Rss

  • youtube
  • google

Archives for : Spartan

Spartan Race – Arizona

Spartan ChickThe Arizona Spartan Race has come and gone. The bumps, bruises and scrapes have faded away, but the memory is still fresh. The best part of this Spartan Race was running with my youngest sister. Turns out, she was born to be an obstacle racer! She may disagree, but Janell rocked that course like she’d been doing OCRs for years. It was her first one. The only thing I enjoy more than mud runs, is running with the “first timers.” Maybe it’s because of the nervous energy brought on by the unknown. Whatever it is, it makes it a bit more exciting.

A few weeks before the race, the officials moved the course to McDowell Mountain Park, about 30 minutes outside of town. I was kinda glad for the switch, as I had run the event last year and a change of scenery was nice. The 2012 Spartan course was pretty flat terrain, and I hoped the venue change would bring, well… a mountain.

We parked in the designated area and boarded the buses for our 20 min ride to battle grounds. At first I didn’t like being shuttled in away from my car and found it a bit inconvenient, but as we went along, it was cool to hear all the nervous chatter. Some of the people talking about obstacles they feared, while others talked about other OCRs they had completed. As we approached, we caught a glimpse of the course and some of the competitors who had already started their heat. For some, the reality of what they were in for seemed to set in as the nervous chatter increased. I loved it.

Spartan-MikeAs usual, the registration process was quick and easy, as we had already signed our waivers and just needed our race packets. I always enjoy walking through the crowds and seeing the diversity of people. This year didn’t disappoint. Many competitors had already completed the course and looked as though they had come straight from a battlefield–which they had.

Once we met up with the rest of our crew, we headed to the starting gate. We briefly talked about a game plan and if we should stick together as a team or was it every man for himself. I knew the competition was “on” when Robert said he was running for time. We’ll save the team work for the next event, as this time it was every man (and girl) for themselves!

Not sure why it’s so cool to run through smoke, but it is, and that’s how we started out.  Keeping tabs on Janell, we headed out with the pack.  I noticed Robert jockey for position early and made a mental note to keep an eye out for him. Didn’t want him to get too far out where I couldn’t reel him in.  The trail quickly narrowed to a single lane, which was very frustrating.  At times we would get stuck behind slower traffic and either walk or bolt out into the dessert to pass, jumping cactus and sage brush. This happened a few times on the course but was worst at the beginning.

Spartan Race obstacle Over UnderWe went for a good half-mile before the first obstacle. Our group was…no longer a group, as we had spread out, each running at a different pace.  Janell, Randy, and I stuck together for the first several obstacles, and I kept my eye out for Robert who was out in front with Aaron.  Wasn’t sure how far.

Spartan Race Monkey BarsWe all breezed through the monkey bars with no issue. I think the last time I did monkey bars was at last year’s Spartan Race. This was the first penalty obstacle, meaning that if you fell (couldn’t do it) you had to complete 30 burpees before continuing on the course.

Spartan Race WallJanell went over the walls like it was a prison break, wasting no time getting over. Some of the obstacles had a “girl” option which Janell did, as she didn’t want us guys to feel bad. Positive she could have done either with no issues.

Spartan Race Atlas CarryThe Atlas Carry was next and consisted of picking up a sizable chunk of concrete, carrying it  approximately 10 yards, completing 10 burpees and then bringing the concrete back.

Spartan Race log hop

After a bit more running we came to the log hop. I remember telling Janell to take a second to to catch our breath and to make it count. One bad step and you would be penalized with 30 burpees. I found it easier to keep my balance if I had my feet on two stumps instead of matching feet on a single. We made it with out incident and headed out.

 



I usually don’t have many pictures of myself as I’m always wearing the camera. This time I got a good one with Janell sprinting up the trail behind.
I got my wish, kinda. It wasn’t really a mountain but more of a hill, which got fairly steep, and the loose gravel made it a bit sketchy. It wasn’t too bad, except it narrowed down to a single track, which made it difficult to pass slower Spartans. I still hadn’t seen Robert at this point, and it was starting to worry me. He must have been kicking some butt, because I felt we were moving at a good clip and had no penalties so far.
After climbing to the top of the hill, twice, we came to the sand bag carry. Nothing fancy, just carry it. Good chance to catch your breath, as it was too narrow to pass anyone. I think this is where I first saw Robert… on the climbing wall, a whole obstacle ahead of me. Wow! He was cruising.
Spartan Wall
After a quick loop we were back to the climbing wall ourselves. Like the rest of the obstacles, Janell dominated the traverse with no issue, ringing the bell at the end. Several people were doing burpees, but we headed out with little hesitation.
Spartan Rope climb
Finally!  We caught Robert at the the rope climb.  I think he stepped off the climbing wall, and got called to burpee duty.  Rotten luck!  And to make it worse, the guy behind him at the rope climb didn’t hold the rope for him.  This makes it really difficult, as the rope swings wildly, and you can’t get your feet on it.  He was halfway through his burpees when we finished and were heading out.  Very impressed with Janell’s climbing skills, and I think she was relieved once was passed that obstacle.
Spartan Spear ThrowI was determined to stick this stupid hay bale!  I picked a nice strait “spear” and got some quick tips from Janell, who actually threw the javelin in college.  I gave it a good heave and hit it dead center…only to watch it fall out.  UGH!!!  I also realized that javelin throwers go for distance, not accuracy, as Janell sent her spear clean over the top!  Robert arrived and gave his best shot, and in the end, we all did our burpees together. They about killed me, and Robert was on his third set.  Not sure how he was able to do it, but he did!  Very impressed.
Spartan Barbed Wire
This was the home stretch, with a little over a half mile to go. We climbed over a big cargo net and went under a couple of fences before we came to the final few obstacles.  First up was the the low crawl under the barbed wire.  This isn’t so much a crawl as it is a “roll”. Everyone has figured out that it is easier, faster and less painful if you just roll.  The problem is that it’s a LONG ways and you get pretty dizzy.
Spartan Slippery_WallWe went directly from the low roll to the Slippery Wall. Lot of fun watching people trying to get up this thing. The end is in sight, and we waste no time getting up and over this thing.  Almost There!
Spartan Fire JumpThe fire jump isn’t so much of an obstacle as it is just fun to jump over fire.  I mean who doesn’t wanna do that?  Jeff and Mike from our crew come jumping through fire and flames!
Spartan GladiatorsThe last obstacle is to make it through the gauntlet of gladiators to the finish line. Don’t try to skirt around these guys, they will take you out. Best to take it like a man and blast through the middle. Robert is demonstrating perfect form as he completes the course in true Spartan fashion! ( I never would have caught him if it weren’t for his extra burpees.  He was pure grit all the way to the end.)
Spartan Gladiator
Spartan Gladiator
Spartan Race CrewWe all finished in the upright position, with a smile on our face, and I think most of us are looking forward to the next one.  This is always our goal in pretty much everything we do.  Good times with good friends. Can’t ask for much more than that.
-TTF
*************

Race Feedback:

Things that  SUCKED!
  • The showers.  I wouldn’t even call them that.  They had little pressure and NO water would come out if you raised the hose a foot off the ground.  Raise the main pipe to 5 or 6 feet.  Should be an easy fix.
  • Shuttle ride back to the car.  Had to wait in line for 45 minutes (some reported an hour) waiting for a bus back to the car.  Add more transportation or better scheduling.  We don’t mind the shuttles and understand the parking limitation at the site.  Just don’t hold us hostage.  Heard a lot of complaints about this.
  • Narrow, single track race route.  Nearly impossible to pass slower racers during the first part of the race without tearing up the desert, running off trail, etc.  This is a timed event and other competitors shouldn’t be your main obstacle.
Things that ROCKED!
  • The overall atmosphere was great.
  • Registration was super quick and easy.
  • The obstacles never disappoint.
  • Venue and varied terrain.  Great Arizona desert scenery.
  • It was fairly cold (for Arizona) and the fire pits were awesome!
  • I didn’t use the changing area but all the girls raved about it.  I was told they were heated.
  • Heard from a few spectators that it was nice to be able to see more of the event (even though it was a bit of a walk).
  • Couple days after the event I received a email with a link to photos and videos.

Conclusion:  With a few inconveniences,  Spartan Race Arizona was awesome!  It’s a great event that I look forward to every year.

Spartan Race coupon code:

What are you waiting for?  Sign up!

Get $10 off a Reebok Spartan Race, Use Code: SPEAR10

Spartan Race -Arizona 2012

 

I’ve learned to be grateful for small successes.  Like this morning… I made it down the stairs.  It was my only goal today.  After the day I had yesterday, that was kind of a big deal.

Yesterday started early–like 4am early.  Not because I had to be anywhere, but you couldn’t convince my mind of that.  I started working out all the possible race scenarios in my head, as I made myself lay in bed until I couldn’t stand it any longer.  I made the mistake of waiting too long to sign up for the event, and due to the popularity of this event, we ended up with a 1pm start time.  I had way too much time to over-think this thing, so I got up and started eating and making myself pee every 5 minutes hydrating. 

A few hours (and several bathroom trips) into the morning, I got a call from my neighbor.  He had signed up to be a volunteer for the event, so he and his wife pre-ran the course to ensure all signs were in place and the everything was ready for the big day.  I think when he said, “It looks pretty intense, a step up from Tough Mudder!” it was his nice way of saying, “Dude, put your big boy pants on.  It’s gonna be rough!”

So on that bright note, I headed out.  After parking and going through the quick registration process, I met up with my buddies, Robert and Dave.  We pinned on our bib numbers, hydrated some more, stretched and all the other pre-race rituals you do while watching everyone else and scoping out the competition. 

 

 

The event had been in full swing since 7am, when the elite competitors started in 30 minute waves.  There was quite a mix of people ranging from big, ripped meat heads to lean endurance types to your average Joe, and even a few people who looked like they had never done any physical activity in their lives.  Some had finished, showered, and were in their post-race clothes.  Some, like us, were warming up for the madness, while others looked as though they just went through a mud tornado.

 

 

We edged closer to the starting line as our time drew near, so we could get a better idea of what we were in for.  As far as we could tell, the only rule for the race was that if you couldn’t complete an obstacle, you’d have to do 30 burpees.  “Right.  Got it.  Complete all the obstacles,” I told myself over and over.  I figured I could handle one set of those gut-wrenching muscle busters, but not much more than that.  I only had a few more minutes to psyche myself up, and before I knew it, we were off.

 

 

As is the case with most races, we all started out in a big frenzied mob, full of energy and determination.  A few competitors made one last glance at the finishline, which could be seen across the way.  How long would it be until we reached it? Two hours? Three?

 

 

It was nice to know that Dave was checking up on Robert and I the competition.

 

 

We conquered a couple of dirt hills, a few low walls and some mud holes.  At that point, there was nothing really suprising.  This is the ever-so-helpful Dave.  I return the favor later by leaving him behind during his quest to become the Burpee King.

 

 

As we trotted along I tried to imagine some of the obstacles we might encounter.  Up ahead, I saw a large pile of white sandbags that looked to be about 35-40 lbs each.  “Not a big deal,” I thought to myself as I hefted one over my shoulder.  That is, until I hear the Spartan dude say, “Girls take one, Guys take two.” Yikes! TWO!  That changed everything.  Just the awkardness of two sandbags about killed me.  I would guess that we carried them about a 1/3 of a mile.  On that little trip, we went over some low walls and…  you guessed it, a 25 yard low crawl… WITH the sandbags.  I’m not a very big guy. No, really.  In fact, I would say I was carrying more than half my weight in sand.  Fun stuff.

 

Just your standard monkey bars, nothing too fancy.  Notice the guys to the right.  They  aren’t smelling the dirt… 30 burpees!

 

 

No obstacle course would be complete with out a set of tires.  These even go up hill!

 

 

After you ran through a gauntlet of tires, you got to flip one—four times. 

 

Climb sideways, not up… and don’t fall off or you’ll be doing burpees.  Right, Dave?

 

 

Dave beginning his quest to become the Burpee King!

 

This obstacle kept me up at night, as I hadn’t climbed a rope in over 20 years.  Suprisingly, going up was the easy part.  Coming down got a little dicey.   I started to slide and learned that rope burn is not a pleasant feeling.  I was really glad to feel my feet hit the ground.

 

 

This was the Spear Throw.  Just by looking at the sheer number of people in the burpee penalty box, I knew the odds of scoring a direct hit on the evil bail of straw were going to be slim to none. 

 

 

None it was.  30 burpees.

 

I got to fulfill my dream of being a plow horse.  We dragged these little beauties for quite a ways before we were off and running again.

 

I also spent much more time in the water than I expected, believe it or not.  This particular obstacle was covered with some netting.  If you were afraid of tight spaces, this might freak you out.  For the rest of us, it was cool and relaxing little break.

 

 

Some scary pirate hoodlam.

 

Everyone seemed to have their own technique for this barbed wire low-crawl.  By the end, I’m pretty sure we were all rolling. 

 

Some of the obstacles were fairly easy.  It was the consequences for not completing them that sucked.  I took my time and made it count.  Notice the enlisted burpee volunteer.  Dave would soon join him.

 

Although it was slow going, I thought the water was refreshing.  It cooled me down and charged me up for each new section.

 

When we got to this obstacle, I heard that these buckets of concrete weighed 80 pounds.  The only thing that went through my head is, “Not doing burpees!”  I grabbed hold of the rope and gave it a tug.  I got it a few feet off the ground and got into a rhythm.  Before I knew it, I had a big bucket of concrete 20 feet in the air.  The trick was getting it down slowly with out getting rope burn.  I managed.  (Barely.)

 

After the buckets, it was about a mile to the finish.  There were only a few obstacles left.  Robert jumped the line of fire and headed up the muddy embankment.

 

The slippery wall gave us no trouble.  We were up and over and on to the next obstacle.

 

I think this was some sort of rowing.  Whatever it was, the digital meter on the front said 200 meters and counted backwards as you pulled.  I pulled until I thought my arms would surely fall off.  Man, was I glad to see the “Done” message on the display.

 

Climbing this two-story cargo net gave you a great view of the finishline.  From here, there was only 25 yards and one obstacle to go!

 

Gladiators!  They whacked you pretty good with those sticks, but Robert blasted right through with no issue.  Dave on the other hand tumbled and took one or two down with him.  It was a very spectacular finish!

 

Victory!!!!

 

I was pretty impressed with our results.  The three of us finished just over two hours.  Great goal for next year.

 

 

I’ve got to give the old man his street-cred.  He is our elder and leads by example.  Nice work, Robert!

 

 

Dave wanted to swing by the First-Aid station to check out the nurses.  Where are they going to stick that thing!

 The Spartan tag line is: “You’ll Know at the Finishline”

I’m not really sure what that means.  Perhaps I’ll know more about what I can do or how hard I can push myself.  I know that Dave is indeed the Burpee King, with 120 to his credit on this race.  I also know that I enjoy doing crazy stuff with friends. 

After an 8 mile obstacle course like that, I’m going to be very sore for the next few days… that I know for sure.

 

Obstacle Racing, Spartan Race, Mud Run