Sunday, June 29, 2014


2014 Spartan Beast

Woo! Done and done!

Yesterday morning we got up early-ish and headed out to Midway and Soldier Hollow around 7:30 once Roman picked us up (oatmeal and bananas for breakfast!). The drive was pretty good (not too much traffic) and we were surprised to see that not only was the Ragnar happening the same weekend, but it was happening along the same route in Midway/Heber that we were taking to Soldier Hollow. It's kind of odd to see two major events taking place in the same small community.

We got there, parked (I was able to use my free parking pass from my Geigerigg Booklet), checked in, and got our bib numbers and then wandered around (practiced rope climbing!) until we needed to drop our gear off (free pass again!) and head to the start line. Our start time was 10:15. There were actually two start lines - the actual start line and a pre-start line wall that we had to climb over - the first of many obstacles.

Signing the board.

Roman practicing on the short rope. 

Ready to go!

10:15 came and off we went! Almost immediately we came to a muddy gully that we had to climb through, starting us out on the race wet and dirty. Then came a quick series of boards we either had to climb under, through, or over. And then up the mountain the first time! It probably doesn't matter what races you've done or what shape you're in, climbing the mountains in that hollow were hard. Super steep, the trail was often hedged on either side by trees and brush, allowing for only one at a time, so you had a long train of Spartans trailing after one another at whatever pace the person at the front was setting. So, essentially, you had a train of runners walking close together up the mountain - an ant line. To top that, the terrain was steep and sandy enough that you had to frequently be looking at your feet to not trip or slip. Crazy climb to the top!

Going down wasn't much better as far as the trail footing and width were concerned, but obviously easier cardiovascularly. So much dust in the air! It was kind of cool later looking back at the trail because you could see this cloud of dust hanging over the trees where the runners were coming down.

We zig-zagged all across the hollow for about five hours (finished in 5:06:07), frequently walking. If Brandon had been on his own, he probably could have done it faster, but I don't think any of us minded the walking breaks too much.

Other obstacles we came upon included boulder carrying, boulder pulling, tire pulls, tire flips, tire lifts, weight lifting (large weights via a rope), bucket of gravel carrying (up a hill and back down), sand bag carrying (again up a hill and back), sequentially more difficult vertical walls to climb over (probably five or six of these), javelin/spear throw at a target, two long rope climbs to ring a bell, a mesh net to climb from across to a bell, a wall traverse, a large structure to climb, cross, and climb down, several barb wire army crawls, a barb wire route that lasted forever (rolling through the mud for literally about five minutes under barb wire), a mud covered wall to climb (with ropes) at the end, and a wall of fire/coal to leap. And lots of mud and water to wade through. And about four more times up various steep parts of the mountain. I've never been in a race where it took longer to cover each mile than this race (they seemed so far apart!).

The infinite mud roll (under barbwire).

First finisher (running to the much easier version of the mud
encrusted wall we climbed. 

Three times I couldn't complete the obstacles and had to do 30 burpees at each. First at the mesh net to the bell, I struggled and got all the way to the first supporting bar (up an incline), but then fell trying to reach the next mesh support (a long reach as that new net was at a separate tension). 30 burpees. Second at the spear throw where my well thrown spear was just a little off to the right. 30 burpees (all three of us that time). And third at the wall traverse where we (unknowingly) picked a harder wall that few were doing and all slipped off in the middle on some holds that were particularly smoothed down. 30 burpees. So, 90 burpees for the day for me and 60 for the guys.

All in all, my most impressive feat for the day was being able to climb both ropes to the top and ring the bell. Prior to yesterday I'd never climbed a rope. When we arrived at the Festival area before the race there had been a short practice rope and a girl had been explaining creating a little foothold with both your feet to help you climb higher. That explanation was what enabled me to climb those ropes. The last rope climb was in the last mile of the race and when we reached it there was a horde of people doing burpees on the other side but I Did. Not. Want. To. Do. Burpees. So I climbed that rope!

Most surprising for the day was just following that rope climb as I walked under the bridge to continue and a voice said, "Geneva, is that you?" And I looked around confused until I spotted Caitlin Penrod! I know Caitlin from college and our group of game-playing friends. Crazy random to see her as she and her husband/daughter live in California (I think). Turns out Shaun (her husband) and his sister were running the Spartan Beast as well. Awesome!

The only real complaint for the day was that they only had water at their sparse aide stations. What I wouldn't have done for some Gatorade and something (anything!) to eat. I'd read and been told that they would have goos and things like that at the aide stations so none of us brought any food to eat along the way. Apparently that feature has changed. It wasn't awesome to be running around with hungry stomachs, but with everything else happening, it wasn't too hard to focus on other stuff.

I ran with my five fingers and that was both a good idea and a bad idea. In water the five fingers are excellent, but in mud they collected a lot of the smaller dirt and grit. Even though I attempted to remove this from the shoes several times, by the end of the race my feet hurt where the ball and heel of my feet had been grinding into the dirt for miles.

At the end, now covered in mud literally head to toe from the infinite mud roll, we were awkwardly handed open bananas (which we inhaled), and then granola bars and drinks. We grabbed our gear, took a picture, and then headed to the washing station. Then the most miserable moment of the day commenced. Freezing water. Brandon described it as the only time in his life when he'd gotten a brain freeze from outside influences. Each time someone new was hit with one of the hoses, they'd squeal and scream at the temperature of the water. But endure it we did until the majority of the mud was cleaned from us.

Done and done!

Cleaned up!

We grabbed our stuff and headed over to the Spin Cafe again in Heber (delicious) and with no appetite tried to refuel a bit. I think my body was in such shock from the length of the run without eating/drinking much, the coldness of the water at the washing station, and the sunburns that I felt fairly sick and cold for the next little while. But by the end of lunch/dinner I'd finally warmed up.

All in all we sustained numerous cuts and bruises between the three of us and all of us were sunburned (even though we'd thickly applied SPF 50 sunblock before the race!). The guys ran shirtless which was a very smart choice except for those sunburns. I was mostly just sunburned on my shoulders and arms, but in an amusing/interesting splotchy pattern as anywhere there was solid mud crusted on wasn't burned.

A fun day! I'm really glad we did it and glad Brandon and I got to run a race together. At present I don't really want to do it again, but with some slightly different preparation (take food and slightly different shoes), I could be persuaded. We'll see!

Notes for next time:

-Train with a LOT more trail running.
-Different shoes - ideally good for keeping out debris but not retaining water. Trail running shoes with better traction and more protection on the bottom.
-Bring a small pack with some energy/food items and sunscreen.
-Either run in a bra/capris or a very tight fitted tank top that won't sag at all with water.
-Work on those cargo nets and spear throws!

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