Monday, August 31, 2015

Boston Spartan Sprint 2015

August 29, 2015
Last year at this time, prior to my first OCR, the Boston Spartan Sprint 2014 in Amesbury, I was jittery, excited, and nervous for weeks before the event. This time around, I have many more races under my belt, and the nervousness didn’t kick in until a day or two prior. I had done more difficult races already this year, I had been to the locale...there was really nothing to get worked up about. The real nervousness will kick in prior to the Beast...20 days from now.

Although the Sprint is billed as 3+ miles, the Sprint last year was 4.7 miles or so, so I imagined that this time it would be roughly the same distance. I did not bring a hydration pack to this race because I imagined it would be short, and I knew there would be water stations along the way.

The race started and after a short run the first obstacle was a Hay Wall--actually two of them.  I like these obstacles because I jump up and roll over the top and keep going.

Next was the O-U-T, which seems to be a common early obstacle in Spartan races.  Next was a set of Over Walls, which I believe was only 6’ high, and before I know it, we were at the 1 mile marker.  I took some water and then went to the Inverted Wall, which I do pretty well on, and then the Monkey Bars.  It was the same setup as the Monkey Bars at the Super, but reversed:  this time, the bars started far apart and got closer together as you got to the far end. I succeeded here, but it was rough on my shoulders.  

Next was an Atlas Carry, which was pretty easy, and then the Rope Climb. The rope was far, far higher than it was for Battlefrog, and quite intimidating.  I got into the water, which was a little above waist height, and fortunately they had a tarp lining the bottom so I didn’t sink into the mud. After some struggle I managed to get out of the water, and ultimately halfway up the rope.  It seemed like my body knew what to do, but my mind was drawing a blank. I kept thinking I needed to lift with my arms rather than just hold them in place, raise my legs and then stand on the rope.  By the time I was halfway, my mind wasn’t in it, and I thought that I might be able to make it to the top, but I didn’t think I could make it back down safely if I did. On top of that, there was another person on the rope next to me and below, so I slipped or something, I’d probably fall on them. So I called it quits and went back down, and did my 30 burpees.  

After the rope climb was Rolling Mud, which was three mudpits, followed by a dunk wall. As I emerged from the other side, I wiped the water off my face as I didn’t want to inhale/drink any of that stuff, only to see a photographer taking pictures of me. So I’m sure that’ll look good. (ultimately I never found those pictures on the Spartan site, which is just as well)

Next was a Barbed Wire Crawl, which made me glad I didn’t bring my hydration pack. It started out normal enough, but the second half was a gooey warm muddy slurry that was the muddiest mud I’ve been in yet at an OCR.  
Enjoying the mud

Next was the Log Hop, which was supposed to be something different than it was, for some reason they had to alter the obstacle, so it was just high-stepping over some lines between logs.

Next was a Plate Drag, which was difficult but not too bad, another water station, and then a Sandbag Carry up a small hill, down it, up again, and back down.  
Sandbag Carry

Then the Stairway to Sparta, which is a 6’ wall leading to a A-Frame ladder.  And then the Bucket Brigade, which thankfully was much shorter than it was at the Super. I only needed to rest once, and when I started up again, I got a better grip on it and was able to finish without resting again.  

Next was a Set of Three Walls, 8’, 7’, and then 6’. I got a boost going over the first two walls, then managed the last one myself.  

I attempted the Hercules Hoist, but my hands were already burning, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to lift the bag very far, and also do it without getting a bad rope burn. So I skipped it and did my burpees. Next was the Spear Throw, and was mentally preparing myself for another 30 burpees. But I took the spear, looked at the target, and thought “Your body knows what to do”, and I just threw it. The spear went true and hit the target’s “neck”, impaling it and passing halfway through. Happily surprised, I moved onto the the next water station, and then the Bridge

Normally I find the Bridge pretty easy, as it is just a ladder to the top, then a walk across wood planks, and back down another ladder.  This time it had a twist--instead of wood planks at the top, it was a horizontal cargo net (of the Spartan Race variety).  You could walk across it if you were careful, and there was no real danger of falling, but you could lose your footing and slip a leg through the gaps.  I started walking, and then ended up crawling on all fours instead. It was definitely a fear-inducing obstacle.

After the bridge were the Z-Walls, and I mentally prepared myself to fail this one again, as I have never succeeded on it before due to my grip failing.  However, once I got on, I was surprised to find it was easier than I had anticipated, and I actually succeeded.  I rang the bell and kept going.

Next was the Clif Multi-bar (aka the Rig), which I attempted but failed--hanging from the bars like that did a real number on my shoulders. I did my burpees and kept going. Next was an A-Frame Cargo Net, which was easy, and more hiking.  I knew we were getting close to the finish.  There was a Farmer’s Log Carry, and based on seeing other racers do it, it looked hard, but when I hefted the logs, it wasn’t as bad as I had feared. Onto the home stretch.

First was a Slip Wall, wherein you grab a rope and haul yourself up a sloped wall, which is always easier than it looks, at least for me.  Then a vertical cargo net that wasn’t as high as I feared, but leaned slightly toward you.  I made it over that, and then it was just the Fire Jump and then the finish.  
In conclusion this was a good race that made me feel good about myself--I was able to improve on my performance over last year by completing more obstacles and finishing the race faster.  Next, to complete my first the Beast.

Other races in this series

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