Tuesday, July 11, 2017

2017 Fitness Goal - Indiana Spartan Race Recap

2017 Fitness Goal complete.  I completed the Indiana Spartan Sprint.  As you can see Elliot and Oliver also did the kids race.

I had an absolute blast at this event and I far exceeded my expectations as far as results go.  Here is the course I was looking at.  Perfect Slopes is a ski resort west of Cincinnati, Ohio

Before I get too far I have to give props to my amazing wife Shannon.  Since many of you are likely to get bored by my race recap I think its only fair that I give her a proper thanks right up front.  She has always fully supported everything I've done whether it was automobile racing, poker or this latest obsession of mine fitness.  And trust me when I say obsession, I tend to dive in head first with blinders on and my family ends up taking a hit.  Its not just the event itself where she has to take care of the boys while I'm running around but I do a fair amount of training.  I'm sure my wife is over me doing mobility and stretching seemingly every night.  I think at times she just would just like me to sit down for two seconds and not be sprawled out on a mat, rolling on a foam roller or sticking various appendages into ice buckets.  Although she might be embarrassed by her voice on some of the videos below it really feels good to hear her encouraging me and having my twin boys there.  One of the things I enjoyed most about this event was that the family could get involved as well, something that isn't possible without a supportive wife.  Thanks.

We got to the event with plenty of time before my 11:45 am start, checked in and got registered.  Boys looked thrilled to be there.

The Elite and Competitive Groups had already ran and I was one of the earlier groups in the afternoon Open heat.  It is basically everybody and anybody and there was an extremely wide range of abilities on course.  After the initial exuberance of the start had worn off I was definitely in the minority by going over anything over walking pace.  My basic strategy was to run very slow and steady and save my energy for the unknown obstacles.  When I say unknown I mean obstacles that I had no idea how difficult they were.  What I did discover is that I was pretty good on the downhill sections and I made sure I always ran the downhills as that seemed like a real waste of time if you walked the downhill parts.  If I did any walking it would be on the uphills.  Below is the start of my wave I'm in there somewhere.

I got through the first almost 2 miles pretty easily in about 31 mins, that included lots of hills, various walls, the monkey bars and the A-Frame.  The monkey bars were different heights so I almost missed one but once I got in a rhythm it was not too bad.  Smacking that bell at the end of the monkey bars was quite liberating.  I was a little wobbly over the top of the A-Frame as it is quite high up and I have a fear of heights.  Then there was a long downhill run to the Herc Hoist.

The Herc Hoist was down in the spectator area so this was the first time Shannon and the boys got to see me.  It also meant I had checked out this obstacle earlier and I was already worried it was going to be too heavy for me.  I had seen men much larger than me struggle with this obstacle.  I put my foot on the fence and used it as leverage to pull the rope down.  It was heavy and my pathetic body weight was not helping much.  I quickly noticed the familiar voice of my wife cheering me on.  The thought of my wife watching with my twin boys onlooking meant there was no way in hell I was going to drop this thing if it was physically possible.  It ended up going up pretty easily after that.

Next up was the barbed wire crawl which was up a hill.  It was long, maybe a hundred yards in length and the last 20 yards were being sprayed down by a large water sprayer so it was just a sloppy muddy mess.  The barbed wire is low enough that you can't go on your hands and knees.  You can take a small break in between the wires but you are basically doing a low military crawl all the way.  The other option is to roll sideways but I decided against that because it was uphill.  I think downhill this is definitely the way to go.  One aspect of the race I enjoyed was the camaraderie of the event.  During the barb wired crawl I spent much of the time next to a guy who was going the same speed as me.  He let me know when I was free of some wire that got caught in my shorts and I did the same for him when he got tangled near the top.  At the top we paused briefly to give each other a quick hand slap and then moved on.  All around the course there would be people helping each other over walls and up slip walls.

After the barbed wire crawl it was back downhill to the spectator area for the multi rig which in this case was about 10 gymnastic rings.

However I had watched this one earlier as well and they had raised the bell up at the end of the rings and a lot of people were struggling to hit the bell.  The best technique seemed to be to swing from one arm to another and get enough momentum to swing up and easily hit the bell.  As you'll see in the video this plan went quickly out the window when I ended up on one ring with 2 hands.  I traversed sideways from there but once on the last ring I could not muster the energy to get up to the bell and hit it.

This was my first failed obstacle and introduced me to burpee hell.  I was already tired and the 30 burpees really did a number on me.  I did get through them but in the relatively comical video series below you'll see how I looked as the 30 went on.

Right after that was the sandbag carry, up a hill, turn and back down.  If I had to guess I'd say the sandbag was around 50lbs.  It was certainly heavy for me and I just stuck my head down and focused on not stopping.  I certainly didn't want to put it down because getting it back up on my shoulder would have taken a lot of effort.  I switched shoulders on the downhill so I didn't have to drop it and wobbled back to the drop off point.

After that right back to running up the hills.  At this point I was walking the up hills, the rings, burpee, sandbag combo took a lot out of me.  By the time I got to the rope climb though I was in decent shape again.  The rope had no knots and I used the climbing technique I learnt at cultybraggan army camp in Scotland as a whee lad.  I didn't quite get the grip I would have liked from my feet and legs and had to still use a lot of upper body but I got up and down and avoided burpee hell.

It was then off downhill to the 7 foot wall.  I kept to my strategy of running the downhills and as flew past the people walking I approached the wall, as I saw people helping each over the wall I thought to myself how cool would it be to come flying in and just hop right over.  I ran in took one hop off the front of the wall, grabbed the top and pulled myslef to the top and slid right over.  I was feeling pretty chuffed with myself until I realized I had racked my family jewels on the top showing off.  The stomach ache I had carried me to the next obstacle the spear throw.

I had no idea what to do here but I grabbed the spear, pretended to aim, took a few steps and launched it like Daley Thompson trying not to get caught in the return line.

I got a "good throw" from the cheap seats as it veered left and clipped the outside of the target.  It has to stick in the target so 30 more burpees for me.  Lets just say compared to my early burpee form it was now starting to degrade greatly and I think honestly if it were being judged I'm not sure how many would have counted.  I did however complete 30 of some sort of weird ground humping motion.

I then came to a wall traverse.  The wall wasn't quite vertical but had a pretty steep angle to it.  I had the options of small chains, a few holes cut in the wall and plastic rock climbing style grips.  Fortunately I had watched a video on this one and he simply got his legs up high so his feet were on the wall and used the chains to hold onto, pretty simple.  

However back on the planet earth instead of unicorn land I had to quickly abandon the chain grip as I couldn't hold on to it.  I went with the holes and twice I almost lost it and my feet slipped off the wall.  However the thought of 30 more burpees was in my mind and this was right up there with the "your family is watching you" motivational inner talks.  I made it barely and I was flooded with relief when I hit that bell.

After that came the bucket carry, I had been dreading this one a bit especially after the sandbag carry.  However the course seemed quite short to me based on videos I had seen before.  I did put the bucket down once but had I known how close to the finish I was I probably would have just gritted that one out.  Still it wasn't too bad I was expecting about twice the distance.

Then on the back side of the course was a lot of mud and water and the dunk wall.  The hardest part there was trying to get up the slippery muddy slopes with nothing to hold on to.  Eventually I got to the slip wall that was right after a water crossing.  

This was the one obstacle that had lines at it.  You had to grab a knotted rope and climb up the wall.  However there were a few ropes with no lines, these were much shorter and you had to run and jump to grab one.  I went with the no line option and I was able to grab the rope and climb up.  The rope had knots in it that I used to climb up but right at the top I was out of knots and I couldn't reach the top.  I eventually wrapped the rope around my arm to stop from slipping off and I was able to grab the top and climb over.

Finally after another up hill run the final obstacle was a new one: the twister.  Well they were all new to me but apparently this one was new this year.  Its a bit like a corkscrew of handles that you try to traverse across.  See below the bar with the handles on it spins.

I got half way across and the grip gave out.  30 more burpees but with the finish line in sight they weren't too awful.


For Comparison sake here are the overall Elite winners

And the fastest times for my age group from the men's competitive wave

If I had been in the competitive wave I would have finished 11th/25 for my age group.  With no idea how I would fare I was really happy with that.  Below is my strava data of the run.

As I mentioned earlier the boys did the kids race.  They had a blast and I was a super proud dad as I wasn't sure how they would like it.  There were 3 different lengths of kid races so they had stuff for ages 4-14.  They did the 1/2 mile course for ages 4-8.

Ready to go



Kids barbed wire (net)

Oliver running

Elliot on A frame


We came, we saw, got our t-shirts, medals and a bag full of muddy clothes, mission complete.

I'm definitely hooked and I will certainly do this event again next year and maybe add one other race, we'll see.


2017 Indiana Spartan Sprint

1 comment:

  1. This is a great write up! And your time is pretty great too! Spartan on!