Two days on from the Spartan Beast and I thought I should write it up, as I sit here with legs a patchwork of different coloured bruises, and killer DOMS (which may have been exaggerated due to my instance on still going to my training class last night instead of resting)
I was really looking forward to the challenge of this race as the Super had been fantastic, and really tough, so it was with great anticipation that we arrived on a bright and breezy morning to Ashburnham Place, conveniently only a 30min drive from my house, and got registered and ready to race.
Linda and I got into the starting pen in the first wave where the warm up started with the usual yells of “I am a Spartan” and “Aroo” then we were treated to a really cheesy warm up to The Twist, which certainly made me giggle if nothing else.
We set off and I was mentally prepared to go straight into a stream like the previous week but the course had been changed and it was round through some trees instead, with plenty of scrabbling up banks and over fallen trees, until we eventually came to a rope traverse where we hit a bit of a backlog of people despite being in the first wave, eventually though we were scrabbling over a lake using a rope, before heading over the tall A-frame then into the water for the first lake swim, across to some over, under, through walls before swimming back to the bank and off again into the trees.
After another section of running we came to the dreaded bucket carry, with trepidation we filled up the buckets under the close watch of the marshals and set off wondering how long it was going to be, but before we knew it we were back again, was that really it? Turns out it had been placed where the sandbag carry was at the Super, it was much shorter and quicker, so it was with relief that we emptied out our buckets of stones and went on our way, wondering if this was a false sense of security and if there would be another one waiting for us later on. Thankfully there was not! Shortly after the buckets we came to the traverse wall, which we came to at the same time as friendly Warrior Keith Lawrence who lent a hand to first myself then Linda, making sure we stayed on the wall and hit the bell and saving us burpees, of which I had already picked up 30 by predictably failing the rope climb. We then returned the favour, making sure he reached the bell without touching the floor, this little bit of teamwork over we continued on to the kettle bell hoist.
What followed was a high bridge over the road into Ashburnham, a log carry around the perimeter of a field, which went quite quickly as Linda and I were just having a good old fashioned gossip, and the first of two tyre flips and spear throws, the spear earning me my second set of burpees. Soon after this we found ourselves in swampy mud. I must have picked the worst route as I ended up wading through sludgy water up to my waist, other people overtaking to the left, we did eventually escaped the mud pit and stopped for a mid race pose.
We had a breeze block drag, and at some point around here we were stopped at a large board with a long list of codes, you had to memorise the code that was next to the last two digits of your race number. This effectively stopped all conversation for a while as I ran along repeating to myself over and over again Papa-793-2034, Papa-793-2034, Papa-719… no wait that’s not right, arrgghh!! All I wanted to do was to get to the place that I could off load my code, but it didn’t arrive, we ran for miles, I couldn’t tell you how many, I tried to keep count as my watch beeped them off, but I couldn’t concentrate on that and my number, Papa-793-2034 was all I cared about.
During this time, as well as constantly repeating the dreaded number in my brain we came to what felt like the never ending field from hell, I didn’t know there was a field that never ended in Battle, but I’ve since learnt. First there was running, then there was the second tyre flip… small tyres, an easy task, 4 flips out, 4 flips back, well that’s the theory. Instead I flipped it 4 times out, turned around, flipped it once, flipped it twice, went to flip it again… and slipped, I don’t know how, I don’t even think it should be possible, but the next thing I knew I was face down in the tyre, bum in the air, and I was laughing my head off!
Once we had finished laughing there were logs. The logs were OK, they had rope attached and you needed to take two. They felt a bit like carrying a couple of heavy handbags so no problem, then there was running, and then there were tyres, and you had to take two for a little run.
Part way up the never ending field with our tyres we were faced with a balance beam which was more tricky than it seemed as you had to keep hold of the tyres and there were a few people doing burpees, we both made it across though and continued up the hill, along the top and it was over a set of low walls, still with the tyres, and then a log hop, which was another difficult balancing obstacle, that thankfully we both completed without penalty.
Tyres deposited and still the field went on, at one point you looked around you and there were people running in all directions, how long would we be here? Oh wait, I forgot about my number, Papa-793-2034, PAPA-793-2034!!! We weren’t quite yet done with tyres in the race, with a short tyre drag to do before continuing to run around the field of bad dreams. During our stint up, down and round the hill we met a nice man named JJ, who adopted up, or we adopted him, I’m not sure which, but we had teamed up for a while as we came to the brick carry.
Two bricks, not too heavy, and just awkward enough to be annoying, and off we went, and went, and went! Down banks, through a stream, up banks (which I nearly fell back down) up hills, over walls,
Finally, it was time to give the bricks back to the marshal, who I asked to take care of mine, as I had grown quite attached, and still I was trying to keep in my head my blooming number, part of me wondered if I would get to the end and be told it was all a joke, no need to remember it at all, Into a muddy water filled trench and up the mud hill behind it and we were still in the damn field, a bit more running and we came the second of two barbed wire crawls, this one with added logs in the way, once out of the barbed wire it was finally time for the memory test, where after chanting the damn number over and over and over in my head for miles I had a total blank, but thankfully my memory decided to kick in at the last moment and I escaped the burpees. Papa- 793-2034, done!
We moved on, finally escaping the never-ending field, to be given a sandbag, which was where the second log carry had been the weekend before, under a cargo net with the bag and over an overhang wall, some more scrambles up and down hills, and over some more low walls, during the sandbag carry we lost our new friend JJ, as Linda and I carried on together, over the single barred monkey bar things, this time we were allowed to use our legs so we got over this with no additional burpees, then it seemed we might be on the home straight.
We ran along the side of the lake, and came to a rig made up of monkey bars, hang tough rings, ropes and low rings for your feet. Linda and I both fell off before the first set of rings, and earned ourselves 30 burpees each, before setting off up the side of the wooden ramped A-frame.
Into a stream and under a bridge, then a bit more of a run through some more mud and trees and a second set of log stepping stones. Sadly this time I picked the wrong lane, and the logs were a little two far apart, even with fairly long legs and, I slipped off about half way across. First time I’ve failed this obstacle and I was gutted, I was tired and really didn’t want another set of burpees, but fall off I did so burpee I must, 30 more down and we were on our way again, and very nearly finished. A mere spear throw to fail, an atlas stone carry, which by this stage of exhaustion felt difficult, and one final big wall before the fire jump and we would be done.
Once we were both over the wall we grabbed hands and sprinted towards the fire. The Muddy Highlander MC aka Mark Leinster giving us a shout out as we leaped over the flames and into his waiting arms for a muddy hug at the finish line before grabbing our medals and t-shirts.
According to my watch The Beast had clocked in at a little shy of 13miles, and had taken us 4 hours to complete, earning me my trifecta for the second year running. I couldn’t have had better company on the journey to my second Spartan trifecta, across all three races, and having been ready to write Spartan off at the beginning of this year, I’m really glad I signed up to do it again as I had an absolute blast over three great races. Spartan have stepped it up, despite some bad press and problems this year, and would be well worth a look again next season.