Back in March I took advantage of a sweet deal on the Texas Spartan Sprint at Reveille Peak Ranch out in Burnet, Texas. Last weekend, the race pushed both Brad and I to our physical and mental limits.
Parking was in a huge dirt field and a “shuttle” took you out to the race site:
The race let a group of 300 Spartan-to-bes go in 30 minute increments, starting at 9am. Our heat wasn’t until 2:30pm so by the time we arrived at packet pickup, the event was in full swing.
We dropped our bag off at bag check and then posted up at the barbed wire / finish line gladiators to see what exactly we were up against.
It was just over 80 degrees and not a cloud in the sky. The weather was perfect for say, a few beers by the pool or a day out on the boat on Lake Travis. It was not, however, perfect for the journey we were about to embark on.
Around quarter after two we headed to the starting line, where a crowd of people were already waiting. Although I had marked my forehead (and arm, calf, and both hands) with my bib number, I decided to cover it up with a bandana to keep the sweat and my hair out of my face.
The announcer told us to keep our eyes peeled for tarantulas and rattlesnakes, both of which were spotted on the race course on Friday. Um, what? (We didn’t end up seeing any, but heard rustling in the high grass along the dirt trail pretty much the whole time).
After an “I am Spartan” chant, our adventure began! The way the course was set up near the finish, we were under the impression we would run the 3 miles, and then hit all of the obstacles leading up to the finish. This was not the case.
Side note: when we registered for the race, it was being advertised as 3+ miles. When the Participant Guide came out during race week, it was advertised as 4+ miles. Per one of the race officials, the final official mileage was 5.8 miles. Just a heads up…
We started off climbing a steep hill on the trail and after our hearts were pumping hard and we were drenched in sweat, the obstacles appeared. The first one was a set of walls “under the first, over the next, under the next, etc” which were fairly easy. This was the only set of walls I was able to conquer on my own because of the height. Thank god for Brad, who I was able to use as a stepstool and/or personal launcher over the walls, especially the final few which were 8 feet tall.
Most of the obstacles throughout the first few miles were climbing walls and beams:
We also hit monkey bars (which I fell off of, resulting in the need to do 30 burpees. oy), ten stumps of different heights which you had to walk across without falling, a cargo net
cinderblock hauling (which I carried on my shoulder, as did Brad)
crawling under barbed wire
and through a PVC pipe a couple hundred yards long
wading through countless creeks
including one where we had to climb over a set of buoys, under another set, and over the final set. There was someone helping people over the final set and he let me know there was a rock to step on after I made it over. Unfortunately my foot missed the rock, but my lower leg became best friends with it – resulting in a golfball sized lump and a beautiful bruise on my shin.
It’s worth noting that after we hit the first set of obstacles, we pretty much stopped running. It was hot and we decided it would be best to keep it slow and steady in order to finish in one piece. By the time we hit the final obstacles, we were SO happy with our decision. If we had hit it hard, we would have been totally gassed.
This wall (well, the one on the race course – this particular one was at the start for people to practice on) crushed me:
Basically you started at one end and make your way to the other side without falling off. Well, when you have T-Rex arms like me, it’s very difficult. My midget legs weren’t much help either. I ended up using the top of the wall instead of the pegs until about halfway when I couldn’t reach my foot to the next peg and called it quits. And by quits I mean I went off to the side to knock out my 30 burpees for missing an obstacle. Ugh. This wall also tore up my hands, blessing me with glorious blisters that would hinder my progress in all rope obstacles to come.
We then had to carry a sandbag uphill about a hundred yards and back. It felt like a mile at this point. I alternated between carrying it on my shoulder and my head. Following the sandbag carry (or maybe before? memory is a little hazy) were 5 muddy, slippery hills, with 3-ft mud pits in between each one. Basically scale up the hill, slide down the other side into the pool, scale up the hill, slide down, etc. This wasn’t too terrible, mainly because the mud bath was oddly refreshing due to the sun beating down on us. Gross but true.
We were FINALLY in the home stretch! It was time for the tractor tire flip. Each tire was on a peg, and you needed to flip it twice (off the peg, on the peg, off, on). Then another mud hill, followed by a mud bath, and then a rope climb.
I tried wrapping the bandana around my blistered hand but it kept slipping off. I couldn’t get a firm grip on the rope, so I (yet again) headed over to the side for another set of wonderful burpees.
Once Brad finished the rope climb and I finished my burpees, we ran over to tackle the fire jump.
Next we needed to walk across the river on a balance beam, which was easier than I thought it would be, especially that late in the race.
Then was the spear toss. One shot, and if your spear didn’t stick? 30 burpees.
Brad and I both missed, so burpees it was.
Once we were done we took off running through waist deep muddy water towards one of the final obstacles.
A combination of my ripped up hands and the inability to keep my weight in my arms helped me lose the battle with this obstacle. My feet slipped out from under me more times than I can count and eventually I accepted defeat. Burpees. Again. AGAIN!! Brutal.
It was time to assume the horizontal position and roll through 100+ yards of barbed wire.
Then we had one last obstacle to bust through – the gladiators:
Oooh, gut shot. My face says it hurt. Also I was completely regretting ditching the bandana at this point – my hair was allll up in my face.
My bib was desperately holding on by only two safety pins by that point.
Spartan Sprint Success!
This race was TOUGH, but so much fun! I’m still a little achy and have plenty of bruises, scratches, and calluses. Would we do it again? Absolutely. But definitely earlier in the day, and we’d train a little better next time. Next time as in May 13, 2013 – we’re already signed up for the 9:30am heat. What?! It was only 30 bucks!
We’ll see ya next year, Texas Spartan Sprint.