenge. 

Each Spartan Race attracts hundreds of competitors, who sign up for any of dozens of divisions based on age, sex and additional categories. Competitors on the board for the Aug. 26-27 event hailed from as far away as Switzerland, Puerto Rico and Germany. 

To see the full list of results for the San Jose Spartan Race in Paicines, visit

Competitors in the Paicines Ranch Spartan Race stop to complete the rope climb—one of many obstacles along the miles-long race courses that are characteristic of such events. Photo: Chris Mora
Camille Howard, of Petaluma, reaches the other side of the “Dunk Wall” obstacle during her running of the Spartan Race in Paicines Aug. 27. Photo: Chris Mora
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Michael Moore is an award-winning journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor for the Morgan Hill Times, Hollister Free Lance and Gilroy Dispatch since 2008. During that time, he has covered crime, breaking news, local government, education, entertainment and more.


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