Tag Archives: Spartan Race

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!

 

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 Beast

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.

Before the race (L-R Vince James, Linda Zeberga, Chris Williams, Helen Carrington, Lauren Edwards-Fowle, Dominic wright)
Before the race
(L-R Vince James, Linda Zeberga, Chris Williams, Helen Carrington, Lauren Edwards-Fowle, Dominic wright)

Race Description

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.

Most of the RPCC team taking on the Beast
Most of the RPCC team taking on the Beast

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

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.

Me at the log carry
Me at the log carry

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!).

Really looking like I'm enjoying myself
Really looking like I’m enjoying myself
Not the only one to get burpees here
Not the only one to get burpees here

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!

Vince, Myself and Rick jumping the flames
Vince, Myself and Rick jumping the flames

 

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!

Spartan Beast done - with the greatest of team mates and friends. (L-R Chris Williams, Dominic Weight, Helen Carrington, Linda Zeberga, Vince James, Lauren Edwards-Fowle)
Spartan Beast done – with the greatest of team mates and friends.
(L-R Chris Williams, Dominic Weight, Helen Carrington, Linda Zeberga, Vince James, Lauren Edwards-Fowle)
Always time for a selfie
Always time for a selfie