A Race with No Mud – Running in Fenway
My parents brought me to my first baseball game for my eighteenth birthday, we didn’t grow up watching the sport but we were given some amazing seats in the old yankee stadium right behind the warming deck, any baseball fans dream. I remember going to the game and watching but not feeling excited or anything about baseball. Then I went to college in Boston. Boston is a city steeped in tradition and an also fanatical obsession with all things sports. It was here that I was really introduced to baseball and really one team, the Red Sox. In college I had exam dates changed, presentation times moved, and learned every player on the Red Sox team by name and number just by going to class.
This is when baseball was introduced to my life and when I forever became a Red Sox fan. I remember in 2003 when the Sox lost to the Yankees with that late homerun, then remember in 2004 watching the ALCS and knowing the Sox could do it making our way into The White Horse Bar to see them seal the deal into the World Series. We sang Sweet Caroline out of dorm room windows, and often would have several televisions set up in suites during playoff season to watch all the games. Red Sox became a huge part of my college experience and still remember my first trip to Fenway. A Red Sox fan’s first trip to Fenway is like visiting the Vatican for Catholics, it is a sacred place that is steeped in tradition, history and well is a magical place.
When Spartan Race announced that they would be the first to hold an obstacle course race in a baseball park, I knew I wanted to be there. When I found out it was to be Fenway Park it didn’t matter where I was or what I was doing this was a race I could not and would not miss. In the weeks leading up to the race as I saw all my friends heading to Sacramento in the chase for points and another beast, I questioned going to Fenway a couple times. But for me experience won out over points for me and I boarded the plane on Thursday night to head east.
Friday afternoon, I was able to get a tour of Fenway and even was able to sneak onto the outfield grass, a sacred place that the public is not aloud to be. Either was I for that matter, but a few pictures later and a lifetime of memories we made it happen. Saturday morning arrived way too quickly after an early Friday morning arrival and tough red eye. I hoped on the T and headed to Fenway. The first thing is riding a subway to get to a race is a first, the second is not carrying around a bag full of clothing to a race. With no mud in this race the need for extra shoes, socks, and whole other outfit was eliminated.
I got to the venue and the first thing I realized was this was unlike any other Spartan Race there has been. The mud and mountains were replaced with multiple body exercises and stairs, lots of stairs. This race I have best described to people as, “if Spartan Race and CrossFit had a baby this is what would happen.” \You have to do is throw out your ideas of a traditional obstacle course race before you can really appreciate this Time Trial.
The first thing is this Time Trial there was no Elite Heat, everyone races everyone. So on Saturday I raced about 2600 people and Sunday the number was actually higher with over 3000 competing. We lined up in groups of ten in our wave and were sent off every minute. But again we didn’t just get to stand on the starting line and take off, first we did burpees the number changed based on the started but we all did burpees.
We then headed off up the ramps ducking and crawling under bungee wires, no chance of cuts from barbed wire but these ropes wiped when they came back and got you! Up and over some small walls when we were running stairs, most of the traditional obstacles were there; walls, over-under-throw, rope climb, hercules hoist, cargo net, Hobie Hop, spear throw, traverse wall and others. However this race brought in some new challenges, 20 overhead slams with a slam ball (medicine type ball), 20 push-ups (hands off the ground), 30 burpee station, 50 jump ropes (not done with a traditional jump rope but climbing rope), 10 box jumps right before the finish. They also modified the Atlas Carry to pick up the concrete block carry it to the edge of the bleacher bar, place it down, then return and do 15 burpees, then go back and get it. Because we were in the ballpark of course one obstacle involved throwing a ball into a can (I missed all three times I raced).
However, the obstacle everyone was talking about and took down even the best of racers was the Concept2 Rowers. Concept2 and Spartan Race teamed up to create an obstacle that at first thought didn’t seem horrible but in reality was harder to achieve. The obstacle row 500 meters in under 2:00 minutes. Not a terrible challenge but as always there was a catch. As I sat down to the machine the screen had the Spartan logo and said “You have 2 minutes to row 500 M.” As I took the first pull I was expecting to see the normal screen, wrong. All that was on the screen was a number 500 and the Spartan logo, no pace, no watts, nothing to help pace you. As I pulled the number went down. I watched it drop to 15 then 10 then “Burpees For You”. I had missed it by one pull. Now had 30 burpees to pay the price. My next two times on the course I would see “AROO” on the screen meaning I had succeeded.
As I ran around all parts of the ball park I enjoyed the experience. On Saturday I would run the course twice the first time was much of a blur but at the same time I found myself gazing off to the distance to look at the surroundings. As I approached the finish I did a cartwheel as I crossed. I would run it a few hours later with some friends, stopping to cheer people on, and enjoy being in Fenway. This lap was great to really take in the surroundings as we often race without realizing where we really are. As we ran the Green Monster I took in the view of the park. This time I would do broad jumps across the finish.
I got home Saturday night and saw I had finished 13th for women out of almost 1000 women and 133 overall with all 2500 competitors. Something ignited in me and I knew I could do better and wanted to do better so I decided Sunday I would race as well. Sunday morning I took a different tact starting to race later in the morning. This allowed me to cheer on friends in the early heats. The nice thing about this race is since it was in an urban environment there was no difference in the course. Everything was the exact same as the day before and in fact more people raced Sunday than Saturday. Many people I saw racing both days. As I stood at the starting line on Sunday I had one goal to beat my time of 49:00 the day before.
I took off and pushed it more this time. I made the rower this time, but missed the ball toss for the third time in the weekend. My years as a goalie didn’t set me up well for shooting balls into targets, I am better at stopping them. As I crossed the finish line I knew this was a better time but how much by I had no idea. I checked the results and I was sitting in second this time having completed the course almost seven minutes faster. I had accomplished my goal. I waited around most of the day to see if this result would stand up. As the lights went up on Fenway my position was secure. We headed to The Baseball Tavern where I picked up one of the coolest trophies to date, a Texas Timber Baseball Bat, the icing on the cake of an amazing weekend.
Not only did this Red Sox fan get to run, crawl, and jump around Fenway Park, but I also got see family, friends, and enjoy a weekend on the east coast. A lifetime of memories all in a short 72 hours. Experience 100% beat out points for me at the end of the day and I don’t regret at all not going to California.