A few weeks ago, Will and I participated in the Pennsylvania Spartan Sprint. I was a bit nervous going into it as it was coming right after my long workout break. In fact, I contemplated skipping out on the race all together, but Will held me accountable and motivated me to the starting line.
The day before our Sprint, I started to get myself even more nervous, as I tend to do, by looking at all the snaps people were posting from the Pennsylvania Super (the same course just longer). For some reason it didn’t click that a course held at a ski mountain would be hilly, but when all I saw were pictures of people
suffering pushing to the top of steep inclines, I knew this race wouldn’t be easy.
Nervous or not, Will and I woke up at the butt crack of dawn on a Sunday morning and drove 2 hours to Blue Mountain Ski Area. We left all our stuff in the car, headed to check in, signed the “I will not sue if I die” contract (I mean… I’d be dead… can’t really sue when you’re dead anyway, amiright?) and headed to the start.
As we were waiting for our corral to be called, Will started talking about how he wants to do a Super next.
“Ok. After this race, we’ll look into doing a Super,” I agreed.
Soon after that hopeful conversation, we were off. We jogged up the first massive hill only to find ourselves faced with 1.5 miles of incline, and by incline I don’t mean a nice grassy knoll. I mean jaggedy, pull-yourself-up-by-tree-branches-and-hope-you-don’t-slip-on-lose-rocks incline. It was a legit cliff climb. I was praying for obstacles just to give my calves a break.
Finally, we hit obstacles. The Hercules Hoist, which consisted of pulling 90 pound sandbags (more for guys) up a big rope and then letting it back down slowly, was a piece of cake for both of us. Next up were the Monkey Bars, where I knew I’d be facing burpees (if you can’t complete an obstacle, you have to do 30 burpees). You see, the Spartan Monkey Bars aren’t just normal Monkey Bars. They go up and down and are super thick. You need grip strength and a 80-foot wingspan to get across them, neither of which I have, and so my first 30 burpees were complete.
After a little more cliff climbing, we had the Spear Throw (who can do this? tell me your secrets.) or in other words, 30 more burpees) and a mud pitt to trudge through. In all honesty, I was SUPER EXCITED for the mud pitt. It may have smelled like King Kong’s bathroom, but that mud felt nice and cool after two miles of cliff climbing and 60 burpees on zero hydration.
Anywhoo, what goes up must come down, so at just passed the 2 mile marker, we started making our way back down the mountain. It was just as hard going down as going up, albeit a bit faster. Just when I though the hills were over, we reached the Atlas Carry. Simply put, we had to carry 25 pounds of death (more for guys) down a super steep hill and then, you guessed it, back up. ERMERGERD this sucked, but I did it! No burpees for this gal!
Other obstacle highlights included:
- Bucket Brigade: filling a bucket with gravel and carrying it up and down another monster hill (My foot started to cramp up at this point. It felt like all my toes were crossed. I’m sure it was dehydration. I’m also sure I looked like the Hunchback of Notre Dame trying to lug that bucket up hill with all my toes feeling like they were criss crossing whilst breathing like an overly excited bulldog at free bone festival.)
- Crawling upside down on a rope.
- Swimming fully clothed through muddy waters for 1/4 of a mile.
- Attempting to make my way across the Monkey Bar Rings, aka an epic fail causing me to rip open my hands and do 30 more burpees.
- Dehydration – Though not an official obstacle, this definitely made the race tough. There were 3 water stops along the course, which isn’t bad considering the course was 4.55 miles, but it was a hot day and I was regretting not bringing my camelback.
The toughest obstacle of all was probably the Barbed Wire Crawl. The wires were too close to the ground to actually crawl, so we had to lay on our sides and roll down the hill, which was covered in tiny sharp rocks. Once at the bottom, we had to climb over an inclined wall, and then roll back UP the hill under the barbed wire. Those rocks were scrapping and digging at us the whole time. I kept telling myself it was just like getting a massage, but the bruises and
cat cougar like scratches that showed up on my back and legs over the next few days begged to differ.
Right toward the end was the rope climb. I REALLY wanted to make it up that rope. I made it about 3/4 of the way last year, but just couldn’t eek out the rest. Unfortunately, my body just wasn’t having it after this race. I couldn’t even make it up a foot. Fail + 30 burpees.
After 4.55 miles and 2 hours and 45 minutes of Spartan torture, we jumped over a fire pit and crossed the finish line! We snagged our much deserved medals and finishers’ tees before I turned to Will and asked:
“So… still want to do that Super?”
This race was the hardest obstacle race I’ve ever done. It was 200x harder than the our other Spartan Sprint and the Tough Mudder combined, even though the Tough Mudder was a 12 mile course – and while Will gave me the death stare when I asked if he still wanted to do a Super, the next day I caught him looking up more Spartan Races. So yes, it was incredible difficult. Yes, my feet cramped up all kinds of crazy and I haven’t been so dehydrated or exhausted in a long time – but would I do it again? You betcha!
Are you as crazy as I am? Get 10% OFF your next Spartan Race when you use this link! (valid through 2015)
Have you ever done an obstacle race?
What was the hardest race you’ve ever done?
Ever done a Spartan Super? Should Will and I do it?
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