Spartan sounds daunting. It conjures images of battlegrounds, ripped torsos and humiliation in failure. Naturally before the first Spartan Race of the season (the Allianz Park Stadium Sprint), I had worked myself up to the point of nausea.
I have no idea why I was so nervous – Spartan is a world’s qualifier, but I have already qualified, so no need to worry. I had nothing to prove to anyone but myself, but yet I was squeaking and shuffling and worrying and generally annoying anyone who would listen with my woes.
When we got into the event village (which was handily about 15 minutes from my house), I was hydrated, suited booted and ready to take on the race, but still beside myself with needless worry. I saw Scott, my teammate off on his Elite wave (for people wot are better at runnin and stuff), and proceeded to stress pee for a little while before snuffling out some Mudd Queens, who made everything better. We chilled out on inflatable chairs and giggled until it was time to go and warm up, and stress pee again.
The first hurdle was trying to hear the PA. I gave up. Didn’t hear a word. The next was trying to warm up in what was basically a cattle pen. Luckily (or not), there was no warm-up, so I didn’t have to worry about the logistics of doing a star-jump without enucleating the person next to me.
Our wave went off in two sections, hopefully to avoid a bottle-neck at the first obstacle. I managed to go from being middle of the pack, to being at the front as they cut our wave in half. This was both a blessing and a curse, as I’d heard it was important to get a good start, but I also didn’t fancy getting trampled and passed by all the better runners, as it isn’t great for the ego.
I needn’t have worried though, as we all tore off at a decent speed, and didn’t experience much of a queue at the first obstacle (a remarkably rickety looking hurdle, orientated pointy side up – that wasn’t very nice!), which was simple enough. Then came a decent run around the fields surrounding the stadium, interspersed by a water bucket carry, making excellent use of the available structures. There was also a barbed wire crawl that I had worried about, having seen people return bleeding, but as I’m pretty small, it wasn’t difficult, thankfully. Other obstacles outside the stadium included a weight lift and carry, a hoist followed immediately by a rope climb (sad arms, sad face), monkey bars, inverted and standard walls, a cargo net and a tyre carry. I personally encountered some passive aggressively snarky women at this stage, who couldn’t resist passing comment on the fact that I had inadvertently picked up a tyre that was smaller than theirs. To these women I say, 1. I’ll run my race for me, not you. 2. You obviously weren’t working hard enough either if you were able to walk and bitch at the same time. 3. I don’t pick the tyres based on size – I pick the tyres on the basis of ‘ERMAGERD TYRREEZZ PICK ONE FAST AND RUN’. And 4. Bugger off, come back and bugger off again. We’ll call it interval training.
That aside, the jaunt outside was largely doable – I fell off the rope climb a third of the way up, and my arms were already feeling a bit shoddy after completing the weight lifts. So, burpees. Burpees, by the way, make me feel sick. After the first 20 I was not firing on all cylinders. After 30 I feel like I’m on another planet. What’s also soul destroying is watching other people either refuse to complete them, or doing them improperly/cutting corners. That’s lame, guys; don’t do that.
After making what was probably pretty good time outside, and passing through the monkey bars, I’m disappointed to say that I almost ran out of steam on the path back into the stadium. I don’t really know what had gotten into me aside from a case of the tireds, but after a decent pace through the forest trail, my mojo got well and truly lost on the grass trail before the stadium. I tried to pick myself up on the dash underneath the bleachers, and got a bit of respite queuing at the wall, which I happily cleared. Up into the bleachers with a sandbag I went, but unfortunately got stuck behind someone I couldn’t overtake for a while, and not wanting to pressure her, I had to bide my time to do a respectful dash around. Thighs burning and attention dropping, I took a wrong turn and ended up having to do a whole climb extra. Note to self: don’t be an idiot. After liberating myself from the sandbag, I casually jogged around to the spear throw, only to completely bollocks that up too, and throw very hard to the RIGHT of a target. Burpees. Again I despaired as others around be did half-arsed fairy burpees and sprinted off like it wasn’t even a punishment. I was beside myself.
Wobbling over to the wall, it took all of my coordination to get across, as my limbs were actually JANGLING by this point. Turns out I had got my sugar levels a bit wrong, because I looked like I’d been struck by a jelly legs curse. Flopping off the end of the wall (thank god, no more burpees), there was a simple under-over and cargo net. I’m not used to the strapping as opposed to rope cargo nets so that felt a bit weird, but I’m cool with it.
Then the sprint finish, obligatory #RAWpose and absolutely banging medal, t-shirt and much deserved glass of water.
A quick freebie circuit around the ‘village’ and an emphatically not quick queue in the bag return and I, Spartaned out, was grateful for the Lucozade stand and a nap in the car home.
Moral of the story is… I’m probably not a sprinter.
- Tech tee shirt
- ManUp Sports Bra (because my old one BURNED ME)
- Nike Pro capris (fantastic as usual, apart from at the beginning they needed pulling up on my thighs)
- Nike anti-blister Dri-Fit socks (perfect)
- Salomon X-Scream (just what I needed)
It did make me laugh to see some who had come in their ‘road’ shoes freaking out about there being grass. I did wonder why they were so worried, since I don’t see many people in parks skating on the grass when they’ve neglected to don their Mudclaws. There was no mud to speak of, so hybrids or road shoes would have been just fine, but equally, I wouldn’t have been at a disadvantage wearing the Fellraisers either – the X-Screams just made for a more comfortable ride.
Really nice quality cotton tee shirt, incredible medal and piece of the trifecta medal. No goodie bag as advertised, but free photos and Lucozade, coconut water and protein ice-cream took the edge off that.
With this being Spartan, it was very hyped and I was expecting BIG things. If I’m honest, it didn’t live up to the great hype, but I’m aware that it was the first event of its kind, and the team haven’t had long to pull it all together. That being said, I don’t think they’ll make that same mistake twice. I’m massively impressed with the shirt and medal, but I can’t say the event “village” was the most atmospheric – rather more like one you’d find at a school sports day. But, with it being a Sprint, it made sense to get in, get on and get out, so that’s no big deal. My advice would be to go and do a Spartan to experience all the different race types you can, to ‘find your niche’ as it were, but unless they improve some of their (frankly rickety looking) obstacles (those hurdles, anyone) and atmosphere, I can’t say I’ll be rushing to buy a season pass.