Tag Archives: Cambridge

Cambridgeshire Spartan Sprint 2015

I’m going to be honest here, I was about ready to write Spartan off and out of my race calendar permanently. I had completed the three distances last year, I had got my trifecta, I had had some fun and enjoyed the races, but really I thought they were a bit more hype than substance and although there was nothing wrong with any of the Spartans I did last year, there are plenty of other races out there to spend my hard earned cash on. Then they brought out new T-shirts and medals, and I got seduced by the new bling, so I decided to give them one more go and signed up to one sprint, one super and the beast for 2015.

Then came all the controversy sounding Spartan this year, changing dates, changing peoples wave times and making out that it was all brilliant with no apologies, and this managed to annoy me for no real reason as none of the changes had affected me, my races remained as I had booked them, all this along with lacklustre reviews, (other than Spartan Scotland, which sounded awesome!), and I found myself yet again thinking that this would be my last year doing Spartan, I would collect my Trifecta and call it a day.

Be all this as it may, I was still up at some ungodly hour on a Saturday morning to make the trip to the Cambridgeshire sprint (actually set in Peterborough). The long journey was filled with laughter as usual and we arrived in high spirits and got registered easily, leaving us a little time for a few photos before starting the race.

Before the race with the main man, Rich Pringle.
Before the race with Rich Pringle.

We clambered into the starting pen, the coloured wrist band we were given at registration checked as we climbed over the wall in front of the start line to make sure we were running in the right wave.

I was running this race with my friend Dom Wright, and we set off somewhere towards the middle of the pack and we hit the first obstacle in very short order. A series of low walls to vault over, coming so soon this did cause some hold ups but we were soon on our way across what turned out to be a very obstacle heavy course. They came thick,fast, and varied with very little running between them. This was fantastic, the course was amazing and you were never quite sure what they might make you do next. Spartan had done it, they had really got it right this time.

Carrying a bag of gravel, as you do. Photograph courtesy of Epic Action Imagery
Carrying a bag of gravel, as you do.
Photograph courtesy of Epic Action Imagery

Since I have already written this race up for Muddy Race I don’t want to repeat myself to much on this blog, but you can read my race review here.

It was great running with Dom, who was always there to give me a push over a wall and encourage me, he also had the patience to wait around while I completed several sets of burpees for failing to complete the traverse wall (I got a bit tangled up), the monkey bars (too slippery for me to grip), the rope climb (because I just can’t do it) and the spear throw (only about an inch short – damn it! 😉 ) He also waited to help me and make sure I got up over the final wooden slope, which after sliding back down it several times at Cambridge last year, I’ve had something of a mental block over. We finished together, along with Gareth Ernest, as we leapt over the fire to pick up our medals.

Fire Jump
Fire Jump

After the race everyone was buzzing, so many obstacles for such a short distance, so much fun, such a good race. The general consensus was that this had been one of the best Spartan Races most of us had been to. I am now really looking forward to seeing what they throw our way at the Super and the Beast in a few weeks time, and I can’t wait to get out there and do another one, and if they are as good as this Sprint was, then I may have to put Spartan back on my race calendar after all!

Finished, with the first piece of my Trifecta for 2015
Finished, with the first piece of my Trifecta for 2015


Spartan Sprint

A week after my first ever Spartan race I found myself getting up at 5am to make the trip to Cambridge to complete my second, the Spartan Sprint. Although much less nervous this time, I had come down with the usual start of term illness that I get every September, and was feeling really poorly. In fact if I wasn’t doing all of this for charity I would have crawled back into bed! Never the less, I was picked up at 6am and we headed to the race.

Getting ready to race  (L-R Lauren Edwards-Fowle, Helen Carrington, Faye Caley, Lucy Martlew)
Getting ready to race
(L-R Lauren Edwards-Fowle, Helen Carrington, Faye Caley, Lucy Martlew)

Race Description

The Spartan Sprint is the shortest of the three Spartan distances, advertised at 5+km, this race came in pretty much dead on the 5km distance. It was a nice flat race through some woodland and easy paths, there was to be quite a bit of mud and the pre race email had warned about two water crossings that would require the ability to swim. The race would also contain some of Spartans signature obstacles such as the rope climb and spear throw.

The walk into the event village had actually taken us past some of the obstacles, so we already knew we would again be climbing up and over the large A frame cargo netting and doing a crawl between hay bails topped with wood.

There was a great atmosphere at the start of this race, the event village was quite compact, and there was music playing as we gathered for the start of the race.

The Race

We set off through a cloud of smoke and very quickly hit a set of low hurdles across the path. At this point the pack still had not really split so it was a bit slow going, with most people walking over them, myself included. This was followed up by a wade through some thick mud, which I have heard swallowed quite a few shoes. One of my x-talons was pulled off my foot despite the Xtenex laces, although having them did allow me to get my shoe back on again very quickly.

After clambering out of the mud, you grabbed a sandbag and took it for a run, then the route took you through some lovely natural terrain, waving back and forth through some woods, before eventually having to tackle the very heavy atlas stones. I was finding the running really difficult as my chest was hurting, but at least I was able to take the stone from someone this week, saving me from attempting to haul it up off the ground.

Me struggling with the heavy atlas stone
Me struggling with the heavy atlas stone. Photo credit: Epic Action Imagery

As I have already said, the race contained two deep water crossings, which didn’t bother me too much, I’m not a really strong swimmer, but I can get myself from A to B in the water without drowning. My friend was less delighted though as she really is not a keen swimmer and I know she wishes she had known before she signed up for the race (in the race email two days before was a little late notice for her).

Not looking too delighted at the cold water
Not looking too delighted at the cold water, Photo Credit: Epic Action Imagery

So far I was doing OK with no burpees, but before long we hit the monkey bars, and I predictably slid straight off them into the waiting hay below, dusted myself off and got on with my first set of 30. I found these really tough going as the motion of going up and down quickly along with the cold I was suffering made me really dizzy. After a slow 30 I was off again, having no trouble with crawling over the path, or carrying the heavy bucket full of water.

My next set of burpees came, again predictably, at the rope climb. I did give it a go, but barely got off the ground before I was off and getting ready for another 30 reps. Once these were finished I grabbed some water and headed over the A frame cargo net and carried on. My running was really slowing down as my breathing became harder but I was determined to finish.

My third and final set of burpees of this race came at the spear throw, which I missed entirely, then it was off into a ditch with barbed wire over the top meaning you had to run through it at a crouch. This was followed by the hoist, which I managed fine, just as the week before, and then a short run round to the final obstacle, the same A-frame slope as last week.

Having had no problem at all with this at the super, I confidently headed up the slope using the rope, got to the top, and slipped, sliding right down to the bottom. This preceded to happen another 3 times, leaving me increasingly frustrated. I honestly thought at one point I was going to fail this race at the final hurdle. I was feeling drained and unwell, and really didn’t fancy 30 burpees in-front of everyone near the finish. I took one last shot at it, got to the top of the rope again and froze, I couldn’t convince myself to move, the guy to the right of me at the top was telling me I could do it, but I was immobilised, sobbing that I couldn’t. He grabbed my wrist, as a guy to the left took hold of my other one, and someone behind me gave me a shove and I was finally at the top. The crowd watching the obstacle gave a massive cheer, but I honestly just felt humiliated.

I clambered down as quickly as I could managed, rallied myself a bit for the fire jump, and crossed the finish line in tears. I was feeling really run down, and not my usual elation at the end, but at least I had finished.

My Fire Jump
My Fire Jump. Photo Credit: Epic Action Imagery


Lap two

It took quite a bit of calming down and convincing by Lucy Martlew and Lauren Edwards-Fowle but after a breather I was feeling better and game for a second turn around the course. A group of us went round again for a fun lap to enjoy it rather than race.

I am so glad I was talked back into this, as it was a really fun lap. We took it much slower and I can’t speak for the others, but I had a really great time. Highlights of the second lap were finally completing the monkey bars, with a tiny bit of help from David Beatty, and an epic group fire jump at the end. We skipped the final obstacle due to a massive queue, meaning I didn’t have to face it again, and even got thrown chocolate to munch when we went through the barbed wire covered ditch. All in all it turned my day back into a really positive experience and I finished on a real high.

To paraphrase "Sitting on the shoulders of giants"
To paraphrase “Sitting on the shoulders of giants” Photo Credit: Epic Action Imagery
Group fire jump (L-R Lauren Edwards-Fowle, David Beatty, Lucy Martlew, Katie Keeble, Jordan Townsend, Helen Carrington, Faye Caley, James Ruckley)
Group fire jump
(L-R Lauren Edwards-Fowle, David Beatty, Lucy Martlew, Katie Keeble, Jordan Townsend, Helen Carrington, Faye Caley, James Ruckley) Photo Credit: Epic Action Imagery


After the race was over we hung around to watch the amazing Lucy and Faye take the podium after coming in 1st and 3rd place for the ladies respectively and have a couple more photos, before it was time to hit the road again.

Final group shot before heading home (L-R James Ruckley, Katie Keeble, Faye Caley, Helen Carrington, Lauren Edwards-Fowle, David Beatty, Richard Pringle, Lucy Martlew)
Final group shot, with the main man Rich Pringle, before heading home!
(L-R James Ruckley, Katie Keeble, Faye Caley, Helen Carrington, Lauren Edwards-Fowle, David Beatty, Richard Pringle, Lucy Martlew)