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