This past Saturday, I ran my first Spartan Race. It made the Warrior Dash look like one of those “Fun Runs” for little kids, where you point and go, “Oh, how adorable!”
The website will tell you that the course has about 16 obstacles and is four miles long. It will also tell you “We do not have course maps. Each Spartan Race strives to surprise the athlete. Preparation for the unknown is a must.” Huh.
The weather was not in our favor Saturday morning. When we parked, it was 45° and raining. I did this race with a group of friends, and on the shuttle for the 10 mile (!) ride from the parking lot to the venue, we all put black anti-glare face strips on — unnecessary though they were, as there was no sun. My friends wrote clever two-part messages on their strips; two of them wrote KICKING – ASS and TAKING – NAMES. You can’t see it, but one of mine says 45°, and the other one is just pictures of raindrops.
We arrived, got our race packets and checked our gear, already excited about the fact that we’d have something warm and dry to change into after the race. We took this fierce pre-race picture…
…and waited for our wave to start. When it finally did, I was feeling pretty pumped and ready to become a Spartan!
The course was basically a hike: tons of steep uphills. There were obstacles I liked: a cargo net climb, a javelin throw, and one where we had to hoist a concrete block about 50 feet up on a pulley. There were obstacles I HATED: a quarter-mile+ uphill barbed wire crawl, a traverse wall that had been rendered impossible by thousands of muddy feet before mine, and a “hopping” section (you bind your ankles with a giant rubber band for a hundred yards or so). There were obstacles that were difficult, but made me feel like a badass for completing them: an icy swim through a small lake, monkey bars (on which I used my legs to help me get across), and some walls where I got down on all fours to form a step for my teammates to climb. There was also a rope ladder I couldn’t manage, and near the end, some fire to jump across, and volunteers beating you with giant padded sticks.
Any obstacle you couldn’t successfully navigate resulted in a penalty of 30 burpees. UGH!
I went from being pretty nervous (it was freezing, raining, I didn’t know what to expect, and I had an Olympic distance triathlon scheduled the next day), to being pumped and having fun (for the first 2/3 or so of the race), to being miserable (right around the barbed wire, I was OVER IT and ready to bite the head off anyone who spoke to me… whether it was to tell me I had to do more burpees, or even to say “good job, you’re almost there!”), to finally being pretty triumphant and glad to be done.
I remember thinking “never again!” in that final third of the race, but I dunno; in retrospect, it was pretty great. There’s always next year…