As we hit October, the biggest races of the year are looming scarily when they once seemed far, far away. The first of these scary big races was the Spartan Beast. 20+ km and 25+ Obstacles, and a whole load of hype. Having race directors as your friends on Facebook isn’t always a good thing when before the race they post status updates about “the longest barbed wire crawl in OCR history” or something of the like. I was starting to get those special kind of nerves that make me want to run away and hide, call it all off, and pretend I’d never started this year of challenges.
Having injured myself running Nuclear Blackout and Back to the Trenches, and making it worse by running Dirty Dozen and Dirty Destroyer, I had spent the two weeks prior to this race resting up as much as its ever possible to rest feet, and as such had done no training for about three weeks (excluding running the Dirty Dozen races). I was still having niggles before this race, but despite my previous statement, there was actually no way I was going to miss this race, it was too big and I have worked too hard this year to sit this one out, so at 6.30am I was picked up and on my way back to Pippingford Park.
We arrived at Pippingford in plenty of time, parked up and decanted our stuff into the Spartan bag drop bags then headed down the hill to register, having arrived nice and early it was a relatively short wait to get signed in, pick up our headbands and get ourselves ready to race. The event village was quite spread out, but we had been given an “RPCC” tent that we could use as a base (Perks of knowing the boss) which was near the start line.
As I’ve said the race was going to be at least 20km long with at least 25 obstacles, and since this was Pippingford we knew there was going to be lots of hills, we could see some of the obstacles that were near the event village and we already knew there was going to be a lot of carries, barbed wire and a swim from things already released before the race. We gathered near the start, then had to climb over a wall to get to the actual start line, and it was time. With a few AROO’S the wait was over, and we were off, and it was time for me to face my longest distance yet.
The race started with a run, it was quite narrow so it was fairly slow going as it was difficult to overtake anyone, so we settled in, with a bit of banter and made our way through woody ground, around trees and through mud and some streams.
Eventually the pack did begin to split as we climbed over the large A-frame cargo net. We came to the set of parallel bars that had cost me burpees at the super, I got a little way along them, but the bars were slippery and I put my foot down – first set of 30 burpees earned and done. I was running with Lauren, Linda and Vince but as we clambered out of a muddy water pit we came across Dom who had been running with fellow RPCC team mate Amy Moore who is becoming sensationally fast, but had unfortunately hit her leg, which was gaping open. She had to pull out of the race, and we were all gutted for her. The Beast had claimed its first victim that we knew of. With Dom and Chris now running with us as well we set back off and came round into the event village to take on the monkey bars. There was a huge queue here and knowing I was only going to fail and find myself plunged into the cold water below, I got straight on with my second set of burpees.
We settled into a run, often splitting up but genrally finding each other again eventually as we took on hills, mud and streams. When we hit the barbed wire it looked like it went on forever, this really did split us up, me being particularly slow. I got my hair caught in the barbs and was rescued by David Beatty who happened to be nearby, as I slowly crawled and rolled my way up the hill, the ground was covered in sharp little thistles, but eventually I gratefully crawled out at the top and pushed on.
We had been told beforehand to be prepared to do a lot of carrying things up and down hills. There was a sandbag carry that I actually made quite short work of, and a log carry that felt really long! By now we were also joined by Rick Burgess from RAW obstacle race team, who was taking it easy with a bad knee, and once we had dispensed with our logs Rick and I set off on the next section of running, taking it easy while we waited for Vince to catch us up, having yet again lost the others.
By the time we looped back into the event village again we were gaining on the others, we took on some muddy ditches clambering up the mud hills, to slide back down and start again, then it was the rope climb (more burpees), hoist (which was fine) and then a weird obstacle that you had to hang of and make spin (Burpees!).
Once the burpees were completed it was off for a little run to a muddy trench that you had to crawl through, then off across a bridge and up a hill to some walls, through one, over the next then under the following two. By now I was starting to feel the pain in my heal despite having it well taped up, and unfortunately, as I had opted to wear my Mudclaws to try and minimise the pain from the injuries I was already carrying, the old problem of them giving me blisters reared up again, and even the mighty prosoks couldn’t help me this time.
We hit an ammo box carry and were still pretty much together, but by the time we made it round to the mile long tyre carry I was really struggling to walk, let alone run. Vince stuck with me though and we made it to the end, and the sign at the top of the hill saying “Are you tyred yet?” did make me chuckle. Once we hobbled round to the next section, a bucket carry, I had to stop and we made a makeshift bandage out of some of the course making tape to try and stop my shoes rubbing so much. Once I had dropped off the bucket it was the traverse wall. I fell off these at the cost of another set of burpees, and saw someone else with a gashed leg, it looked really painful. I waited for a bit to see if a medic would arrive so I could try and score a plaster, but the person who did eventually turn up had no supplies so I carried on with my makeshift bandage.
By now we had well and truly lost the others, so Vince, Rick and I carried on as a little “Team Cripple” as all of us were suffering with different injuries and pain. We hobbled, wobbled, walked and ran as best we could down hills, through streams, back up hills again, helping each other as best we could.
We eventually hit the swim that had been promised, and boy was it cold, then there was a banana stop (for the boys – I don’t like bananas) before grabbing a concrete filled tyre for a tyre drag. Once this was done we set off again before coming to another carry, and a bit more running/hobbling. We were passing mile markers and knew it couldn’t be too much further, we could start to hear music wafting from the event village. We came to an overhanging wall, and with a bit of a leg up I was over the top, then it was round to the spear throw. I messed this up, as did Vince and Rick, so we got down to doing what was to be our last set of burpees. One more wall to get over and then we got to the the final obstacle – the ramp that had given me so much trouble at the Sprint. I asked the guys to wait for me at the top to catch me if necessary, managed the climb ok, and with a helping hand from Rick I was over the top first time. Very relieved I made my way down the cargo net, we grabbed hands and leaped the flames from the fire jump before going to claim our medals. Not only the green Spartan Beast medal, but also our Trifecta medals for completing all three distances this year. Spartan Beast – Done!
The After Glow
After the race the first thing I did was pull off my shoes with utter relief to reveal the bleeding blister on my ankle that had nearly been my undoing – I had said to Vince on the way round though “I’m not going to be defeated by a bloody blister!” It was quite cold so it was straight into the dry robe and changed before we settled into our post race ritual – hundreds of photos, and a well earned beer!