I AM A SPARTAN! AROO!
Date: April 26th 2014
Race: Reebok Spartan Sprint
If you’ve been following my blog you know the GF and I are out to get the Spartan Trifecta this year and stop number 1 was the easiest of them all: the Spartan Sprint. The distance was 4 something miles filled with hills, mud, and about 15 obstacles.
I had done the Warrior Dash last year, and spectated at a Tough Mudder as well so I was familiar with what to expect from a mud run. In the weeks leading up to the race I kinda-sorta began to work out a little in order to train for this event… but lets face it I really just half-assed it. Having several standard races under my belt this year already I was comfortable with going the distance without any trouble. Individually, the obstacles seemed easy enough and passable so what did I really have to worry about?
Race day was upon us and you couldn’t ask for better weather: 70 degrees and sunny! Parking was off-site, however, for an extra charge (naturally) they had limited spots available right at the race… we decided it was worth it to pay a little extra to have the car right there with everything we need. In order to get your packet you are required to sign a death waiver and I must say it does add a little excitement to the event lol.
When it comes to race swag, Spartan doesn’t disappoint! In addition to your bib (which I lost forever in the mud) you also got a custom headband with your number printed on it. I really like the headband as I cant exactly go into work Monday morning with my bib number across my forehead in permanent marker… plus it makes for a pretty sweet souvenir. We walked around the event area and I took all the photos I could before it was time for our wave to start.
Like most mud runs, they had a hype man at the starting corral. He was definitely better then what they had at the Warrior Dash but not nearly as inspiring as what is done at the Tough Mudder. He got us chanting “we are Spartans, Aroo!” and pumped us up enough to send us on our way…
There was about a quarter mile of flat ground to cover off the starting line until we reached the first hill. Its always comical to see the guys who take off balls out at the start huffing and puffing within the first 5 mins of the race. At first I was running up the hill… and up and up and up it went… steeper and steeper… and it occurred to me that this was an indication of what was ahead maybe I should take it easy. This was no joke! Up and down over and over with winding, staggering, rocky, rough terrain.
The first few obstacles were simple… over, under, and through some walls and barriers… and then
THE MUD PIT!
Not just any mud pit, we’re talking thick-deep mud right up to your arm pits. Some of the lighter girls could almost swim across the top of the mud but most, like myself, trudged slowly through trying not to lose a shoe so early in the race. Once you reached the other side you almost immediately began the mud crawl obstacle. The concept is simple: stay low and crawl under barbed wire through the slippery, slimy mud. There was a slight backup on this obstacle because one hill in particular was so slippery that it required team work to reach the top. I thought once I got there I would be finished but I was VERY wrong. I was only 1/4 of the way through. Eventually the wires got so low that I had to “army crawl” under them and somewhere in the mud my bib tore off and became part of the earth forever.
After that running became considerably more difficult with 20 pounds of mud caked to your body. The next obstacle was the arch (as I call it) where you actually climb over another obstacle that’s towards the end of everything. I got up and over with little difficulty, however, the GF is deathly afraid of heights so I waited for her at the top and helped her along. It didn’t help matters that directly in front of her was some other girl absolutely flipping-out-hysterical-scared. We had to wait a substantial amount of time for her to get the nerve to start climbing down the other side. I applaud her for facing her fears but seriously… if you’re THAT scared …maybe you should try something a little easier.
We trekked back into the woods and the obstacles became sort of a blur. I was so focused on the here and now that nothing really sank in to memory. There were TONS of hills… it seemed like never ending ups and downs. There was the block drag obstacle where you had to drag a heavy cement block around a circle course. There was a sand bag carry which was the same concept minus the dragging part. It wasn’t until the staggered monkey bars that I finally had to do some burpees.
I almost made it across. Except they were higher and lower and spaced pretty far apart so one slip of a muddy hand and that was it. The penalty – 30 burpees. Now I had done some practice burpees at home and 30 didn’t seem so bad. BUT after 2 or so miles of extreme hills and obstacles those 30 stupid burpees almost did me in! I felt light headed and I couldn’t catch my breath… I had to sit down and rest for 5 mins before I could even get back up to walk. Luckily we had more trails and at this point in the race we just walked them all. There were some crazy ravines you had to jump over and at one of them I almost didn’t make it. I hesitated at the last second and fell short but caught myself dangerously close to getting my leg caught in a root and falling into the pit.
Among the other obstacles we faced were the cargo net climb, an inverted wall, a large tire flip, several walls that kept getting taller and taller… and before long we were in the home stretch. We came to the spear throw. You get one shot to hit or you do the burpees…. yeah we both missed that one.
At this point I got about 20 burpees in and I said screw it. You can call it cheating if you like but I was in competition with no one but myself… and I wasn’t about to pass out moments before the finish line especially since I knew there were more burpees on the way…
THIS TOWER… this fucking bastard of a tower pissed me right off. As with most of the obstacles there was a “girl side” and a “boy side”. The object was to pull the sand bag to the top then let it down slowly without dropping it. I thought “sure no problem I can just put my weight into it”….. only I grabbed the rope, leaned back, and the bag didn’t leave the ground… I put my feet up to the top of the metal fence surrounding the thing and hung by the rope and pushed down with my feet and I barely got the thing 5 feet off the ground and the DAMN THING HELD MY FULL WEIGHT IN THE AIR! What was I supposed to do?? The damn bag could hold me up in the air how the hell can I get it to the top? So I had no choice but to quit… I went over to claim my burpees and stopped at 6… the girls bags were lighter AND they were allowed to get help… this is bullshit I’m not doing 30 for that. Instead I went over and helped the GF get her bag to the top and I decided that was payment enough.
From there we went to the rope climb that we had gone above earlier in the race. I’m actually good at climbing and thought I could reach the top… only… first you have to climb down into a mud pit and pull yourself up and out. I got about half way up (pretty close to where the person in the photo is) when my muddy feet slipped off the knot and my hands couldn’t keep me from falling where I was completely submerged in the mud at the bottom. If you look closely at the photo you can see that it is quite a drop. Mud was everywhere! In my mouth, up my nose, running into my eyes… I skipped the burpees completely this time that mud was punishment enough.
Directly after that was the Spiderman wall (as I call it)… after having 2000 muddy people climbing on it all morning the small pegs were all completely caked over. I was freshly soaked in mud and couldn’t get a grip or foothold on a single peg. Everything was just too slippery I tried 3 different routes without success… the GF had the same problem so we bypassed it and did a handful of burpees before moving on.
ALMOST THERE! We both got up this wall with surprising ease given it was coated in slippery mud like everything else. Once down on the other side we waited for a clearing and prepared for our “jump the fire” photo.
As of this writing the photos haven’t been posted yet but I did a little pointing move I hope will come out lol. And that was it… sweet victory!!
Completely covered in mud we got our post race food which made everything gross and we headed over to the showers to hose off. Theres only so much you can do with a garden hose but we got the worst of it off. Collected our finisher shirt and headed out… at the exit, they had a final challenge: 30 more burpees for a pack of stickers… I was out but the GF was in. She pushed out 30 and got her stickers, tired and happy.
We stripped down and changed in the parking lot creatively using towels to cover our naughty parts. Threw all the nasty muddy stuff into bags and headed out. This race kicked my ass! The easiest of the 3 races in the trifecta? Ugh! But I need 2 more medals to complete the circle:
Several miles outside of town we stumbled upon a Big Boy and went inside for some much needed food. Muddy, bruised, and worn out… with our head bands and medals… we thought we’d look ridiculous. Only, it seems, many other Spartans had the same idea and the majority of the people inside were wearing the same get-up lol. We gave each other “the look”, or a thumbs up, or a “hey congrats” because we were all part of a strange family …just for one day.
As I am writing this… the day after …no times (or photos) have been posted. We estimate it took us about 3 hours to complete the 4.5 mile course. The fastest is said to have been done in something like 45 mins. I assume they were at the head of the pack in the professional athlete wave first thing in the morning. We experienced backups at almost every obstacle and even some backups on trails where you wouldn’t think there should be one… but that’s what you get when trying to cram thousands of people of various shapes, sizes, and athletic ability all on one course throughout the day. We have decided that this race at this location… with all of its crazy hills… is going to be on our list for next year.
Today I can barely walk… I have cuts and bruises all over my body… and I wouldn’t have it any other way!!
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