Two years ago I first heard about Spartan Race from a friend who used words like stupid and idiotic. Of course, hearing the description of the race and, coincidentally, having the emotional capacity of a twelve year old, I thought...this sounded like fun! Well, it wasn't until the beginning of 2011 that the races were posted for the year and eventually I signed up for the Sprint at Tuxedo NY.
Being 53 at the time and in what I thought was relatively good shape, I figured...how hard can it be? The brochure said 99% of the people finish...the pictures showed a good 2 feet of space under the barbed wire which, by the way, was advertised as "40 yards long". 40 yards long and 99% finishing my ass! And did anyone happen to notice you planted the course on a freaking ski mountain??!!
When we got there and had a chance to see the mud crawl first hand, there was this maniac running up and down it giggling like a madman. Seems he was the guy that designed it...so he said. Apparently, he continued, people thought 40 yards was just a bit too easy. So they decided to make it 300 yards...uphill...and if the barbed wire was 6 inches off the ground in places?...oh well! The short of it is, 10 minutes into the "race", I knew I had no business out there. I may have finished...but there was no doubt who won that round...when I crossed that finish line, I wasn't even worth a swat from the gladiators. Alas, I swore vengeance would be mine...I would be back in 2012!
After a few months of therapy...both kinds...I was ready to start some serious preparations for the next match. Ok...now let's not make any mistakes here. I've seen the workouts the serious competitors do. You would NOT confuse mine with theirs. Although in the beginning of 2012 I stepped up my workout considerably and I knew, I was going to kick the course's ass this time!
But here's where I made my mistake. I was fighting the wrong enemy. All my efforts were going into fighting the mountain and the obstacles from last year. While my real enemies were those diabolical bastards from Spartan Race themselves. Of course in hindsight it's all very clear now! They knew I'd be ready for them...unless they created such a monster...such a punishing beast of a course, that I would be pounded into submission. So...let the battle begin!
As if the very gods were with them that Saturday morning of the 2012 Tuxedo race, it rained just enough to turn the course into a mud filled trail of slippery rocks and slick grass. And if that wasn't enough, just before we went off at 11:30, out comes the sun to bake us in the starting corral and pound on us throughout the run. Again, very early on, I knew that I had been out matched. It would be all I could do to finish this course as well...and I was left to hatch my plans for the next meeting! Finish I did...not in the manner of the victorious master, but with the relentless pursuit of a goal that should have been out of my reach.
Thing is, it was later on that afternoon when the real genius of this course dawned on me. First, in the fact that every single part of my body hurt! I mean that literally...every muscle on both sides hurt! How is that possible?...is it even conceivable that they had planned it this way? I spent the next few hours wandering the grounds, watching the continuing heats and contemplating this very question. If I were right...people needed to know...the truth must be told!
By some strange twist of fate, I happened to run into one of the masterminds behind the ongoing carnage still being waged all around us. I'll just call him Joe (well...that's his name). He had no idea who I was since I was still cleverly disguised in a body suit of mud. He even introduced me to Mike...apparently a co-conspirator to this madness. We had a brief conversation and I walked away with the chilling realization...for all intents and purposes, they appeared to be perfectly sane! I knew then I had to live long enough to tell this story...no matter what.
To understand this best, it would help to have experienced this course...or at least one similar, if it even exists. But everything about the course was put there at just the right place and just the right time to exact the greatest physical and mental toll possible. Climb a rope ladder up and over two stacked cargo containers?...lets put that at the top of the hill you just climbed! How about a series of six walls to climb over, under and through?...you guessed it, at the top of another hill. Oh no...the best was for last. The big wall (8 foot?!) was still ahead. And of course, where else would you put it?...at the top of yet another hill!
But they weren't finished yet. This is the one I was waiting for...the one that had beaten me last year. I was determined to make it over this year without any help. Style points don't count....and that's a good thing. Imagine though, after making it over, and dropping down to the ground in my ecstasy of apparent triumph...they snatched away the glory again. For right behind this one, hidden from view by the first wall, was a second one...barely shorter than the first. Damn them...damn their foul and wretched minds for conceiving such a despicable twist! What was this a game...something just for fun??!
What about carrying a little sandbag around for a while...what were they 30, 40 pounds? Just take it over there...yeah, up that little hill maybe 200 yards away. Oh...and if you don't mind, bring it here and place it back where you found it! And of course, at the time we were under a blazing sun! I can go on and on...the rope climb out of a water pit...with slippery feet and this after already running a mile or so. The tire carry, the stone drag (I mean what the hell was that all about?!)...at least they left out the charcoal pit from last year...no really, a hot pit of coals in the middle of the track! Or the swaying cargo net climb.
But my favorite has to be the water slide. They should have had a Disney sign and birds tweeting in the background for this one. After 2 hours on the course (for me) the thought of a short trip down some cool water was heaven sent. Even if it was into a muddy pool. So, I "slid" the ten yards or so to the top of the slide (walking would have meant slipping, falling THEN sliding the ten yards anyway). You would think, after enduring the punishment we had up to that point, we should have known that Lucy would NEVER let us kick the football (editor's note: see Charlie Brown). What they left out of the brochure on this one was that they laid the plastic over the site of a former rock slide apparently. Another hard and painful lesson learned!
Needless to say, this was one badass course. Maybe there's something better out there but I really can't imagine it...nor see a need to look. I walked my usual workout time today to get the stiffness out and will be back in the saddle soon, training for my next race. Knowing the Super Spartan is out of my league right now, and knowing that Tuxedo 2013 is likely to have even more surprises, it will be time to step up the training...again! Of course next time, hopefully I won't be doing the race with gout in my foot...but hey, nothing comes easy...except something not worth having anyway! What's worth the prize is always worth the fight!
Great job and thanks to Joe, Mike and all the Spartan people. Come back WITH your shields! Until next time....AROO!!