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My Spartan Race Review!

Fire Jump!
Fire Jump!

I Completed My Spartan Sprint Race!

It's Monday and I'm a day removed from finishing my Spartan Sprint Race when I'm writing this. I got a medal in my hand and some aches and pains to prove I did it. The race might have been yesterday but I've been working towards it for months. I think I spent most of my time thinking about my conditioning and obstacles but there was one more variable I didn't take into account that was the most challenging by far.


Just To Get here

For less than 1 1/2 hours of actual race time, I spent 109 days training and eating for this day. In those 109 days, I spent many days in my Shed which I converted into my workout space. I also got my cardio/running up to where I could run 3.5 miles and still feel good. Nutrition was also a big part of the equation because I was able to lose 17 pounds to get me lighter for the run and all the obstacles.

Atlas Carry
Atlas Carry

The Conditions

When you're training for one of these obstacle course runs you're thinking how can I complete this obstacle better or run quicker? You never think about how the weather can be your biggest hurdle to jump. The race took place in Grand Rapids, MI which is a little over 2 hours away from where I live. My family and I decided to make a weekend of it and stay in a hotel starting Friday night. My race was on Sunday so on Saturday we went to the museum, ate lunch, and then some pool time at the hotel. While we were doing those activities it was raining constantly the entire day. It was also cold with the low hovering around 39 degrees. Couple that with the fact that Saturday had a full day of participants and the course was one big mud pie or what I imagine when someone says it's as slippery as pig shit!


The Race

So with the ground being mud soup and the air temperature at 39 degrees, I made my way to the starting gate. I think we were all timid so it was a good icebreaker to make us crawl on our bellies under barbed wire and over a wall to get to the actual starting line. Before we even got the green light to race my belly and legs were covered in mud and my socks were soaked.


The race starts and I can't remember at this point if someone yelled "go" or a horn but the herd of runners was moving so I started to move too. I don't know the exact distance but it seemed like we ran for a bit before we hit the first obstacle. Maybe that's designed to give us a good warm-up. The very first obstacle I did hit was a simple wall. I don't think I was all the way warmed up because it was a struggle. I'm about 6 foot three and it came up to my chest. It took me three tries to get up but I finally did. There were 2-3 more walls sprinkled in and I hit those with minimal effort.


There were a few obstacles I outright failed at that day. The first was the monkey bars. I swang and was able to grab a couple of rungs but I eventually fell off. I think it was a combination of my shoulder being sore and still being a little too heavy but I just couldn't make it. No shame though I just had to take a little penalty lap which is basically a little trail that takes a few minutes extra you have to run before you can continue one. My second failure was the rope climb. Like the monkey bars my weight was working against me so I took another penalty lap. And lastly was the multi-rig which is basically the same thing as the monkey bars only there are rings and poles to grab.


Oh and let's revisit the mud. The mud became one of the hardest obstacles of the day. Parts of the course became unintentional obstacles because of the slope and the mud. Slipping and falling was everywhere so you jogged/ran at about half speed and other times you just had to walk. I tweaked my calf muscle on the bucket carry because I slipped and I tensed up and it felt like it pulled a little bit. That was about 3/4 of the way through the race. After that, I really had to slow down my running because it hurt with every step.


After all the walls, cargo nets, and monkey bars it was time for the the dunk wall. You get in water that is slightly above freezing and then go under to get past an obstacle. I stood up after that and think I grunted and climbed my way out. It's a shock to your system for sure! After that, I used a rope to climb over the slip wall. Then I see the finish line in sight but also see logs on fire I have to jump over. On most days it is hardly a jump but after 3 miles of obstacles, it requires your complete attention to make it over! Then you hit that finish line and and they are showering you with medals, bananas, and sports drinks.


I finished in 1 hour 24 mins which was fine by me. Because of the mud, I had to slow it down to avoid falling and injuring myself. Also once tweaked my calf muscle my jog slowed down to a fast walk more or less. From a cardio standpoint, I had more to give. From a strength standpoint I was spent.

Dunk Wall
Dunk Wall

My Son's Race

I was beat up and cold but my 6-year-old son signed up for a half-mile kids race so I got changed and we waited for his start. Honestly, I think I enjoyed this just as much as my race. They do the same intro to the race making him get low on the ground (minus the barbed wire!) to get to the starting line. He was all smiles the entire race. I think his favorite obstacle was the cargo net he had to climb up and over but I think I enjoyed watching him jump into the cold water that was up his waist. He didn't hesitate and went for it where some of the other kids paused and weighed their options before going in. He crossed that finish line and got a medal, a "prime" drink, and a banana. He said it was the best day of his life.

Me and My Son At the Finish
Me and My Son At the Finish

The Aftermath

After my son finished up with his race we both went to my truck and got changed and as cleaned up as we could for the 2 hour ride home. About 30 minutes into our ride we limped into a pizza place and had a big lunch. When we did get home we didn't do much else other than throw our bags in the house and shower. I took ibuprofen, put ice on my calf, and then used the massage gun later. I woke up the next morning to a little less muscle soreness throughout. No running or weight lifting for me today. At the very most a nice recovery ride on the Peloton to get the blood flowing.


Would I do it Again?

Would I run a Spartan race again? Yes, I would definitely run another one. I might not have a choice in it since all my son has talked about is doing it again next year. It's something I'm hoping we can do together at least as long as my 46-year-old body will handle it! I think the progress I made in my health working towards completing the race was worth it. I've already looked at next year's race and it is actually being moved up a couple of months to July 13-14 with the location as TBD. So instead of running in mud pies in 39-degree temperatures, it will be 90 degrees. Either way, anybody getting prepared to run a Spartan race should factor weather in as its own obstacle.


If your training lacks focus and you're interested in a challenge sign up for a Spartan Race. The steps leading up to the race will be just as good as the actual event!

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