Thursday, 15 December 2016

Spartan Trifecta Experience

A Spartan race is an obstacle race over varying distances that go up to ultra (running) type distances. The most common ones are Sprint 3-5 miles, Super 8-10 miles and Beast 12-14 miles with varying numbers of obstacles thrown in. If you complete those three distances within a calendar year you have completed a Trifecta. All that gets you is bragging rights and an extra medal, of which you collect in wedges along with the regular medal at each race. 

I have had three very different experiences 
Sprint (Fort Bragg NC) I did this one first. It was just over 5 miles, mostly flat but hellishly hot (95F). The heat got me toward the end of the race but I enjoyed the whole thing. 1 hour 40 something.
Super (Georgia Horse Park near Atlanta, GA) my most recent. Unlike the other two races I did not run this alone. I was walking to the start when a really nice guy started to chat with me. We ended up in the same heat and ran together. He was amazing on the obstacles but running not so great, so I could prob have done this a bit faster. However, the guy helped hoist me up onto so many walls it probably didn't make too much of a difference to my overall time, considering I would have had to wait for help or do Burpees for some of the walls without him. Much more enjoyable with company and it was motivating to have some else rely on me to help set the pace. 
In the total opposite to the sprint this one was cold. It had got down to freezing the night before so all the mud and water was so cold. The dunk wall completely took my breath away. A hilly course in sections but not bad at all. I also found that I could complete, or at least make a much more respectable try, at obstacles I couldn't do before (practice makes perfect). I really liked the design of this course they used a lot of elements of the horse park, rivers, tunnels, exposed rock etc. that kept it interesting and had the obstacles well spread out. My favorite course by far, I wish I could have done the sprint here. Unlike other the other races this one was towards the lower end of the distance at 8.6 miles. 2 hours 57.

Beast (Carolina Adventure Center, SC) this was very appropriately named. This race was so unbelievably hard. It was so hilly. Almost 15 miles of pure hills. Most so steep there was nothing to do but walk (and even that was hard). That alone would have been enough of a struggle for me. It also had a lot of muddy sections. ...a lot. I almost lost my shoes several times. So for me the general course was the real challenge not the obstacles. A lot of the time we were on single track trails so I also got stuck behind very long lines of people walking when I could have been running flat or downhill sections. I fell once or twice when I was running so maybe that was for the best :) The obstacles were packed into the first and last couple of miles. I didn't like this one bit. The last half of mile In the finish area alone had a very long crawl under wire, a dunk wall, muddy hills, a slip wall (and other stuff I was too deliriously tired to remember). I would have liked to see them more spread out. In general did not enjoy this race one bit I was just glad to have it done. My friend, who was meant to drive with me and run bailed that morning so I went in grumpy and left it grumper and tired ha ha. 5 hours 22 minutes.

I enjoy the races themselves but the overall experience left me appreciating straight up running races that bit more.

I got groupons for all the races that took as much as 40% off the race price. That made the races affordable but full price they are all well over $100. That might seem fair considering the amount of set up and expense that goes into the obstacles but most of their staff are volunteers and they do wave starts every 15-30 minutes meaning in a day they can put far more people onto a course than an average road race.

 I would be fine with the race price if they didn't add in extra charges wherever possible:
Parking was an extra $10 and there was little choice in paying it since all the venues where in the middle of no where. Parking and traffic were also a nightmare at all but the Atlanta venue. 

Insurance wasn't included in the race price, at least not with the groupon, so that was another $14. 

Bag check was another $5 and believe me you want to change your clothes after slogging through muck and water. 

Lastly and I think what annoyed me the most, spectators....yes you read that right spectators were an extra $20 each...can you honestly believe that, asking someone to pay to stand around with pretty much nothing to do for hours. They did have food and drinks at the finish festival (for sale) and you could usually see a couple of obstacles but come on!

I don't know if I'm just being cheap but it felt very money grabbing. Those little things all added up and annoyed me, just roll it all into the overall price. On the plus side it really is a different kind of challenge from running. A fun way to test your strength as well as endurance and try something new. Surprisingly, they do include free race pictures so that was a big plus in my book. Because of the cost and the fact that I really enjoy half marathons obstacle races will not be a regular part of my racing season but I wouldn't mind going back and running a shorter one with friends for fun.

Recommendations: strength train a lot. Women will especially need to work on upper body strength, most women (including myself) struggled on this especially any obstacles that used strength while hanging. If you run as far as the half marathon distance, running won't be too much of a problem but these races are very draining be prepared. A good pair of gloves will help protect your hands and help with grip (mine lowes $5, cut the fingertips off for drainage). If you are running late heats you'll need a headlamp or you'll be pulled from the course. So there you, go my nuggets of wisdom enjoy.

On the radar: very little honestly which is probably a good thing because it's time to lose all the weight I've put on from stress eating and get some fitness back. I've made a decent start on improving my diet but my motivation for exercise is very hit or miss right now. Mostly I want to sleep...maybe I'm a bear...I vote for winter hibernation lol!
I got a good deal on a local half (Palmetto half $30 with discount code HALF, if anyone wants to run it) for April and I'm thinking of another in March when I visit a friend in NYC. So I gotta get my ass in gear and start training for those.


  1. You are not being cheap, that shiz is annoying. Making spectators pay? Come the f*ck on. It's ridic. I am happy you had groupons for most of this.

    The Beast sounds HORRIBLE. What a long day. You are a trooper! I am happy you found a friend for the middle one!!! I did one of these in a stadium with my studio and I don't think I would do it along (but never will - these aren't for me - my boss kept saying I would love it so I tried that one and was like "nope!" I will stick to trail running and doing strength training in a studio).

    1. I wouldn't have done them if I didn't have groupons. I don't know how people afford to run these as often as some people do! The beast was pretty horrible. I don't think I even got any statisfaction out of finishing I was too tired 😂
      I don think I'd ever be stellar at these. I think you have to put in very specific training (or do the races a lot). Probably best suited to cross fitters. Anyway I gave it a decent chance to impress me and it didn't 😝