Last month I ended up signing up for the Spartan Sprint 5k race at Heaton Park. I even had great intentions to do lots of training and get back into my running which I had abandoned since my colour run last year. Well, lets just say that it didn’t go according to plan. I started training, but then I stopped again. With a bunch of other stuff going on, including landing a new job, (and putting in hours after my current job to get started asap), I just didn’t have time to put the effort in.
Instead I decided to go in with a different mindset. Instead of worrying about running in between obstacles, I would focus more on just being able to finish the course, and complete as many obstacles as possible. The only obstacles I would pretty much write off from the get go would be the rope climb or monkey bars, as even with my non existent upper body strength, I wasn’t sure my wrists would be able to handle it.
Race day was last weekend, and as I’m writing this I cannot remember the last time I ached so much. My legs are covered in scratches, bruises and are so stiff I dread the thought of stairs. I have blisters, scratches and bruises in places I forgot I had, and I’m struggling to lift up my arms. The Spartan 5k was amazing, and given the opportunity, I would definitely do it again!
One thing I read, was that anyone should be able to get of the sofa and complete a course, and surprisingly, they’re right! With my very low level of fitness and non existent training, I completed the course and failed only 3 obstacles, one of which was the spear throw at the end which almost everyone failed!
So, how did I get on?
Before the race starts you’re funneled up to the start line with the other runners in your group. Everyone is geared up by the Spartan who leads you in a quick warm up, and gets you chanting AROO AROO AROO!!! Before you set off up the hill and off to see what challenges the course ahead holds for you.
- Over/Under/Through – The first challenge was a relatively simple, over the wall, under a wall, through a wall. The first wall stands about 6 feet high, and looked pretty simple, but still took a bit of effort for me to haul over it!
- Big Cargo Net – It wasn’t until I was stood at the bottom of it that I realised how high it went, and I wondered if my vertigo would become a problem. As I neared the top I started to shake, but the two guys in front of me were lovely, and waited for me to get over the top to make sure I was ok getting my footing on the way down. Once I was back on the ground I was shaking, but feeling really good about pushing myself on.
- Wall Traverse – Fell off this one almost immediately, it was really difficult to get a good grip, so I didn’t get very far.
- Muddy Puddle – I actually accidentally skipped this obstacle. There were no marshals and no signs, just a big muddy puddle in the middle of the track, so I went around it, not actually realising it should have been an obstacle
- Hoist – The weight on this one was really heavy, so the marshal gave me a hand getting it started, but I managed to then hoist it to the top myself, although it really hurts trying to lower it back down, so I’m glad I wore gloves!
- Object Carry (Stone) – I didn’t have much of an issue with this, it was actually quite light, but the men’s stone was double the weight, so I don’t think I could have managed that one.
- Mud Hill – The best and worst bit of the day. The banks down to and back up the other side of the stream were so steep and slippery I honestly couldn’t understand how people were getting back up the other side. I ended up on my hands and knees scrambling for something to grab onto. Eventually I managed to get high enough to grab a branch, and drag myself up the majority of the other side of the embankment. Whilst almost at the top I felt myself about to slip back down, and have never been so thankful to have a random guys hand on my arse and give me a helping shove! Then it was straight back on my arse to slide back down the embankment into the stream!
- Barbed Wire Mud Crawl – After a rather long queue, we were told that we could skip this one with no penalty, as the wait was long and there was a risk of glass in the stream. I was quite surprised at the amount of people who skipped it completely, I thought that people would at least give something a try before backing out. The first section of barbed wire was quite high off the ground, so I worked with a group of lads where we held the wire up for each other as we ducked under, but towards the end it was hands and knees and a full on crawl through the stream and up a much less steep embankment to finish this one. Not surprising I had gone from reasonably clean to mud covered by this point.
- Cargo Net 2 – This time the incline had no netting, just horizontal bars quite far apart. I was really scared on this one as my trainers were really slippy, but I made it to the top and had no issues coming back down.
- Sand Bag Carry – It didn’t feel that heavy when I first picked it up, but when you’re already exhausted, 20 lbs becomes pretty heavy pretty quickly.
- Balance Logs – I didn’t think I would do very well at this, I have terrible balance and coming up to it I saw everyone falling off, but I took it really slow and steady, and made it to the end without falling!
- Rope Climb – I knew I didn’t stand a chance in hell with this one, but I gave it a quick try, failed miserably, but at least I tried first!
- 6 foot walls – Next up were two 6 foot walls. I remember being younger and hauling myself over walls with ease, but now, with my aches and pains, lack of general fitness and exhaustion setting in even these were a struggle, but I made it over ok.
- 8 foot wall – I was quite worried about this one, just that extra 2 feet made it so much harder. I was also a bit miffed, as the girls in front of me struggled, so I ran up to give them a helping lift over, but then when I was half way up, there was no one to help me! Thankfully my amazing boyfriend was on hand to give me a quick leg up and help me over.
- Spear Throw – Apparently by the time I got there, there had been less than 20 people who had been successful with the spear throw. I of course was not one of them, although my spear was at least on target…..
- Fire Jump – It wasn’t that big, but it was actually pretty hot jumping over! I even mustered up that last bit of energy to run the final stretch.
The preliminary results show that I completed the course in 1:53:36, which I suppose is pretty bad, but taking into account I got stuck in a couple of long queues (especially at the barbed wire crawl) I reckon that I could take 20 minutes off that time! I also appear to have placed 1012 out of 1030, so I didn’t come last! And on top of that it looks like 172 people didn’t even finish, (or turn up, I can’t tell).
Overall I really enjoyed myself, but there was one thing that really set me back. Where the hell were the water stations!!!!! A Spartan sprint is advertised at having 3 water stations, but I saw 1, and it was right at the end with the spear throw. I was really really struggling, as it was a very hot day and obviously throwing yourself over walls and running up and down hills is hard work. Whilst walking out I did see a tub of water bottles behind the hoist obstacle, but it was behind it! I couldn’t see this when I was running the race, and there was no one pointing it out. I have no idea where the third water station was, but everyone I asked said they had seen no water either.
I think that in future water stations should be clearly visible and marshals should be on hand to make sure you don’t miss them. It would also be nice if the obstacles were sign posted so you don’t accidentally run around puddles you should be running through. I also assume that some of the tough terrain and logs in the woods I had to climb over were classed as obstacles, and it would be nice if these were also labelled as it’s a great sense of achievement each time you complete one!
So, to sum up, MASSIVE thanks to the two guys who made sure I was ok on the cargo net, HUGE thanks to the guy who gave me a shove up the mud hill! I would definitely recommend that everyone give this a try even if it’s just once, you’ll have enormous amounts of fun, wear your war wounds with pride and feel a great sense of achievement.
For more information, please visit the Spartan UK website!
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