Last weekend was the Spartan Race in Temecula. My awesome client Bernadette convinced me to join her for the Sprint back in March. Being a Registered Nurse in the Trauma department means crazy hours usually getting home at 2 or 3 am. This meant training in the last 6 months had been limited. We made it though! Bernskie’s legs unfortunately cramped several times throughout the race so we had to rest alot. Thankfully other racers were nice enough to give us salt packets and tablets which I completely forgot to bring with us. It was bad though, towards the end near the finish, she cramped almost 15 minutes straight, and at that point wasn’t sure if she would finish. But we waited it out and carried on. She even cramped on many of the climbing obstacles at the very top which was super scary, but I went ahead to make sure she could get down safely and shared burpees to reduce her burden. Overall, we took 5 hours from the setbacks, but safe to say finishing was a feeling like no other. The slogan is: “You’ll know at the finish line” and we truly did. This post is an overview of the obstacles encountered, along with lessons learned with tips for anyone who is considering doing one.
9/27/15 order of events:
5:30am: Wake up and eat omelets!
5:50am: Start heading to the event ~ 15 miles
7:00am: Parked and registered. The race had 2 halves: 8am-11am and 12pm-3pm. We signed up for the first half. Participants are released in 15 minute waves of ~200. so 8:15, 8:30, etc. We ended up getting the 10:45 Leg… So 3 hours were spent spectating, walking around, stretching, and going numb.
These are the obstacles encountered during the 5 mile hike/run, I remembered them all except for the exact order. The uphills and downhills were very steep. I slid many times but never fell :D. Sand was blowing the entire day, my nose was okay, but poor Bernskie’s wasn’t!
Green = completed Yellow = completed with assistance Red = missed
- Start Wall Climb: Easy as jumping a fence
- Mud Pool: Basically forcing you to get wet and heavy early on
- Post Climb: A horizontal board to climb over same as the wall height
- Sandbag Sled with Rope: Men get 2 sandbags, women 1. Got stuck halfway and had a racer tip it over. After pulling it to you, you drag it back with your hands.
- Wall Climb: Simple again
- Sand Bell Hike: Men 40 Lbs, Women 30 Lbs, a very steep climb. IMO the hardest obstacle of the day. Feels really amazing when you get to the top. This is one you really can’t stop once you begin or you risk tumbling down and knocking everyone else over.
- Rope Hike: Hold the rope if necessary, not required.
- Three Trenches and Underwater Post: Watching videos on youtube this one looked easy. However, by the time we got to them, they were pitch black and wet, about 8 feet high and steep from the people climbing over it all morning. There was no way to go up on your own. People pushed my butt up and I grabbed onto someone above to pull myself up. This one emphasizes teamwork and camaraderie. After getting up, we helped 3-4 more people before moving on. After 3 of these we had to dunk our heads under water. I’m bad with water so it took me a bit to mentally prepare. Going under then up left us completely submerged and with stinky sweaty mud in our eyes, nose, ears, and mouths for the rest of the race.
- Barbed Wire Crawl: Easy, I did the inchworm while everyone rolled, here’s where it paid off being fully sleeved.
- Board with beam Climb: This was the very top of the race, seen from below. Easy Peasy. Climb up 7 foot board then scale more boards to the top and back down.
- Spear Toss: It’s all about aim for this one, I thought the spear just had to make contact, but it was only a success if it stuck into the hay. Didn’t matter for me since I aimed too low and missed completely lol
- Slanted Wall Climb: A 6 foot wall inverted towards you, a standard climb for some, while others need boosting.
- Bucket Brigade Climb: Similar to the Sand Bell, but heavier and less steep, had to rest, but there was no danger.
- Hoist: I thought I was ready for this one, but the rope was thinner than the one I practiced with. Had assistance from a stranger, thanks man!
- Net Climb: Kids could do this one, something you’d find at a sandlot
- Sideways wall climb: Think rock climbing laterally with rectangular pegs. The trick is to get both hands on each peg before moving on to be completely safe. I took risks of course and it paid off.
- Rings Ropes Monkey Bar: This is an advanced monkey bar that I saw in the morning and was looking forward to trying. The order is: Ring, Rope, Rope, Bar, Ring, Rope, Rope, Bell. I got to the 2nd last rope and fell!
- Water March: Simple, just lots of random dips to watch out for
- Rope ramp climb: Any climb with a rope is cake!
- Vertical Rope Climb: First timer. Got 3/4 of the way up, couldn’t anchor my legs well enough. Strength waned, I felt like if I tried to reach again I would fall, and I did lol.
- Fire Jump: A simple jump, just be aware of the heat, it’s hotter than it looks and could throw you off.
So all in all I only missed 3 obstacles. Felt great!
Would I do it again? Probably not. It would take a hefty convincing. The idea of driving hours away for a one day event and then back (flying for some people) to participate in a costly event of arbitrary/trendy fitness standards does not really appeal to me. I went for my client to thank her for supporting me for so long, and she probably won’t be competing again anytime soon either lol. Definitely a worthwhile experience, but as someone who balances fitness year round, I don’t need an event to tell me I’m fit. Still, props to my other friends and everyone else who does the supers and beasts, because the sprint was quite enough for me. I would like to say it doesn’t hurt to try, but actually it might. I witnessed alot of injuries and sprains throughout the race, some people really shouldn’t be participating yet and can get caught up with the bravado of being tough and forcing their way through. I would say though, the more team members you have and the better prepared, the less likely you’ll suffer problems. Still, you’ll likely feel like you can achieve anything once u cross the finish line, and that’s a great feeling to have every now and then.
With that in mind, here are some lessons/tips learned for any future first time racers:
- Bring a bag!: Salt and water, maybe some energy bars. A stranger also recommended mustard over salt, but I don’t know if I’ll ever get to try it out. Do your research! If you don’t want to use the lockers, make sure to bring some ziplock bags to keep your phone/keys/wallets safe and dry. You will be submerged several times, but there are also areas to leave your bag for some obstacles and you can come back for them. Kudos to the people that bring nothing, but we’re first timers here!
- Dry fit everything! top, bottom, underwear, and socks. I went with long sleeves and full pants and it paid off. Bernskie went with a compression shirt and 3/4 compression pants. Everything that was exposed (forearms, elbows, knees, shins) were scraped and bloody for her afterwards.
Don’t worry about them being expensive either, I ebayed my top and bottom for 8 bucks each. My dry fit socks ripped at the end from all the sand inside so keep in mind that may happen to you.
- Gloves: Mad Grips for men and Carhartt for women is what we went with. Paid off for anything involving dirt and ropes. One word of warning. I almost flipped my nail holding the sandbell with the glove, so you may want to take the gloves off for that, and other applicable obstacles that require more grip. The purpose of the gloves is to keep your hands from bleeding, not improving grip.
- Shoes: expect to throw them away unless you really enjoy cleaning every nook and cranny of it. Make sure you spend at least a month or two breaking them in if they’re new.
- For any downhill sections, stay low like you are surfing, if you have your back hand on the ground and your front hand ready, you will never fall. I saw alot of people standing super tall and being scared to descend. Stay close to the ground and you’ll be alright. For uphill of course, lean forward and be ready with your hands because you may need them to climb/catch your fall.
- Bring a team or partner. Bernskie was glad I was around to help her out and boost her for many of the climbs she couldn’t make. Although I could probably do the course alone easily, you definitely want at least 1 other person to celebrate with after so I’m glad she was there! Plus you get to split the burpees!
- Don’t rush. Even the elites will need to rest every now and then. This reduces the risk of cramping as well. Unless you are a race veteran and competing for first, enjoy the experience
- Gauze would be wise to bring. If you end up getting scraped, there are medics around, but they didn’t seem to have bandaids or any of the sort. They only drive you back if you can’t continue. Bandaids would fall off anyway so bring something to wrap your cuts. Worst case scenario is use the headbead provided or maybe even your socks.
- Climbing and scaling is what most of the obstacles entail. If you can do a solid 10 pullups you should be able to complete 90% of the obstacles
And that’s all I can remember for now. A very memorable weekend. Congrats again Bernskie!