Today I was fortunate to be able to participate in a @Reebok Spartan Race Sprint distance event. My race was the Charity Race, and we started at 10 this morning at Killington Resort in Vermont. Our wave of about 20 (?) racers started just ahead of a wave of Spartan Beast competitors. The Beast is a roughly half marathon distance obstacle race with more than 25 obstacles. My pals Heather and Geoff raced their Beast on Saturday, then came back to race the sprint distance. I’m sure that Heather will have a review up on her blog soon. Check it out over at www.relentlessforwardcomotion.com. In the mean time, here’s mine:
Starters are allowed into the corral only 5-10 minutes prior to their wave start. No biggie, really, as this allowed time to stay warm in the base lodge. At packet pickup, racers are given a red wristband with their start time written on it. This is your ticket into the corral. Being a Spartan Race, one does not simply walk into the corral. Nope. Obstacle #1…You first need to scale either the 4 foot wall or the 5 foot wall to get to the corral. After a nice pep-talk given to each wave and the shouting of “AROO!, AROO!, AROO!”, we were off like a shot! Well, not really like a shot. In fact, i think that I might have been one of the only few in this sprint race who hadn’t already competed on Saturday. The pace was decent, but manageable. I settled into a nice pace, and up the face of Killington we went.
First few obstacles were walls that I had no trouble getting over. I think the highest one was 5 feet. There was also a wall of hay, and some lower bars to duck under. Trick here was essentially keeping your feet dry. I knew that they’d end up soaked, but I wanted to keep them as dry as possible for as long as possible. After a few teasers, we saw the third obstacle group: Killington Peak. It is the second highest peak in Vermont, and we basically went straight up the dang thing. As with most ski trails, just when you think that the top is ‘right there’…HAHAHAHAHA….it isn’t. We climbed straight up mostly Black Diamond trails. Trails that as i was walking backward UP and looking DOWN thought, “there’s no way i’d be able to ski down this!”
After a very rocky and muddy last scramble to the top, we faced a 7 foot wall. There were some ‘steps’ about 2 feet up on the sides, and as I approached one of them a volunteer said, “A true Spartan wouldn’t use the foot holds.” I laughed, then backed up to scale the wall. As I swung my body over the top, my race bib ripped off. I was left standing there with four safety pins in my shirt and my bib in my hand. I got out of the way and repinned it before heading down. The first part was a very muddy, rocky, and steep section. Steep enough to cause me to pick lines that traversed the trail, and even these didn’t prove to be much easier. At the aid station, I grabbed a cuppa water and sipped about half of it. Nice gentle downhill, and then the trail turned into the woods. PERFECT!
Mud, mud, mud, roots, rocks, TREE!, mud, mud mud, rock, rock, TREE!…
Then we broke out again at the top of another ski lift. Hanging from the support cables were a line of red and black 5 gallon buckets filled with cement. A rope went from the bucket, up through a carabiner, then down to us. Men had to lift black buckets to top then gently lower, women had to do the red buckets. Mine seemed to weigh about as much as a punch-buggy. I think the red ones weighed the same as a SmartCar. With the encouragement of a volunteer, I was able to get my bucket up and then back down. My forearms were toast at this point, which was GREAT because the next obstacle was monkey bars. I’m usually pretty good at monkey bars; get into a swinging rhythm and away you go! These were SPARTAN monkey bars, though, and as such were not evenly spaced and had different heights…so…that was fun. I made it across without falling, and ran down the mountain.
Next obstacle was an 8 foot wall. For any of the obstacles, if you decided not to do it, or failed at trying, the penalty is 30 burpees. I jumped up, grabbed the top of the wall, and…….COULD NOT GET MY FEET TO CLIMB UP!!! WHAT THE???? So I stood there for second and watched as one of the Beast competitors went over. AHA! the magic fling your leg up there and hook it on the top trick. BAM! worked great, and this time my bib stayed on!! Pumped, I ran to the next obstacle. I could already see the sign: “Tractor Pull.”
“Grab a rock from the lower bin, drag it down the hill, then back up the hill to the upper bin.” Umm…ok? The rocks were cement footings that you would put a shed on, and they each had a length of CHAIN that you would use to lift a shed ONTO the blocks. Down I ran, up I kinda ran. My grip was suffering, but all other systems were GO! Next obstacle was another wall, but it was leaning TOWARD us. We had to essentially climb a ladder from below, but the rungs were about 4 feet apart. Climbing experience came in hand here, and over the wall I went. YAY!
Run, run, run, down the mountain, through more muddy, rooty, and rocky trails. Have I mentioned mud yet? As I was dodging mud, I remember thinking, “hmmm….no water obstacles. Bummer!”
WELL….my prayers were answered right after the next corner. Big-azz holes in the ground filled with water. The other side of the hole was the pile from the hole, then 2 more of the same. There was no way of knowing how deep the water was, so i jumped in like a lifeguard. First one was only about knee deep, as was the second. BUT COLD! I mean…took my breath away cold. The last one was nearly waist deep, which made it extra special. From the top of that pile of detritus the next obstacle loomed into view. Barbed Wire.
The wire was about 18 inches off of the ground in most spots, lower in others. The ground under the wire was gravel strewn with big rocks and mud. About half way through (i think it was around 2 miles long) stood a woman with a fire hose who blasted us as we crawled by…good times. I hammed it up for the photographer at the end of the obstacle, got up, and headed for the spear toss.
The first spear i picked up had a bent tip…nope. Not risking a 3 burpee penalty this late in the race. I grabbed another, hoisted it, and chucked it at my hay bale adversary. IT STUCK IN!!!! AROO! AROO! AROO! yea, buddy!
Dude running the obstacle high fived me and said to follow the cones to the finish. Just past the last spear station a lady ushered me into a small, muddy corral where people were doing burpees. She said, “you owe me 30 burpees!” I said, “just because?” “No, because you missed!”
“I HIT IT!”, I said, jubilantly. She looked to the big dude for confirmation, and she waved me on.
We’ve all seen the line of burning logs at the Spartan Finish, and I was trying to come up with some wack-a-doodle way to pose in mid air. But first I had to get through another obstacle or two. First…the spectators! Yikes! nothing puts pressure on me like trying NOT to wipe out in front of spectators. The next obstacle was a barbed wire covered water it followed by a slanted wall with a rope. the other side was like a big ladder. NOW the fire! YEEEEHAAAAW!
I made up my mind to do some sort of kung-fu looking pose, but as I planted my foot to jump…IT SLIPPED!! It was all i could do to get my feet up and over the flames! Really can’t wait to see that picture…..ugh. Lastly the dudes with the big bopper sticks. I braced myself for impact, and was NOT let down. Holy crap.
I wish I had pictures for along the way, but I don’t. I think that Heather and Geoff took some with their go-pro. Once they post them, I’ll pass along their link.
Special shout out again to @Reebok and @FitFluential. Very special shout out and thank you to @TraceySoboleski for helping to convince me that I’m just crazy enough to do this on pretty much the spur of the moment. I now have a whole year to complete the trifecta!