As regular readers of XC Ottawa may know, a short while ago I participated in a race with fellow XC Ottawa'er Riel Allain – the Spartan Beast, at Mont Saint-Marie, Quebec. It was a very hard race, one of the hardest I've ever done. 3:15 minutes long, with obstacles and hills everywhere on the course.
In that race I managed to squeeze out a 3rd place finish – which was sweet, I got 50$ at the "Spartan Store" and bought a new pair of running shorts. As it turned out, however, coming third also automatically qualifies you for a free entry to the "Spartan Beast World Championships", in Vermont. At first I thought to myself, no way I'm doing that again. But then they told me that the winner got 15,000$ prize money, with over 250,000$ in prizes total. I was weak, and unsure of what level of competition would be there, and as such, tempted. Then my wonderful girlfriend, Kirstin Besemann, said she wanted to come down with me and do the race as well! Unable to resist the increasingly appealing opportunity, I decided to go. Even better, my Dad, and his girlfriend Kim decided to make a weekend of it, and come down to watch the race as well! Thanks to them I've got tons of great pictures to show you. All the credit goes to them!
Unfortunately, a week and a half before the race, I fell sick. I was out for a couple days, and was getting better – but then started to fall sick again (with something else? I'm not sure) the day before the race. I ignored it, perhaps a bad decision in retrospect.
As it turns out, not all Spartan Races are created equal. At the beginning of the race earlier in the summer, they told us that this was the most difficult course they'd made. It was a very difficult course, so I believed them. When we arrived at Killington Vermont, where the race was taking place, they told us this was the hardest Spartan Beast they had ever put on. I didn't believe it would be much harder than the last one. Turns out I was wrong.
After starting, it was clear that the obstacles were much more numerous and much more elaborate. After running to the peak, back down halfway, doing a couple simple obstacles, back up again and then back down to the bottom, we encountered our first major obstacle, the sandbag carry. At this point, I was around 15th place, and I still had a strong resolve to come in the top 10 (where the money was). In the first spartan race we did, we had a similar obstacle. In that one, they gave us 30 lb. sand bags and we had to walk a flat, albeit treacherous 100 m loop.
Here, upon arriving to the obstacle, we were presented with 60 lb. sand bags (bottom left), and told to ascend this hill. It was very steep, and we couldn't see the top. It was very hard. I was moving slowly, and had to stop multiple times to recover. This is where my resolve started breaking, and the effects of being sick started to show. I was being passed by other people around me, and in some ways this was a relief – no more pressure to perform!
After about 20 minutes, I got to the top. At this point I had climbed about the height of camp fortune – about 50% higher than what you can see in the picture above. All that was left for that obstacle was to go all the way back down!
At the end of this obstacle I was in 20th place, and I had re-evaluated my goals for the race. The top 10 guys were long gone, I was feeling very tired from being sick, and I didn't want to make things too much worse. I decided to finish, and just enjoy myself! The first part worked out, the second part I'm not sure.
Conclusion? Spartan races are really hard. Haven't decided if they're fun yet.