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  • Quick Glance:
  • Host: Spartan Race
  • Shoes: BAREFOOT
  • Venue: Breathtaking views and great Trails,  Reveille Peak Ranch
  • Would I Run It Again: YES! DEFINITELY! MORE PLEASE!
  • Muddy Toes Rating: Eight out of Ten…. Sorry Spartan Race, this race was awesome, but you can definitely do better.

…..So you just finished reading part one, Right…?…. and now you’re biting your nails to know what’s next?

…I realize I may have skimped on some of the finer details that the Hurricane Heat had to offer, but that’s because I really think you should do one, even though I might not even know you…

…seriously…find one nearby and sign up for it… Here’s a link: http://www.spartanrace.com/spartan-obstacle-racing-events.php

Here’ goes… and I promise not to skimp on this one though.

As the Hurricane Heat had entered the festival area, my trusty OCR companion Red immediately picked me out of the line-up, and let me know she was nearby. As soon as the Hurricane Heat ended, we all collected our HH Dog Tags, and our HH finisher’s shirts. With just a few short minutes until our wave was to start, I tossed her my new tee shirt and my sodden VFF’s to be checked with her bag as I jogged over to packet pick-up to get my race packet….I decided it wouldn’t/couldn’t hurt to keep supplies from the HH with me for the super… there wasn’t too much extra weight, and some of it might come in handy.

I got my packet with ease, making up a little time, and I headed back to the largest Team Tent, which we, The Lone Star Spartans, proudly laid rightful claim to…seriously… there were so many of us out there to run this race that we got our own starting wave.

I spotted Red and Kristie again, we chatted for a few minutes while I sucked down a few protein shots,  and then, it was time to hit the starting chute. As soon as we hit the wall, (literally, there’s a wall in front of the chute) it was apparent that Red had learned from her experience in the jaws of the Glen Rose Beast….up and over she went like there was an anti-gravity device strapped to her back, barely breaking stride in doing so… Today was going to be a good day….

 

The MC cracked jokes and talked about how badass we all were, reminding us again that we had signed a waiver acknowledging the possibility of our death, ad getting us all pumped up to rend this course asunder. As a special homage to our gigantic team, AC/DC’s immortal “Thunderstruck” blasted across the morning air… and the speech he gave, the same as I had heard before, set my blood running again. I was ready to do this… and I was going to have a blast doing so….

Just to recap what I had put myself through thus far:

  • Barely slept due to excitement…
  • Planned a 5k warm-up run to get to Hurricane Heat, ran a 10k instead cause I made a wrong turn…
  • Finished the Hurricane Heat 15 minutes ago…

…and now the fun was just beginning!!!

…the Klaxon sounded to start us running….

The Super had begun.

The trails at Revielle Peak Ranch are very well groomed in places, and downright gnarly in others. The first mile was mostly a wide track which narrowed in stages to become just a little wider than a single track. Being amongst team mates and friends here made for a pleasant run for us… But I can imagine how some runners could get frustrated if/when trapped behind slower runners….as for me, I can’t lie…. the Hurricane Heat kicked my ass, and I wasn’t going to be operating at the top of my game today…. no matter what….I was just here to finish and have fun with my team…

In “Spartan Up!”, race founder Joe De Sena talks candidly about using the natural terrain against the competitors “Mother Nature makes a bitch of an obstacle course” and these trails were used to every bit of their potential.

The obstacles of the day were nearly as tough as some of the trails…and try as I might, I can’t remember the exact order of them, but here’s the first few….

  • Over-Under-Over-Under-just like it suggests, jump over a 4 foot wall, crawl under another one, repeat and continue on down the trail… an old favorite, barely a momentum breaker….
  • Atlas Carry- Pick up and carry a 90 pound granite sphere 10 meters, then set it down and do 5 burpees, pick up your stone and return…
  • 7 foot wall-Again, self explanatory… but this was right next to the Atlas Carry, so your upper body had already been taxed by the time you shuffled up to it…and there were three of them back to back….
  • Tire Drag/Tire Flip- You got to choose which one you wanted to tackle… Red flipped and I dragged…
  • Inverted Wall- Another Spartan race staple… an eight to ten foot wall at a 45 degree angle…,scramble up the bottom side and climb over the top
  • Over-Under-Through-go over a six foot wall, under an 18 inch gap, and the through a 2 foot hole in the next wall… I neglected to realize I had on a hydration pack, so my usual “PARKOUR” yell and underbar pull through met with near disastrous consequences when I got hung up on the swing through- OUCH…
  • Tractor Pull-Drag along a concrete block on a length of chain…. Red really surprised me here… During the Beast a few months previous, I had gone back to help her through this one… but when I turned around this time… She was RIGHT THERE with me!
  • Flower Plum Poles-10 wide poles driven into the ground… hop across the tops nimbly to the other side…and yes, I totally did my Pat Morita ‘Karate Kid’ Crane kick impression….
  • Tunnel Crawl of Doom-  Somewhere around 25 meters of tight drainage pipe…. scramble along pulling yourself with your fingers and toes…we were given the option of NOT doing this during the super, but….really, can you pass that kind of stuff up?

After the Tunnel Crawl of Doom, we hit a water point and the trail snaked down along a cattle fence, growing tighter and tighter until it was barely a single track trail… Red and I picked our way along at a trot when the gravel surface became more and more bedrock, and we then found ourselves running along the side of a mountain…. and then again straight up it….

Call me a sadist…call me a whiner… but this section of the race is the only part where I felt Spartan Race kind of dropped the ball and failed to challenge the runners as only the Spartan Race can… Yes, the trail was tough, and the climb was gnarly… but that was all it was…we climbed up, and ran down… for about 4-5 miles… no obstacles…no strength challenges… just ho-hum-doldrum running…. It was the kind of mileage that suggested there were two races this weekend, and we were running the longer one, but the shorter one wouldn’t be that much different.

With that sole complaint, the view from the top was amazing:

 

After an eternity of climbing, we reached the summit. We paused to catch our breath, to admire the view and to say a quick prayer at the outdoor church on the summit, and then we charged back down the other side…

SAM_0756On trails like this one….

So after about five miles over the trails without an obstacle in sight, we found ourselves suddenly confronted with a series of mud pit moguls… and just like that, we had to switch from trail running mode back to Spartan Racing mode…

<BEAST MODE:ENGAGED>

….the respite from obstacles that occured for miles mid race….was over… and now it was all back-to-back-to-back pain and torture….YES!

Up and down the mud moguls we went, hitting the trail and headed for the water crossing, a quick 25 meter swim… (the only obstacle you were able to skip without penalty….cause drowning is apparently a reality)… in light of recent events which have plagued another obstacle event whom I shall noT Mention by name, I feel I should mention that there was more than adequate rescue personnel on hand, both IN and OUT of the water… life preservers were provided for those who needed them without reprisal as well… “no penalty for being safe” was the message, and it was loud and clear…

As soon as we were out of the water, it was a short trot to the Pancake carry, a 60-75lb sandbag pancake that led us on up a 1/4 mile worth of hill and back down… I gained laughs all-around by balancing the pancake on my head, folding my hands in front of me and informing everyone around me in a terrible approximation of an Kung-Fu theater accent, “You must be one wif your pun-cake, only then can you truly find inna peice….” About halfway up I stopped to check on a guy, a total stranger, who had dropped his pancake to the ground and was looking upon it with dread.

 

“Dude, you ok”, I asked, first wanting to make sure he hadn’t tweaked his back, or rolled his ankle…

“yeah man, just….you know… catching my breath….. this. is .hard…. ya know?”

“c’mon man, we can do this, I’ll go with you… you CAN do this”, I said, trying to urge him on…

He shook his head no, ” not really dude, I have had enough today…I….I am done man… ”

…something inside me snapped a little…here was a guy, who wasn’t obese or even breathing that hard…just wanting to quit…

I dropped my tone into an almost menacing growl-“Pick up the FUCKING pancake…NOW”

He looked at me incredulously, and cocked his head to the side, to see if I was serious, or possibly he was asessing me to see if I was actually a threat…either way, he bent down and picked up his pancake… I smiled and said, “OK, let’s go”

And that’s what we did… and I am pretty sure he now knows what we all mean when we say Spartan the Fuck Up….

Next up in the final cavalcade of pain was the Hercules Hoist. In the past, I have seen this obstacle built differently…but it was the same…just safer. Where there used to be concrete filled buckets, sandbags had been used to replace them, and the entire structure was built of the structural steel pylons used in Ninja warrior. Finally,  a barrier fence prevented the possibility of being dragged beneath a falling sandbag…. this challenge had been unmistakably re-engineered as a moveable but stable behemoth…

So here we had to drag incredibly heavy bags of sand to the top, and lower them back down slowly…for if it made a sound hitting the ground, you failed… and we all know what failing an obstacle in the Spartan Race gets you…. BURPEES! Red and I succeeded in conquering this seperately and headed of a few feet away to the Traverse Wall.

I quickly dispatched this without much trouble… I have been practicing it a lot, in my office… at home… Red tried her best, and nearly made it…falling about halfway over, we walked under a nearby tree to get some shade while she knocked out her burpees before heading to this thing:

SAM_0759Up and over we went… Unlike the Beast, there were two seperate routes you could choose from, a balance walk across the top on some beams, or scramble across the bottom on top of a cargo net… since I taken the bottom route with the HH, I took the top route for a change of pace before scrambling down the other side….again, Red had no issue with this…

Next, came the first of two barbed wire crawls… which was wet, and muddy and a whole hell of a ton of fun… I wound up covered from head to toe…

Standing up from this, I grabbed some dry dirt and rubbed it in my hands to dry them off in preparation for the spear toss…

Ahhhhh… the spear toss… This obstacle is 50/50 skill and dumb fucking luck. I know HOW to do it, and I have done it many times, but would this time count? Would I be lucky?

Just like the Beast, I grabbed a spear, hefted it in my hand, grabbed behind the balance point and let fly…

…like a boss…

…and it worked…

Time for the final four obstacles… a final barbed wire crawl, the dunkin wall,  the rope climb and fire jump….

The barbed wire crawl was awesome again, and again I wound up covered from head to toe…. which led to some great pics….of which this was the best…..

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On to the dunking wall we went, and  we dispatched the water portion with ease. The slick wall that came next was easy for me and my bare feet, but try as we might to get her to the top, Red kept slipping back…

Red and I regrouped at the base of the rope climb…we bumped fists and she headed over to do her burpees while I made my attempt at redemption…if you recall, this obstacle kicked my ass at the end of the Beast… and it kicked my ass twice… The pain of falling on both attempts and not hearing the sweet ring of a cowbell either time still haunted me… yes I have done other rope climbs since…but the specter of fatigue haunted me, and the fear of failure motivated me…

I slipped into the edge of the muddy pool at the base of the ropes, selected one and waded over to it….neck deep….

I grabbed the rope and hauled myself skyward. It was a great effort to get clear of the water, but  I refocused and continued skyward, grabbing the rope with my bare feet as I went….and just like that, the bell was within reach..

I rang it, and I was done… that which had once conquered me had been conquered in return….

With that finished, the final fire leap seemed a simple challenge, but we made sure to jump this one together:

70_1df082f6122808b14efddfc58a476fd4_Super_FireZone.jpg70_8337d9038b38402d44038bfe838cf36f_Super_FireZone.jpg  70_8dca83872ea82a73627fe7eeba0f91d8_Super_FireZone.jpg 70_10cd87c2d7bb7a959ffcde4b93a1f6f6_Super_FireZone.jpg

 

…and just like that, we were done….

<BEAST MODE: DISENGAGED>

Red and I hung out and enjoyed the company of our team mates in the festival area, using the nearby lake for a refreshing dip and de-mudifier…

2014-05-17 16.33.21

not bad for one day…. not bad at all….

2014-05-18 01.43.31 Having a chance to run with a team like the Lone Star Spartans was an amazing experience… and one I looked forward to repeating… in fact, I liked it so much, I was planning on doing it again the next day…

…but that’s a story for part #3, and I haven’t written that yet….

To be continued….until then, here’s some more pics:

 

 

 

 

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