My Edmonton Spartan Sprint race recap

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I managed to hobble through a 5k trail race on Tuesday after almost two
long injured months off of running, so I was hopeful that I would be able to run between obstacles today.

I finished the Spartan Sprint in North Vancouver a couple weeks ago but it was a long way to hobble and running is so much make fun. I was just really ready to get back to running in the mud. Just maybe not that much mud. So much mud. So much man eating mud. But we’ll get to that.

The interesting part about Spartan Races are that you kind of know what’s coming after you’ve done a few. But you don’t really know. It’s not like a road or even trail race where you know the course, and thus, what you’re getting into. You really just have to let the race unfold. No expectations, no assumptions.

Spartan courses are typically held on a ski resort… and they typically make full use of the terrain with a run up the steepest possible part of the mountain. We were not on a ski hill, so it’d be easier right? Nothing but a bumpy muddy cow field. Easy.

Not so fast. Spartan never makes things easy. And neither does Mother Nature.

A huge rain storm raged out last night, filling the mud pits to capacity and making a whole whack of new ones.

The first obstacles were pretty typical: a crawl, a set of over unders.

The balance beam came next – earlier than usual – which was probably a good thing. I got across… but was a little over cautious. I ended up getting passed by a girl who looked (out of the corner of my very focused vision) to be running across. I was just happy I didn’t come off at the very end, as is my habit. I took a second to gather myself (and my nerves) at the last turn, and I think that helped.

On the tire flip I made sure to grab one already dislodged from the vacuum-like mud… still, each time I flipped I had to pry the tire up and wedge my fingers under.

Next came the wall. I turned a bit and grabbed with one hand which was much easier for me than doing two at once.

Not accidentally I’m sure, they stacked the tractor pull and the sandbag carry one after another. Especially challenging, since both were through large puddles.

Dragging the cement block through the water was the easy part – over the muck hills was not.

I swung wide on the sandbag carry through the deep mud puddle and got my first taste of real suck. At this point, I realized that I was up against mud that wanted to eat me and had a grip good enough to do so.

Glad to be out of there, I came up to a long mud puddle that some guy was crawling across. On the approach I wondered aloud to the guy beside me why the man ahead of us was crawling. “Do we HAVE to crawl here?”. There was no wire, no net. Why oh why was he crawling…?

I booted it, and braced for a patch so slippery that it would bring someone to crawl across it.

I didn’t slip, I went RIGHT in. Like to my shoulders in. Like, “fudge balls, this is how the dinosaurs died.”

I tried to wiggle my feet. No. Step. No. Crawl. Hell no. I was vacuum sealed into the muck. I wasn’t getting out of there without being extracted.

Thankfully, someone was kind enough to stop their race to pull me out. I’d probably still be there now if he wasn’t. Thanks guy in the plaid shorts!

From there on it was difficult. I was exhausted from the struggle and coated in heavy mud.

I fell off the traverse! Again! Outside of the spear throw (there are always burpees waiting for me at spear throw) these were the only burpees I had to do. And of course I waited until the last block to come off. It’s funny coming off the traverse wall because it’s almost as if you’re on the floor by the time it happens. No fight. You’re done. Burpees.

The incline wall was as it always is. Intimidating, but then you get there and realize there are slats to climb up so you stop crying and climb.

You then ran through a small lake and up a hill where a set of monkey bars greet you (which were lovely perched atop the hill from the start area). The first few bars were tough but the mud rubbed off a bit as I went so I managed to stay on.

The last five obstacles were all smooshed up at the end as they always are.

Exhausted muddy people (many shoeless to finish but not shoeless to start) trying to climb things are entertaining. But it’s also when you need support and good cheer the most: so it’s mutual. Laugh all you want so long as you’re clapping!

The mud pit was like any other… mostly just there so that you can get real mudded up before hitting the slippery wall. Ooowwwee was it slippery. We parked ourself to watch the race from a table on the other side of the fence and it certainly was entertaining. Note: I was also clapping.

The rope climb was the last physical obstacle. Funny thing, you can be great at climbing a rope but climbing a rope muddy and exhausted is an entirely different beast. I like to get to the top where I can almost extend my arm to get the bell and then slide down repeatedly. My plan is always just to man myself up there before I run out of steam but it always takes a few chugs more than I’d like.

I missed the spear. I-always-miss-the-spear. I’m lucky to be a natural vegetarian because I would never catch an animal in the wild with a spear. I’d be lucky to hit it hard enough to get it to notice me.

Apart from the only race I’ve ever been in with man eating quicksand (yeah I’m pretty sure it was only mud on top), it was also the first race where I jumped over a “real fire.” Normally it’s just a gas line – today it was real wood. I still thought of it more as a feature than an obstacle… although I was definitely a little more careful not to trip.

I was happy (once it was over and the urge to vomit and/or pass-out stopped) to be back running and be back on the podium.

The really awesome thing about racing OCRs is that they expose your weaknesses – and you always have things to bring back to your training… new and old.

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