Obstacle Racing Addiction

OBSTAHOLICS - Obstacle Racing Addiction

Spartan Sprint Is Too Easy

Not really, but I want you to read and knew a strong title would get me eyeballs.


Spartan Sprint is a Different Kind of Hard

This is more accurate.

After selecting the grueling 13-mile Spartan Beast as my first Spartan race, I was concerned that perhaps the Gulf Coast Spartan Sprint race, with a distance that would fall somewhere between 3 and 5 miles, wouldn’t be all that challenging.

Well, as usual, I was a big dummy and totally wrong.

Lining Up in the Elite Heat

I run the elite heats, not because I think I’m all that, but because I:

  • like running as early as possible
  • want to accrue Spartan points (although I’ve since learned they mean nothing)
  • don’t want to get stuck behind waves of “team building” athletes
  • am eager to push myself to complete courses in the least amount of time
  • enjoy supporting all the other waves after I’m thoroughly spent

As I jumped around both eager and nervous to get this gnarly race started, the dude on the loud speaker broke it down:

  • you thought the race was 5K, but the race is now 4.2 miles (no problem)
  • you thought we’d have 25 obstacles, there are 31 (woo hoo!)
  • there is 1 mile of barbed wire (there wasn’t)
  • there is a memorization challenge (there kinda was)
  • you will do 30 burpees before you finish no matter what (that sucked)
  • you thought fire was lame, so we stepped it up a notch!

Ok, so no, they didn’t really say the thing about the fire, but if you remember my race report from the Spartan Beast, I was pretty vocal about how lame I think fire jumping is in obstacle racing. It might make a good photo opportunity, but there is zero challenge in it, and in my opinion, it adds a level of hokey to an otherwise very challenging field of obstacles.

So, being the self-centered, arrogant man that I am, I was convinced that the course designers read my report and immediately began developing ways to make fire “not so lame.” – and they did – as instead of finishing the race with some little silly hop over knee-high flames, the course designers put a fire obstacle right at the start, 30 yards from the starting line, and dug a waist-to-chest deep water hole on the other side!

fire is not so lame now

Aroo! This was killer.

Just looking at it made you cringe because you knew that it was going to either create a total cluster of fools freezing up, tentatively jumping in and getting crushed by the onslaught behind them – or – it was going to create a mad dash of dudes (and maybe dudettes) trying to jump the entire thing, fire brush stack AND water hole, all in one mad leap of faith.

And that’s exactly what happened.

I stepped the fire, jumped into the water, and raised both my elbows behind me. If someone was going to decide to jump on me, they were going to take one or two mean elbows in the gut, and we’d both hurt.

I got lucky.

One dude did not – Broken ankle.

A More Organic Spartan Sprint

Being a Founder’s Race, this Spartan Sprint promised to be a little different, with a field of more ‘natural’ obstacles.  What this ended up equating to was a lot of really technical trail with hanging vines and long stretches of thorny terrain. Of course, mudding was a huge part of this organic attention along with various rope climbs, stream crossings, dark-n-creepy tunnel traverses, sand crawls, deep holes, huge hay bales, stream-running, and a bucket fill-n-carry that was really %^%$! hard.

Of course, it wouldn’t be Spartan without the 20 ft. vertical rope climbs, cargo nets, log crossings, and a plethora of over-n-under walls to negotiate.

I didn’t fail any obstacles except the stupid spear throw.

30 burpees.

Best Spot? The Spectator Area

But by far, the coolest experience came about 3.5 miles into the race, when we popped out of the woods, into a field of back-to-back obstacles that were non-stop. I’ll see if I can remember it:

  • Climb the 20 ft. rope, ring the bell, descend
  • Stumble around in a knee-deep muddy creek to the barbed wire
  • Crawl under the barbed wire for awhile to the hay bales
  • Jump into a mud pit (or over it), climb over a 5ft round bale of hay (repeat 5 times)
  • More barbed wire …for a long time
  • More hay, not so long…
  • Get to spear throw. One throw and if it doesn’t stick in the hay bale, 30 burpees
  • Ascend a muddy trench, and enter a bunker tunnel with huge rocks and dirt
  • crawl through the bunker tunnel for a good 50 yards
  • descend a bunch of mud pits dug into a downhill
  • more barbed wire
  • swim through a flowing creek of molten mud to the next barbed wire field
  • crawl through yet more barbed wire
  • climb back uphill through mud pits slippin’ and slidin’ everywhere
  • get 25 feet from the finish, then told that to finish you had to complete 30 burpees
  • hated the guy that said it, grumbled a lot, and burpeed away while they counted off

Then, and only then, can you cross the finish line and collect yo’ medal.

Bastards! …but I love ‘em.

1:03 and made the top 3% of finishers, and did 60 burpees.

(although for some reasons results show me as 1:05 and top 1%, but the math doesn’t work)

Addiction In Full Effect

That makes three obstacle races since my first on October 17, and my fourth will be on December 1, at the Jungle Cup in Atlanta. I’m so addicted because I’ve found a sport that truly utilizes my strengths, and encourages me to continue my favorite style of training – i.e. functional fitness.

I am meeting so many cool people and making all kinds of new friends – from the crazy MudRunFun clan from Florida, to the entire Georgia Obstacle Runners group, to my new Atlanta buds Matt B. Davis and Alex Martin, who entertained me plenty on the ride to Mississippi. TPFB!!!

I spent awesome time with the speedo-n-animal-hat-wearin racing freak, “Deater”, who spent hours with me volunteering to pull fools out from the dirt pit on obstacle 2. Just awesome camaraderie and good times.

Did You Quit Ultrarunning?

A lot of people ask me if I’m over ultrarunning. No, not even close.

After Thanksgiving, Fuego Y Agua 100K training kicks in full effect, and part of that training will be the Mountain Mist 50K in January. Not that I was ever a star at ultrarunning, or anything really, but I’ve never been a one-trick pony, and I don’t intend to ever be.

Instead, I intend to do and try and be anything and everything I possibly can. Life is too short not to try everything available to us. I want to throw out all preconceived notions and ideas and simply CHARGE IT! …charge it all!

Arthur taught me that; and some of you know what that means.