Yesterday’s race was hard. Like, incredibly hard. I always say that Tough Mudder is the hardest thing I’ve ever done but this would rival right up there with it. We didn’t have quite the elevation change that we did at Mount Snow for TM, however we had a good amount of up and down some pretty gnarly hills at Amesbury Sports Park. They did a fantastic job with this course and I was pretty impressed. To give you an idea of it, here’s a “leaked” picture of the course map that someone posted a couple of days beforehand and then the Garmin GPS data from a fellow Spahten (thanks Adam Ouellette!).
It was an absolutely gorgeous day for a race. The sun was shining, the humidity was reasonable and we had a slightly lower temp than normal (for August anyway). I think it was low 80s by the time our Spahten wave went off at 11:30am. And speaking of Spahtens, we had biggest team and had our OWN wave with a little over 250 members running at the same time. Totally amazing, and totally difficult to take a team photo.
Tara and I left the house around 6:15 to meet up with Zak at Unleashed who was going to ride up with us. The traffic wasn’t bad going up so we arrived in Amesbury around 8:30, just as other members of Unleashed were arriving. We hooked up with them at the viewing area near the Hercules Hoist so we could watch the Elite racers come through. We got to see the ever awesome Chrystal finish (taking 8th for Elite women!), as well as a few other Spahtens and Unleashed team members. And let’s not forget to mention I met one of my favorite bloggers – Heather from Relentless Forward Commotion. Thanks to Keisha for the sly picture!
We hung out for a while cheering people on and then I headed to the Spahtens tent to figure out who I was going to run with. I knew my friend Tony would be there so I searched him out and Sylvia was there, but was feeling pretty off after she did the Hurricane Heat earlier in the day. I don’t blame her at all for not running twice. If you don’t know what the Spartan HH is, you should Google it. Hardcore.
Originally, I thought I’d be running with two women I didn’t know, that I had been hooked up with by Dennis after running with him at Dirty Dash. I had never met them and had no idea what they looked like, so I never ended up seeing them. I also thought I was running with Stephanie from Unleashed, but she opted to run earlier and thought she could run it twice and run again with me at 11:30. Unfortunately, she hadn’t finished yet when we were lining up to start. Chrystal ended up jumping into the wave just after we started to help me out – so I ended up with Chrystal (for 2/3 of the race), Tony, his friend Kelly and another Spahten, Wendy, who I had first met at the Finish at the 50 race. We had so much fun as a team and did great helping each other out. There were a couple of other people that seemed to pop in and out as well (Drew, Alex, Al and maybe some others I’m forgetting?). It took me 3:00:54 to finish, but the time flew by with these guys by my side (and yes I’m bitter that 55 seconds kept me from getting a sub-3 finish LOL).
I did more burpees than I thought I’d be doing at this race. I feel like there were more volunteers at Mohegan (my only other Spartan Race to date) and therefore more help to get you over/through obstacles. There were certain obstacles I didn’t see a single volunteer (not to say they weren’t there, just not noticeable). I skipped the inverted wall early on simply because I knew how difficult it was for THREE big, burly volunteers to get me over it. I didn’t want to do that to any teammates so I just hopped to the side and banged out my burpees.
Let’s do a play-by-play of the obstacles, shall we?
First off, they start you out running up the big hill by the main festival area and you immediately go through a couple of big mud trenches at the top, then it was into the woods we go! I can’t remember if things went by order of this map or not, but I’ll break them down in that order.
Somewhere near the start, and not on the map, were mud pits we had to go in and then cross over large logs to the other side.
OUT walls – I did fine on these, no burpees. The over wall is only the ever issue. I cheated a bit on this, but got over it myself using the side rail support beam. You’re not supposed to use that to get over, so that is why I considered it cheating. Rolling under and going through the other two walls is easy.
Another wall – this one I think is the one I got 10 fingers from some random guy that helped me out
Inverted wall – as I said before, I burpeed out on this one on purpose
Tractor Pull – this is basically a big cinder block with a chain through it that you had to drag down and back through the mud. A little difficult, but not terrible and easy enough to do by myself.
Tire pull/drag – You had to pull a large tire on a rope towards you, then take the tire and drag it back out to it’s starting point. This was easy for me.
Sandbag carry – we had to grab a little pillow sized sandbag and carry it down a hill and then back up. I want to say the women’s weight was probably 30 lb or less. Not sure about men.
Monkey bars – I wasn’t taking any chances so I stepped to the side and did burpees for this one
Rope swing – This was basically like a Tarzan style rope swing from one platform to the next. Tony went first so that he could catch me on the other side. I was really nervous about this one because of my shoulder, but was feeling pretty good so I tried it after some coaching from Tony and those around me. I ran the few steps I had room to run, swung out, but just didn’t have enough momentum to reach the other side for him to get me. I ended up in the water in a lot of pain. I climbed out and just took a minute to take a few deep breaths and collect myself after I tweaked it there.
Hercules Hoist – we were told by a volunteer at this obstacle that men was 100 lb and women was 70 lb. However, this varies from person to person – some people who helped out on course build said women’s was 85 lb so I have no idea. To save my shoulder and help Wendy out, we opted to lift it together and do it twice. Not a problem. If my shoulder wasn’t dinged up, I may have attempted it myself. It didn’t feel as heavy as Mohegan did.
Bucket Brigade – you had to take a Home Depot style bucket (I think they’re 5 gallon buckets?) and fill it with gravel. The women had a slightly lower line to fill it to and the men had to fill it almost to the top. This was a killer for pretty much everybody out there, even the Elite racers. Wendy and I again opted to do it together so we each carried a side of the bucket. We still stopped to rest twice on the way up and once on the way down. It was definitely not light!
Bridge – same as Mohegan. Climb up one side, walk across on planks, climb down other side. This was over the starting area so you walked under it when you went to line up to race. Cool placement and not that bad.
Slip Wall – I believe this is called the slip wall because it normally has water before it, but they didn’t have anything like that in front of it. Instead, they made us crawl under maybe 10-15 ft of barb wire before climbing over it. I had a little bit of a hard time with it, but I got coached through it and did OK.
Another wall (taller) – I tried it, but with no volunteers and being exhausted already, I opted for burpees
Rope climb – didn’t even attempt it – more burpees
Traverse wall – attempted it, but wasn’t happening – more burpees
Spear Throw – bad shoulder=bad throw, but I tried twice anyway. Tony threw twice so I wouldn’t have to do burpees and he nailed both of his, but I still did some burpees because I suck and missed twice. LOL
Barb Wire Crawl w/ Dunk Wall – hardest, most painful obstacle of the day (not counting the incident with the rope swing). We had to roll under barb wire for somewhere probably close to 200-250 feet (!!!), going over rocks upon rocks and probably 4-5 mud hills that they built up for us to climb over in between rolling. After we finally got through that, we slid down a mud hill into about neck deep water which led to a wall we had to swim underwater to get to the other side. I didn’t mind that part because it cleaned off all the dirt and mud from the rolling!
Fire jump – self explanatory. I feel like this was slightly higher than Mohegan, but not as wide to jump. No issues here. It was pretty cool because right before I went, a couple of guys asked them to throw some gasoline on the fire so it would flame up for them to jump through. Looked equally badass and scary to me!
After the fire jump, we just needed to run back down the hill to the finish line! I was so happy to be done with this tough course! The hills and trails were definitely a tough obstacle.
I’m so happy to have had the Battle Buddies I had yesterday and the support of Chrystal and Stephanie on the course as well as Tara on the sidelines hooking me up with some badly needed Powerade. I think that helped me get through that last mile when I was bonking.
Spartan definitely put on a really great race. Everything flowed seamlessly, from the parking, to the shuttle buses, to registration. There were a lot of good vendors there and food options as well (I’ve never been so happy to eat a crappy cheeseburger in my life). I would suggest maybe more hoses and a bigger changing tent, but other than that I really have no complaints!