Tag Archives: mud

Calgary Spartan Sprint 2014 Recap-Not Just ANY Spartan Race for Me…

Standard

The 2014 Calgary Spartan Sprint was my 7th Spartan Race event. I have previously ran this event last in 2013, along with the Montana Sprint (2013, 2014), the Red Deer Super, and the Sun Peaks Beast & Sprint. But more important than reaching number seven was the fact that my best friend Ali would be competing in her first EVER Spartan Race…and this Spartan Race would also be her first EVER timed running event!

IMG_5519.JPG
We headed up to Calgary the morning of the event. The weather reports were a little nerve wracking, with chances of thunderstorms all day. We arrived to the race site, Wild Rose MX Park, about two hours before our race time. Pre-race packet pickup was a breeze! The last time I did day-off packet pickup for a Spartan Race was Red Deer last September, and that was a nightmare. Perhaps having a later in the day heat was helpful, because we honestly filled out our waiver and walked right up to a volunteer to get our packets. Took one minute! Before we knew it, we were getting marked with our bib numbers and were ready to go!

IMG_5520.JPG

We walked the festival grounds, and I have to say I quite enjoyed the setup compared to the year before. All the food trucks, displays, merchandise, and bag check were above and away from the actual racing area. This alleviated congestion down below. Ali purchased an awesome long-sleeved burnout shirt as a souvenir, and then it was off to check out the course.

We could see quite a bit of the course before actually racing. The vantage points at this Spartan Race are awesome, and as a spectator you can actually view your family and friends quite easily in many spots. Without even venturing that far into the race venue/spectator areas, we could see the following obstacles: Unders, Under a Container, Over Under Thru, Monkey Bars, Container Crawl, 8′ Wall, Rolling Mud, Mud Pit/Barbed Wire, Traverse Wall, Slippery Wall, Rope Climb and Fire Leap.

IMG_5521.JPG

IMG_5524.JPG

What couldn’t be seen from spectator viewing, and what would become Ali’s least-favorite part of the course, were the switchback hills! These were tough! Ali lives in Redondo Beach, California, which has an elevation of 62 feet above sea level. She was now running an obstacle course race in Calgary, Alberta, at an astonishing elevation of 3,428 feet above sea level, and you can tell why the hills may have been a ‘small’ issue!

IMG_5531.JPG

IMG_5529.JPG

When our heat started at 1:00 pm, we barreled out with the stampede. For the first 1/3 mile or so (I’m guessing because I didn’t have my GPS) we were trucking it. Then between bottlenecks and crazy hills, we had to slow down. If we had to power walk up hills, we did that. But whenever there was an opening that we could gain ground on, we ran it.

I am most proud of myself being able to do the monkey bars at this race. This is an obstacle that is sometimes hit-or-miss for me. My hands were clean, the bars were dry, so I got my momentum going and across I went. Ali had major shoulder surgery sophomore year of University, so obstacles like this were a challenge. However, she tried every obstacle out there—she never just walked past it, giving up without trying and just succumbing to the 30 burpees penalty.

The 30 burpees penalty is something Spartan Race does. Now, even though the event is timed, unless you are in the Elite Heat there are not age group awards. Reason why, I would say, is because many people out there have little to no integrity and don’t follow the rules. Dude I saw cut under the plastic tape to skip a section after the Tractor Pull—you’re a loser. And the three people, two women and one man, who failed the Rope Climb and came next to Ali and I at the burpee area, did 3 each and said “That’s good enough”—why did you sign up? If you’re going to sign up for something like this, and you start cheating it, what does that say about your personal mantra? I know it’s not a major event like the Olympics or anything, but don’t do this shit half-ass. Yes—you do have to train. If you don’t and you plan on taking easy ways out, you should just drop out. You are not a true Spartan.

Away from that rant, the course itself was incredible. The volunteers were great. Ali’s best obstacle was the Tire Flip, and she even opted to take on one of the “guy tires” with no issue at all! Special shout-out to the lady at the Traverse Wall giving everyone help and insight on how to help each other across the wall, as it was caked with mud beyond description. Ali and I both got across it thanks to her help!

We finished the course side-by-side in 1:44:01. I cannot wait to see the official photos that get posted, as I know there was a photographer not only at the finish line Fire Leap, but also at the Sandbag Carry and Barbed Wire. We received our kick-ass Spartan Race Canada medals, a finisher shirt, and then I ran up to bag check to get my camera. We needed post-race photos, to go along with our “clean” pre-race ones!

IMG_5532.JPG

IMG_5539.JPG

IMG_5534.JPG

We enjoyed the lovely delicacy of Coors Light in the Beer Garden (I would never drink this by choice, but it was free, and tasted surprisingly refreshing after that course!). Ali later would tell me that this Spartan Race was the hardest thing she’s ever done…but that she wants to do more. And, she also said she feels extremely confident going into the Disneyland 10km on August 30th! I am so proud of Ali and all the work she has put into Crossfit the past year (hello Crossfit 310)!and the fact that this former swimmer has become a runner.

IMG_5538.JPG

UPDATE FROM TUESDAY, AUGUST 19
Pictures! Just a few!

IMG_5417.JPG

Spartan Race Montana 2014—We Loved it so Much, We Came Back Again!

Standard

Last year, Dan and I participated in our first ever Spartan Race in Kalispell, Montana. That recap can be found here: Spartan Montana Sprint 2013

After that race, I participated in four more Spartan Races—2 more Sprint distances, 1 Super, and 1 Beast, thus earning my membership in the Trifecta Tribe. I had a great time doing all the races that I knew I had to do some again this year! Naturally, Dan and I signed up for the Montana Spartan Sprint again!

We headed down to Kalispell, MT, the night before so we could get to packet pickup. Pickup was running from 5-8 PM outside of Sportsman Ski Haus. We arrived at 5:10 PM and the line was out of control. Last year, Dan and I maybe waited ten minutes tops. I am not sure why the line took so long to move, but we waited a solid 1 hour and 20 minutes. There were some people who waited even longer. If the weather had been bad, or if we hadn’t been able to take the beer we purchased out of the beer garden back to our friends standing in line (and vice versa) this would have been completely unbearable. This is my only complaint of the otherwise awesome weekend. I truly hope the organizers of the race do something about this next year, because obviously more people utilized race pickup the night before than last year.

20140514-210433.jpg

I did win a parking pass for us (and a sweet long sleeve burnout-tee!) at the pickup pre-party! The pass came in handy the next morning, as we could drive straight to the race site and park our car on property, versus taking the shuttle. We had a 10:45 heat time, and our friends Matt & Kelly would be racing along with us in this heat. It would be their first ever Spartan Race experience!
20140514-210625.jpg

The course, while in the same location as last year, started and ended in a different spot, and also went in what I would consider to be reverse direction as the year prior. This was awesome as someone who had done the race the year prior. Another cool thing about this event was it had been deemed a “Founder’s Race”, as Joe De Sena and other founders of the company personally helped construct it. They would also be participating in a Founder’s Heat later in the day!

20140514-211131.jpg

There were many traditional Spartan Race obstacles, such as the Over, Under, Through….Cargo Net…Sand Bag Carry…Spear Throw…Barbed Wire Crawl….Rope Climb. But that last one was with a twist! I was all set to attempt this rope climb, but the climbing rope was swung from another rope between trees like a hammock. This caused a bouncing movement when climbing the rope as other climbers also climbed. I did not like this! Dan with his arborist skills made it up no problem. I, on the other hand, had to do burpees.

20140514-211013.jpg

20140514-211026.jpg

20140514-211044.jpg

The terrain is crazy on this course, just like last year. Such steep climbs up the sides of mountains, to then only descend down slippery falls full of mud. It was also very wet and humid, in my opinion, but this just has to do with the surroundings. My glutes burned pretty much immediately upon climbing the first hill. This was expected though!

After the spear throw, Kelly and I told the boys to go ahead, as there was just the sandbag, 8-foot wall, and fire jump left. I finished in 1 hour 46 minutes. I even did two terrible cartwheels over the finish line mat! I am hoping that they caught it on camera, so when pictures are posted I will let you know! Being a bling junkie, I was excited to get the medal and see how it looked this year. The Spartan Race medals at split into 1/3 this year, and if you do one of distance they piece together as a giant medal. This race also included a special black medallion for the Founder’s Race, which is very cool!

20140514-211320.jpg

We collected our bags, went and got an after photo, and proceeded to hose ourselves down. I didn’t even care that the water was ice cold, it just felt good to get semi-clean! After changing into crappy sweats, we collected our finisher shirts. I was pleasantly surprised with them, as last year they were just a standard cotton black shirt. Not comfortable or breathable at all. This year they are a heather grey, very light, and just plain awesome!

20140514-211223.jpg

20140514-211238.jpg

Other than the race itself being awesome, the after-experience at this particular Spartan Race is incredible. Just like last year, they had food trucks on site and beer flowing from local breweries. We stayed for over 3 hours after finishing and just enjoyed the food, beer, weather, and other racers finishing! It was a blast! I had been worried about the weather all week, as chance of rain was at about 80% for the whole weekend! but the afternoon photos speak for themselves! as we really got to enjoy the best Montana had to offer! When there is so much going on at the race site, beautiful May afternoon and all, why would we want to leave?!?! This is what makes the whole Spartan Race Weekend special—you don’t just go and run a race and are finished…you take it all in all weekend long! If you take advantage of all the things Spartan Race pulls together to make the whole weekend tie in, then you will have an amazing time. AROO! AROO! AROO!

20140514-211352.jpg

Race Recap-Day 1, Sun Peaks Spartan Beast

Standard

20131006-102330.jpg

A few weeks ago I had a post about “Race Envy.” Well…it struck again. Bad. After completing the Red Deer Super Spartan at the beginning of September, my husband’s cousin and I had the wise idea to drive out to British Columbia a few weeks later to compete in the Sun Peaks Beast. And the Sun Peaks Sprint. I mean, come on….just a mere 10.5 hours away was our chance to earn a Trifecta medal…and do something completely bad ass! We both got on the bandwagon, registered ourselves, and started the planning for our weekend adventure!

20131006-102534.jpgToday I am going to touch on our Spartan Beast experience, and in a later post i will talk about the Sprint. The weather for Sun Peaks was not looking promising for race day—-pretty much a chance of rain all day. And cold. And on race morning we found out there was a solid 15 cm of snow near the top of the ski hill we would be climbing. Hello September 28!

20131006-101828.jpg

We started in the 10:30 am heat. We were fired up and ready to go! The race started at the base of Mt. Tod, which is about 4,200 feet above sea level. We would be climbing up the mountain and back down during our 21km adventure, eventually totaling around 4,000 feet of climbing.

20131006-101956.jpg
While I have done Spartan Races before, this one provided challenges unlike any other. Basically, take the Montana Sprint and times it by 5, add in polar opposites of weather, and you have an idea of what we faced. There were the standard Spartan obstacles on the course, with the over-under-through being one of the first. The obstacles had to be strategically placed, as the trails we were running were mountain bike or hiking trails up the slope. The obstacles had to be placed in open areas that were relatively flat—-this was hard to come by. Some that could be placed in the trails, like the first rope net, were fun, but got backed up due to the narrowness of the course and the fact you couldn’t have more than one or two people attempt it at a time.

The weather was the biggest factor in the Beast. The higher we got, the more the weather turned. It started out just damp and slightly muddy. And at one point Erin and I did notice little patches of snow flurries at the base of some trees. No biggie. But then the ground started to become a horrendous mix of mud and snow, and then pretty soon just snow and ice. When we got to the Hercules Hoist, we had to climb up a little incline that was covered in fresh wet snow. We would not be messing around. I would dare say we reached blizzard conditions when we got to the highest point of the course, the sandbag carry.

20131006-102344.jpgDuring our descent, you had to go almost as slow as you did going up, due to footing issues, ice, snow and mud. Erin and I used her patented “McLaren Slide” to get down many of the narrow trails—-a squat down to the ground, with both hands anchored behind your butt, and your right leg extended as a guide. I got a sweet bruise almost immediately after sliding over a rock, but it was better than tumbling face first and ruining my whole septoplasty procedure!

20131006-102213.jpg

20131006-102122.jpg

20131006-102657.jpg

All in all, the race was incredible. Erin and I finished in a respectable time of 3:33:28. They had to shorten the course about 4 km due to the dangerous weather conditions even higher up the hill. We understand and appreciate why they did this, but now we want to make sure to do another Beast in the future so we can do a full 21 km! But, this Beast was my Trifecta Tribe race and I am happy that I had my trifecta be all Canadian races. My Trifecta Tribe medal is being mailed out to me soon, as they did not order enough for the event, but Tara (new friend from Edmonton!) let me borrow hers for a photo in the beer garden! AROO!

20131006-102632.jpg

Red Deer Super Spartan-Race Recap. “Have I Gone Batshit Crazy?”

Standard

My husband and I headed up to his old stomping grounds of Red Deer, Alberta, on Friday, September 6th, for the Red Deer Super Spartan which would be held the following day. The weather report was grim—-rain, showers, clouds, unseasonably cool weather. As we drove from Lethbridge to Red Deer, we could see the clouds making faces at us, and the lovely downpour that greeted us between Airdrie and Red Deer made us a tad concerned how we would fair the next day.

20130915-124254.jpg
We headed out to Heritage Ranch at 8 am Saturday morning. I have ran near here during the Red Deer Half Marathon, but never through all the horse trails. Heritage Ranch was a short 10 minute drive from Dan’s parents’ place, and it is quite an odd location—-we came in through a newer neighborhood and parked on the street, walked to where the check-in would be and it was all RIGHT THERE. Imagine if you looked out your bedroom window and you saw half-naked, spandex-clad soon-to-be-muddy people, heard ridiculously loud belongs-at-a-crossfire-gym music, and witnessed mass confusion of mobs of people at package pickup….that was the Red Deer Super Spartan at 8:20 am.

20130915-124334.jpg

20130915-124409.jpg
Dan and I had never been to a Spartan this early in the morning, and the area was so congested that it didn’t help the situation. We met up with his cousin Erin and us three waited in line for about 25 solid minutes. Some times it was very frustrating as you saw volunteers not being able to check people in or find their names….there was no packet pickup offered the night before so I think that was most of the issue. Once we had our bibs and packages, the rest was pretty smooth. We took turns going to the marking station to get our number put on us in marker, while the others held line for bag check….got to use the porta potty once…check out the finish line area (where they put the rope climb as basically the LAST obstacle! Ugh!) and then it was only ten minutes until our 9:30 start!

20130915-124445.jpg

20130915-124504.jpg
Because of how Heritage Ranch is set up, you literally could only see the start and finish area of the course, and you had no clue what to expect on the course. When the countdown finished and we set off, we barreled through some very narrow horse trails. Some of the first obstacles we hit were the over/under/through wall, stacked bales of hay that we had to crawl over, buckets of soil we had to load and carry, and even some naturally occurring horse poop!

20130915-124552.jpg
My biggest achievement in this race was finally being able to complete the monkey bars. My last two Spartan races I slipped off almost immediately, and pretty much psyched myself out of being able to do it. Since Dan scurried across real quick, Erin and I stood there a moment before starting. Erin is not tons taller than myself, but her arm span is ridiculous. She started and got her momentum and went three bars at a time! I started and was just doing one at a time, but once I saw her ahead doing the three, I got some momentum myself and double-barred it to the end. I was so pumped when I jumped off it just fired me up!

The trail running was challenging, but having Erin be our leader most of the race was really helpful. She thrives during trail races and is used to running with the exposed roots, rocks, uneven surface. You couldn’t see any obstacles from inside the thick covering of trees so every time you spilled out of the woods, you were greeted with a surprise. One of the surprises was not just muddy water to walk through, but a 40 foot body of water we had to swim across, which I would describe as a cross between a creek and a small river. It was fairly calm, but the idea of not having your feet be able to touch the bottom was new! They did have life jacket provided if someone needed it. Dan opted to use a regular front stroke, while I just doggy-paddled across. Erin got a little freaked out once submerged, but then made her way over.

20130915-124623.jpg

20130915-124638.jpg
Sooner than we expected, we had reached the finishing obstacle area. The mud wall to climb over was extra tough this time due to the ropes being absolutely covered in sludge. Erin and I both had to do burpees at the rope climb, so when Dan finished it successfully, he told him to finish ahead of us. He did not have to do burpees as an obstacle punishment at all this course, which is a first, since he usually fails the spear throw. Erin and I finished together with a jump over the fire, finishing with a time of 1:27:46, covering a distance of 13km!

20130915-124731.jpg
We really enjoyed this course, and had a fantastic time running it. The longer distance was an advantage for me over Dan, since 13km is a normal distance for me to run. This allowed there to be larger spaces and breaks in between obstacles, so I was able to get into a good stride multiple times. So what is next? Well…Erin and I are 99% sure we are registering for the Spartan Beast in Sun Peaks, BC, on September 28th. We have gotten addicted…some may say we have drank the kool-aid—and upon completion of the Beast, I would join the Trifecta Tribe. Have I gone batshit crazy yet? Maybe. But I am having the time of my life!