Like Father Like Son
Back in late September last year I finally got round to doing my first Spartan race at the ‘Beast’ in Hastings and as expected it gave me a thirst to do more (https://chrislambracingdiary.wordpress.com/spartan-beast-27-09-15/). Spartan comes with one of, if not the, best reputations in the obstacle course racing world so you expect them to deliver a polished race with high standard obstacles on good courses and generally they do. That was certainly the case for the Beast and for the ‘Sprint’ I did at the Olympic park at the start of April (https://chrislambracingdiary.wordpress.com/spartan-sprint-09-04-16/) so I arrived at the ‘Super’ in Gloucester with high expectation.
I had raced the previous two Spartans in the elite wave but due to work and the distance from home I couldn’t get there early enough to do the same this time so was running in a later wave with my 61 year old Dad.
He has done three other OCR’s (Ram Run, Dash of the Titan and Rock Solid Race) but this was his first Spartan and the first time that he had a target in mind. This was a qualifying race for the OCR World Championships so we were both very curious to see if he could make the requirement of the top 20 in his age group. For 60+ this wouldn’t be a problem but the oldest age division at the champs is 50+ so it wasn’t going to be easy.
We got to the venue a little late due to various reasons meaning we missed the last wave of the day at 2pm and had to set off on our own approximately 10 minute later. This wasn’t ideal but did result in us setting a strong early pace to try and catch as many runners as we could so not to be stranded at the back.
After an early hill slalom through some woods we were soon passing people and even took time to pose for a few photos during a very muddy barbwire crawl.
It was a hot day so nice to go through some waste deep water next but that turned out to be the only time we got wet. The the narrow track opened out and it was evident that we were in for a seriously hilly course.
After a couple of very tight tunnel crawls we were faced with some monkey bars, it was then a succession of very significant hills split up with some inverted walls and a log carry. My Dad was still going well and we were catching people all the time.
Back on to flatter ground at last we opened up the pace again before reaching the main bulk of obstacles as we drew closer to the end of this 8 mile course. I really enjoyed the rig which involved monkey bars, hanging ropes and hand and foot rings, so much so that I completed in twice while my Dad gave it his best shot.
A really tough and long gravel bucket carry was up next. Even though I was operating at well below my normal speed I still found this very testing and it was followed immediately by a concrete block drag before reaching what was the most torturous crawling obstacle I’ve ever faced in any race.
Under razor sharp barbed wire on the hardest and uneven of ground, a hundred meters in length, with huge pieces of wood strategically placed so that you had to manoeuvre from side to side. I was really glad I wasn’t racing at this point.
Then came the signature Spartan spear throw. When racing this can be a make or break obstacle as it’s always close to the finish and elites get one attempt. Hit your spear in the hay bale and you go on, miss it and it’s 30 burpees. At my last Spartan I arrived at the spear throw in second place with first place having missed and just started his burpees. If I’d of hit it I’d of taken the win but I also missed. This time I nailed it. My Dad also stuck it in as people all around us were missing. That was a pretty satisfying moment.
Now it was just the penultimate obstacle, the rope climb, which I managed to get up without using my legs at all. Something that seemed to hugely impress everyone viewing and then the fire jump to finish.
I used to find rope climbs tough, especially when placed towards the end of courses when the arms are at their most tired but since adding the Parklands Tough Running early morning circuit sessions to my training routine just over a year ago I never have a problem with them. It seems getting up at 4.30am has its rewards!
The fire jump is, in my opinion, a great way to finish as you can have fun with it weather you’re flat out racing or just happy to have completed what is always a demanding course and it never fails to make for a momentous photo too.
I loved crossing the finish line with my Dad and was very proud of his efforts. Upon viewing the results he had came first within his age group and most importantly 14th in the 50 plus category meaning a place at the OCR World Championships was his. What an achievement for someone so inexperienced in the sport at such an age. I look forwards to racing with him again some day soon.