Malibu Spartan – Missing the Podium
Over the weekend racing in Malibu, California for another set of Spartan Races I missed the podium twice. Saturday I missed the podium by one place finishing 4th and Sunday I missed the podium not because of where I placed but where I was back on course again. Actually, Sunday I finished 3rd in the elite heat but missed awards because I was somewhere else, helping someone else.
Spartan Race recently teamed up with the Biggest Loser RunWalk Race Series. It is a series of 5k races all over the country and they recently added an off-road option. The off-road option is well a Spartan Race. Season 5 Biggest Loser contestants Dan & Jackie Evans run the series. It gives people the opportunity to try out a Spartan Race, untamed, and obstacles are optional. The goal is to get people out, moving, and challenging themselves. After some conversations with Dan in Fenway, I asked if I could help out in Malibu. He said yes and I was committed.
The first thing you need to know about this past weekend was the weather. I was expecting to head to sunny Malibu for a nice couple of laps on a sprint course. It rained, pretty much the whole weekend and Sunday was the worst of it. After two days of hard fought battles in the elite heat, I finished my first lap Sunday, wet, bruised, shivering, and oozing blood out of a scraped up left knee. My hand was cut up after being taken to the ground by an aggressive gladiator and I finished the lap depleted. Everything in me wanted to get warm, dry and just relax the rest of the day. I had committed to the Biggest Loser heat weeks earlier and changed my clothing and about an hour later set back out on the course.
After a few minutes into the Biggest Loser heat I found myself with a mother and her daughter. Claudia and Amanda are big fans of the show and wanted to meet former contestants and challenge themselves. As we headed up the first muddy ascent, this is where we met. The mud was thick and for many in this heat far beyond what they had seen before. Everyone worked together as a team to get up the mountain.
The first big challenges for this duo was the vertical cargo net, Claudia who said she was afraid of heights made it up and over the cargo net conquering fears. We high fixed and continued through the course. The most inspiring moment came when we reached the box jumps. I asked the ladies if they had ever done a box jump before both said no. I demonstrated how to do the jump and they both attempted. Amanda jumped with authority as if she had done it many times before. Claudia jumped and landed it as well. Claudia would do 5 of her 20 box jumps and the rest step-ups and Amanda one after another knocked out box jump after box jump! It was a highlight of my day and really inspiring to watch.
When given changes to bypass obstacles these two puts fears aside and pressed through them, conquering a sandbag carry like we have never seen before mixing in walls to climb over and under while carrying the bag. They also both conquered the slippery wall, and hercules hoist. With some teamwork they got across the traverse wall, and well we will have to work on their spear throwing technique. They jumped the fire like pros and ran across the finish line.
I have had the opportunity to head out on courses this year with Chris Davis and our new friend Sally from Amesbury but something about this was different and really special. I would go on to tell anyone who would listen about Amanda and her box jumps the rest of the day. The Biggest Loser heat at Spartan Race is a fantastic way for people to give obstacle course racing a try without the pressure. For me it was great to help not only encourage both Claudia and Amanda but also to help teach them some of the tricks of the obstacles and how to do them.
I left Malibu with three medals this weekend, one t-shirt and a new set of shoes. The one which will mean the most and carry the most memories from this experience will definitely be the Biggest Loser Medal! So I missed my podium picture on Sunday and awards ceremony but was out doing something else, and those memories are far more important to me than any picture at an awards ceremony.