Yesterday I ran my first ever Spartan race. For those unfamiliar, Spartan races are obstacle courses ran over varying distances: 3+ miles (Sprint), 8+ miles (Super) and 12+ miles (Beast). As a newcomer to the sport I played it safe and entered the Sprint: twenty obstacles spread out over 3 miles. Despite being my first Spartan, the race happened five months later than planned. I originally applied to run the Sprint in April but was held back due to wrist tendonitis. Five months on, several treatments later and with Kinesio Tape planted on my arm, I was ready and determined to strike Spartan off my 2016 goals. Here is what happened…..
Pain strikes at the start line
The good folk at Spartan decided to stick a 5ft wall in front of the start line. I guess it’s their way of preparing you for what’s to come. As I jumped over it, a pain radiated through my wrist. It felt like a solid 7 on the scale. What now? But before I had time to think, we were off! I guess I’d have to wait and see.
Fear is not an option…. the Cargo Net
One of the first events is an A-Frame cargo net, so high that I saw some racers bypass it. If you have any kind of fear of heights, this was not the obstacle for you. As I begun the ascent, a fellow passed by and practically threw himself onto the net, destabilizing everyone around him – thanks! Living in New York City, you do not find many (if any) gyms with cargo nets to practice on. This was a case of getting on with it. Fortunately, my teammates and I made it through with no issues (my wrist pain had disappeared too!).
Running up the Bleachers…. again and again
As this was a stadium-based race, running up bleachers is an integral part of the course. Fortunately this was one area I was at ease with, given my conditioning levels. It was made challenging when they gave us 15lb sandbags and 40lb jugs of water to carry – but with a background in strength training, this too was ok.
The Herculean Hoist
A staple in Spartan races, the hoist involves pulling a suspended sandbag to the top of a pulley and engineering it back down without letting it fall. Time to work back and bi’s! This was probably one of the easiest events if I’m honest, a sentiment overheard across the board as we ran onto the next obstacle.
The walls are back! Not one but six! Then three more SUPER tall ones
At this point we are three quarters of the way done (I skipped a lot to spare you) but as we enter the outside of the stadium for the final stretch, I see a set of six walls waiting for us. Was I prepared to chance it? The initial wrist pain had vanished so I got brave, dug deep and went for it! No wall was left and I found myself surprisingly pain free by the end of it. Maybe I just needed to warm up. This however, was the easy part – we then had three more giant walls (each spread out between obstacles) to conquer. If I was to guess, I’d say they were around 7ft high. I tried a mini run up to the wall and attempted to tackle it like a pull up, but unlike a pull up bar at the gym, the wall didn’t allow my hands to get a firm grip, which meant my fingers would need to pick up the slack. This could have been disastrous for my wrist so I aired on the side of caution and received a leg up from my friend.
Monkey Bars, Ball Slams and the finish line
After failing at the infamous Spartan ‘spear throw’ (aiming a javelin like stick at a target) a penalty of thirty burpees was ordered. Not a big deal in my book, the spear throw isn’t a test of strength or endurance anyway, it’s a matter of skill. A few more obstacles came and went before we approached the monkey bars. I lacked confidence on each grip, despite making my way through them. Lesson learnt: mind over matter, tendonitis or not! Ball Slams were the second to last obstacle, the goal being to pick up a 15lb ball and slam it down twenty times. Simple and easy enough. By now we had conquered every obstacle and headed for the finish line. As I crossed it and grabbed a medal, I remember thinking, ‘it’s over already??‘. Could I do another thirty minutes? Maybe…. But was I glad it was over? Yes!
Spartan, I loved every minute of your race and will look to set my sights on the SUPER for 2017 and maybe one day, the BEAST!!
Before I sign off, a special thanks to my teammates who absolutely rocked. Couldn’t have asked for a better group of Spartans to do it with! Go Team ATHLEADERS!!
As always, pushing for health