Super Spartan Race Recap: Part 2

26 08 2013

Super Spartan 10

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…and this is Part 2 of my Super Spartan adventure excursion race yesterday.

If you missed Part 1 of my Super Spartan race recap, click here!

My friend Whitney and I lined up at the starting line, did some chants with the race announcer (“Aroo! I AM a Spartan!”), let a massive group of hardcore-looking people get in front of us, and we were off running! I wore a waterproof watch to keep track of our time during the race.

Right away, someone dropped a coupon for $5 toward race merchandise for use after the event. I wish I had picked it up (I didn’t for fear of getting trampled and lack of waterproof pockets for the next 8 miles), because I didn’t bring enough cash for the official race hoodie after the race WHEN I WAS FREEZING. More on that later, though.

We ran until the course suddenly began winding uphill on a narrow path through the woods. It felt much more like a steep, treacherous muddy hike than a race. I thought of my husband, who, at that same moment, was hiking with a group from our church. Who knew we’d be doing close to the same thing when we parted ways that morning?

Right away, Whitney got stung by a bee. It was actually one of the hazards listed in the race waiver we signed, as well as on their website quoted below. HOW DID THEY DO THAT?! Maybe the bees were brought in.

“All Racers Receive:

  • – Finishers Medal
  • – T-Shirt
  • – High pressure water to the gut
  • – Bragging Rights
  • – Maybe an unintentional bee sting
  • – More stories to tell” {source}

We kept going. It was pretty tricky to run on such a narrow, uphill path through the woods with so many other groups of people, but we ran when we could and walked when the path warranted it. People who passed would give us fair warning: “On your left! On your right!” It seemed like  everyone else was doing the hike-instead-of-run thing, too. It was like this for awhile, and I felt great. Especially when I noticed that all the big, burly men were panting and sweating and I was not feeling winded at all during the first several miles of terrain. Probably because I’ve been running while they’ve been weightlifting and training for the obstacles. I don’t remember the order of all the obstacles, but I’m going to try to describe some of them, mostly using images found online because, again, my camera was checked away in bag check and I haven’t seen any official race photos yet. Not that many were taken, anyway.

The first obstacle was a series of walls we had to first go under, then crawl under/through some dirty black fabric, and emerge on the other side. Easy enough.

We moved on to the “Over, Under, Through” series of 3 short wall obstacles; the directions were self-explanatory. Similar to these (taken at a different Spartan race):

Super Spartan 7

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This obstacle was fine except that I tried to do a gymnastics-inspired dismount off the “through” wall, and ended up catching the middle of my back flat on the wooden window on my way out. (I’m still sporting that mark under my shoulder blades.) My chiropractor would hate me. Actually, he would be horrified to know I did this race at all! He gets uneasy if I tell him that I briefly carried my son on my hip.

He will never hear about the log carry up a black diamond that I did 7 miles into the race.

Next came the mud. A series of small manmade mud hills with trenches of frigid cloudy water between each. Each with varying, unidentifiable depths. So you’d jump in, not knowing whether the mud would go up to your ankles or up to your chin.

Super Spartan 8

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(Again, these photos were taken in previous races on other terrains in other states, so they won’t be exactly the same as our experience on the BLACK DIAMOND SKI SLOPES DEEP IN THE MOUNTAINS OF VIRGINIA.)

I think the barbed wire came next. This is where being 5’1.5″ came in sooo handy, along with lots of practice crawling with a newly-mobile toddler. Whitney’s toddler is the same age as mine, and she was equally conditioned for crawling. We had about 100 yards (football field, maybe?) length of barbed wire. I easily crawled under it holding my head up, while the burly men were rolling uphill in mud trying to avoid the spikes. Every now and then, one wire would be crazy low, and you’d have to bear-crawl under it. I did get caught a few times, but I could always tell right away and eased myself out of it unscathed.

Super Spartan barbed wire again

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That segued into another mud hill with a mud trench (similar to the one below) and then on the other side… more barbed wire. Barbed wire on a path that curved uphill and to the right.

Super Spartan 9

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On the first set of barbed wire, we were smart. We entered very close to the left edge of the wire, where it was taut instead of bowed, and stable instead of swinging like the middle part was. C’mon, people. We even got a compliment from a spectator, saying that we were the only 2 people she’d seen all day that were actually smiling and looking happy during this obstacle. Another spectator hinted to us that on the next series of barbed wire (which we couldn’t see and didn’t know about yet), we should stick to the far right to stay with the curve when it went uphill to conserve energy and shorten our course. Thank you, kind stranger.

Then came the innertube obstacle. If I had known ahead of time that I would have to swim UNDER a series of innertubes floating in MUD — yes, putting my face under the mud, swimming under large dark moving tethered objects, and finding the surface on the other side without opening my eyes, doing this three times total — I might have stayed at home. But it ended up being one of my favorite obstacles. I think Whitney loved it too, although she swam behind me and I *accidentally* kicked her. Sorry! As I got to the surface, even with my eyes closed I could sense light and knew when to come up. I only opened my eyes under the mud once, and sooo not intentionally.

Our actual course, taken from the Virginia Super Spartan Facebook page:

Super Spartan innertubes - fb

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Super Spartan inner tubes 2

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Mud dries, people. And I wear contacts. Plus my eyelashes are long, and by then were completely caked in dry mud.

Another obstacle we encountered was a wooden wall submerged in the same type of frigid pool of muddy water. It looked daunting, like something out of Fear Factor, with coils of barbed wire on top of it. Just as I was trying to figure out how in the world they expected us to scale it, I saw a man jump in, swim under the wall, and emerge on the other side. Ohhhh.

Super Spartan barbed coils

Virginia Super Spartan Race

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The water was deep, but luckily the bottom of the wall stopped just under the surface of the mud, so we jumped in, swam under the wall until we figured we had probably cleared it, and found the surface through which to emerge on the other side.

Another obstacle was a slip n slide. Here’s another pic from our actual course:

Super Spartan slip n slide - fb page

Virginia Super Spartan Race

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The water was SO.COLD. and the hill was SO.STEEP (remember, we were on black diamond trails), so the slip ‘n slide was SO.INCREDIBLE. I felt like a kid, and not like a mom-approaching-30.

Another favorite obstacle of mine was the monkey bars. Completely in my element. I must have spent my whole childhood on monkey bars — at home and at recess. We had to take our gloves off because of how many people had fallen off wearing gloves. The bars were so high that they had a step-off bar closer to the ground so that us short people could reach, and our first swing was still up to another, higher bar. The bars were wider-apart than I’d ever seen on monkey bars. I zipped right across them and was able to do my graceful dismount, and I got some compliments from the volunteers when I finished seconds later. I looked back — the burly men were still hanging where they were when I started.

I should have been a gymnast, not a runner-ballerina.

And there, my friends, is where I began to think that this race was awesome. That I want to do more of these. That after my marathon in January, I want to do more mud-races and less long-distance races. And that I would DEFINITELY recruit one of my brothers to partner up with me to try to place in one of these things. You know, so I could be like those elite athletes carrying the big cardboard checks around with their $2,000 cash prize; we saw them before our wave started. Somewhere between Mile 3 and Mile 8, however, my opinion on such matters drastically changed, and that will be for my next few blog posts! 😉

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2 responses

27 08 2013
Super Spartan Race Recap: Part 3 | Running MOMentum

[…] you missed Part 2, click here. (The fun obstacles and wooded […]

28 08 2013
Super Spartan Race Recap: Part 4 | Running MOMentum

[…] read about our mental preparation for the Super Spartan course in Part 1. You journeyed with us through the first several miles of hiking and sporty obstacles in Part 2. […]

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