I knew going in to this weekend that it would be muddy. Really really muddy. It was really muddy last year, and this was my 4th time at this venue. Somehow, when I’m out there, I feel like I made the best and worst decision. “Why did I choose to come here again, in the rain?” is what I am thinking when I’m not feeling particularly optimistic. “Ah well, the first races of the season are always going to be a challenge!” is what I am thinking when I’m feeling more optimistic.
Saturday was the Super: 13.6 km, 28 obstacles. My favourite distance of the three (Sprint ~ 5-8 km, Super ~ 11-15 km, Beast ~ 21+ km). I had a suspicion that this race was going to be more challenging than usual, because it was a US Spartan Championship qualifier for the Spartan Worlds Beast & Ultra Beast at Lake Tahoe in September. It was also so popular, that the traffic into the site was backed up all the way onto the Interstate highway! I had never seen that before!
My suspicion felt accurate – the terrain wasn’t the most challenging but they made up for it with the order of the obstacles. It was VERY muddy though, some parts you had to make sure you didn’t lose your shoe! The second barbed wire crawl was so muddy, it was more like a barbed wire slide; not sliding down, but forward. I dug my elbows down into the mud and pulled myself ahead, to spare my knees a bit. One of my biggest surprises came following the race, when I found out my race time. I’ve never been fussed about not being the fastest however, I felt terrible hearing a few of my friends from my training club somehow managed to walk the race and finish faster than I did running it.
I felt so tired after the Super, I was remorseful that I had signed up for the Sprint the next day. I was looking into how much it would cost for a race deferral (at least $50 US) and weighing the pros and cons of doing it. I was lucky that my loved ones convinced me to do it, because I had way more fun at the Sprint! It wasn’t any less challenging than the day before, but the weather was slightly more cooperative. I also raced alone and was able to pick out which people were first-timers. I gave them tips along the way and helped them with their obstacles and burpees. I hope that I was a good example of how friendly and inclusive the obstacle course racing community is.
Major Spartan improvements from last year:
– The shirts are finally wicking sport shirts! Not stupid cotton t-shirts! They also got men’s and women’s fit shirts.
– The medals were cool and the Super medal was special on account of being part of the US Championships. Spartan has done some more race mini-series branding this year, like the “Mountain Series” to add to the “Honor Series” (all held on military bases), and the “Stadium Series”. This is great because if one is planning to do several races in a year, it’s nice to see that the medals won’t all be identical.
– Also nice that the professional race pictures are still free.
Major Spartan flubs that are still on-going:
– WHY ARE THERE NO PORT-O-POTTIES ALONG THE ROUTE? A fellow outraged racer wrote about it quite well last year, in Mud Run Guide.
– Why do they still charge for spectators? Between the parking fees, the food fees, the entry fees, the travel costs to get to and stay at the race, they have the nerve to charge $25, just to get inside the gate?? This wonderful article on Obstacle Racing Media also summarized it quite well. Sure, it was easier for my boyfriend to cut the line of cars to get into the parking lot to drop me off at the entrance gate, but I sure would have loved to have seen his face when I crossed the finish line, exhausted and elated.
– A deferral fee to defer to myself is ridiculous. I can understand the fee to defer to someone else, even if a “name transfer” is relatively simple to execute. But if I want to use my own race entry sometime in the future for myself, I should not be penalized for it, especially given the amount of potential injuries one could incur during the race. Most of us sign up for the races as soon as we can, because the prices are tiered and go up and up and up.
Overall, my race weekend was a great experience. Even though I’ve been training during my off-season, I was running and resistance training. Unfortunately, I was not any faster or better at any obstacles during these two races however, on the Monday following the race weekend, I had zero muscle pain. Some minor stiffness in my left elbow, but I was shocked to find that neither my legs nor feet hurt one bit. Though, I was covered in many bruises of various sizes. My goal for the rest of the season is to incorporate more speed training, obstacle training, and tackle some more mountainous terrain.
I love the people I have met at Spartan Races, and I still have 7 more to go for 2018, as I decided to do 3 Trifectas. However, I’ve already anticipated for 2019 to choose only my favourite Spartan races, and spend more money and effort on the smaller-organized events, or simply the bigger events that aren’t so money gouging (like Rugged Maniac). My goal next year is to age-group qualify for OCRWC.