This morning Ken and I participated in a Super Spartan Race. Some people call it 8 miles of hell, some people claim it is harder than running a marathon, some say you won’t get out uninjured and some say “it’s awesome, I LOVE it.” Upon meeting Ken at the finish line his first words to me were, “That was horrible.” I overhead him on the phone later saying, “it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.” And when asked if he’d do it again, he answered a simple, but definite, “No.” He pushed hard, finish first amongst our team and besides completing all of the tough obstacles he had to army crawl through someone’s vomit! I say he was awesome. The rest of our team agreed it was hard, but most loved it and would love to do it again.
I’ve have a lot of friends who want to know how it was in case they want to complete one in the future, some friends that are already preparing for other Spartan races and others just curious as to what this is all about. I’ll do my best to recap the eight miles here. I did not wear my Garmin (you’ll see why when you see the pictures) so I have no idea on actual distances, but I’ll recap the order and how I felt below. The pictures that are included were taken by my friends Chris and Suzie who volunteered for the race so full credit to them for these awesome shots.
The race began with a few wooden plank walls to climb, nothing too extreme which was a good start. It continued with at least an one mile uphill climb. Now when I say, “uphill,” I mean UPHILL! It was a single file line of people essentially hiking this rocky steep path to the top of a ridge with a beautiful view if you could catch your breath enough to take a look. Ken was ahead of me at this point but I had no real way of catching up until I saw the team members from this Superhero team head out off the trail into the bushes…
I decided if I was going to catch up with Ken I needed to make a move. So I followed. I caught Ken and yelled for him to “come on” with me off the path. His response was, “you’re not going to get very far that way,” and about 10 seconds later our plan was halted with trees and bushes that were un-runnable. We merged back into the line and continued up the gruesome hill. Around every bend, just when you thought it would end, it went up more and more. Around every turn some one was heard saying, “Holy XuX?I!” It may or may not have been me on a couple of those occasions.
We finally made it to the top and the downhill was just as extreme – just harder on the knees, ankles and back than it was on the lungs. I made some pretty good time down this portion and came to an obstacle called “Over, Under, Through.” Over a wooden plank wall (about the height of my elbows if my arms were stretched above my head), under a wooden plank wall and then through some holes in the wall about waist height. This series was done twice. This was harder than the first set but still pretty doable.
Next we came to the rifle obstacle. We had to lay down and shoot a rifle at a target that was about the size of a quarter. You got one shot, that’s it. Make it or do 30 burpees. I did not make it and was initially so disappointed…however my real disappointment came after I had done 5 burpees and realized I still had 25 more to do. Uugh. At about 10 burpees in Ken waves to me and takes off up another hill. He hit the target – one stinkin shot and he made it!
After the burpees I took off to try to catch back up to Ken and encountered a cargo net that I had to climb up to a bridge. This obstacle was another doable one, however I was climbing at the same time as a lot of other people (most of the Superheros again) and the net was moving a ton, but we all made it over unscathed.
The next obstacle was HARD. These were more wooden plank walls that got increasingly taller. The last set was WAY taller than what I could even reach with my fingertips jumping. There were boards that you could use as mini-steps (about an inch in depth, maybe). The key was to step up and boost yourself until you get one hand over the top. I did not think I could make it over this but really did not want to do more burpees. The only thing that got me over that last wall was the encouragement from the volunteers. The people at this stop were so encouraging telling me, “you’ve got this, you can do it.” And I did it! I was so elated until I was immediately met with a super power water hose that I was getting belted with. I was not only getting sprayed but he was spraying the mud on the ground so it sprayed right up into you, your face, hair, ears, everything. This guy continued to follow me with that dang hose as I tried to sprint past him. However, I got a bit of a second wind after getting past him because I was drenched and the coolness felt great just as it was about to start getting very hot.
The next obstacle I came to was zig-zag balance beams. I wasn’t scared of these too much but really wanted to make it through them without falling off since you only got one chance and if you didn’t make it – 30 burpees. I started out and immediately turned to the volunteer and said, “What did Hobie Call do?’ Let me pause for a minute in my recap to explain who Hobie Call is… he is the Spartan Champion. Spartan race officials offered $100,000 to anyone who could complete 14 events, plus their Death Race. Hobie had won 6 in row prior to the death race and won today’s race by a landslide with a time of 1:08:22. Anyway, I asked, as if knowing might somehow make me be able to perform as he did… as IF. She said, “He actually went very slowly and stopped at each corner of the zig/zag to catch his balance.” I tried to emulate him without success. Another 30 burpees were mine to do. Then onto another balance challenge to make it across a series of wooden stumps without falling off. Again, no success for me which meant another 30 burpees.
After this portion I was still attempting to catch Ken and took off only to step in some hole and twist my ankle. I was able to shake it off and keep going – I think it scared me more than anything. Anyway, little did I know that Ken hadn’t had to do a single burpee yet and was well ahead of me being that I had already done 90!
The next obstacle was to pull a cement block on a rope up a hill and back down again. The key here was to hold the rope without much leeway. There were people around me holding the end of the rope which made it much harder to get momentum. Holding it as close to the block as possible was very helpful. Here is Hobie completing this obstacle.
Next we came to another cargo net that we had to climb up and back down again. This wasn’t too difficult, you just had to be patient and be careful with your footing. I took my time here carefully planning where to step trying to psyche myself up for the challenge ahead that I could see as I was climbing.
The next was to climb a rope to hanging from a bridge and ring a bell at the top. I honestly thought that there was no way I could do it. But alas the volunteers were so amazing again. They encouraged me to use chalk and said, “you CAN, just do it.” I made it almost to the top and was shocked that I was doing it. I was so close and reached for the bell only to miss! My rope swung a bit and I thought I was going to be sliding right back down until I heard those volunteers say, “Don’t give up – you’ve got it.” And bam, they were right, I was able to ring that bell and was on my merry way. As I climbed up the rock wall away from this obstacle they continued with, “Way to not give up.” A big thank you goes out to those volunteers.
Once on top of the same bridge you had to pull a tire on a rope up the bridge and lower it again. It was pretty heavy but doable.
The next portion of the race was a winding, up hill portion through the grass and weeds which was much harder to run through than I imagined. It was hot and miserable. At the top was a water station which seemed like heaven. I downed some water and then realized there was also another challenge here – to complete one side of a rubix cube. What?!? I tried for a few minutes and came to the realization that I may be there all day when I heard someone who had completed it already say, “you’re not going to get it with luck.” I had no strategy at all and was just turning that cube blindly… so much to my dismay, I opted for more burpees.
Next came a series of what I thought would be all downhill, however it seemed to include a lot of winding uphills. I swear the amount of downhills didn’t seem to come close to equating to the number of uphills there were but onward we pushed only to come to another obstacle that I was terrified of. Monkey Bars. Seems simple enough but I was worried. I was so tired of burpees and wanted so badly to make it across without falling. I totally surprised myself with being able to complete this obstacle. Again, awesome volunteers here.
Next we had to throw a spear and make it stick into a hay barrel or some wooden mask above the hay. Again, one try or burpees. Again, I was not successful and ended up with another set of 30 burpees.
Next I came to the 12 Foot Slippery Wall where Suzie, Chris, Joy and Nikki were volunteering. This wall was continually sprayed with dishsoap and water. Here are quite a few pictures of the wall since they were stationed at this point. First Hobie getting ready to tackle the wall.
Me, attempting the wall.
Me at the top. I pulled so hard on the top of the point that I felt like I pulled an ab muscle… I wasn’t feeling so hot right here.
But the way down brought even more pain. They said “slide.” “Slide, Heather, just like your a kid on a playground.” So I slid. And then I landed on my tailbone smack dab in the center of that board behind my butt. The only board along the whole wall – and it just happened to be where I decided to slide. I later watched a guy land his ankle on that same spot and break it.
Ken finished the wall before me and was onto the barbed wire mud crawl. This may have been what tipped him over the edge… not only are you crawling through disgusting mud for a significant distance, someone crawling in front of him puked! He had no choice but to crawl through it. He was quite disgusted.
I didn’t realize until after the race, but I guess I likely crawled through it too.
So that army dude right there wasn’t going to let me get off easy (as if any of this was really easy.) He stopped right in front of me and said, “You’re not going down this side, this is easy, go around me.” When I responded with, “Seriously?!” I fueled his fire even more. “Seriously?” he yelled, “This is the Spartan! Put your face in the mud.” The he preceded to tell me I would have cuter pictures if my face was covered in mud
Next was the fire pit.
Then a mud trough to wade through, a mud hill to climb over (thanks to the participant who gave me a boost) and onto the finish where you encountered the gladiators that pounded you with Pugil Sticks. The male gladiators did the pounding while the females gave you your medal and a towel.
I finished 23rd among the women in the Competitive Heat with a time of 2:27:14… I am kind of disappointed that I had to walk as many as the uphills as I did, but it was a good reminder of where I need to train. Ken kicked butt and finished in 2:22:16 and only had to do 30 burpees for not sticking the spear. He was able to complete every other obstacle. Way to go, honey! I ended up with 150 burpees completed and if I don’t do another one for quite awhile I will be very happy.
I was extremely proud of our entire team for completing an awesome, very tough race. These type of races are a blast and I will probably do some more in the future but for now I am ready to just run – no mud, no burpees, no walls to climb, no bruised tailbone that is making me not be able to sit. I’m ready to just head out on a flat road with my ipod and chill. Next up is the Legacy Midnight Half Marathon and the San Francisco Half Marathon. We can’t wait.
Chris and Suzie took a few pictures of this team and yelled to them, “you can see these at Heather Bird Photography.com” If you’re part of this team leave me a comment and I’ll email these to you. Great job and very fun outfits!