The Spartan Race Sprint held at Blue Mountain Ski hills in PA was about the toughest physical and mental challenge I’ve had in my life. I wanted to see how far I could push myself and this race did just that. The hills were very steep, the obstacles challenging, the tempurature and humidity high, and the competition fierce. Spartan Race had convinced its top women racers, and outside elite athletes to join this epic event for a mini-World Championship type of challenge.
Feeling both excited and extremely nervous I approached the staring line in fear of the first hill that lay right before me. Not even 20 meters away was one of the steepest inclines I had ever tried to run. The women all looked strong. The men’s field was also stacked with the best of the best in Spartan OCR. They were to begin 10 minutes after us. Three Aroos (Spartan Race tradition) were chanted and we were off to face the biggest, baddest inclines I had ever faced.
At the midsection of the first incline right off the start line were 4 foot walls to scale. On the first desent were walls to scale, go under, and through and briefly following a rope climb starting in a deep mud pit. By now the sun was shining brightly adding the element of heat. Racers were pounding it hard. Up another incline to a bucket brigade, where we filled our big orange buckets with rock. Women 1/2 full, men 3/4 full. As if we thought that was challenging, off again to encounter an incline so steep, a rope was needed to assist getting up, then run through woods to the ugliest, steepest hill of all.
Running was no longer an option for most. Many of us had to hike (or walk) it, each in pure misery. This is where I had to push thoughts of giving in to pain out of my mind. I had to find another level of consciousness to get through. It was steep. It was hot. It was long. But somehow from within I found strength to carry on. One foot in front of the other, keep moving I told myself and others who were also struggling to keep going.
Once to the top of the mountain and nowhere to go but down, I regained my momentum at a few obstacles. Downhills are my specialty. Take advantage of the help of gravity. But these downhills are not exactly easier either. Loose shale, mud, twists & turns. More obstacles to challenge the strength and stamina: 8 foot walls to scale, cargo nets, barbed wire mud crawls, tires to flip, water to cross while diving under barrels, cement blocks to hoist and drag to name a few.
Just when you think you’re home free and can run to the finish there is something else to conquer. At the end a traverse wall to stay on, a spear to throw to a target and a fire to leap over. Done yet? No, gladiators with bugle sticks to get by. If any obstacles are not completed with success, well 30 burpee penalty. 30 burpees don’t seem like much but when your legs are screaming, you are thirsty, and your mind is spent those 30 trecherous jumps seem like eternity to pump out. All in all, this race was the best I’ve ever done. I’ve been challenged in many races, but this one pushed me to my very limits.