Updated: Jan 18, 2019
September 24, 2016 - My brothers and I had spent the night before the race in a cabin on the mountain. I believe I slept just about five hours which is never a good start. For reasons too long to explain here, we were late getting to the race. We rushed to put on our bands, bibs, and store our bag. We had JUST enough time to use the restroom and immediately rushed to the starting line. I was tying my shoe as they released the wave. Thankfully I was far enough back that I was able to finish before racers around me started moving.
The race started with a downhill which rounded a corner and then immediately went STRAIGHT UP. We all tried to run up the intense incline of the trail, but the run soon turned into a walk which turned into a trudge. My strategy on hills is to never look up. I keep my eyes fixed just ahead of my feet and I tell myself to take the next step. Sometimes I break that rule, and it never ends in anything but discouragement.
On a side note, I had been race training throughout 2016, but I had done ZERO hill training. It’s an awful mistake to make for most Spartan Races, but especially if you’re going to do a race like Wintergreen. Don't make the same mistake I did.
With steep uphills, there are always steep downhills. I was not, nor have I ever been, a superior downhill runner. My knees were
aching from bad form (I was tired) as I raced down trails in the woods. One specific section had very technical terrain with huge rocks scattered all over. I focused intently on every single step to make sure I didn’t twist an ankle or trip and face plant on a builder.
The entire race was a grueling challenge. It was the hardest single event I’ve ever participated in. A half-mile double black diamond with a barb wire crawl at the top took most of the energy I had left. By final part of the race I was almost completely burned out. The Bucket Brigade was one of the last obstacles and it crushed me. I made it all the way, but I had to set the bucket down at least five times. Each time I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to pick it up and reach the end.
When I jumped over the fire and crossed the finish line my energy was completely spent. I sat up against some fencing, ate bananas, drank some FitAid, and didn’t hardly move for about twenty minutes.
If you’re in for a REAL challenge; a way to test your will and your body, sign up for a Spartan Super on a ski resort like Wintergreen. Don’t worry, even though it’s miserable at the time, you come out much stronger on the other side. Also, make sure you train for it. The hills, the carries, the endurance - you’ll need great programming and lots of training for all of it.