Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Super Spartan Race Recap

Last year when I was pregnant with Patsy, I was contacted and asked if I was interested in free entry to the Spartan. Looking at the course and the intensity, I didn't feel it was the right race for me at the time, but I was interested in the future. Earlier this year I followed up with my contact and he offered free race entry to me and a friend. Meghan won the entry and this past weekend we tackled the Super Spartan together.

In my mind I had a great plan laid out of how to train for this race. I was going to do lots of burpees, lift weights, lots of trail workouts, and become a badass before race day. Well, life kind of happened and I didn't do nearly as many burpees as I probably should and holding and lifting Patsy was the only weight training that I did. I was thankful that Meghan’s training sounded similar to mine so we were heading into this thing in the same place.
Meghan and I, pre-race

Logistics for the race were pretty straight forward. Parking was easy to get to. A path to the start was clearly marked, despite the fact that we were climbing through the forest. We got to the race with plenty of time to spare and we were able to scope out the festival beforehand. Part of the course wound out and around back by the finish so we got to see some of the elites work through the obstacles. My friend Kate had a start time 2 hours earlier than us and we happen to catch her going through one of the obstacles. Glad I got to see her in action as she is quite the badass and finished the race in less than 2 hours. I kind of went into this with an “ignorance is bliss” mentality as I didn't want to scare myself by looking too much into some of these obstacles. Meghan had sent me some tips earlier in the week and that was about it. In retrospect, maybe this wasn't the best plan.

After stretching, buying some gear, checking our bags and getting hydrated, we headed to the start line. As some great foreshadowing, we had to climb a giant wall before even getting to the start. There were tons of people in tight quarters so it was interesting to say the least. I won’t go through each and every obstacle (as I definitely lost count early on), but some were harder than others and some were more terrifying than others. There were lots of walls to climb over, lots of waist-deep mud holes to wade through and lots of steep cliffs to walk down and walk up. Some of the obstacles appeared less challenging than they were. (I LOVED the monkey bars as a kid and was always awesome at it. Turns out if you don’t do the monkey bars for 20 years, you should expect to be less awesome at it.) What time Meghan and I lost on the obstacles, I feel like we made up for it on the run. Whenever there was a flat surface where you could run, we did.

Lots of barbed wire to climb over and mud to slosh through

The scariest obstacle for me--that view from the top on a cable as other people are shaking the net as they climb too

The only obstacle I flat-out skipped.

I will say that I’m proud of myself for trying all but one of the obstacles. I might not have been great at all of them and some took me longer than they probably should have, but I did my very best. And now I know what to expect for next time. Yes, you read that right. There is going to be a next time.

The course itself was beautiful with all of the leaves changing color, the spring water falling over pebbles and rocks, the flowers growing in pockets off of a steep cliff… The Spartan race is on the pricier side but I really do feel like you get what you pay for. There are a TON of volunteers to cheer, motivate, pour water, and police the different obstacles. Every inch of the course was VERY CLEARLY marked. I can’t emphasize this enough. We were going through winding trails in the middle of the forest and there was a clear pathway marked with Spartan plastic tape. It really did make things easier when you didn't have to think about where to go during the race.
These mamas are SPARTANS!

Another great thing I’ll say about the race is the sense of community that Meghan and I felt during the event. Some of the obstacles were hard but we had help. As one example, there was a rope ladder that we had to climb over. I went first and thought it was much scarier at the top than I thought it would be. Megan followed after me and shouted down from the top “What do I do next?” and I tried my best to explain but the guy next to her, also at the top, coached her on what to do. I cheered for her “Come on Meghan, you can do it!” Others heard her name and cheered for Meghan too. It was exhilarating to complete these obstacles by helping each other out. I never felt alone during the race and I never felt like there was something that I couldn't do. I know some people do this on their own, but I think this was much more fun with a partner. Thanks Meghan for signing up and sticking with me during the entire race!

In summary, if you’re looking for a race that will test your limits and challenge you in ways you haven’t been challenged before, I highly recommend the Spartan race. I’m very happy I did it and I plan to do it again! As I’m still hobbling around, sore and bruised, you’d think that I would be done with the Spartan. Buuuuuut the competitor in me would like another try to tackle this beast. Maybe not the Spartan Super though, perhaps the Spartan Sprint is more my speed. If you have any questions about the race itself, the logistics, or anything else, please let me know in the comments below. If there is interest, perhaps I can put together a "Do's and Don'ts" list for obstacle course racing and the Spartan specifically.

Thanks to the people at Spartan for offering me free race entry. Thanks to Oiselle for sending us t-shirts and sweatshirts to destroy during the race. Until next time...

Don't mind me as I enjoy a beer in my finisher tee


  1. Your recap perfectly encapsulates our experience. Thank you so much for this opportunity. I am SO glad I did it, though it didn't seem like it at the time:) And honestly, I would love to do it again, too, without the fear of injury right before the marathon. Thanks for pushing me and helping me through!

  2. Wow, sounds and looks like a fun time. It was nice to read about the camaraderie at the event. Maybe when I am clear of marathon training I will try one.

  3. Great job Kelly! I was scared on the Warrior Dash and there is no way I'm doing this! Ha! I'm a huge baby apparently. And with my shoulder...well, it's a perfect excuse! :)

  4. Thanks Meghan! I had a blast running it with you. If we're not knocked up again, perhaps the same time next year?! :)

  5. I highly recommend it Pete! There is one in Indiana in the spring if you don't want to compete too close to the Chicago Marathon.

  6. Haha, the Warrior Dash looked like a kiddie playground compared to these obstacles. I'm so glad I got the chance to give this a try... I'll have to tell you more about it on a Thursday night run.

  7. You are badass!!! Way to go!!

  8. I've done one obstacle race in my life, the Monster Dash in Crete, which is kind of like Warrior Dash but Halloween themed. It was fun but there were definitely some obstacles I skipped (like wading through dirty water). I'm a wuss. Although with my knee being what it is right now, I've been doing a lot more strength training, which I do enjoy. Of course with the lack of cardio, my 6-pack (I know it's in there!!!) is hidden under some flab.

  9. I know that race kind of turned you off to obstacle course races due to twisting an ankle (if I remember correctly). I wish I made time to do more strength training. Work and life (and let's be honest, Netflix) got in the way. I don't know if I've ever seen my 6 pack! Haha

  10. You are correct! My ankle as not happy after that race. Forgot about that.

  11. Thankfully your old BRF remembered. Haha. Cities away yet still remembering random things about one another.