I am not even sure where to start on recapping my latest adventure, the Mid-Atlantic Reebok Super Spartan Race held at Wintergreen ski resort yesterday in Nellysford, Virginia. There’s no real way to describe the race, which must be why their slogan is, “You’ll know at the finish line.”
Now I know.
The Spartan website is very vague about what to expect at the Super Spartan challenge, other than, to paraphrase, if you have to ask, this isn’t the race for you. I knew going into it that it was “8+ miles” long with “20+ obstacles,” and I had done a Google Image search for “Super Spartan” to find examples of a few of the potential obstacles, since every course is different and varies according to the terrain where it’s hosted.
I’ve been running to train for a marathon every other day for awhile now, and my runDisney training plan had me running 9 miles yesterday, so I thought this race would be a perfect way to crosstrain and still get in most of my mileage. Plus, 2 of my friends had registered together, but one of them had friends in town and she couldn’t go, so I was subbing in for her. We didn’t want to leave our other friend hanging.
“I’m such a good friend,” I reminded her on the shuttle back down the mountain last night.
So a free registration, a race that matched my running plan, and obstacles that would probably be fun – I love obstacle courses! I wasn’t nervous about the race; I was more nervous about finding a babysitter, getting to Wintergreen, catching the shuttle up to the top of the mountain, making it through the registration chute and ID check, and going through bagcheck. I told my husband that the race would probably take about 2 hours, and I’d be home around 4. He was doing his own hike with a group from a new church we’re visiting, so we told our sitter (my wonderful mother-in-law, bless her!) we wouldn’t be long.
I had no idea what was about to happen and that I’d end up catching the shuttle at Wintergreen at 9 PM, not 3 PM.
We made it to Wintergreen no problem. We paid $10 to park at the base of the mountain and rode the charter bus shuttle up the mountain. (Our other option was $45 VIP parking up at the resort.) We started getting worried when we spied all the out-of-state license plates parked around us, but the large man collecting money assured us that we’d be fine when I admitted my observations to him. (Easy for him to say! His only job was to hold a stack of $5s.) I spied Ironman stickers on big, jacked-up Jeeps. As we looked around the bus, we noticed that everyone else looked like a bodybuilder. With tattoos. One such man sitting in the seat directly behind me caught me looking at him and raised his eyebrows questioningly.
“Where are all the normal-looking people?!” I asked him, mid-panic attack. “All of you look so hardcore!” He laughed and admitted that they’re all normal too. That he was recently widowed and had grown children of his own.
Well. He might be friendly, but he still looked lethal.
I continued to mock-panic when I only counted about 3 other women on the bus. One of whom was obviously someone’s mother, coming as a spectator, and another who had several of these muddy races under her belt and was dragging her new husband along with her to this one. He looked nervously excited, but maybe that was because he was recently-divorced and in this new marriage with Amazon woman.
The registration process was a breeze, although it didn’t go as planned,
and I won’t elaborate on that here as to avoid any potential disqualification. We got a red wristband to wear to indicate our wave time. We got a yellow wristband to use for our chip timer, which was actually a device encased in waterproof plastic that took up my entire wrist and had a $40 penalty if you lost it. Then we pinned on our official bibs, but we also had to sport a hardcore-looking black headband that had our bib number stamped across it. And if that wasn’t enough, there was a marking station where we got our bib numbers written the entire length of our arms in Sharpies. I wasn’t sure whether to feel hardcore or feel like a convict.
One we got settled in, we sat down to eat and mentally prepare for the race. By then, it was about 12:15 and our wave time was 1:00. I ate my Zone bar, a Nature Valley Dark Chocolate Cherry Bar, and a bag of goldfish, since all I had eaten all day was peanut butter toast, half a glass of OJ, and a large travel mug of coffee. I drank half my Nuun-tablet water before they made me pour the rest out at the bag inspection: no open containers. I tucked an Espresso Love GU packet in the inside pocket of my running shorts, assuming they’d provide more along the 8-mile course. (Wrong.)
After bagcheck, we walked around, scoping out the 3 obstacles within-view just before the finish line. A slanted wooden wall surrounded by a muddy trench that required a rope to scale, a fire pit as wide as the course that we would jump over, and men holding these giant Q-tip things, bashing you as you made your way across the finish line. It didn’t look bad at all; it actually looked fun. I’m gonna have to borrow some pictures that I found from Spartan events held previously in other states, because by then, my camera was checked in our bag, and I don’t have official race photos yet. (They’re weren’t many taken, anyway. This race is so secretive!)
But then off in the distance, we noticed runners coming up the hill, and none of them were actually running. And not only were they walking, but they looked defeated, dejected, dragging their feet up the mountain, covered in mud and looking fatigued. “Why are they not running? They’re almost finished!” we wondered. “This is the end of the race! Why are they walking? And why are they walking so slowly?!”
And the exact answer to that, my friends, will be answered in my next few posts. 😉