Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Race #3: Spartan Sprint

This is going to be a long one - there's so much to try to explain about the race, the obstacles and, of course, how I did on the 4.8 mile journey that included 19 obstacles, 50 degree temperatures, wind, rain and lots and lots of mud! 

I ran the race with one of my soccer buddies and neither of us had done any true training for this particular type of race and as race day was getting closer, I definitely thought I should have been working on my upper body strength (I was right), but I didn't really do anything about it - I've been focused on my upcoming marathon, so my only goal for this race was to get through it without any major injuries. One of the unique aspects of the Spartan races is that you are not allowed to know what obstacles are coming ahead of time - there is no race map and while you can certainly find others who have written about these types of events, a lot of the obstacles are based on the terrain that's available at each venue, so every race is different. Luckily, I had some inside information because I knew someone who was running in the race on Saturday and she was willing to give me the scoop. My main concern was having to swim - I'm not a good swimmer - so when I heard there was some water on the course, but it was only about waist high, I was definitely excited!

Saturday in Charlotte was beautiful in the low 70's and sunny. Sunday, on the other hand was a major tease - we got to the race around 9:00am and got checked in, got our gear and headed back to the car to get sunscreen and the sun was getting really warm and it was only calling for 30% chance of rain - just enough time for us to make some poor clothing decisions. We both decided to forgo the long-sleeve shirts that we were wearing (it was getting hot in the sun) and just run in shorts and a t-shirt. By the time we were back to the starting corral a little after 10:00, we could see the dark clouds in the distance and the wind had started to pick up… oh well, we'd be running soon, so we figured we'd get warmer. 

As with most races, there was a fair amount of running in before you got to the first obstacle and before we hit obstacle #3, we had already hit the 1 mile mark.

  1. Under-Over-Under-Over-Under: just what it sounds like - you go under the first set of boards, over the second, etc. 
  2. Over-Under-Through: similar to obstacle #1, with this one, there are only 3 and there's an opening in the middle of the last one that you go through.
  3. Rope Climb: just like the rope climb in gym class, except to get to the ropes, you have to climb into a waist-deep pit of water. There were a lot of people slowly making their way up the ropes and I headed to a free one in the second row. It was slow going for me, but I made it up to the next to last knot when my height became a major disadvantage for me - I was standing on one knot, but couldn't reach the next knot up in order to stand on it and pull myself up to reach the bell at the very top. I failed on my first two attempts at reaching the bell and my friend (who had already finished the obstacle by then) and the volunteer running the event were encouraging me because I was so close to reaching the bell! I knew I only had one more try left in me before I was going to have to give up - my arms were starting to give out on me by then, so I went for the bell and the next thing I know, I'm in the water! I guess as I was reaching for the bell, I lost my footing / grip on the rope and fell back into the water. Luckily, it was deep enough that I didn't hurt anything and was easily able to stand back up to move on to do my burpees (punishment for not completing the obstacle). I did, however, lose my race headband somewhere in the murky waters beneath the ropes.
  4. Inverted Wall: this obstacle was a wall where you had to jump up to the top of the wall and pull yourself up to slide down the back. I was still trying to catch my breath from the unexpected trip into the water, so I told my teammate to go ahead while I did my burpees for the rope climb and the inverted wall. I had zero arm strength left and knew that I wasn't ready to try another pure arm obstacle yet.
  5. Bridge: this one was very easy - they had 2 x 4's set up to create a bridge over the entrance into the main festival areas so that you were walking 20' above those who were coming into the race. The only potential challenge with this one was if you were concerned about the height and making sure you didn't slip with all the mud you had accumulated.
  6. Traverse Walls: this was a vertical wall that had a bunch of small boards situated like a climbing wall - you had to get from one side to the other without touching the ground and you only had one try. I didn't make it past the first set - another set of burpees for me!
  7. Herc Hoist: the women had to lift a 60lb sandbag up to the top of a pulley and then slowly lower it back down. If you let it drop (even if you got it the whole way to the top) you had to do burpees again. Luckily, I was able to use my whole body to get it to the top and lower it back down again. The guys had to lift 90lb bags.
  8. Barb Wire Crawl: this was definitely the longest obstacle! I don't know how long we had to crawl, but it took at least 10 minutes to get from one side to the other, if not longer and that was even being able to constantly move forward. This was really where you got completely covered in mud. This is also where I lost my bib - at one point I took a quick break to look back for my teammate and realized that I had lost my bib, so I picked up the one closest to me (lots of people lost their bibs in this section) and decided that was going to be mine regardless of whether or not it was actually my number. I had already lost my headband, I wasn't going home without a bib! At some point during the crawl, I must have lifted my head up too far, because I remember hitting the barbed wire, but I didn't really think anything of it and I was covered in mud, so I didn't notice it, but once I finally got cleaned up at home, I had a nice scratch right across my forehead!
  9. Sandbag Carry: again, the men and women had different weights to carry, though I'm not sure how heavy they were - you had to take the sandbag down the hill and then back up the other side. At the bottom of the hill there was an automatic camera set up to take pictures as people crossed the path, so I should have a picture of that coming soon (woo free race pictures!).
  10. Tractor Pull: similar to the sandbag carry, but this was a concrete block that had a metal chain around it and you had to drag it down a path and then back up the other side
  11. Wall Climb: not a chance! There was an 8' wall followed by a 9' wall that you had to climb up & over. More burpees for me!
  12. Tire Drag: there were tires on ropes that you had to pull the rope toward you until the tire hit the marker, then drag the tire back to the starting point. This one definitely took me awhile, but I got it done.
  13. Up & Over x 3: I'm not sure of the official title of this obstacle, but it was basically a waist-deep water / mud pit followed by a several foot high pile of mud with three of these in a row, so you'd go into the water, walk to the other side and climb up onto the mud pit, then slide down into the water and do it all over again. 
  14. Rock Carry: I think the rocks were about 50 lbs, but they looked like medicine balls and I couldn't even get my arms around it to try to lift it up, so more burpees for me (seeing a pattern yet?)
  15. Spear Throw: this one was tough - you got to preview this obstacle earlier as you passed it after doing the Tractor Pull and almost everyone was doing burpees. The reason is that you only have one shot to throw the spear into the hay bail and have it stick or you have to do burpees - definitely more burpees for me.
  16. Underwater Wall: this was a wall built over a mud / water pit that you had to go under to get to the other side. Nothing too difficult, just muddy.
  17. Slip Wall: immediately after coming out of the water, there was an incline wall with a rope - you had to use the rope to climb to the top and get to the other side. I've seen other people write about this obstacle saying that it's usually greased with soap or some other type of substance to make it really slippery, but I was just ready to be done and I definitely didn't want to fall back down into the water, so I did my burpees and moved on.
  18. Fire Jump: super easy, jump 3 feet off the ground above a small fire
  19. Gladiator Pit: 4 guys had the pupil sticks and you had to work your way through them to get to the finish line. I didn't have any trouble with this one, but I've heard they can be more vicious with some people (broken noses, etc.). 
I survived the race and though my muscles still hurt today, I think it was a fun race. I definitely did not prepare enough for the race to make it through like I would have wanted to and the combination of failing so early on an obstacle and the cold weather made me more conservative on some obstacles than I would have otherwise been, but my goal was to make it through the race uninjured and I can say I successfully completed that goal! 

As I mentioned earlier, one of the perks of the Spartan Race is that you get free picture downloads once they are ready, so I'm hoping by next week I will have a few more pictures to share of the race, though it may take me awhile to find mine since I am anticipating having to search through the "unidentified" pictures to find myself after having lost my numbered headband so early in the race followed quickly by my bib.

Have you ever done a Spartan Race or other mud / obstacle race? Did you like it? Would you do it again?

1 comment:

  1. You did great! I have been practicing my burpees, as I know I won't be completing certain obstacles for my Spartan Super tomorrow! YIKES!!