A week has passed and I can finally move my arms and cough without groaning in pain… Don’t ask why I’m always coughing, it’s just natural to me like breathing.
To say that the Spartan Race was a challenge might be a slight understatement as I don’t think I’ve ever pushed myself more or been more sore in my life. I’ve taken boot camp classes and I’ve done the Spartan race over 3 years ago in MA but this was beyond my expectations.
It was longer…
and more fun...
Than I could have predicted
Let’s start from the beginning… through my relationship with Fitfluential I was given an opportunity to run the Spartan Race in Tuxedo, NY. They provided me with two race entries and some really awesome gear for me and Tony to train in.
A little history, in 2010, Tony and I ran the Spartan race in Amesbury, MA. It was awful in every possible aspect where the theme of the day could be summed up in one word. WAITING. Waiting to park, waiting for a shuttle, waiting on lines to get a number, waiting in a line for every obstacle, waiting for HOURs for shuttle back to our car. After that, I’ve feared obstacle courses ever since. However, now that Reebok works with the Spartan race, well they could convince me to jump off a bridge.
I expected the course to be more smooth since everyone that’s done the Spartan race after 2010 has had nothing but good things to report. However, I really did not expect the obstacles to get that much harder or be that much fun. In 2010, it was basically a walk in the woods. In 2013, I earned every mile I ran up and down.
The course we ran was in Tuxedo, NY on Sunday June 2nd, 2013 at the 12:15 heat. I woke up early and was planning on running 15 miles in the morning. But it was already 80 degrees and I decided to spend some extra time with my parents instead. Probably one of the smartest decisions I made in a while.
Me showing off my iPhone holding arm muscles and Tony’s sweet Reebok outfit.
Tuxedo was about 45 minutes from my parents’ summer bungalow and since it was pre-season we got there without any traffic. Parking was EASY! They had volunteers guiding you in one of the most organized lot of 10,000 cars I’ve ever seen. GREAT JOB! We then walked about 5 minutes to the registration tents which Tony was able to get his bib in a minute or two. I had some complications because I didn’t bring my ID and hand to prove my identity, but the Spartan Race staff/volunteers were very nice and got me all sorted out.
I believe that every 15 minutes or so 200 runners start on their Spartan Adventure. When we got to the starting line, the 12:30 group just started a minute a go. Tony and I debated about waiting for the 12:45 heat and decided last second to just hang around the back of the 12:30 group. I wasn’t planning on winning any titles but worried a little about lines for obstacles.
The obstacles – There are about 25 or so and this is a listing from my memory, I may have missed one or two, so let me know if I forgot any. I also don’t know official names for anything so bear with my descriptions. Many of them repeated through the course too ,making this one of the hardest sprints that Spartan race puts on.
1. Rolling Mud bath trenches – You run through muddy trenches as hoses of water pour down on you. Refreshing since it was 90 degrees, dangerous because I ended up with some of the worst blisters I ever gotten from a race.
2. Hurdles – You jump over things, easy enough! Even my midget legs were able to make it.
3. Over-Under-Through: a series of obstacles in which runners must first climb over a wall, then under a wall, then through a tire or square hole placed in a wall. The first series of wall climbing obstacles, and this was one of the lower walls.
4. . Over-Under-Through – Similar to before. I feel like the walls got bigger but that was probably my imagination.
5. Monkey Bars – These are steel and within a second, my greasy sweat drenched hand slid right off. I learned a tip after the fact about rubbing your hands in dirty for some traction To the Burpee line I went with a little less pride.
6. Another wall to climb – Tony helped but I was a pro by that part
7. Rope Climb – Basic rope climb, only if you fail, you fall into a mud pit. I knew there was no way I could climb up. I saved myself a mud trip and did my 30 burpees. I have no shame. I spent a lot of time practicing my burpees so might as well put my training to use.
8. Spear throw – You throw a spear and hit a target. One chance only. Tony got it, I failed and was watched until every one of the 30 burpees were done. They didn’t have to be pretty, but they had to be done. Thank you volunteers for keeping me honest because at this point I was getting tired of burpees.
9. 6ft Walls – More series of climbing up and down a wall. This one is much higher with one step.
10. Dragging a Cinder Block – Regarding of gender everyone drags a cinder block on a rope up and down a hill. Personally I thought the jacked up dude that weights 200 pounds should be carrying a slightly larger brick than the 100 pound girl but o well. With a lot of huffing and puffing and a very long wait from Tony, I got it done. I brushed my shoulders off and then dragged it back down, but luckily gravity came to my aid.
11. 7ft Wall – This was getting scarier. Tall people you have no idea how hard it is to jump from something two feet taller than you.
12. Dragging sandbag – I don’t know the weights but men and women had separate sandbags so I was grateful for some help. It was heavy. I slumped up the
hell hill. You then walk down and for the most part, I kept on carrying but there was one steep step down part that I just dropped down the sandbag. I picked it up afterwards and carried it down. They said I had to get it up and down the hill, they didn’t indicate how that had to occur.
13. 8 ft Walls – The tallest wall of them all. This one had two steps to climb – up but on the other side you had to jump down. I don’t know the height but there was no way to hell I was going to jump. I started to freak out and climb back down the front saying no way in hell (I value my neck) but a volunteer offered to stand on the other side of the wall to catch me if I fall. With an offer like that I couldn’t really pansy out anymore.
14. Tire Hop – This was easy, you hop/run through about 100 meters of tires.
15. Pull weight up and down – There was a different weight for men and women. Sadly that did not help. I sat down, and tried to put all my weight into pulling this stupid sack down. I almost pooped myself (true story) before I gave up and did my burpees. My hands were shaking.
16. Vertical Cargo Climb – This was at some point mid race. I don’t know how high it was, maybe 30 feet and each rope step was about 5 feet apart. I was watching some girls climb as I was trying to convince myself to start this obstacle. In 2010 this ladder rope climb thing was 10 feet at most. I was terrified because with so many climbers at once, the ropes were very shaky. This was also in the middle of the race on top of a hill, so my muscles were shaky. Right as I convinced myself to start, a girl fell on her head all the way from the top. I started crying and freaking out, Tony was at the top at this point and screamed at me to skip and walk around the rope climb. At that point, I started shaking and crying and was barely able to get myself to move on forward. I skipped this obstacle and I did not do any burpees and made a silent pray that the girl will be okay.
17. Tire Drag – Dragging a heavy tire up a hill on a rope. This looked hard but I sat down and watched others struggle. I instinctively put my feet against the pole holding the rope and used my leg strength to pull up the tire! I felt like a smart cookie at that moment.
18. Log Hop – You basically cross 100 meters with each step on a tiny log of various heights. Not to mention each log step is relatively far apart so aside from balance you need length. Tony and I are both short and both failed pretty fast. Burpees Burpees fun fun.
19. Spider Wall/Vertical Rock climbing – You rock climb across a wall and ring the bell. This was pretty difficult if you’re 5 feet that as each step was very far apart and I had to spread my legs slightly more wider than I was comfortable with. A girl volunteer (I think?) gave me some support towards the end because I was about to fall to help me ring the bell.
20. Barbed Wire Curl – Self explanatory, but this was probably one of the longest crawls I’ve seen. It seriously just went on and on. I kept thinking I was almost done just to realized I was barely halfway. Not only that, but it was on bumpy ground of rocks, broken glass (umm why?). and mud. If I ever do another Spartan again I am bringing either elbow/knee pads and wearing more clothes. As soon as I started crawling my skin started to burn from the rough pebbles and I couldn’t put any pressure anywhere without pain. And to prove I wasn’t lying, I had some rashes all over my arms and legs afterwards. Maybe I’m allergic to mud? I did learn that on the more flatter parts it’s easier to just roll (kinda like a pig in poop) than crawl. And confession – it was one of the most liberating feelings in the whole race. I’m disappointed there’s no photos of that.
21. Slippery Wall – a wall built at an incline (roughly 45 degrees) that is covered in soap or grease. Runners may try to sprint up the wall or use a rope for assistance. I looked at that and I got scared of how I would come down from the wall once I climbed it since it was a 15 foot or so jump. I decided I don’t want to roll an ankle today and skipped. Another confession, I only did 10 or so burpees instead of 30 before moving on. More confessions, those were some ugly 10 burpees.
22. Fire Pit – The classic jumping over fire obstacle. Although not very difficult, I could feel the flame’s smoke for several minutes afterwards in my eyes.
There’s also a video of me and Tony jumping over it. The conversation goes like this.
Tony – Want to finish this obstacle and race together?
Liana – Sure!
Tony – Nah, everyone man for himself ::runs of::
23. Gladiator Arena – These dudes try to knock you over just as you’re about to cross the finish line. There’s two of them and pretty much no way to cross them without getting beat, so just take your hit and run on!
I’m not really sure why Tony is giggling but he is.
I think there was one or two more obstacles but I really can’t recall them. I either skipped them or blocked out the memory. In addition to 25 obstacles the course ran on 4 miles up and down a ski slope. Very hilly, I saw a few people slide and fall when they ran downhill. Lots of rocks to climb on the uphill. These 4 miles were not designed for road runners and that was part of the fun!
Overall, reflecting back on my training I was nowhere near prepared for this race. Although practicing burpees really did make the penalties less painful. The race really requires a lot less running and a lot more upper body strength than most participants expect. It also helps to be tall. Tall and strong. I guess Spartan warriors are not known to be 100 pound stubs of bones and flab. ;). I hope to do another one at some point, maybe event next year. I will wear capris and maybe elbow pads because even though it was hot, I think the extra skin protection would have really helped. I saw many smarter runners in elbow/knee pads and weight lifting gloves!. I will try to lift more or at least something slightly heavier than my Iphone.
The one thing that I think I did a great job on was knowing which obstacles I needed to do and which were better to pass for my own safety. Yes, its a little disappointing to be doing burpees while others around you barely struggle with the challenges, but it’s a lot worse to be injured. The great part is that within those painful steep 4 miles, there’s over 20 obstacles, and something for everyone to accomplish and find their inner Spartan Strong.
The volunteers, the staff and my fellow Spartans put on an amazing event. If I ever needed help climbing over a wall or rock climbing, there was either a fellow runner or a volunteer there to help me and of course Tony. This aspect of teamwork was not something I thought I would find at a big scale event like the Spartan Race. Human nature really did impress me that day as I wouldn’t have been able to reach my potential without some help.
A few side notes, parking ($10) and bag check ($5) is not included with your race registration. However, with race registration you get these awesome photos and a beer ticket. Long Trail ale was yummy.
Thank you Reebok, Spartan Race & Fitfluential for this opportunity. Tony and I had a blast!
Have you ever done the Spartan Race?
What do you think is the toughest obstacle?