Super Spartan – Mid-Western Style
A post that is well overdue since the race was now over two weeks ago but the bright side is that with the race in the past I have photos and a video ready to share. (Check out the video -HERE-) After about a week down and out on the couch with a nasty cold/flu thats been going around Salt Lake City I am finally starting to feel better and get back into it all again.
Two weekends ago I headed off to a race I wasn’t suppose to be at. It wasn’t until South Carolina that after a couple friends talking me into it I added the Spartan Race Mid-West Super into my already overcrowded race schedule. This would be the best race I have ever been talked into.
The first thing to note about this race is the location, I was thinking it would be close to Chicago. It was not until I got to my hotel that I realized we were a good hour and a half from Chicago off of I-80 a road I had just driven barely a month earlier. The second thing to learn about this area is the weather! The Mid-West in October is not the warmest time of year and both Saturday and Sunday as the races started the temps were in the mid-thirties. With all these things it still was one of the most fun races of the year.
I would race both Saturday and Sunday both days resulting in the same placing among the women, picking up a pair of third places and another cool sword and pair of Inov-8’s for the year. Not bad for a race I hadn’t planned to go to!
As I pulled up to the race site Saturday morning it was still dark out and the thermometer in the rental said 32 degrees, welcome to cold weather racing! I huddled myself away in a warm location up to the start of the race dashing down to the starting line. This race was held at an X-TREME Park and they actually have a full-time obstacle course set up. This race was a little different using both the parks obstacles and Spartan’s signature obstacles.
As we were off I felt what seemed like a sea of people take off around me, many sprinting out in those first few yards. I settled into my pace as I have at each race knowing I would see some of these people later on in the course. The terrain was a mix of woods, ditches, and more pain in the ass type up and down small hills. It seemed like we were running for a long time then got into some obstacles, early on I saw Ella Kociuba (recently finished 3rd in the World Championships and good friend) on the side of the trail. I looked at her pained face in horror and asked her what happened, her knee had problems from a previous injury and she was out of the race. I hugged and kept racing.
I am fortunate enough to know many racers so it’s fun to be able to run with friends for portions of the course and having great conversations along the way. Some of the unique obstacles along this course were the balance logs (I love all balance obstacles, and I didn’t slip on my butt on either one day one) and the under and over logs, the terrain challenged even the best racer. However, the most talked about obstacle was THE MUD!
As I raced on my shoes quickly filled with mud and I was stoked to have my X-Talon-190’s on as they shredded through the mud. As the race progressed I found myself passing racers, I started out probably again 10-15th place for women. As the last mile ensued I was told I was in third place! The heat was on as I raced through the last couple of obstacles at the end; the traverse wall, spear throw, fire jump and then the rope climb came.
This rope climb was like none other we have had this year! Most races we have a little bit of a water pit under the rope, this was a full pond you had to swim to the rope before even beginning to climb. I never took a temperature of the water but it wasn’t much warmer than freezing. As I started to climb the rope knowing that 4th place wasn’t that far behind me I knew I had to move. Half way up the rope everything in my body locked up, I couldn’t go up and couldn’t go down a knot to try to get higher. I was only a few feet from the top and yet I couldn’t reach and had to drop! My first and only set of burpees in the race. As I was doing my burpees forth place was on her way up the rope. As I finished my burpees and continued throw the last barbed wire and up the porcupine spine out of the corner of my eye I saw her drop as well. I finished with a run throw the gladiators and my race was completed.
The weather on Sunday was very similar to Saturday with the exception of the wind that was whipping throughout the course. The track had become much muddier than the previous day and our pristine obstacles were now caked in a solid layer of mud making each one more difficult. I took this day for fun even pausing to talk to one of my favorite Death Racers who was on the build crew for this race during the tire flip. After doing an extra tire flip and leisurely making my way through water obstacles I found myself catching up to Andi Hardy (another top racer with many wins to her name this season). As we the over and under logs I saw her, I crawled, climbed, slid, and did my best impression of a koala to make it over the tall logs.
Next was the log hop, Andi had fallen off and was doing burpees as I approached with a successful competition of the obstacle we moved to the next balance logs that also had about six inches or so that they moved back and forth. I was able to walk the first one but the next to were caked with mud and the guy in front of me was scooching his way across it, making it as an old coach would say, slicker than snot. The only option was to follow his lead, Andi on the other obstacle doing the same. My only way to best describe this move was part gymnastics balance beam get up with legs flying back and forth and part yoga moves. I got off the logs seconds before her then we entered the woods.
She would stay less than ten feet behind me for the rest of the running of the race. I constantly looked over my shoulder and she was always there, with my attempts to add bursts of speed there she was. As we entered the traverse wall I had opened the gap to about twenty feet or so and was half way across the wall when I heard her behind me fly across the wall and ring the bell. In that moment I faltered and fell off, thirty burpees. I was now in fourth place with very little ground left in the race. As I did my burpees I watched Andi throw the spear, it hit the hay then fell out, now we both were doing burpees!
I took a second and a deep breathe as I let the spear leave my hand, direct hit in the middle. Andi was now still ahead but I had gained back some ground. As I jumped over the fire Chris Davis told me I was in forth to which I had a curt, I KNOW. I entered that cold water once again Andi about at the rope. This time I took care to try to keep my hands out of the water. Andi was half way up the rope as I began my climb, as I climbed she seemed to be stalled on the rope next to me. She had cramped as I did the day before. I knew this was my only chance at a podium, with the tips of my fingers I found the bell at the top, with a ding I then dropped and swam to the edge. Moments after I dropped Andi dropped missing her first rope climb ever!
I hurried my way through the last barbed wire, expending all the energy I had left, made my way up the porcupine and through the gladiator. After passing the finish line out of breath and beaten down from the mud and challenge I was congratulated by race staff, about a minute later Andi crossed the line. We hugged each other and I told her that was our hardest fought battle of the year. This was a third place that felt great and the battle that got me there was a story I will tell for years!
As I boarded the plane on the way home a couple hours, muddy clothing stewing in my suitcase. I was glad I went to the race I wasn’t suppose to be at. However, the toughest/scariest part of the weekend looking back wasn’t anything in my race but it was later helping out by rabbiting the kids race. Now a pack of kids trying to chance you down and tackle you that is scarier than any obstacle faced on the course, but a great memory for the bank! Definitely this race is on my radar for next year again!