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Spartan Beast Chapter 2: World Championships
By:  Steffan Lloyd   (2013/10/04)


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.

The start!

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 top!

Kirstin made it up too!

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.

The leader of the race at about 6 miles into the 13 mile race. Here you had to climb to the top, ring the bell, and descend back down.

There were many walls on the course, 4, 6, 7 and 8 feet walls. This one, however, you had to go under.

Going through a barbed wire section. This was about 2.5 hours into the race, and it was a low point for me – my legs were seizing up any time I used them too much, making relatively simple obstacles quite challenging/painful.

Cargo net section. Not a hard obstacle to do – but it was hard when I couldn't trust my legs to balance properly… I resolved to do a rolling technique.

Made it across!

Followed by a swimming section.

The water was very cold. It caused some pretty severe cramps in my legs… had to take a minute to deal with that…

The one you had to make it across without falling back – or do 30 burpees as punishment.

Then back in the water, up the ladder, across the ropes to the bell on the other side. I fell off, had to do burpees.

It takes about 2 or 3 minutes to do 30 burpees when you're this tired…

After the burpees I passed this guy. He was on the ground screaming in pain. I stopped to ask if he needed help and he said: "Don't you dare stop for me! Keep going! Don't stop for me!"

Caroline Drolet, fellow Quebec skier, approaching the Tyrolean traverse. She started 20 minutes behind me and had passed me at this point. Embarrassing!

Getting on the Tyrolean traverse. In this obstacle you had to get on the rope and cross above the water until you got to a bell mounted on the string. This was about 4 hours in for me…

I chose the "lie on top of the string" method. Was painful from the rope burn, but you could rest halfway along (and I was very tired).

Kirstin going through the barbed wire. She looked a little better than I did at this point.

Kirstin crossing the cargo net (more successfully than myself).

Across the wall – shear determination at this point!

Kirstin crossing the tyrolean traverse.

Caroline Drolet at the finish. She was 7th woman!

Approaching the finish! My legs didn't work to well at this point…

The final obstacle: 3 men trying to knock you down. I finished with at time around 5 hours… wow.

On one of the last obstacles, only a few minutes from the finish – 8 hours in!


Apparently gladiators helmets aren't made to look good with hair like mine…

Glad to be finished!


These people are about 3 hours into what will likely be 6-8 hours. They may be regretting the 200$ entry fee at this point


Conclusion? Spartan races are really hard. Haven't decided if they're fun yet.

Interesting Reading. . .
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