I came to Hawaii to run the Spartan Trifecta – like everyone else – which consists of running 3 races in 2 days. You could run an Elite Beast on Saturday followed by an Open Super and Sprint on Sunday….OR…..You could run an Elite Super or Sprint on Saturday, followed by an Open Super or Sprint on Saturday, then run an Open Beast on Sunday.
I chose to run the Elite Beast on Saturday like everyone else. I decided against running the Ultra-Beast because I figured that a majority of the people coming to compete would be racing the Beast and I wanted the competition. Turned out to be a good idea because Vidal showed up and I wanted to measure myself against him again, since he had smoked me at the Battlefrog in Orlando previously this year.
Note: The Ultra was 2 laps of the Beast course.
Leading to the Race
The 3 weeks leading to the race I spent traveling, diving, and (attempting) to train in Belize and Guatemala. I found a good hill to train on and run in Antigua the week before the race but that preparation was ruined after Ivcame down with a tropical illness – most likely from mosquitos.
The Saturday before the race I woke up – after running a half-marathon the day before – with a high fever and intense joint pain. I didn’t have the energy to get out of bed or eat. Getting up to go to the bathroom I could barely walk because of the pain in the joints in my ankle, feet, and toes.
I traveled from Guatemala to Belize via bus (sick as shit), then flew to Portland, OR (sick as shit), then flew to Hawaii (sick as shit). When I landed in Hawaii I tried to have a good time and go out, but after 1 round of drinks at Duke’s by the beach I felt drained and spent the rest of the day laying around in our hotel. The next day I woke up and the fever had slightly reduced and I found that if I walked around for awhile the joint pain would reside a bit. So I decided I would try to run. I jogged in place for a bit in the hotel, took some motivation juice, and went out to run along the beach towards Diamond Head. The run went horribly. I could barely maintain an 8:30 mile pace on flat ground and simply holding good posture was an extreme effort. I slogged my way through a 6- mile run then went back to the hotel and started googling doctors.
The next day I saw a doc in the box and he told me to save my money, use my travel insurance, and go to the ER at the local hospital because it is free. After an all day affair the doctor gave me a prescription for Doxycycline (stupid we need a doctor’s prescription to buy this stuff) and I was off.
Getting to the race
The Beast Elite relay started at 0600 and was held at the Kualoa Ranch on the other side of the island from Honolulu. This meant an early wake up and a long dark drive. After a 0300 wake up, a quick liquid breakfast, and 45-minutes of driving later I arrived at the parking site where I had to drop our car and walk a mile to the race site. If I had the energy I would have used this opportunity to jog and warm-up, but I still felt drained from the sickness so I walked it and struggled to wake up.
Check-in was a mess so they pushed back the start time to 0615. I was happy about this because I had just finished checking in 10 minutes before 0600 and needed some time to get my head straight.
For some reason the race packets did not include your headband, so everyone had to go to a headband tent and hassle a volunteer to sort through a dozen boxes to find your headband. After a while they event organizers said “fuck the headbands write your number on your body”. This cleared everything up and we could finally get the racing started.
Required gear for the Beast was a Hydration vest: So I wore my Salomon S-Lab with a bladder and carried 4 Honey Stinger Gels.
My Strava from the Beast
I walked my way to the front of the starting corral and stood beside Vidal (Spartan pro team) and 2 super fast guys I had met at previous Battlefrog events – OCR is a small world for the ones dedicated to it. Everyone shook hands and wished all a good race.
The race started fast and I used all my energy running a 5:45 pace down the gravel road to keep up front with the pack leaders. The pace slowed a bit as we jumped down a ditch into a creek and swam/scrambled along it for 200 meters. This gave me a breather and as we exited the creek I breezed through the over-under-through obstacle before pushing hard to run up the uphill. I ran the entire hill but I could feel it in my body that it was taxing my muscles far harder than it should have. It was an easy 12-13% graded hill but running up it had smoked me.
I was holding my position in the race and keeping the front-runners in view as I reached the top of the uphill and let the downhill carry me down. At the bottom of the downhill the course veered off the road and into the jungle for an uphill climb to a cargo net climb. I managed to run the hill and power up the net but at the top of the ridge we had a steep slippery descent down the other side. My old road running shoes that I was wearing for the race – bad decision – were sliding all over the place and I had to use the trees to control my fall. After awhile I let go and let myself surf down.
Down the ridge and out of the jungle the course opened up for the next 4 miles as it wound up and down the hills of the famous Kualoa Ranch.
By this time we were almost 2 miles into the race and I was feeling weak. I hadn’t lost any positions but the pack of front-runners were slowly losing me. The course ran along gradual rolling hills of 8-12% grade and I should have been running up and down them easily, but I was struggling. My strength was waning and my uphill running pace was fading from a 10:00/mile climb, to a 12:00/mile, to a 15:00/mile. Before I knew it I was doing a walk 4 steps, run for your life, walk 4 steps, run for your life cadence just to keep moving. I had never broken into a walk this early in a race in my life. My mentality went from “make the podium” to “just finish the race”. I was in trouble.
As I approached the “big vertical wall” obstacle I struggled to get over it and wondered how the hell any girl was going to do it. Then I remember my sickness had turned me into a giant pussy, so I pushed the thought aside and continued on. Past the wall and running to the next obstacle “the tire pull” I began to lose positions in the race. As the racers caught up to and passed me I pushed as hard as I could to keep them in sight. I sucked down water and gels in an effort to get some energy to my legs. None of it worked.
I used my whole body and propped my foot against the medal stake to get the strength to pull the tire towards me. Pulling it back out I had to pick it up with both arms when I could have easily pulled it with one. I felt like a bitch but I continued on best I could.
When I approached the Bucket carry I saw Vidal dropping his off. This gave me hope and I got the crazy idea that I would fill my bucket, run the circle, and catch up to him. After I filled the bucket and struggled to pick it up, then put it down after walking 10 steps the idea went out the window. I just did my best to keep pace with the guy in front of me and avoid slipping going up and down the hill spilling my bucket. If your bucket wasn’t full at the end you had to do it again and that was not an option for me.
After the bucket carry the course followed a gravel road to the back of the ranch and then a giant green sign labeled “Beast” pointing in the jungle marked the end of the Super course and the start of the Beast only course.
I turned into the jungle and followed the course along a single track that went straight up a steep hill made up of mud, roots, and punji sticks. 2 more guys had caught up to me and kept pace as I scrambled my way up the hill gripping and slipping.
This continued for half a mile until it peaked and the course went straight down a muddy single track. By the time I reached the top the 2 guys had passed me but I didn’t care, I was miserable and weak. I just wanted to finish so I could go back to sleep.
Going down the backside of the steep ridge was worse than going up. I used the ropes provided to slow down my sliding but they only succeeded in sweeping my feet out from under me. I did my best not fall and puncture my guts on a punji stick they created by cutting all the small trees 6 inches above the root. Before long I started sliding down on my butt and running my body into trees to slow down.
After coming down the ridge in the jungle the sickness must have taken over because I don’t remember much. I somehow caught up to one of the guys who passed me on the jungle single track and turned out he was a soldier stationed out here running his first Spartan. I mumbled to him that he was doing great and he slowly pulled away and lost me again. Alone on the course, I made my way over the balance beam, up a small rope climb, over a wall, and under a barb wire crawl littered in cow shit before hitting the stream.
The course followed a stream for what felt like a mile. Could’ve been, I don’t know, I just know that the water was brown, the rocks were slippery, and every time I tried to pick up the pace I would slip and bust my ass. I tried to run and the creek said “Fuck you, walk”. So I walked and crawled my way up the creek catching and passing a guy in the process. I had no clue what place I was in because of haze from the sickess, nor did I care, but passing someone always makes me happy. By this point we were 7 or 8 miles into the race and the young guns were burning out. Even though I was slow from feeling sick and weak, I could maintain that slow all day if I had to. Endurance is my only strength.
Out of the creek the course followed a single track back up the ridge and down the other side to rejoin with the Super course in the same spot where it left off. Climbing up the trail I could hear fellow competitors cheering and screaming all around me, but couldn’t see them in the dense foliage. It was like running through a scene from a Vietnam war movie.
Back on the Super course the route followed the gravel road and was heading back to the festival area. I had regained my orientation and found a little motivation to pick up the pace.
Still running alone in the Beast race but catching up to and passing “walkers” in the Open Super I did the atlas carry and made my way to the traverse wall. In Salt Lake City, I made a dumb mistake and fell off this but today, with no stress to do good, I took my time and made my way across no problem. This time they replaced the hand holds on the second wall with a 1 inch thick piece of wood to make it tougher.
After the wall traverse I made my way to the sand bag carry where men had to carry 2 bags. First, I tried to hoist both on my shoulders but they slid off after 30 meters of walking. Next, I tried to farmer walk with them but this was too taxing on the grip and I needed to save it for the upcoming obstacles. So next, I picked one up and put it resting behind me neck, then picked up and carried the other one like a baby. This seemed to work great but I had to walk slow so the bag wouldn’t slide down my back. I walked the ¼ mile circle only having to fix my carry once.
After I put down my bags ran towards the event area for bit more before I approached the final obstacle area before the finish line. The obstacles were a long barb wire crawl through rock and mud, the rope climb, spear throw, Spartan’s version of the rig, the slant wall with ropes, then the fire jump and finish.
Jogging my way up to the barb wire crawl I saw 2 guys who had passed me early in the race slowly crawling their way through. By rolling through I knew I could catch up to pass both of them so I got to it. I started rolling fast and getting dizzy so I closed my eyes to see if that would help. It didn’t. I caught up to and rolled past the first guy then stopped for a second to realign myself and prepare for the next pass. When I looked ahead I could see that the guy in front of me wasn’t moving anymore. I rolled up to him and asked him what was wrong. Turns out he didn’t carry water on the course and was cramping up – On the Beast a hydration pack was mandatory because there was only 3 water stations in the 12 miles. So I stopped for a second and gave him 3 long drinks off my camelback. Once he said he was good I was on my way and moved towards the rope climb.
Usually Spartan uses a 1.5 inch thick rope for the rope climb but at this event they used one even thinner. This made the rope climb a lot tougher. I started making my way up and squeezing as hard as I could to keep grip. Pinching the rope with my feet was hardly working because of it’s thinness. Once I reached the top I started to lower myself down but started sliding and let go falling to the bottom – hence the water haha.
Moving away from the rope I ran down the hill and up to the dreaded spear throw where 2 guys who had previously passed were doing their penalty burpees. Coming up to this I was 0 for 2 from my previous races in Vancouver and SLC. I had to make this to redeem myself and pass these 2 guys. I picked up the stupid spear, balanced it in my hand, squared up, and threw the thing like a giant dart. It flew straight and fast, but flew over the bale. Fuck! This was my chance to run a burpee free race. I cranked out my burpees fast enough to pass the guys in front of me (who were exhausted) and made my way to the rig.
The Spartan rig featured a monkey bar section with a transition to rings followed by a transition to thick monkey bars and a finish with a single thick lengthwise bar. Compared to the Battlefrog Platinum rig it was easy and I breezed across slapping the bell.
With the end – and a nap – in sight I ran up and over the slant wall and did my best sprint towards the finish.
I wrapped up the Beast in 2:51 finishing in 10th place overall. I am very happy with this finish considering the level of exhaustion I had felt from the sickness, but I am pissed I got sick in the first place because I think I could have made top 5 on a good day. The DJ had claimed that no one would finish this course in less than 3 hours, but myself and 12 other guys had pulled that off. I am happy to be part of that group. Vidal was favorite to win but lost 15 minutes when he got lost losing a place and finishing 2nd overall with a time of 2:12 behind the winner Matthew Kempson who finished in 2:09. Very impressive times considering the technical course through the jungle.
Oh yeah, I finally met the Painted Warrior , a very cool and humble guy who runs a lot better blog than me