Wednesday, June 14, 2017

2017 Fitness Goal - Indiana Spartan Race Preview

If you have been following my blog for a while you will know I like to pick a different fitness goal for each year.  This year I've picked one that is pretty binary.  Its not a metric I can work up to overtime but simply I either complete the Indiana Spartan Sprint on July 8th or I don't.  I think the hope initially was that I wouldn't have yet another goal that would take me 2 or 3 years to complete. Now I'm starting to wonder what I've got myself into.

So what the heck is a Spartan Race?  Its simply a running race typically over trail like conditions with usually lots of hills and a bunch of obstacles thrown in.  There are 3 lengths, Sprint, Super and Beast

Sprint - 3-5 miles 20-23 obstacles
Super - 8-10 miles 24-29 obstacles
Beast - 12-14 miles 30-35 obstacles

Naturally I've signed up for the easiest of the 3, the Sprint race.  Plus the Indiana Spartan race only offers the Sprint not that I have an inclination to do the longer events at this time.  At first I thought 3-5 miles with 20 obstacles sounded relatively tame, but once I started looking at the finishing times from last years event I realized it was going to be a bit tougher than I initially thought.  There are 3 classes Open, Competitive & Elite.  I'm in the Open class.  Here are the fastest times for my age group (45-49) from last years 2016 Indiana Sprint.

Class 1st 10th
Open 1:27:08 1:51:28
Competitive 1:27:08 1:51:28
Elite 1:04:08 1:15:32

Looks they might have combined Open and Competitive.  Ultimately the goal is just to finish first and perhaps 3 hours is a reasonable first time goal (assuming I finish).  I really have no clue what to expect time wise but I do know that it is going to be longer than I first imagined when I signed up for the event.  Oh and did I mention the penalty for an obstacle failure is 30 burpees.  I'm not sure if you have done a burpee lately but doing 30 of them once is pretty taxing in its own right.  Below is one burpee.

With my inexperience it is quite likely that I will fail a lot of obstacles and I could easily have to do 100's of burpees.  Read about this poor guy that DNF'd his Sprint race because he was crushed by burpees.

So what kind of obstacles are there going to be?  Its not always the same obstacles and they can add and change them as they see fit.  But here are some of the more common obstacles I will likely be encountering.

Cargo Net

Multi Rig

Atlas stone

I think its safe to say I'm going to struggle on all the strength based obstacles.  At 145lbs with a skinny frame I'm not really built for strength.  Don't worry so far I'm not that great at running either. I've worked a lot on grip strength as that can benefit me everywhere, but overall I think my failure rate is going to be pretty high.  I've come a long way on things like the monkey bars but shoulder mobility is still an issue.  I'm also going to likely miss things like the spear throw as I'm just going to wing that.  I threw a Javelin once 30 years ago so I'm going to pretend that will carry me through.  I also climbed a rope once at an army base in Scotland when I was 13.  I still remember the technique taught by the British Army back then and that's what I will be using.  Naturally I haven't actually climbed a rope since then.  Obviously I've been doing some burpees as I have to figure I'm potentially looking at doing a couple of hundred or so.  This last month I'm working on just my aerobic engine with one more session with my trainer which will definitely be anaerobic.  I'm continuing my grip workouts though and of course lots of mobility still with Gymnastic Bodies stretching series.

Here are the hills and terrain I will be dealing with.

Finally I made the mistake of watching the documentary "Rise of the Sufferfests" and it put a new perspective of what I might be in for.  Fortunately I won't have to deal with freezing water as I don't do well in the cold, of course I might change my mind when its the middle of the day in July. 

We will see how woefully unprepared I am.  I'm going to channel my inner Shannon "The Canon" Briggs, let's go Champ!

I'm signed up with a team (Midwest Justice League) as a coworker has a team that runs this event and this ensures we will start together.  At least there will be someone to drag my limp body to the finish if necessary.  Start time is TBA.



  1. My prediction - 1. You will finish faster than you expect as you are better than you credit yourself with. Not many people will be as diligent with the preparation.
    2. You will want to do the longer event next year, which is going to be unfortunate for your family who will be bearing the brunt of an even more rigorous training regime :-)
    3. The adrenalin high at the end is going to need some taming .
    Enjoy it if you can.

    1. All good points, I'll focus on trying to enjoy it. I have visions of swinging like a monkey on the final rig in front of the family. I think face first in the mud of the burpee area after a spectacular fall is more likely.

  2. Simon, this is awesome and I believe that you will outperform most. Let us all know how you do!