Get ready, because this one has a twist.
I was left pretty beat-up after yesterday’s Super, so it’s safe to say I had no idea what to expect from the Sprint today. Shorter courses are typically my strong suit, but after how weak I felt yesterday, I wasn’t sure whether or not my body would hold up for the five-mile course that lie ahead. My stomachache from the day before had only worsened overnight, so I fittingly didn’t spend too much time warming up ahead of the race, opting to save most of my energy for the race itself. I hopped into the corral around 7:15, chatted it up with the usual guys for the next ten minutes or so, and then continued to bounce around during the presentation of the colors and national anthem. The race briefing followed, then the typical pre-race speech. “AROO! AROO! AROO! GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” We were off.
From the start, I felt quite a bit better today than I did yesterday. My legs were a bit fatigued and my stomach was still throwing me through loops, sure, but my stride felt more natural and it felt good to go fast. I settled in about 4th place for a while as we passed over the Hurdles and then over this gate thing (there are a few obstacles from yesterday’s race that I forgot to mention, but running the course again today reminded me of some that didn’t make it onto yesterday’s list). Next came the 6’ Wall and the A-Frame Cargo Net, then the O-U-Ts. I’d forgotten how much running we had in between each obstacle, but I was still feeling good, so I held my position, hovering between 4th and 6th as we made our way back to the festival area. The Olympus went by quickly and the Monkey Bars went by extremely quickly (they weren’t wet with rain today, so that was nice), and then it was on to the Tire Flip.
So, fun fact about the Tire Flip: Yesterday there had been a discrepancy about how many flips we were supposed to do (it didn’t really matter for me and many others, since we opted to do burpees instead), but the rules were clarified to us this morning: we were supposed to have done 4 flips during the Super, but only 2 flips during today’s race. Luckily, it wasn’t near as muddy today, so I was able to successfully grip, heave, and flip the tire twice (praise God), and then blasted back out onto the course, still maintaining my Top 5 position. I was beginning to get a bit tired, but nevertheless felt optimistic. Back to more running.
After a 7’ Wall and some more running, we returned to yesterday’s infamous Barbed-Wire Crawl. Thankfully, the open waves that came after us yesterday seemed to have picked up the remainder of those dang stickers that had seared our flesh during that hillacious, undulating, muddy mess, but today another natural obstacle presented itself: the mud had dried into rough, hard-packed dirt, and while it was a much quicker crawl than yesterday, it hurt almost as bad as the stickers themselves, since the terrain dug into our freshly-mended wounds on our knees, elbows, and forearms. Like I said, it was a much quicker process that allowed for some rolling, but that didn’t stop it from being the most-talked-about obstacle post-race.
After the Atlas Lift, we ran for a while, crossed this cool bridge thingy that I forgot to mention yesterday and took on Bucket Brigade, which was a little harder for me today, yet still not nearly as hard as it has been in the past. From there, we skipped the entire extension from yesterday (about four miles of running, with only six obstacles mixed in) and instead cut through the woods for some winding running until we at last reached Twister.
So yesterday, Twister had been my second failed obstacle; I had made it all the way to the second-to-last rung, and just as I was reaching out to ring the bell, I accidentally slipped and fell. This made me slightly nervous approaching it today, but I found a bit of confidence when I grasped the first rung and saw that they were much, much drier than they had been twenty-four hours before. I blasted across the first section and then quickly proceeded across the second, and it wasn’t until the third section that my grip began to tire a bit, probably a result of the bucket carry just a few minutes before. Nevertheless, I knew I had enough strength to make it the rest of the way; I had five rungs left. Four. Three. Two. One…
I fell from Twister at the exact same rung as the day before, and now not only had I wasted valuable energy, but I had to do thirty penalty burpees. (See? That’s the twist I was talking about…because it happened on Twister! Hehehe.) And, quite fittingly, as I made my way over to the burpee station, my stomach started flipping out and I had to pace for about thirty seconds just to prevent myself from throwing up (I’m not sure if I’m getting sick or something, but something definitely isn’t right). Nevertheless, after I felt confident that last night’s dinner would stay with me, I started dropping to the ground. “One…two…three…”
People joined me in the burpee station, but as I slowly counted towards thirty burpees, I watched my 5th place position become 10th, my 10th place become 15th, my 15th become 20th, and my 20th become 25th, maybe even closer to 30th. It was the epitome of how just one failed obstacle during a Sprint can change the entire performance of your race. (During longer races, I can usually use my running background to make up for lost time; plus, people are usually more spread out.) I finished thirty and took back off, but now I was significantly more tired; still, I knew I needed to make up ground, so I tried to push past the upset stomach and gain some positions. Unfortunately, I had only a mile left to do so.
The Sandbag went by smoothly and then we passed over this bridge, A-frame structure thing, and God guided my spear into its target during the Spear Throw (which felt quite like a resurrection, considering that I had been one of its many casualties yesterday), and I at last took off with renewed energy. I passed people as we went through the Rolling Mud (which I forgot to mention was strangely devoid of water this week; it was literally just rolling mounds of mud), through the Dunk Wall and up the Slip Wall, then started trudging up the final hill back into the festival area.
Once I reached flat ground and the festival area came into view, I saw my chance. A group of racers were gathered at the Herc Hoist, an obstacle I can typically get through fairly quickly; if I could pass them, then I might be able to gain a few more spots. I hoisted the bag up until it hit the top of the frame, lowered it in a controlled manner, and then sprinted off to the Multi-Rig, which my buddy Christian Scherf (new member of the #ThongStrong team) was just about to begin. Yesterday I had taken a lot of time drying my hands off before taking on the rig, but since Christian and I have a history of racing each other to the finish at this particular race, I decided to just hop on.
I passed him and sprinted towards the Rope Climb, which I climbed as quickly as possible so as to gain a few more spots before hopping over the Fire Jump and crossing the finish. Eighteenth place overall, just a tad over fifty minutes. It wasn’t the top 5 placement I’d been expecting for the first four miles of the race, but hey, it was better than the high 20s I had been at less than ten minutes before.
Overall, I’ve got to say I felt a lot better during today’s race. Maybe it was the shorter distance and maybe it was because I was familiar with the course, but something about today’s race just felt good, even if I didn’t finish how I would have liked. It was one of those races that serves as a testament to the uniqueness of obstacle racing, where I’ve seen people go from 27th place to 2nd place in the passing of ten seconds, but now I can speak from experience that the opposite can also be true. The sport is so fun because you never know what to expect, and I think that’s one of the most attractive parts about it. I didn’t get to stay as long after the race as I did yesterday (gotta get home for Sunday evening church!), but it was still nice to catch up with more buddies, snap some pics, and bid our see-you-soons. NOW LET’S BE HONEST…I still have to say I like the old festival area better, but this one was still pretty nice and scenic. Today’s race seemed much more smoothly run – with nobody seeming to get lost (another problem with yesterday’s race) and everybody seeming to understand all the rules with obstacles (another problem yesterday) – so I’ve got to give it a thumb’s up. Good job, Spartan.
Oh, and before I forget, congrats to Hunter Russel for taking home 1st place, and then to Alexandra Walker for 1st place overall female, two days in a row! Y’all both killed it out there, so keep up the good work. If you took the time to read this recap, thanks for reading! See y’all soon.