Just a quick recap of my first Spartan race! I actually won a race entry, and had a friend (and her husband) driving up from San Diego to complete the Sacramento race. She is a hardcore OCR-er and is a member of the Weeple Army. The Weeple Army is a mud/obstacle course group for people of all abilities and levels (thankfully!). They only have one goal: to have FUN! I was super worried about doing the race because 1) this was my first big OCR. I had done the Survivor mud run earlier in the year but that was only about 3.1 miles, the weather was good and the obstacles were easy. 2) Instead of signing up for the Spartan Sprint (3+ miles and about 15 obstacles), I thought “I can do more!” and signed up for the mid-level Spartan Super (8+ miles and 20+ obstacles), 3) I had done the Nike Women’s Half just 6 days before, and had gotten back from 3 weeks in SE Asia just 8 days before. 4) California is in a severe drought. The one weekend it was going to rain was the Spartan weekend. Awesome.
By Friday it was already raining and when I woke up Saturday to make the hour-long drive to Van Vleck Ranch, it was still raining. It did stop once I got closer to Sacramento, but hours of rain had already done their job – everything was muddy. Muddy and wet. Every obstacle was slathered in mud from the shoes of previous racers. Everything was slick and slippery. Some of the obstacles you couldn’t even do because there weren’t footholds anymore, just piles of mud shoved into what used to be holes and openings. You couldn’t grip anything because you’d slip right off – I slipped right off of the monkeybars when I tried to grip them. I had elected to wear my running sunglasses instead of my regular glasses for the race, in case the sun decided it wanted to come out (they also help to cut glare when it’s overcast). By the second obstacle, since it was raining, I couldn’t see at all since the lenses were wet. They were now useless, so I put them on top of my head and tried to run and do obstacles without them. I couldn’t see my footing or what I was stepping on, so I rolled my ankles more times than I’d care to count on ground that was being washed away by the rain, so it was super uneven, muddy, rocky and full of holes.
The hand and foot “holdings” on the Horizontal Wall Traverse were slathered in mud, so you… first had to get off all the mud that was caked on your own shoes by scraping it on anything you could find, and then get the mud from the holds onto your shoes and scrape that off. Despite having to do that, I really liked the Wall Traverse! The Barbed Wire Crawl was easier since I’m so short, I’m already low to the ground. But when the ground is now partially dug out from rainfall, the rocks and gravel that are now exposed make it really painful to crawl through! . Wall Jumps – not easy at all when you’re short, let me tell you.
Water Walk was made harder because now the water level was higher and the ground underneath your feet was super soft because of the rainfall. You would sink ankle-deep in mud and people were losing their shoes left and right! I know how to swim so it wasn’t a big deal, but there were some people freaking out that the water was even higher since they couldn’t swim. The Stump Balance was harder because the part you had to step on was no longer flat, since it was caked with mud, making it harder to plant your feet (and since they were covered in mud, you slipped quite a bit).
I thought we were done with the obstacles and was looking forward to the fire jump when out of nowhere one more obstacle came into view – the Underwater Wall. I was bummed because I had started to dry off (not really), but wasn’t looking forward to dunking my entire head under the muddy water to get under the wall. Literally 5 minutes after we finished the race, the clouds parted, the blue skies came out and the sun started shining. What a jerk haha.
I was super glad to be finished and even more glad that I didn’t back out of the race. I did the entire race with my friend, her brother (another first-timer) and a friend of hers also in the Weeple Army. They have such a large presence that they even had their own tent, reserved for the biggest registered team. That was nice so we could leave our bags there and didn’t have to worry about them getting wet. If you do OCR’s, I highly recommend joining the Weeple Army. I wouldn’t have been able to get through the race without them, and after meeting them all at the tent, I realized what an awesome community of people they are. Literally all walks of life, all fitness levels, and they just run and support each other – and have a blast while doing it!
This race is so different from any running race that I’ve done. Road races it’s all about you – your breath, your nutrition, your speed, your finish. During Spartan, people were helping out wherever they could. You couldn’t get up a wall? Someone who you’ve never met, runs up and lets you use their knee or back to boost you up. You can’t make the jump from log to log (one of the hardest ones that day)? After receiving help on this obstacle, I ran back, offered my shoulder and back to a woman who was having difficulty making the jump. You just help, that’s what you do. It’s not a team effort, since you have never met them – it’s a people effort.
Oh, and if you’re contemplating a Spartan, you best prepare yourself with plenty of these bad boys: