The idea of two OCR’s in a weekend isn’t new. Hell, we’ve seen 5k’s done 4 times in the same day, met guys on their 22nd Tough Mudder and were on Mt. Snow when Junyong Pak ran the course twice in one day, the second time he was in a dress and a wig. So we can surely take on Tough Mudder and Spartan race, the two big kids in the game, on back to back days. We were quickly sold on this challenge, figuring it’s not often they are close enough on the same weekend; game on.
Day 1: Tough Mudder Vermont
Five of us get together for a run this bear of a course at Mt Snow. On the way there the playlist includes Dropkick Murphy’s , Kris Kross, Johnny Cash and the Spanish version of “Hey Mickey”. Just some music to set the mood right. We discuss a few obstacles and how the course ran the last year. As per usual with Tough Mudder, we were in for a surprise.
Parking was a breeze, on site, $10 and a quick walk to registration. Registration went smooth for the most part. It doesn’t get much easier with some 16,000 people checking in. Bag check was $5 with $2.50 going to Wounded Warrior; can’t complain. TM staff and volunteers were the great, helpful group they always are, Dave lost his driver’s license on the way in and staff told us not to worry, go have fun and they will find it. Low and behold, they did and Dave near gave the girl at lost and found the “Proud to Be Awesome” shirt of his back after she declined a muddy hug.
We get to the start line and hop the 8’ wall. Sean Corvelle or “Starting Line Sean” was his awesome, start-line, whip-you-in-a-frenzy-and-send-you-off self. The guy is truly great at what he does the best the business has to offer by far. If you have never heard him at the start you are missing out. Honestly, he has the group ready to run through walls.
So, off we go, pulling pushing and willing each other and any fellow Mudders that needed a hand up, over and under. “One more hill” was endlessly repeated and the last one seemed to never come. We started up a chorus of “Step by Step” by New Kids on the Block on one particularly long up hill, which seemed fitting enough. We talked about carb loading ideas for after we finished with some fellow Mudders, suggesting the Ben and Jerry’s factory 40 minutes away. The questioning looks and replies of “aren’t you supposed to do that before you run” and “wait, Spartan tomorrow? You two are crazy” or “you are doing WHAT tomorrow?” made us realize what a great idea this really was.
The course had 18 obstacles, plenty of mud thanks to a nice bit of rain the day before, 10+ miles with a tortuous amount of up; 7 rough trips up, if we counted correct. If you have done this course before you know it doesn’t disappoint. This year’s probably out did previous years, the course ran almost a backwards version of last year and fun new, optional “burn zones” with push-ups and bear crawls thrown in (we don’t skip them). Obstacles include Funky Monkey, cannonballs into Arctic Enema, Just the Tip, Everest and the painful Electric Eel and Electroshock therapy, none of which ever seem to get easier. Throw in a Cage Crawl and Walk the Plank to freak you out, then stir in a Hold Your Wood and Wounded Warrior carry and you have a fun, painful day.
We were able to hear the sounds of the start line through a lot of the course. It helps to hear the next group of crazies giving a “Hoo-Rah!” when asked if they brought their mental grit. We finish up Electroshock Therapy with Erin getting her lights shut off just steps from the end of the obstacle and waking up seconds later face down in the mud. Bumped, bruised, tired and sore, we grab our orange head bands, some well-earned high fives, muddy hugs, tee shirt and free beer and Cliff Bars and move to the base area.
Base area had all you could ask for. If you wanted to do pull-ups, tire flips and box jumps you could (no thanks) get your head shaved or a fresh Mohawk, no problem. Food, lots of it and different choice beers at many stand-alone vendors. There were a few vendor tents to buy anything from running shoes to sunglasses. Tough Mudder swag was the typical score of free goodies: cliff bars, Gillette razors, Advil, degree deodorant that quickly fill your free Dos Equis bag and to top it off, a bowls of Wheaties with chocolate milk. Tough Mudder had a tent of apparel with tons of items in it for sale, from coffee mugs to signature TM shirts.
Cold showers were free with a short line, hot showers were $5 and worth every penny, $10 gets you a towel and flip-flops. Massages were $10 and one of our team members said it was “well worth it to get the knots out of her butt that got zapped a few times by Electric Eel”. Live music played all day and there was even a “Straight Outta Compton” cover that inspired a little sing along. Mt. Snow sets up perfect as a venue, and once again Tough Mudder delivers.
There was an evening post party at the ski lodge that was probably fantastic, but the fact we had to leave at 5:30am for Spartan Race, the smart idea was to hang at the base have a few beers and head to the house to relax and recover…and carb load with some Ben & Jerry’s. Five different varieties to be exact are bought at a local store/gas station that has a “Tough Mudders Welcome” hanging by its door.
Day 2: Spartan Sprint – Amesbury
Saying the two of us wake up at 5:00 am feeling like a million bucks would be complete lie. We feel more like cab fare. Legs are screaming, Dave’s left arm and ribs ache, bruised from hauling the whole team up Everest and Erin has trouble coaxing her left knee to walk down the stairs to the car, the result of that zap to the face in Electroshock. Guess you could say we feel like we ran up and down a double black diamond ski mountain, which we did and then add in getting hit by a speeding bus. Off to Spartan Race we go…
We start our 2 hour car ride with some UB40, Deftones and Madonna and hustle along some winding mountain roads through morning fog (outside and in our heads) to make our 9:15 start time. Parking is off site, $10. The shuttle is very well organized and moves better than any we can remember. The 10 minute ride is enough time to curse at each other and groan, arguing over whose “bright idea” this was and to tape knees. At Amesbury Sports Complex check in and registration are a snap. Find your number; find your line and Spartan up. Bag check is $5 and you get $5 Spartan bucks to spend on site, nice.
With bibs, timing chips and Spartan headbands on, we hustle the best we can to the start reminding ourselves that the faster we go the faster we’ll be done. After a quick pep talk and a few “AROO”s we are off and moving, straight up hill. The course is laid out very well over 3+ miles. At one point you are given the choice of an easier, longer path with more running or a shorter more technical path with more obstacles. We decide less running is better after putting in 10+ miles the day before and choose the shorter route. There weren’t any obstacles on the technical route, only more hills (damn it!), that is why they call it gambling. Our legs hate us more and we press on.
Obstacles are spaced nicely between some fun trail runs up and down some steep hills. The terrain is difficult and muddy. The obstacles are your standard Spartan issue and don’t fail to kick your butt Spartan style. Failing at any of them results in a painful round of 30 burpees. Between Over, Under, Through and 8’ walls, rope climbs, Traverse Walls, Hercules Hoist ,Tire pulls , Monkey bars and a Spear throw we get a punishing challenge cramped in a short distance. Fortunately only one of us (cough, cough..Erin) fails at spear toss and there are only 30 burpees for the day.
We crawl and roll in the mud under a seemingly endless web of barbwire, turn downhill, jump over some fire and dash for the finish with 3 gladiators to get passed. Being the animals we are this part comes easy. We hit a finish line for the second time in 20 hours; grab our medals and personal victory. We did it.
The base area is more of a training site, with traverse walls to practice on, a burpee challenge (no thanks, we’ll pass this time). They also have a kid’s Spartan race area, something for the little ones. Post-race allows you to check your time. There is a hose area for showers and an optional power washing. Hoses are cold water only, but there were lots of them with no wait. Swag includes your medal, your time, your t-shirt, that’s it. We got a bonus item through Living Social, a flex-fit Spartan hat, not a bad score. There were some food and drink options and there were also a lot of good places for photos. Staff members were friendly and busy marking up racers with their numbers and directing people around (although one staff member refused to give us a trash bag, no biggie). There was a large Spartan tent to buy Spartan gear. Too tired to shop we pass our $5 Spartan bucks to a family and give our free beer tickets away too. The base area has a DJ playing music creating a fun, party feel and keeping people loose and ready to go.
The shuttle back runs as fast as the shuttle in, we get back to the car, thank our legs for holding up and head home to rest for a few hours before Monday comes back around to smack us in the face.
By far the dirtiest weekend this couple has ever had and we loved every minute of it. Back to back days, check. Next stop Tough Mudder NJ.
-Dave Hulse and Erin Cranstoun