It all felt a little bit crazy. I just finished my first marathon and was about to do my first Spartan Race 6 days after it. Crazy or maybe rather stupid?
People say you need about 4 weeks to fully recover from a marathon race. I don’t know what was I thinking booking Spartan that close to such a big race. I wasn’t worried about my energy levels (they were not very hight, although not my biggest worry), but about potential injuries that might come my way. My body was tired. Marathon was on Sunday 9 September, on Friday, 14th September I went for a 6am CrossFit class (not the best idea ever, I was still sore on the race day), Sunday 16th was a Spartan Race day.
Who does obstacle races days after a marathon?! Silly people.
It is a little bit difficult to talk about preparation for this race as there was none. With whole marathon buzz on the way I was having my focus directed there, not putting much attention or effort towards coming Spartan Race. Fortunately I have signed up for a “sprint” which is only about 5 kilometres and roughly 20 obstacles. Having have said that, it doesn’t mean I did nothing! I was running, as a part of a marathon training, and I was doing CrossFit, as a cross-training activity, which, I believe helped me a lot. On top of that, at some point in August, I went to Wild Forest, North East from London, for an OCR training. I was nervous before my sprint, having in mind how difficult the obstacles in Wild Forrest were.
It was a short race so there was really not much specific focus on nutrition here. Evening before the race we went out to an Italian restaurant and I haf some seafood pasta, not because of carb loading. I just love pasta. Our hotel had breakfast included so there was no need to look for something special, we had full Scottish breakfast (Ok, I just had poached egg, bacon, mushrooms and hash brown), plus as I usually have two rounds of breakfast in Scotland (why not?) I had a bowl of fruits with some hazelnuts. On the course there were aid stations with water, pink BCAA potion that tasted weird and jelly babies. I had water twice and once took few jelly babies . To be fair, the picture of people taking jelly babies from one pot with dirty/muddy hands was sort of disturbing, but in case of an apocalypse I guess I’d have better things to worry. So as true Spartans say: AROO!
There were some obstacles, like rope climb, I knew I am not going to be able to do, and will get a penalty of 30 burpees. If I’m being perfectly honest, I thought I’m going to fail badly on multi rigs, as I didn’t do well at Wild Forrest few weeks before, but to my surprise I nailed it! I mean, NAILED IT! As a perk of being in an “open wave” you can go with a team, or ask someone, to assist you with the obstacle. Raissa was there just in case, but I didn’t have to use her help. I went through it like storm. The trick is to balance and get a momentum with a swing, so you use that energy to get from one rig to another.
There was a different story with Hercules Hoist, a very tricky obstacle where we had to lift on the rope 35 kg sandbag. I got the rope with my strongest grip, went high enough, took my feet off the ground to place them on the barrier to give myself some push from the legs… And you know what? I wasn’t able to move it even a centimetre from the ground. To avoid the penalty we did it together, twice, making sounds like we were at the war battle. Beware.
The sprint course was not supposed to have 8ft walls, so that was a surprise. I was able to go pass 4ft and 6ft walls without any issues but needed some help with 8ft walls, couldn’t jump high enough to grab onto the top. The other thing was, the tall walls were at the end, so even if if was able to reach to the top, I am not sure if I’d be able to go through without the assist.
Two of my favourite obstacles were Dunk Wall and Multi Rig. Second one because I didn’t think I will be able to cross it on my own and first one, because it was fun and muddy.
I paid the price later on, where in cold and windy Perth, no showers provided, we had to change. We were freezing and I don’t remember the last time I was shaking so bad! We have found an outdoor hose and used it to wash chunks of mud from our bodies. Was cold. Very cold.
There was no particular goal for this race. I went there with 2 friends, and this is what made this trip a great experience. Your crowd is your strength. I didn’t know what to expect so the plan was to survive and have fun.
I also wanted to see if this is something I would want to do again, as there is another race, close to London, coming in October, and I was hesitating if I should sign up. Should I?
What could be improved
There is one thing that comes to my mind: shower facilities. Given you go through mud ponds (dunk wall) and look like a mud monster after that, having no facilities where you can clean up yourself is a little bit inconvenient. We were dirty, wet and cold and had to travel to Edinburgh after the race leaving traces of mud behind. On the other hand, maybe we can just improve our planning and next time stay one more night in Perth, so we don’t have to travel covered in dirt. Will make a note of that.
We did find a hose and took an outdoor shower, stripping in cold, windy Perth.
Roman warrior outfit (Amazon)
Trail running shorts (Kalenji)
Compression socks (ZeroPoint)
Shoes (Salomon XA ENDURO W)
A smile 🙂
It was more than I expected, better than what I imagined. People and the vibe were amazing. Everyone is going through the same muddy shit and is so eager to help each other. There was this community feeling, everyone was tired, dirty but with wide smile on their face. I truly loved it!
First Sprint Spartan Race COMPLETED!
I came back home, to London, with a suitcase full of Scottish mud. Even though I cleaned some of my things before leaving Perth had to fight a little battle to get rid of the dirt. 4 showers later, I still have mud in places…
Perth will always be in my heart, my shoes and my hair…