Runners who complete the Spartan Race trifecta will run all 3 distances in one calendar year. I went the unconventional (e.g. easier) route by completing the trifecta across 3 separate years! Training for one Spartan Race a year is tough, I don’t know how people train all year long for these races. It is too physically and mentally draining! I remember telling myself that I would never compete in another Spartan Race after the Beast in Temecula during the ridiculous heat wave in 2014. But I had another entry last year and decided to just do the Sprint, which still wasn’t that easy. And since I had completed those 2 distances already, I really had no choice but to compete in the final Super distance and get that last medal wedge. I mean, what was I going to do with 2/3 of a medal?
I was very pleased with the results for the Spartan Super: ~9 miles, 2:13:23, age group place: 61st, gender: 319, overall: 337. My initial goal was to complete the race in about 2 hours so I was definitely within that range which I’m happy about.
The last two times I competed in the Spartan Race, they had been in September, so I had to worry about the heat. But the Super (in Tememcula) always takes place in January, so I was more worried about rain instead. Fortunately, it didn’t rain on Saturday (during the Super), but it did rain on Sunday (during the Sprint). I have no idea how it’s even possible to complete some of those grip obstacles on wet conditions. The weather for the Super was actually really great. I usually like to run the race as early as possible to avoid the heat, but I was glad my race was a little bit later in the morning to get some more sun during the race. There was enough water on the course and they provided Clif Shot Bloks which gave that much needed energy and fuel later on in the race.
Here are some comments about a few obstacles from the Spartan Super:
Rolling Mud w/ Dunk
This obstacle is more annoying than difficult. You basically have to army crawl across the dirt underneath a bunch of barbed wire, but this particular obstacle was much longer than usual. Most people usually just roll their bodies sideways. I did that on one side for as long as possible before switching and rolling in the opposite direction to help counterbalance the dizziness. There may be a point during the obstacle where you get careless and get caught in the barbed wire (I did notice a chunk of a woman’s hair that got caught!)
When I first arrived at the race location, I saw these monkey bars and breathed a sigh of relief. I thought that this obstacle would replace the multi-rig obstacle (which I failed in the last Spartan Race..) I was sorely disappointed when I saw the multi-rig obstacle placed as the very last obstacle of the course, it was actually very fitting that they put it in that position. The monkey bars itself was quite easy. They had this obstacle at the Beast and I was able to complete it with ease.
I’m pretty sure they have this obstacle at every race and course distance, but I still hate every moment of it! For some reason when I did this obstacle during the Sprint last September, I don’t recall struggling as much as the other 2 times. In fact, I may have only rested once or twice. It may have been because the route was easier (no uphill and shorter). But the obstacle this time was uphill and very long! I had to take way more breaks than I would have wanted to. I didn’t mind taking that long completing the obstacle, except I was afraid my forearms were going to be too tired to complete the rest of the obstacles.
Again, this obstacle felt a lot harder than the first time I completed this obstacle during the Beast. That leads me to believe that I just was not as strong this time around compared to the first time I competed in the Spartan Race, unfortunately. I actually couldn’t pick up the Atlas ball on the way back and had to rest for a second.
This is by far my crowning achievement from all 3 races combined! I always hated this obstacle because it was more about luck than strength or skill. And it’s not like I have spears to practice on outside of the race. But I paid attention to another athlete who got his spear to stick, followed that exact same process and was able to pass this obstacle for the first time! I was ridiculously proud of myself at that moment. But then I realized there were many more obstacles that I had to deal with!
I think this is a new obstacle that they were testing out because they said that there were no burpee penalties for this ‘obstacle’. I went ahead and tried it anyways and did lose my balance just before the half-way point. It is something I always wanted to try but never had the opportunity. I wonder if they’re planning to make people slackline over a pit of water or something next time?!
I remember this obstacle quite vividly from the Spartan Beast! Most people at that time were walking because the mud was just too wet. And although I tried my best to walk quickly without getting my feet stuck, it still happened and my foot actually slipped out of my shoe. I remember my feet cramping up too because they were bending at uncomfortable positions. I had no other choice but to crawl with my face inches from this disgusting ‘mud’!
So when I started walking this time around, another nearby participant told me to keep running, while staying light on my feet. And so that’s what I did and it worked flawlessly! As I was coming to the end of this mud crawl, I saw another runner who must have been walking and he actually got to the point where he was knee deep in the mud and wasn’t able to walk anymore. His friends were trying to find a nearby branch to pull him out!
This obstacle totally came out of nowhere, I didn’t even know it existed before! It’s basically an A-frame with a long rope at the peak and you have to traverse upwards to ring a bell. Similar to the slackline, I’ve never tried this obstacle before so I really didn’t know if I would be able to do it. I took a minute to stretch while watching others attempt to traverse the rope. I then asked another runner for tips and she said that the elite atheles actually climb with their bodies on top of the rope which I thought would be far too difficult. I decided to just go for it and pull myself up the rope with my body hanging down. I was able to use all of my upper body strengh to pull as quickly as possible and just let my feet rest on the rope. The problem was that my right leg was resting on the rope (rather than my shoes since I didn’t want to slip off). So I ended up getting pretty bad rope burn on my leg. But I was able to complete this obstacle very quickly before pain or fatigue set in.
I’ve done the rope climb in each of the races and I’m still surprised everytime I complete the challenge. It’s just so hard to imagine that I’m holding my body up so high by just gripping on rope with my bare hands! I was able to get to the top and ring the bell fairly quickly, but I felt a cramp in my leg on the way down and pretty much slid down the rope with my hands. It’s definitely not the same feeling as when you slide down a firepole.. This is the first time the rope climb was not the last obstacle (before the fire jump) but I didn’t know if that was a good or bad thing.
One of the biggest struggles I had throughout the entire race was rope burn and grip issues. I had already started bleeding around a few fingers after one of the earlier obstacles (basically pulling too hard at the edges of my fingernails). I don’t know exactly which obstacle caused it but I have a nice dime shaped layer of skin that got burned off. These are all minor injuries so I should be grateful, but boy are they annoying!
My arch nemesis obstacle! I attempted this obstacle for the first time in the Sprint and struggled so bad! I had no idea what technique to use and ended up hanging around the rings and ropes for far too long and and ended up failing the obstacle. This time I watched the elite athletes complete this obstacle for a good 5 minutes when I first got to the race. They were basically skipping the rope part and swinging wide to grab only the rings. The people who completed the obstacle were also very calm and deliberate, making sure they swung their bodies in the right motion and I was able to follow it in the exact same way. Technically, my foot touched the ground before I rang the bell at the end. But I’m going to blame that more because it was too low, I didn’t actually slip off. I did see people pulling their bodies up to ring the bell but I didn’t want to risk trying that and missing.
I heard about this obstacle before but never had it in any of the other races I’ve competed in. You basically take the last 2 digits of your race number and find and memorize a corresponding code that you’ll have to recite later. I didn’t expect that we’d have to remember it for over 2 miles! It wasn’t until we were running and I noticed a group of runners doing burpees out of nowhere. Those runners must have forgotten their codes and were completing their penalty. I would say I have pretty bad memory, but if I put effort into memorizing something, I can. The code that I had to memorize was: QUEBEC – 082 – 2772.
Conclusion: Should I do the Spartan Race?
Whenever I talk to people about running a marathon, I tell them that it is a very difficult physical and mental challenge. It’s not something you can just wake up one day and complete. You need to dedicate months of your life (that includes early mornings during the week, and countless hours on the weekends). You need to be cognizant of your diet, drinking habits, how late you stay out the night before and more. But, I always tell people that they should run at least one marathon. And I feel exactly the same about the Spartan Race.
I’ve been fortunate to have been in pretty good shape while competing in each Spartan Race, but I’m sure there are countless others who may not be and just struggle through the obstacles. But they still show up to the starting line, face the challenge and complete the race. There was a line to take our finisher’s photo after the race. While it was annoying having to wait in line for that, it felt so good watching the runners talking to each other and being in such high spirits. It’s very rare that you complete such a difficult challenge and regret taking part in it. That’s why you hear people say that completing a marathon gives them the cofidence to do other challenging things in their lives. It shows that if you put the time and effort into something, you’ll reap the benefits and see that it pays off in the end.
And so, I would like to make that same challenge to anyone who has considered competing in a Spartan Race. It will be one of the greatest (and worst) things you have done in your life. Good luck!!
And if you stuck around long enough, check out my race photos and highlight video!