Spartan Beast 2015

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.

Before the race with Helen Chantler, my race partner Linda Zeberga and the legend that is Rich Pringle
Before the race with Helen Chantler, my race partner Linda Zeberga and the legend that is Rich Pringle

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.

Linda and I on the rope traverse
Linda and I on the rope traverse

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.

Team work on the wall
Team work on the wall

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.

Muddy and loving it.
Muddy and loving it.

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!

Tyred out during the race? Just find somewhere comfy and take a nap!
Tyred out during the race? Just find somewhere comfy and take a nap!

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.

Styling it out with our logs
Styling it out with our logs

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.

Keeping our balance
Keeping our balance

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,

Getting friendly with our bricks
Getting friendly with our bricks

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!

Barbed wire crawl
Barbed wire crawl

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.

Up and Over
Up and Over

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.

Linda giving me a push over the final wall. Picture courtesy of Tom Nash
Linda giving me a push over the final wall.
Picture courtesy of Tom Nash

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.

Linda and I in a finish line hug with MC Mark. Picture courtesy of Tom Nash
Linda and I in a finish line hug with MC Mark.
Picture courtesy of Tom Nash

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.

Spartan Trifecta done!
Spartan Trifecta done!

 

Three Races, One Epic Weekend.

After last year, and some injury hell, I had promised myself I wouldn’t take on to much this year, but some races are just too good to be ignored and Nuclear Blackout, for me, is one of those. I had really enjoyed the day race last year too so I wanted to do that again, and sadly for me the only Spartan Super I could get to fell the next day, so despite my best intentions it was a three race weekend for me, and I was just hoping not to repeat my injury misery from the previous year, where I hurt my feet so badly I had to drop out of a couple of races.

Race 1 – Nuclear Blast

For the first time ever I was going to a race alone, my husband dropping me off and leaving me to go and play in a hockey match, and my friends not meeting me until later. This is OCR though, and you are never alone for long. I very quickly found my friend Hayley who was lovely and kept me company and had me laughing until it was time for me to race.

Waiting to start with Hayley
Waiting to start with wonder woman Hayley.

I set out right at the front of my wave and had the joy of the marshals telling me I was the first girl through in my wave (I eventually finished 5th overall). Hearing that never gets old, and really spurs you on, especially as I haven’t been feeling very strong in my races or training recently. I finished the first lap and set straight off for my second, the course was exactly 5k according to my watch and I was still feeling strong, and although I was running by myself I was enjoying myself getting covered in mud. I had initially thought I would be sensible and stick to two laps but I was inside the time limit and since I knew I was the first girl in my wave I decided to go for the third, and I was certainly feeling better than I had the previous year at this point, with no cramp and running on marshal supplied jelly babies. I finished dirty, and tired, but by no means broken and jumped into the water troughs and then the lovely warm showers before changing ready for round two later.

Day Race Finished
Day Race Finished

Race 2: Nuclear Blackout

As the evening drew on it was time to think about the night race, more people that I knew had started to arrive and there was a great atmosphere before we started.

A bunch of misfits before the start of Blackout
A bunch of misfits before the start of Blackout

As dusk started to fall I teamed up with my friends Bob Cornford and Vince James and we headed out again onto the course, the Nuclear bunker was only part of the course on the second lap so we knew that we were going to have to do two laps to get the full blackout experience, the course had got churned up during the day and was even more muddy, but I was having a blast with my friends, with plenty of teamwork on the slippery mud. The second lap was a struggle, finally the day was catching up with me, but it was worth it to go through the bunker. We finally finished our two laps and I was very glad to finish, pull off my wet clothes and get into my dry robe!

Finished Nuclear Blackout with Vince and Bob
Finished Nuclear Blackout with Vince and Bob

For a full review of these races check out my write up for Muddy Race Here

Race 3: Spartan South Super

Having arrived home after midnight, and having slept really badly due to a lot of aches, cuts and bruises, it’s fair to say I wasn’t really relishing the thought of another race, despite having looked forward to it after the brilliant race Spartan had put on at Cambridge. I was really lucky though that three of my friends opted to run with me, despite my warnings that I was going to be slower than a snail crawling through toffee.

some of the RPCC family before the race
some of the RPCC family before the race

This race was tough, I struggled, and we used a lot of team work on the way round, helping each other at every turn. I ran with Linda Zeberga, Lee Haines and Helen Chantler, and somewhere in the middle we were also joined by a team of RPCC Warriors headed up by captain Dom Wright for a little while, as we made our way around the bucket carry and log carry.

Teamwork during the bucket carry
Teamwork during the bucket carry

Despite the aching muscles, and tired and bruised body, I had a lot of fun completing the course in such awesome company, there was always a lot of chatter and laughter as we made our way round.

On top of a muddy mound with Helen, Linda and Lee
On top of a muddy mound with Linda, Helen and Lee

Spartan had delivered once again, with a really tough course at a great venue. The race had taken us almost as long as I took to run last years Spartan Beast, and well over an hour longer than it had taken me to run last years Super, so this years Beast is shaping up to be epic, and I can’t wait… in theory!

For a full review of the Spartan Super you can read my write up for Muddy Race here.

Finishing the Super with Lee, Linda and Helen
Finishing the Super with Lee, Linda and Helen

Hellingly 10k

When you only have one race free weekend in the whole of September what do you do? Enjoy the down time? Put your feet up? Embrace the chance to have a rest? Apparently not me. In fairness, weekends are not the holy grail of leisure time they used to be while I’m not working, but whatever my reasoning, I found myself looking up races during the week, desperate for something to add to the list.

What I found was a fairly local 10k run, that was still accepting on-line entries, so I asked my hubby if he fancied joining me on a little road run, and we signed up at the last minute to the Hellingly 10k.

Phil and I before the run
Phil and I before the run

The start line was an 800m walk from the car park and the finish, but it was a pleasant walk, then we were off, running down quiet roads, it was threatening to rain, but it was warm running, and then we hit the hills. The race was described as undulating, but to me the uphill sections felt endless, and I was struggling, my running has felt really off lately, but luckily what comes up must come back down and I do love running down hill.

I struggled through the first 5km, Phil patiently sticking with me as I ran slowly, but after some water at the halfway I really picked up and we started making up some time. With my pitiful running in the first half, along with a an unscheduled shoe lace pit-stop and I was just hoping to keep the run under an hour, and we made the finish line in 53 minutes which was far better than I was expecting.

The run itself was a really nice one, the hills made it a reasonable challenge, the roads weren’t closed but they were quiet, and quite well sheltered with lots of hedgerow and greenery on either side and there was a decent medal at the end. All in all, worth getting out of bed on a Sunday morning for.

Phil and I after we finished
Phil and I after we finished