Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Tri-State Super Spartan 2015

Ok, so it's not a triathlon, but it's a race and and it's fitness related and I've done a Tough Mudder report, so I'm gonna give a rundown of this weekend's Spartan Race.

I'd never done a Spartan before so I didn't really know what to expect. I had heard through others that it was more competitive than a Mudder, and I had done some light research into the different obstacles, but other than that, I was going in without expectations.

Training for the Spartan was fairly limited. Since my last big triathlon, I've been trying to do more of Crossfit-style workouts, incorporating strength and high intensity interval sessions (HIITS). Oh and lots of burpees and pullups. The burpees would prove to be quite important.

I registered for the Spartan Super well in advance. A few days before the event we got our bib numbers and exact wave start time. I signed up for the Sunday event, so on the morning of, I drove down to Vernon, NJ, particularly enjoying the fact that I drove through a town called Sparta.
After taking a short provided shuttle for the parking lot to race venue, I picked up my race packet, which included a numbered headband (the Spartan equivalent of a race bib), along with various wrist bands.
The event grounds were very festive, with a nice handful of vendors, sponsors, bag check, and a fairly large warmup area that included a few ropes, and mini jungle gym to jump on, pull up, or otherwise prepare for the race.

My 8:30 wave started almost exactly on time. Obviously, you had to climb a 5 foot wall in order to get into the start coral, and we were off....straight up a ski slope. The first few miles were really quite slow, being very hilly. Hills would be one of the biggest challenges of the day.

For the most part, I found that the obstacles were pretty easy. Here's what I remember and how I did;

  1. Hurdles - what they sound like. maybe 5 foot high walls to climb over. Nothing exciting
  2. Inverted wall - a wall angle towards you. Options are to jump and pull yourself over, or somehow climb up the "rungs" underneath. I went for the former route.
  3. Cargo Net climbs - again, what it sounds like. The tip I found was to try to stay on a vertical rope line as much as possible to avoid sagging and swinging. It seemed to work well.
  4. Swim - bit of a misnomer. Was really a very short wade through a stream.
  5. Slip Wall - a slippery sloped wall with a rope to pull on. Trick was to stay straight and feet firmly planted. No problems with this one.
  6. Barbed wire crawls - there was a short on about halfway, and a long stretch right at the end. I loved this one. I rolled most of it, and spider-crawled the rest. Not challenging per se, but strenuous nonetheless
  7. Atlas stone - pick up a small boulder and move it over 30 feet. I couldn't get much of a grip, and when I finally got it in the air, I also got a cramp. I opted against a second try here.
  8. Sandbag / bucket brigade / wood block carries - these events were straightforward. Take a heavy object, lug it uphill, plop it down for the next sucker. Physically difficult, mostly due to the incline/decline than the weight itself,
  9. Rope Climb - climb to the top of a rope, hit a cowbell, climb back down. was made more difficult because you had to start in water. You can probably try to just muscle it up, but better way is to use a rope climbing technique called a J-hook. Look it up. It works.
  10. Monkey bar and multi bar - I failed on both of these. The monkey bars were farther apart than i anticipated, and slightly wet. Same goes for the multi-bar, which started with having to swing from ring to ring. I'll be working on this for next time.
  11. Spear throw - throw a spear at a target. If you miss, do 30 burpees. Yeah I missed. Burpees sucked.
  12. Sandbag hoist - using a ropes and pulley, hoist a sandbag a nice amount into the air. Most of us ended up on the floor using nearby gate as an anchor point. It had also rained recently making the damn things heavy as hell.
  13. Fire Jump - more of a cool photo op than obstacle. Get a running start and leap over flaming and smoking logs. And don't forget to smile at the camera (or scowl like me ).
All these obstacles aside, I found that most of the race was really just a long trail run, mixed in with some hiking. Trail runners definitely have an advantage on this type of race, at least at this venue. Covering the 8 miles quickly and efficiently helps cut down your time, and the obstacles only occasionally require a large amount of upper body strength.

I definitely had fun, and would love to go for the Trifecta, which is when you do all 3 distances of Spartan Race in a single calendar year. Sure it's a marketing gimmick, but its a good one!

After finishing you get your medal which includes a trifecta piece, there is hoses set up to clean off. I dubbed this the shower-orgy because...well... look. 

You also get a free beer, which is always nice!


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