Updated: Jan 18, 2019
The Spartan Race World Championship in Lake Tahoe, CA was an Intense race!
I flew out the morning before the race, landed in Reno, drove my rental truck down to South Lake Tahoe where my inexpensive hotel room was, ate, slept, and drove up to Squaw Valley early Saturday morning to arrive in time for the race.
And then the race started. It started on a 12-15% incline and kept climbing for virtually the next 3 miles. It was hard going. That type of incline on uneven terrain isn’t easy to keep a fast pace on. Sections of the ground on that first climb were covered in brand new mulch which isn’t ideal for traction.
The first big obstacle was the Hercules Hoist. Everyone was flying through it. I didn’t see anyone struggle and I cleared that obstacle in one of the fastest times I ever have. We hadn’t done any heavy carries yet so there was a lot of strength in the tank still.
Things changed at the Swim. The water was very cold. Let me say that again. The water was very cold. I am not great in cold water. I certainly don’t love it. The first 30 seconds in it was very hard to breath and my mind started questioning my ability to finish. I began focusing on my breathing and tried to stop thinking about anything else. I decided to swim on my side. It was extremely effective with the life jacket on. Normally life jackets cause a huge amount of water resistance, but moving sideways didn’t use much energy and I was slicing through the water. I passed at least 4 people in the water.
Getting out again, my only goal was to move fast. It was less about placement and more about ensuring that I got my body as warm as I could as fast as I could. I pumped my arms more than normal while running to create even more heat.
Soon we hit the Bucket Carry. It’s always heavy. It’s always challenging. I’ve done harder bucket carries, but this one was quite difficult after having had very cold hands. The back half of the carry was all uphill and took some time to finish off.
The gauntlet at the top of the mountain is where I had my first “miscue”. I went right through the Sled Drag and Atlas Carry without any issue. However, I made a very (obvious) wrong turn right after that. Instead of making an immediate turn and going under the Barbwire Crawl, I started running up the hill where a volunteer was standing. It seemed off to me so I yelled to him and asked if I was going the right way. He redirected me, but not before I’d already lost several places for my mistake. Oddly enough, a volunteer at the Barbwire Crawl had watched me run literally right by her and hadn’t said a word. Spartan has a ton of great volunteers, but sometimes they don’t do their jobs.
The Barbwire Crawl took me minutes. I don’t know why, but I struggled to get through it. A crawl that should have taken 40-60 seconds lasted well over 2.5 minutes. Happy to be done with that weird moment, I made my way through Rolling Mud and under the Dunk Wall. During the swim I had kept my head dry which helped keep me warm. I obviously didn’t have that luxury when it came to the Dunk Wall. My head was quite cold for a few minutes afterwards. I made quick work of the Slip Wall and was on my way to begin my decent for the first time in the race.
The spear throw was the next obstacle up. I’ve missed it so many times this year and I wanted very badly to complete that obstacle. As I saw it in the distance, I prayed, “God, please let me get the spear. Please let me get the spear.” I ran up, found a spear I liked with a bale I liked, took a breath, aimed, threw, and MADE IT! I raised both of my hands up to Heaven for a second and then ran on to the next obstacle. Thank God I made that spear.
Several obstacles followed on the way down the mountain. There was the Armour which is probably the easiest carry obstacle in all of OCR. Then there was the Double Sandbag Carry which I now believe to be the hardest carry obstacle in OCR. If they weighed what they’re supposed to, I was carrying 140lb while I myself only weigh 160lbs. It was grueling. I knew I couldn’t set the bags down. I’d never get them back up. I just had to keep taking step by step up the hill. Once I get to the downhill I was able to speed up a bit and then it was over. Running after carrying 140lbs doesn’t feel like running; it feels like flying.
Down the mountain and through Olympus I went. Over the A-Frame, in and through Ape Hanger, over to the Tire Flip where I very barely was able to get my fingers under the tire and flip it twice, into another Double Sandbag Carry, through Monkey, Twister, Monkey, and back up the mountain again.
By this time, my grip was fried. I struggled through the Monkey, Twister, Monkey. I was exhausted from the racing that had already been done. It took me a minute to feel better as I started up the mountain. It was just slightly inclined and easy running for a few minutes before the real climbing started. I struggled up that mountain. Trying to jog now, trying to walk now. It was hard going. My muscles were very tired and my body was feeling the overall fatigue. The Z-Wall was on the way up the mountain. I have never, in my memory, failed the Z-Wall before. I started it. Felt fine. I was taking my time. 1 slip of the shoe was all it took. I was on the ground and off to do my 30 burpees. They were a miserable 30 burpees and took me a long time. Some racers had caught up in that time. There were now 3 of us headed up the mountain. One fell behind, one moved ahead, and I was in the middle trudging my way up the last parts of the climb.
Near the top of the very last bit of climbing, Lindsey Webster cruised by me and said, “Good job”. She’s an absolutely amazing racer and is always so nice, even when climbing up a mountain. I was struggling so I didn’t reply (hopefully she didn’t think I was being rude...I was just struggling).
At the top of the mountain was the Stairway to Sparta. That was done quickly and the rest of the races was a very fast run down the backside of what we’d just climbed. I’m a far too cautious of a downhill runner and lost another place or two on my way down.
Finally at the bottom was Bender. I got over it faster than I’d ever done and completed the Multi Rig without any issues to cross the finish line just 10 yards ahead.
I finished in 3 hours and 6 seconds. After all of the results were in, I finished 65th of 97 in the Elite Qualified heat. I took a long while to rest and do a live recap of my race afterwards. I got fluids in me right away and ate some protein bars.
The course was extremely challenging. I think it was the most difficult course I’ve ever run. It was so well designed. It was set up to be extremely difficult and it was set up well.
I think that I could have done better. I let myself get down on that final climb and I could have held a much better mentality throughout the race. I did reach my physical limit though, and that’s something that is very valuable to find and know. It was an amazing experience overall. The views from the top of the mountain were absolutely beautiful.
I can do better though. I know I can. That’s why I Never Stop.
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