My US Spartan Race schedule has come to an end. I completed the Temecula Super and Sprint in January, and two weeks ago I participated in the epic Montana Founder’s Beast! I am so fortunate that I was able to travel to California in the early part of the year for 2/3 of my Trifecta, and being so close to beautiful Big Fork, Montana, is always helpful when the Montana series occurs each year. US Spartan Races occur all year long, all over the country. I could be flying to New York, Ohio, Idaho, Colorado….The choices are endless. I unfortunately do not have the funds to be able to travel across the USA and participate in all these fantastic options. However, I am fortunate that the Western Canada Spartan Race series is right in my backyard!
The Spartan Race Canada series began a few weeks ago with a Super & Sprint in Montreal. Other race sites for the Eastern Spartan Races include Halifax, Ottawa, Quebec City, and Toronto. I have yet to make it to an Eastern Spartan Race, but hope to someday. The Western Spartan Race series begins in June with the Vancouver Sprint. The provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, and Manitoba all have confirmed events for 2015, with a Saskatchewan race also being in the works. With living in southern Alberta, I have the ability to drive just a few short hours to many of these events!
When I started doing Spartan Races in 2013, I completed my first trifecta by doing Western Canada Spartan Races. My first ever Canadian race was the Calgary Spartan Sprint, which is held right close to downtown Calgary at a local BMX course. I knew after doing this event that the Canadian Spartan Races were the real deal! Canadian events offer the same experience that the USA events have. Some of the same great obstacles are always included—rope climb, monkey bars, spear throw, sandbag carry, barbed wire crawl, traverse wall. But depending on the event, unique obstacles are added! Because of the course makeup in Calgary, there are TONS of mud pits. I’d go out on a limb and say this is the dirtiest course I have ever done! You also get the same great finisher t-shirts and some incredible bling!
While Calgary is held every August, the events that round out the Western Canada Spartan Race series happen in September. I first did the Red Deer Super, Sun Peaks Beast and Sun Peaks Sprint in September of 2013. I am heading out to the same areas again this year, but mixing it up a bit. In Red Deer, I will be participating in the Super on Saturday and the new-to-me Sprint on Sunday. Then a few short weeks later I will be capping off my Spartan Race year by making the drive out to beautiful Sun Peaks, BC, where I will participate in the Ultra Beast-26.2 miles of Spartan craziness! I love that the events have been adding enhancements each year, with different distances and new courses being offered. This makes these races very repeatable, as you won’t do the same thing twice!
I encourage anyone in Canada who has thought about doing an obstacle course race to look up the the Spartan Race closest to you. Spartan Race, in my opinion, puts on the best obstacle course race in not just America, but Canada as well! I am so sure of this, that I am going to offer my readers a chance to win an entry for any Western Canada Spartan Race in 2015! The fine folks at Spartan Race Media Canada are making this giveaway possible! I will have this giveaway open for a week. You can gain entries for it by entering in my Rafflecopter giveaway at the bottom of this post! You are able to register for the giveaway until it closes on June 3rd. And if you already know you are going to be registering for a few Spartan Race Canada events, use the discount code AROO15 for 15% off your next race entry!
If you are interested in entering the FREE giveaway for an entry to any WESTERN CANADA SPARTAN RACE please follow the link below to my RAFFLECOPTER giveaway page. You can enter for free there!
This weekend I participated in my first obstacle course/mud race—a Spartan Sprint. Last August, my husband and I were spectators when our sister-in-law participated in the Calgary Spartan Race. This is when we decided we needed to do one of these. We travelled down to Bigfork, Montana, for our Spartan experience. And I speak for both of us by saying it was well worth the drive!
Upon arriving on Friday, we headed to the Sportsman & Ski Haus in Kalispell for our packet pickup. You were not required to pick up race materials the night before, but it was recommended. It was here that we got to also partake in food samples from local vendors, try our hand at the spear throwing, enjoy some live music, and have some local brews. Dan did the spear throwing twice—-the first time he attempted it like a javelin and failed. After watching some kids successfully throw it, he realized he needed to throw it like a kid—-just grab it and chuck it. It worked! Too bad the next day at the race it didn’t work like that!
Saturday was race day. We were staying at Averill’s Flathead Lake Lodge. It was a dude ranch. Seriously. And trust me. I did my City Slickers “helllloooooooo” impression multiple times. The lodge was gorgeous. Honestly, one of the prettiest locations I have ever been. We had a fantastic breakfast that morning and headed out to our VIP parking at 10:30 am. Since we already had picked up our bibs and headbands the night before, we proceeded to the “marking station”. This is where they branded us with permanent markers and stamps, writing our heat time and bib numbers anywhere and everywhere. Since our heat wasn’t until 1:15 we had plenty of time to walk around the spectator grounds.
Race heats were every 15 minutes until 1:30. Approximately 250 runners were in each heat. The guy working the start line was really great at pumping up each group as they started off. Immediately after the start you would hit your first mud bog and up the steep inclines you would go. This course was incredibly hilly—I would dare say mountainous. There were parts where you simply couldn’t run because you had to hike through brush and debris, over rocks and stumps. The views in parts of the course were absolutely breathtaking. Totally picturesque views of Flathead Lake. But, no time to stop and gawk!
The obstacles that we had a glimpse of beforehand were the rope climb, sand bag carry, cargo cross, over/under log bridge, gladiators, spearman, barbed wire, slip wall and fire jump. Below are some photos of the spectating area and parts of the courses that were visible.
Finally our 1:15 heat began! Dan and I set a plan that we would stick together, as some of the obstacles needed him to be with me for help. We were also going to stick with my running pace when we could run and our goal was to do it in under 2 hours. Yes, the course was 4.9 miles. And yes, I can run nearly 5 miles in around 45 minutes on a normal workout day. But this would prove to be not your typical 5 mile jog in the woods. Any of the climbing walls we reached Dan would go on the ground and I used his back as a step. It really helped—but him calling me stumpy didn’t! Being 5’3″ is tough for this race! If you cannot complete an obstacle you must do 30 burpees to buy your way out of the obstacle. I unfortunately had to do three sets, as I did not complete three obstacles. The first one I should have been able to, and that was the monkey bars. But when I grab the first bar and contemplated swinging, my hands were so slippery I had to drop. I also struggled and got most frustrated with the rope climb. Dan was used as a ladder again to get me hoisted up and I got all the way to just below the top knot, but after three tries of getting my legs up to this pinnacle, I had to slide down. Pretty much crashed into Dan. Both of us did not get the spearman challenge either. You only got one shot, so that is what made it really tough.
We finished together at 1 hour 50 minutes 6 seconds. We were both very happy with this! Dan could have probably shaved off ten minutes if he did not wait for me to do the burpees the two times and for me to finish obstacles, but he did say he thinks the breathing time he got as I was completing stuff really helped. He did give me a hard time about me only having 1 speed, as I wasn’t ever “sprinting” but I was doing my half marathon pace. Oh well, I was nervous about running out of fuel!
With every Spartan Race being a new and different course, you won’t be able to try and beat a time you got from a previous race. But that is ok—-many of the obstacles are the same from race to race, so my goal the next race I do is to succeed in the obstacles I could not complete. A co worker and I are registered for the Super Spartan, an 8 mile race, in September in Red Deer. That race will present different challenges than the one in Montana, as the running distance will play more of a part. There will probably also be additional obstacles! This race was all about completion and just having an awesome experience. I couldn’t help but wonder if my dad would have been all over this type of race and how he would have done. i know the long distance running wasn’t his thing, but most of those obstacles he could have just torn through! I did not do any specific training for this race other than my running, but now I know what I need to work on for September. So if any of you see me at the playground with a bunch of five year olds going across monkey bars and doing burpees, you know why!