Spartan Sprint New England, 2012
Hi guys! I hope everyone had a great weekend! Mine was absolutely AWESOME even though I spent most of it covered in mud! 🙂 This weekend, on Saturday, I participated in the Spartan Sprint New England 2012 in Amesbury MA, and it was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life.
It was a 3.5 mile course through hills, bogs, muddy trenches and woods, with 15+ obstacles scattered throughout the terrain. I have to admit that I went into the race with a less than enthusiastic attitude – thinking “What on earth am I doing?” right until we set off on the course (and even a couple of times during it). I’d signed up for the race with a friend back in March, but unfortunately she couldn’t do it and so I was on my own. That alone was daunting enough – to be doing an obstacle race through muddy trenches, hills and woods without a group. I almost decided to skip it – and was incredibly nervous going into it – mainly because I’m so injury prone that I didn’t want to end up hurting myself in any way (given that I already have a sore ankle). But I’m also a stubborn mule and didn’t want to give up, so with KT tape on my ankle – I bit the bullet and decided to go for it. I’d seen my friends do a Tough Mudder in Pennsylvania so I had some inkling of what to expect (though Tough Mudder is a lot longer, between 10-12 miles).
While stretching at the start and still dreading the race, the announcer mentioned that there were 15+ obstacles (knew that), we only got 1 shot at each obstacle (okay….) and that there was a 30 burpee penalty for EACH obstacle that we couldn’t do (WHAT??????…Did NOT know that going into this or when I signed up!…And we only got 1 shot at it???!). After hearing that, I gave up stretching and just mentally prepared myself for doing a billion burpees on the course.
Here’s what the start looked like…a lovely uphill run right at the beginning. In talking to the volunteer coordinator, I found out that they design the course to spread out the competitors from the very start, so that the obstacles don’t get crowded. This uphill run at the beginning was designed to stretch out the group, with the most competitive and athletic participants reaching the top first, and the rest of us trailing behind. Needless to say, I was part of the “rest of us” group.
After the hill, we ran through some wooded areas to our first set of obstacles, a series of wooden walls to climb over. I got over the first one but the others were too high (and my upper body strength needs a lot of work). Fortunately, several nice guys and a girl gave me a leg up over the rest (Thanks guys!) and saved me from 30 burpees. The next obstacle was ridiculous. We had to leap across several tree stumps but they were so spread out that unless you had the legs of a giraffe, there was no way you could even get to the second stump. I think everyone did burpees here. And these weren’t burpees on smooth grass…no, they were burpees on twigs, branches, rocks etc so you can imagine how comfortable that felt 😉
I can’t remember the exact sequence of obstacles after that, but I do know that we waded through muddy puddles that were chest-deep, bogs where you could potentially lose your shoes and more wooded uphill climbs. At some point, we had monkey bars to work our way through. Yeah, that was another 30 burpees for me … couldn’t make any of them…fail 😦 Then, there was a cinder block lift where we had to use our own strength to raise a cinder block that was tied to a rope, up a tree. That involved a lot of hauling and I think I used my entire body weight to get it up and not let it crash down (that would have incurred a burpee penalty). All the time, I just kept thinking how much I did NOT want to do any more burpees and that’s probably what got me through it. After more ditches, swamps and hills, we had more walls to climb. These were higher and I got a leg up from some kind folks. Then there was a spear throw – failed at this and missed the target. Might have got it eventually but we only got 1 shot 😦 …30 more burpees. After that, a rope climb, and dragging a 40-60lb cinder block on a chain through mud. Did both those. Then (and I forget the exact order), I think we climbed over a cargo net and down the hill to the start for water (we were dying of dehydration at this point). After climbing across another wall, we were given sandbags to carry back up the hill that we ran at the start.
Then it was back through the woods to more obstacles, including the barbed wire mud pits…you got through one long stretch and over a barricade only to find another longer muddy field of barbed wire – where the wires were even lower. Got through those literally drenched in mud – I even had to wipe my face on a volunteer’s t-shirt for fear of getting mud in my mouth! After that, we jumped over some burning branches and ran downhill over the last obstacle, got clobbered by the gladiators at the end and were done! I’m sure I missed writing about some obstacles but I just can’t remember the exact order now. Anyway – it was the muddiest, and most exhilarating thing I’ve ever done on my own and I totally loved it 🙂 The girl who handed me my finisher’s medal said that I may have been the muddiest person she’d seen go by (I’m not kidding when I say I rolled through the muddy barbed wire pits…there was mud everywhere – and I mean everywhere…).
One of the easier obstacles on the course:
I finished in an official time of 1 hour and 43 minutes – not great but not too bad considering I did it on my own and came out of it injury free (save for a few scrapes on my shins). I left the race with a medal, muddy clothes, fabulous memories and a huge boost of self-confidence – and it was totally worth it 🙂 I went into it on my own, unsure of how I’d do, and really doubting my own strength and abilities, and came out of it a muddy mess but with a huge smile on my face and a renewed self-confidence. Worth every penny, every scrape and bruise, and every muddy mile!
I was dog-tired at the end of the day, but the next day (yesterday) I wasn’t as sore as I thought I would be, and I had a great time volunteering at the event. For doing that I’m also getting a free race entry to another Spartan – so let me know if anyone is up for doing one. I would totally do that all over again!