Spartan Race South Carolina Beast – 11/9/13
So last weekend I completed my first race in my run for the 2014 points total. It was the furthest I’ve ever traveled for a race and became so much more than just a physical test. The weekend started early Friday morning at 4a.m. when my girlfriend and I woke up, grabbed some food, and threw our gear in the car to head out and pick up our friend who was joining us for the event. Ten and half hours later we arrived in Newberry, SC about an hour out from the venue where we had reserved our hotel for the night. They talk about the mental aspects of races like these all the time and as racers we do everything we can to prepare for the struggles on course. This night had different plans, it was not anything I had prepared for up to that point.
I’ll spare all the details because that’s not what you come here for shortly after falling asleep I was awoken by a bedbug infestation, so my girlfriend and I decided we’d just go sleep in the car…NOPE…Alright, we’ll head to the venue and sleep there…wake up our friend, drive there; gates closed…NOPE….Alright, we’ll go to the truck stop in the nearest town…Can’t get comfortable…NOPE…Finally, it got to me. This was too much for me and I was about to be beat by the beast before even reaching the starting line. I went to the nearest hotel at 3:30a.m. to grab a room for a couple hours. 3 hours of sleep total and it’s time to go :(
I lined up at the starting coral and my worries from last night had been forgotten and replaced with worries about the temperature. We stood there for the elite heat at 8a.m. with an air temp of around 33 degrees and knowing that it had been under the freezing point for most of the night. The water obstacles would be bone-chilling! We were quickly introduced to that chill when less than 400m into the race, we were put through the trenches. I didn’t see one person manage to jump over them this time, they were huge! I attempted to bound over the first one and nearly busted my face on the opposite wall; I made the decision to just tough the waters for the remaining trenches. It took a solid hour from that point for me to regain feeling in my hands. All the while I was running, I was clenching and opening my fist to try to generate heat but it seemed to take an eternity for it to even get to the point where I could feel contact between fingers.
Despite all this, my race was going well. I would place myself around the top 50 all the way up to our return to the spectator area which was around the 6 mile (or half-way) mark. This is where it all fell apart for me, my three nemesis lined up in a row; traverse wall, spear throw, and rope climb. I hit my target with the spear, but it didn’t sink in the hay and dropped to the ground; and I don’t know what it is about the SR ropes, but I can not get up them! Ultimately, this was 90 burpees nearly-continuous and about 10 minutes lost.
We were given a change of pace from this point for a couple miles where we were only presented with minor obstacles and were essentially on a nice trail run. I was able to make up a lot of the ground lost through the challenge-laden spectator area and was once again feeling good about my position in the field.
Then….mile 10…This course was incredibly back-loaded. We were first sent pounding up several long, steep hills and when we were finally sent downhill we were met by the tyrolean traverse. An obstacle required for the elite heat and ultimately my demise. I used my three attempts, did my 90 burpees (keeping count? I’m at 180 now) and was moved out of the elite ranks for my failure*
Directly on the other side of the traverse was the sandbag carry through a loop-course up and down a hill. My arms were taking a beating the remainder of the course, and I will be focusing a good bit of training to them for now on. The bucket carry nearly killed me, I was only able to move 30-50ft at a time before I’d have to drop the weight and shake out my arms.
The last notable obstacle was the barbwire crawl just before the finish that seemed to go on forever. When approaching the area, it’s uphill and rocky but it at least looked short and got your hopes up. Once you crested the hill you were greeted by what was at least 100 yards more of the torture with little room to roll and save energy.
*There seemed to be confusion here, some seemed to finish as elite despite not completing the obstacle, other’s had to do an additional 90 burpees to continue as elite, while still some (myself included) were dropped to the open results after three failed attempts.
Here’s an image of the elevation profile from Spartan Pro Team racer, Alec Blenis. As well as a Google Earth overlay from Scott More of the Corn Fed Spartans; the course came in at 12.5 miles of beautiful terrain.