First Spartan race and First 5k OCR
I knew this event would be fast and I would have to run flawlessly to finish well. 5k leaves no room for error.
Canada = hills, so I worked them as often as possible in the weeks leading to this event. I did several short hill climbs near home that ranged 2-3 miles and climbed 1000+ feet. A week before the event I ran/scrambled a 32-mile loop around a mountain with 8,000 ft. of climbing. 3 days before the event I ran hill sprints on a grassy hill in the park after a fast 5k run on flat ground.
Grip work. I may be new to Spartan but I’ve seen some pictures, and between the hoists, carries, drags, hangs, climbs, and traverses the events look like they require a lot of grip strength. So I hit the rock wall 4 days before the event to sharpen up.
Day before the race I drove up to Mt. Seymour to check out the venue (I always do this) and did a quick 3-mile run up Dog mountain to get a feel for the area’s elevation and any other characteristics I need to take note of. In this case, the bugs, mud, big rocks, and roots. Tons of all 4. Another reason I drive up the day before is to map the driving route in my head so it is easier to navigate there in the morning when I am tired and need no extra stress.
The course was 3.5 miles, 1,500 feet elevation gain, and 21 obstacles. It was an up and back down course on a ski run, meaning the first 1.5 miles was BRUTAL.
I got there bright and early 2 hours before the event so I could check in, relax, and enjoy the scenery. The event set-up was perfect and everything went smoothly. The body count for the elite was small (looked like 60), which I like. After check-in I jogged around for 10 minutes to warm up, did some strides, and did some fast stretching. At 0800 we lined up at the starting line for a quick countdown from the Mayor (awesome). I love that they skip the whole “I am Spartan” bullshit and the motivating speech. We trained hard to get here and we have all the motivation we need.
Anyway, the race started fast with a quick turn and a mellow uphill run that I took at a 6:00 minute mile pace. I put myself in the top 5 and put on the cruise control as the course continued uphill.
The first obstacles were the hurdles and the over-under-out which we all cruised through in stride. Coming up next was a mud moat which the guy in front of me ran around (whatever, he has to live with it).
After the moat, the course dipped downhill for a bit to the slippery wall and wall traverse. I used the lean back method to get up the slippery wall and maintained 3 points of contact across the traverse. I took the traverse really slow and it paid off, a few guys dropped to do the burpee penalty on this one.
After the traverse the run to the top of the chairlift started. This was a brutal and rocky climb that brought most people to a walk immediately. I ran the hill up to the balance beam (smoking myself in the process) and fell off the beam after 1 step haha.
The 30 burpees took me about 2:15 and I lost about 6 places. The guy next to me probably did 15 burpees before he took off (he has to live with it). I usually do 30 burpees in about 1:50 but that hill smoked me and I struggled through the 30 reps.
After the balance beam the hill continued and I turned into a “walker” using my hands to drive my knees down to get up the hill. I was still passing people though and making up places I lost on the balance beam burpees.
At the top of the chairlift hill we had to complete the monkey bars. Spartan took it easy on us at and kept them short with small bar diameter. No problem.
Going down the same hill we just climbed was steep and extremely rocky but I let loose and cruised down at a 5:30 pace taking back a few places. I cruised through the parallel bars (dips train you for these), 8-foot walls, and tire flips (2 flips is all).
Back at the bottom of the ski lift was the inverted wall. The guy in front of me hesitated and I over took him until I reached the spear throw where we both missed and had to do another 30 burpees. For the spear throw I was told to aim high, so I did, and I threw it over the bail by inches. Fuck that shit! Trust your natural aim.
After the burpees at the spear throw, I caught up to 2 fellows and followed them through the cinder block pull and barb wire crawl before passing both on another short uphill run. From this point on I had 5th place in sight and was gunning for it!
I did a forward roll over the cargo net to the crowds approval and ran hard to the sand bag carry. When I picked up my (1) 40lbs. bag 5th place was working his way back up the hill on the other side. I ran down and out fast but my effort on the uphill sand bag carry wasn’t enough. I knew the finish line was just around the corner so all I could hope for was that he would fail the rope climb. It didn’t happen. I climbed the rope, crawled under barb wire again, and did a little trot over the fire to the finish.
I finished the 3.5 miles in 42:28 with a 6th place finish. I was out of breath over the line and happy that I gave it my all. I think I could have made the top 5 or even the podium had I not made those 2 mistakes costing me 60 burpees/4:00 minutes.
What I learned
I’m happy with my performance on my first Spartan Race. The emphasis on building speed and endurance the last 2 months really paid off. I believe that the 32 mile Loowit trail run with 8,000 ft. of elevation gain really set me up for success on this race. I can always do better though. Time to hit the hills harder, put some more time on the slack line, and build a spear to train for the Spartan Super in Utah June 27.
Thoughts on Spartan
I’m going to beat a dead horse here and say they need to do something about verifying the burpees. I saw cheating once and heard plenty of other guys bringing it up after the race. It doesn’t bother me though because if you have to cheat to win, then you have to live with that. And one day I will beat you.