So the story of ‘The Beast’ starts here. Spartan Sprint Yorkshire – September 28th, 2014 with my Spartan team, Victorious Secrets. (No, we didn’t plan our outfits).

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Monkey bars – I knew (but still hoped) I could do, spear throw – certainly capable, but will see… all the other obstacles, I reckoned I could manage. The rope climb: I’d never climbed a rope in my life, so had no idea – but after watching youtube videos, I’d hoped to give it a decent go. I even dared to dream I could do it…

burpees

INCORRECT – see above photo – my 30 penalty burpees for failure to complete the obstacle, looked on by my friends/team-mates. I made it 90% of the way but couldn’t manage the final heave up to the bell. Frustratingly, if I’d have chosen another rope, the bell would have been lower and I might have managed it. When I tried again, my arms were too tired to make any kind of decent effort… making the burpees pretty horrendous too.. but anyways.

I had a score to settle with the rope. I need to do another Spartan Race!

2 weeks and a 245mile drive later, I’m ready to take on the Spartan beast with fellow Victorious Secret team-mate, Ellie. With a bit of a slow start due to bottlenecks throughout the first mile, we were off. Not half a mile into the race, and we came across a cause of one of the bottlenecks – someone laid up with a medic – I later read on Facebook they had a broken ankle (gutted!)…the beast had claimed its first (and i’m sure not the last) victim!

The terrain was proper trail – mud, hills, branches to duck and climb over – meaning the mileage was very slowly climbing up. First obstacle – cargo net, no problemo. Next came the parallel bars. I can do the parallel bars at my local ‘trim trail’, however these must have been wider as I wasn’t able to lock out my shoulders, or stop my body swinging and knocking me off balance. First 30 burpees. I feel like I can definitely do these though – something to work on for next year.

Next major obstacle (I think) was the monkey bars. Done (albeit it, with difficulty) at the Spartan Sprint 2 weeks ago. My first attempt I got about 75/80% of the way across. These bars (unlike the Sprint) were over water – but not high enough for my legs not to be wading through the water as I made my way across the bars, adding resistance and making it a whole lot harder. (Yes I could have raised my legs up, but that was harder too!). I tried 3 times – each getting less far than the previous attempt  – after 3 attempts, I made the difficult decision to give up and suck up the 30 burpees (rather grumpily). Looking back, I received a few compliments on my attempts, which was nice – at the time I was too grumpy mid-burpees to properly acknowledge them  – thanks friendly people!

When we reached the first distance marker at 3 miles – the general voice of the people around was of disbelief… everyone convinced it was to mess with our heads – unfortunately not, my Garmin doesn’t lie, and it said 3 miles. The obstacles and the terrain was making it very slow going. Reading online about Spartan and comparisons to Tough Mudder – I wasn’t expecting mud. Mud is TM’s thing, Spartan don’t want to do that. How I was wrong. Whether it was due to the recent weather (rain), or intentional, the course was VERY muddy. My inov8 Mudclaw’s are awesome, but there’s not much technology can do in a bog. And a lot of it can only be described as a BOG. My team-mate Ellie certainly struggled due to footwear; wearing regular running shoes, she did exceptionally well to stay upright around the course (I think there was just one fall, but we’ll forget that 🙂 ) … the number of times I turned around to see what looked like Bambi on ice, I can’t count! It must have made the course even harder for her. Get some inov8’s on your Christmas list, Ellie. 🙂

Here’s the list of obstacles we put together afterwards…

1 Tricep dip bars

2 Log carry

3 Ammo carry

4 Tyre carry

5 Bucket carry

6 Sandbag carry

7 Petrol can carry

8 Monkey bars

9 Rope climb

10 Mud crawl

11 Mud peaks

12 Barbed wire crawl

13 Spear throw

14 Gas canister lift

15 Boulder carry

16 10 bar rotation

17 Slanted rope climb

18 High walls

19 Low walls

20 Climbing wall

21 Lake swim

22 Tyre drag

23 Tyre flip

24 Cargo net climb

25 Water wading

26 Fire jump

27 Slanted wall

28 Holed walls

Yeah.. a lot of carries.

Here’s the bucket carry – fortunately through some water, ah lovely weight supporting water.

"Epic Action Imagery"

What’s that smell…? Another carry probably.

"Epic Action Imagery"

Including the 1 mile tyre carry.

The worst for me had to be the lake swim. Unlike Tough Mudder, Spartan don’t release a course map, so we don’t know what we’re in for. When I saw that lake, my heart dropped. Hate swimming. Hate cold. C’mon though, let’s do this. I decided to go as fast as I could, to alleviate the cold and to get it over with as soon as possible. Not the best swimmer, I hit the water and began a very frantic front crawl. After a little bit, it hit me, I was only half way. I felt like I wasn’t moving anymore, despite the frantic front crawl, and a bit of panic started to set in. Out of breathe from frantic swimming, breath not coming back due to the cold. A turned to do a backstroke to regain some control over my breathing. I must have looked quite close to drowning; a safety chap in a canoe made his way over and asked if I was ok. I was very close to saying “no, get me out!”… but I resisted – this was my challenge. What’s great about OCRs is that everyone will have their worst obstacle they need to overcome – today this was mine (Ellie was fine!). So I sucked it up and made it to the other side. The canoe man stayed with me… he was less convinced I’d make it, I’m sure! My struggle must have been very visible as a bunch of other competitors told me ‘well done’ – thanks again friendly people! Here I am post lake swim… yeah looking quite knackered.

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Pretty happy though after that though… we had BANANAS. Delicious, delicious bananas. A tyre drag and then we were on the home straight (kinda) – tyre flip, more walls, the slanted rope-climb wall thingy, and lots and lots of trails. Oh and the spear throw… hello 30 more burpees.

But then FIRE JUMP and then we get MEDAL!!!

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Yes.. we did plan our outfits.

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516 mile trip. Totally worth it. Oh and I smashed the rope climb to some very lovely applause (thanks Spartan for putting the rope climb near the spectator area!).

See you next year Spartan!