Tale of Two Races – Spartan Race PA – Part 1
I look over and glance at the two medals from this past weekend and although they are both from the same race course the two couldn’t hold more different meanings. I was lucky enough to be able to race both Saturday and Sunday at Blue Mountain in Pennsylvania in what is being said the hardest Spartan Sprint to date. The Race Director himself referred to it as a mini-Killington. At over five miles long he could not have been more right, always listen to race directors.
PART 1 – SATURDAY
This race had the build up and anticipation of the Super Bowl. Well maybe it was just for the eleven of us women who had been promoted for weeks racing in this race that felt that way. Spartan Race wanted a women’s race to put on the map and they got it. They recruited some of the best in the sport to all come together for one race. We had women from all over the United States and Canada represented, current champions, current and former national team members, elite Crossfitters, pro-triathletes, and basically a stacked field where anything in the top ten is an accomplishment.
To mark this historic race a special film crew was brought in and our race day started with interviews before the race. During the morning I was having flashbacks of Killington last August as we spoke to the cameras as people filed into the venue. Our pre-race duties were over and I headed out to warm-up. Minutes into my run I was already sweating bullets, the humidity was thick and the air heavy. I jogged around with music going in my ears. Next thing I new it was time to line up and start the race.
Standing shoulder to shoulder with the best was both exhilarating and intimidating. This was the race I had dreamed of for the past year, the best together pushing each other and furthering the sport. I stood next to Ella (the young gun) and Jenny (reigning World Champion) and then there was myself, the woman from the mountains. A blur of activity happened and we were off!
The field took off and I found myself trying to keep up. The pace was quick and I found myself falling back. A tinge of panic came into me when I was probably in 15th or even almost 20th place soon out of the starting gate. But I moved along at my pace and watched the others sprint away. The most memorable part of this course was the terrain. Immediately we headed up a steep pitch and I knew it was on. I kept moving at the pace I could handle and let the race turn out as it would.
The first moves I made to pass some of my competitors was on the rope climb as I watched other women doing burpees and struggling some I powered up the rope. (After Utah I found my strength in obstacles). Then trudged up the mountain for what seemed like a year. Slowly up the mountain I picked off another competitor then another in the sandbag carry (1/2 mile long). I couldn’t believe it as I finished the herculean pull that I managed to pass some more. I might actually be able to get my top ten finish I had been hoping for!
After the pull was when I made my move, much like a horse in the Kentucky Derby coming out of nowhere. As the course veered downhill I knew this was my chance, I took off giving me space between the competitors I had just passed. I found myself doing what I do best, barreling down the mountain. Over a few more obstacles I made more ground. Then played leap frog with another woman for an obstacle or two until I was able to gain my space with a successful log hop (thank god for good balance) and a speedy barbed wire crawl.
After the tire flip I knew I was nearing the finish with only a few obstacle in front of me. I looked ahead and could not see any of my competitors and looked behind and saw none. I breezed through the traverse wall then came, the spear throw. After weeks of practicing I was hoping this would be the race! Wrong! 30 Burpees! The only burpees I would do the whole race would be again the spear throw. Over the slippery wall and through the gladiators I knew my position was locked down. I skipped and leaped through the finish line with a string of familiar faces greeting me at the finish line, smile on my face. I hugged friends and congratulated the race director on a fantastic and brutal course.
The rest of the day was filled with excitement and time with the other ladies. I would finish in 7th place based on official results and could not be happier with this position. It was definitely a race to remember and a race to go down in the history of the sport.
PART 2… SUNDAY… to come…