Well, we did it: we completed the Spartan Sprint yesterday.
I’ll give you a race report later in this post, but before I do, here’s a quick round up from last week.
Training was great:
Monday: WAR was excellent, and I pushed had to keep myself on track for race day
Tuesday: PiYo stretch and flow was ideal for easing off the muscles after working hard the night before
Wednesday: our Jog Scoland run was in torrential rain: we did 10 minutes slow, 10 minutes with 1 minute tempo and 1 minute recovery x5, 10 minutes slow. All in we did just short of 3.5 miles, which was great. It turns out that this wet run stood me in very good stead for Sunday!
Thursday: we took a walk around the harbour to keep loose, but I didn’t want to do too much else prior to race day
We arrived in Edinburgh on Saturday evening and after leaving glorious sunshine in Argyll, and the weather that met us was grey and dreich. We had some dinner, and a dip in the hotel swimming pool before doing a kit check and getting some shut eye before the race.
We were up early on Sunday for breakfast before packing up the car and taking our time to drive to the venue. We arrived with around an hour and a half to go before our start time, which meant we could watch the elite runners finish up. They were very, very impressive! Checking in, and receiving our wrsit bands and chips was slick and easy, and we were able to spend time watching the racers, checking out the merchandise and browsing the stalls before it was time for us to drop off our bags and head to the warm up, immediately prior to the start line. The first surprise for me was finding that we had an obstacle to cross BEFORE we could get to the start line: a sneaky 4′ wall for us to cross, ooft! The race groups were small, and everyone was able to have a chat before we set off, and headed for our first obstacle. The Wookie and I had deliberately stayed towards the back of our pack, letting faster and more confident runners get on ahead of us.
I’ll warn you now – the order of some of the obstacles is a bit of a blur, so if I get some of them muddled, please forgive me!
We immediately faced our first lot of mud: which meant we started as we meant to go on. there was a LOT of mud. Everywhere. And, as we set off, the rain arrived, and it remained with us for most of our run, and was often accompained by midges. Eek!
We started off with the hay bales, which were easier to climb over than I thought they’d be, then we had three 4′ walls to cross: I had definitley underestimated these – which was my own fault. However, we got over them, and headed onwards to the cargo net. This was fine – I kept my mind on what I was doing – as we got there, one competitor was struggling, and was being assisted over the top by a volunteer – she did a great job, and managed to complete the obstacle, yay! I was fine on this one – I took my time, and just made sure that my footing was ok.
Next was the rolling mud: three big, watery, muddy pools that we had to traverse, each with a small mud hill between them. We were covered in mud, and soaking, but it was great fun! So far, so good!
And then we had the dunk walls. Well, it wasn’t a wall – it was a series of three barriers, each around two feet wide that we had to dunk under: we had been practicing in the pool the night before more of a quick, straight down and under a narrow wall, but this was different. And my first real challenge of the day. The girl in front of me was really struggling, and a few people had to be supported and guided under by the volunteers. At this stage, I let my self belief take control – and I just went for it. The water was icy cold, and definitely took your breath away as soon as your head went under the water – but I got the first one done, no problem. And the second. And the third. Woop! Woop! I can’t believe I am going to write this, but this may well have been my favourite obstacle!
Next we had a lot of climbing uphill: I won’t keep saying it, but there were a LOT of very steep, grassy, muddy hills, making for very difficult condtions both on the obstacles themselves and between them – it meant that the run was as much a challenge as it was a recovery break.
We had another obstacle, and then we faced a few carrying events: the farmer’s walk (which also had an over, under, through set of three walls within it), followed immediately by the sandbag carry which was really hilly. I surprised myself on these: I did absolutely fine, with no breaks, and I really enjoyed them! Who knew I’d love carrying stuff so much? It was around this point that we heard others say that the Edinburgh run is considered one of the toughest because of the conditions and the terrain – and some see it as a Premier Event because of that. Wow – and here we were, doing it as our first ever one!
We then had a downhill section and we came to the barbed wire: it was much lower than I had expected, and much lower than some of the youtube videos show. It was also much, much longer than I expected too! I started by doing a weird crawl, using my feet to power me through, then I changed to a roll. And, boy, was I dizzy when I got to the end! Still, it was good fun.
Next was more mud, more water and a long uphill section to reach the Spearman, which I failed miserably 😦 and so I faced my first set of burpees, knocking out 30 bad boys with reasonable form. I was very enthusiastic at this point!
A short downhill section then took us to the balance wall, which was higher than I expected, and I made my way across it, too. At this point, the faster runners from the wave after us were beginning to overtake us, so we continued to take our time and to pause, letting the faster runners pass us by. It gave us an excuse to enjoy the scenery – and definitely added to our finish time, which we weren’t worried about in the slightest!
Next was another water obstacle, and then we faced the stairway. Eek! I underestimated the height of the first wall – it was much higher than it looked online! With some help from the fab soldiers who were supporting this obstacle I made it to the top of the first section, and I was able to climb over and drop down the other side, no problem. I really liked that one, too.
We then found ourselves back near the start area, and ready to take on the atlas stone. We had to carry it along a short track, drop it, do 5 burpees, pick it back up and walk back. No bother. I secretly liked this one too – like carrying a solid, heavy medicine ball, which I’d been practicing.
I then faced my nemesis: the rope climb. I failed miserably, which was no surprise, so I had to do the obligatory 30 burpees once again. Sheesh! I was beginning to ache by now, and the energy levels were beginning to diminish just as the rain began to lash a little harder. The second rope obstacle was next: the slip wall, but before it was a long, muddy water section: I slipped, lost my footing and almost face planted in the water, but managed to recover – just! I then made it onto the wall, and hoisted myself to the very top. Just as I lifted one foot to cross to the cargo net at the other side, my mud-soaked foot slipped, and I was at the bottom of the obstacle again, in the blink of an eye. Oh dear! The soldiers on this obstacle were a really good support, too – and they checked I was OK before continuing. Thanks, guys!
We made our way back out of the event area and uphill once more, to the Z-walls, which were very slippery, and much harder than they looked! Next was another uphill climb which took us under the cargo net and to another carrying event: a log carry. I managed to get my log onto my shoulder and I was determined that it was staying there for the whole section: there was no way it was coming off. So, up and down and uphill we went – I kept that log in place. It felt great to finally drop it on the pile when I got back to the start – another surprisingly successful carrying event for me.
We then headed across the fields again, and out from nowhere popped two 6′ walls, which were a real challenge. With help from the great volunteer here, we made it over, though. We then headed back downhill, and to the final event area where we had watched the elites finish earlier. First up was a sled drag, first using a rope and then using the handle of the metal tray they were on: this was good, too. We then had a try at a new obstacle, using wooden pegs to haul ourselves up to the top of the obstacle, and back down. That was OK, too. Next was the Hercules Hoist: my arms were drained, but again, it was fine: it’d been watching this one on line, so knew that technique would certainly help!
The new ‘multi rig’ replacement, with moving handles, was a dismal failure: my hands slipped right away, and so it was time for more burpees. Sigh. And next up were the two 8′ walls. I could have cried when I looked up at them, but the volunteers here were brilliant, acting as human stepping stones to make sure we could get up and over them. You guys rocked!
FINALLY, it was time for the Fire Jump – yay – and we crossed the finish line happy, tired, battered, bruised but as Spartans!
We collected our medals, our free beer, and our t-shirts with what little energy we had left, in absolutely torrential rain. That just makes us even more bad ass, I reckon 😉
We had an amazing day: I’m paying the price today, as I’m aching all over, both with DOMS and with various cuts, scrapes and many many bruises:
But no one can take this one away. I overcame lots of fears and lots of self doubt to do this, and I can proudly say that I AM A SPARTAN WARRIOR!
The race organisation was slick, and very professional. The volunteers were simply amazing: without them we would not have gotten around, I have no doubt. Great job, guys!
So, if that hasn’t gotten you fired up for the week ahead, perhaps this will sum it up for you: