I AM SPARTA!!
This just in… I’m a finisher of the Sparta obstacle race challenge series. What does that mean? I have climbed steep mud drenched hills with a sandbag on my shoulders, I have leapt over burning Earth, crawled under barbed wire through a caked-on mud pit, and was challenged by gladiators wielding double-ended battering sticks known as giant Q-Tips. I know they sound soft… but they’re not! Oh and also, I have a medal proving I did the 5 km obstacle course. The whole experience was a lot of fun as I can’t remember the last time I felt so primal and got mud in such intimate places. I am already looking for my next Spartan race and I can’t wait to do it again.
When I was getting ready for my heat, my heart was pounding, my vision narrowed and focused on the challenging events to come, trying to discern a strategy by looking into the unseen course that was laid out over a BMX trail. I knew deep down I couldn’t know what was to come. So instead, I laced my shoes extra tight (so as not to get suctioned to the bottom of a mud pit), wore clothing that could be considered slippery to heavy chunks of mud and earth that clung to me, and hoped for the best.
The truth is, I had been training for a while. Running a lot, 5 K, 10 K, and sometimes more all while adding push-ups, crunches, and other gruelling additions to condition my (lets be honest) weak upper body. I still dont think I could crank off more than 10 pull-ups at a time but I guess that is what this is all about, bettering yourself mentally and physically (I’ll get into the mental part in a bit). But nothing could have prepared me for the Spartan Race I was about to run… nothing. Except perhaps… another Spartan race.
The race started and like most obstacle courses there was a pit of fire in the way. “WAIT! What’d he say?” Oh yes… Fire! So already you can see why it would have been a bad idea to bring along your puppy. Next was a series of mountainous hills taller than I was (6′) and you had to make your way up and over and down the other side continuously throughout the race. Then came the horrendously steep hills that you had to slide (or fall) down and while on the way up, good luck climbing the steep edges without grabbing onto the ropes provided… EXCEPT THERE WEREN’T ANY! So naturally like a Spartan, I grabbed the thorn bushes on the side of the hill to pull myself up. Also like a true Spartan (or a fool) I didn’t wear gloves, I’m so Tonka-tough that way.
After you’re foaming at the mouth because it was 32ºC or 90ºF and dusty like a mother, they make you balance along the thin side of some 2X4’s that zig-zag in a brutal fashion. If you fall off it’s 25 burpees for you. What is a burpee you ask? A burpee begins in a standing position then you drop into a squat position with your hands on the ground. Kick your feet back in one quick motion to assume the front plank position then quickly return to the squat position and jump straight into the air as high as possible. These are exactly the exercises you want to do while running over 3 miles through mud and up hills.
After your delusional @ss falls off the 2X4 (which mine did NOT! (because I’m secretly a ninja)) and your burpees are out of the way then you do a few more trip down and crawl up the side of a dusty hill until you finally arrive at your sandbag challenge. Here you take this bag of sand and carry it down a hill and then up again. Sounds easy right? Well it’s easy to type too but trust me… it’s SO hard! Out of breath and without water (because I didn’t want to run with a camelback) I slowly made my way to the next FUN challenge of lifting a set of tires attached to a rope hanging off a bridge. There was the guys side and the gals side and though the Spartan volunteers said they would make fun of me for lifting the girls rope I was seriously tempted but in the end stuck within the confines of my gender which ended up not being as hard as I anticipated.
After a bunch of mud (which was actually quite cool and soothing) was the 8′ wall. I reached the top with my fingers, could lift myself up, but couldn’t push myself over. This was my first set of burpees. Later on there was a horizontal climbing wall which I was told by my friends who did the run earlier that it was impossible so I gave it the good old college try but ended up doing burpees just the same. One of the last challenges was crawling under barbed wire in mud which I didn’t think was so hard until I was finished and saw the blood pouring from my knee! It was okay though because I was seconds from the finish line, just one more challenge.
When I firt arrived at the event I saw the javelin throw where if you stuck it into the hay you could run on through but literally 1 in every 100 stuck the javelins in. I wondered, what was the secret? Aim was one thing as some people threw it into the trees behind the hay, form was another as many of the javelins twisted in the air before hitting the hay. On top of all these things you are purely exhausted so managing to get it in would be a miracle just so you wouldn’t have to do the burpees. With my full concentration and best Spartan stance I threw the spear at the hay. I could actually hear my friends waiting for me at the finish line cheer for me when I got the javelin to stick into my target.
I ran to the finish line and pleaded with the gladiators not to kill or maim me and they were pretty gentle with their giant Q-tips. I made it through the finish line muddy ad bleeding and with a giant smile wiped across my face. I finished the course in about 48 minutes which I’m going to say isn’t that bad for two reasons: 1. this was my first race ever. Not obstace course (well that too) but first registered race period! and 2. The earliest time I saw was 25 minutes, and the longest was well over 1 hour 30 minutes so by that logic I was actually a lot closer to the fastest than the slowest so Hazaa! Or rather AROO as the Spartans yell out.
Long story short the race was fun and I can’t wait for the next one. I also know how it feels to be beaten and exhausted so I feel that I have a greater understanding of what being a model feels like.
Have any of you done the Spartan Race? How was it for you? Broken bones? Bloody knees? Regail me with your stories below I can’t wait to hear them.
Check out the video below by the Spartan Race team: