Below is my blog racing through my Spartan Race experience. To learn more about the background preparation, what to expect, and post race clean up just wait on my future entry.
“I am Spartan!” roared the group seconds before we were released into a race course where every muscle would be challenge and fears conquered. It was Spartan Race time!
When two of my girlfriends announced they were attempting the Spartan Race in Tampa I had to join. Sure it was Valentine’s Day, but with BF Shoes working I had no plans and no excuse. Even with a Groupon this race cost over $60 so I didn’t want to waste my money by being unprepared. I wanted to tackle everything! Mind you—I’m not a sporty, barely go to the gym, and don’t juice—but the challenge of doing a “3.1 miles with 20-25 obstacles” was too tempting. (Ahem—lies—it ended up being 4.2 miles with 24 obstacles)
That’s how my Harley Quinn-costumed self came to stand next to a couple Ninja Turtles and a friend to form team ‘Happy Feet’– because even if we performed horribly at least we’d have some awesome photos. Under the Raymond James Stadium’s shadow, we were pressed against 50 others as part of the 2:15 pm wave.
“I am Spartan” we roared and suddenly we were climbing up the arena’s ramps and through the walkways.
From there about every 1500 feet revealed an obstacle. Some obstacles involved a static mechanism (using a pulley to lift a 50-pound bag) while others tasks involved you carrying a heavy object for part of the track. Refusing or failing to complete an obstacle required you to do 30 burpees under the watchful eyes of the volunteers at each station. Seriously—you paid a lot of money for this race—at least attempt every obstacle or live haunted in a “what if…” stasis. I didn’t know what I was capable of until I did it; with my poor upper body strength a Climbing Wall (it seemed like it was 20 feet high but it was probably only 10) surely would scare me into burpees… but I climbed over it!
Saving grace came in the form of team work especially if you’re a bunch of short, petite ladies. Half the obstacles can be accomplished using team mates. We were able to climb those tall walls because total strangers were offering to boost us up (guys AND ladies helped us). Even with the abundance of willing strangers, try and have your own team. Not just because it’s fun but some team work can get pretty personal; to accomplish a couple Monkey Bar-type obstacles I had to straddle the shoulders of my friend who later told me I was squeezing her head with my thighs. Oops.
The Race worked with the Stadium’s layout. I swear the first two miles involved going up and down stairs, in between seat aisles, and more stairs (my team mates complained these were the most difficult parts) with the final two miles leading us to the grounds surrounding the Stadium for muddier challenges. Although the course was longer than expected, I barely felt the distance. I felt more exhausted from previous straight-5K races. The obstacles provided mini breaks from running. That plus waiting for my stairs-exhausted team mates.
In the end, I surprised myself by only failing at two obstacles. In climbing the Rope Climb over the mud pit, I got within five feet of the bell at the top before falling. At the Spear Throw I managed to throw my spear straight, but fell short of the target.
The final obstacle was almost ritualistic—jumping over a line of fire. The line is relatively thin, and more smoky than fiery but made for a great photo and finale… and just like that we were done! Despite having water-logged sneakers and suddenly shivering from the cold air, team Happy Feet was too pumped and excited to notice.
No matter where you are in your fitness level, I totally recommend doing an obstacle race. The only real challenge is yourself. It’s a great way to see what you or a group of friends can accomplish.
Forget Go-Pros- I recorded segments of the Race through a good ol’ point-and-shoot, waterproof Panasonic. Unfortunately it kept hissing ‘low battery’ at me (therefore making me get stingy and frantic in recording) before finally dying during the final mile.