Having not done an obstacle course race in nearly 2 months my anticipation for this one was at a high. I also always get an extra little buzz for a Spartan race because the competition is normally strong and those are the types of races I like the most. This one was conveniently just a 30 minute drive from home which was a good job as I’d not been able to get the day off work so I was due in after the race, something I wasn’t looking forwards too.
Although it was an early start time of 8am I was feeling good having got a decent warm up done but this feeling didn’t last long as the race started with an up hill climb which left me struggling. The favourite Conor Hancock (3rd at OCR World Champs) was already pulling away and five or six others had gained several meters on me. I wasn’t too worried at this early stage though and remained calm.
I’m not sure if I was rusty from not doing many competitive events for a while or it just wasn’t my day but I continued to feel sluggish as the early running and the first set of obstacles came and went. Strangely thought I wasn’t losing any ground on those ahead of me and I surprisingly I was actually gaining on the hills.
As the race progressed I began to feel more like my usual self and I made up more ground going over a succession of walls and on a multiple tyre flip. I was now in third place and moved into second during the concrete block drag. With a running section to follow I saw this as my chance to get away. I put my foot down and created some clear breathing space between myself and the chasing pack.
Now I was feeling a lot better and was confident that with no mistakes I could seal second spot from here. With this thought in mind I was purposely overcautious on the traverse wall which allowed the gap to narrow but I wasn’t at all concerned as I felt I had plenty of running left in me.
Next up was Spartan’s newest obstacle, a long pole suspended in the air with a sequence of handles which spun as they were gripped named The Twister. I’d seen some film footage of this but not had a chance to try it. I got approximately three quarters of the way across then still holding on stretched my leg out to gather some more momentum at which point my foot touched the floor. This counts as a fail so I automatically let go. A failed obstacle in a Spartan race comes with a 30 burpee forfeit. No retries are allowed.
30 burpees takes me around one and a half minutes when fresh so at this stage in the race I’m guessing that was two minutes plus (it felt like ten!) As the marshal counted me down I watched 20 or more competitors go passed. That was the competitive element of my race over. Normally from here I would have given chase and picked off as many people as possible but already not feeling great the burpees had taken a lot out of me and two big hills immediately followed which cut any last bit of speed I could muster at the point.
Little did I know I was only half way through the course and the hardest parts were all still to come. With motivation lost I was affectively ‘jogging it home’ from here. The hills got steeper, the terrain became more technical and the obstacles more demanding and at several points I was actually really glad I was no longer racing for a place.
The only other obstacle I failed was the spear throw which is generally a complete lottery anyway but man did I find the bucket carry hard. A huge plastic bucket full of gravel we were tasked with carrying it up a hideously long and steep hill then along the top and back down. I had to take several breaks during this and it was killing my lower back. Finally at the end yet more hills and carries followed.
There was also a similarly long and steep double tyre carry as well as all the normal Spartan nasties which when feeling strong I actually quite enjoy (for want of a better word).
As the end neared I began to find my mojo and started to pick people off. Over the final couple of high walls what was just over eight miles (but felt like eighteen) was completed and as well as my medal I got the final segment to complete my second Spartan Trifecta.
It hadn’t been a good day at the office but I now know I’m too tall to not keep my legs bent while on the Twister and that I need to get back into some consistent training ahead of the last few OCR’s of the year including another couple of Spartan’s later in the month.