Review-Boise Spartan Sprint, June 13, 2015
I signed up for the Boise Spartan Sprint to be a "warm-up" and learning experience for when I ran the SLC Spartan Super on June 27, 2016, and so that I could get a feel for the obstacles and where my weak points were. My brother-in-law Paul Fuller, was doing the race with me (he had already done a few, and so I trusted him to get me where I needed to go). Once I got out on the course, any thoughts of taking it easy and using it as a warm up completely disappeared and I went as hard as I could.
Leading up to the race was pretty rough for me. I went to Lagoon in Utah with my family the day before, which essentially meant 8 hours in the car on Friday instead of 4. At Lagoon, it was hot, and I only rode a few rides, but part way through the second one I felt sick. The drive from Farmington, Utah to the Boise area was not fun as I felt like I was going to throw up pretty much the whole way.
We made it to my aunt's house in Middleton at 9:30 pm and I got into bed by 10:00 pm, but I didn't get much sleep for a few hours as I was still fighting the urge to throw up. At 2:39 pm (yes, I looked at the clock), I finally gave in and spent the next 30 minutes or so emptying the contents of my stomach. When I was finally empty, I felt much better and was able to get at least a few hours of sleep before we needed to leave for the race.
I woke up at 6:30 am, drank some Chocolate Vegan Shakeology (my go to breakfast for early morning trainings). My ribs were a bit sore from violent vomiting the night before, and I felt a bit weak, but the Shakeology in my system seemed to help. I took a shower and we were off by 7:45 am on our way to the "Big Nasty Ranch" near Payette, Idaho.
As we drove into the parking lot and walked up to the registration, I looked up at the hills and started to feel a bit intimidated. They were much bigger than I expected. As we were checking in, the loudspeaker announced that the first female finisher, Jenny Tobin would e arriving soon. Watching her go through the last few obstacles didn't help me feel any better. There were serious obstacles.
We walked around the festival area for just a few minutes, but we didn't really have much time after going through the registration line, getting our chips attached to our wrists and getting our bags checked. I ran into one of my friends that ran in the Elite Heat. He said that it was a really tough course, and that there were several obstacles (like the bucket brigade) that were harder than they had been in the Montana Beast.
Once we got to the starting gate, I realized that I was still wearing my shirt over my under armor. I debated on what to do with it, since I didn't have enough time to get it back to my bag. In the end, I just ended up leaving it on and running with an extra layer of clothing. It wasn't hot enough to make it unbearable, and I don't think it made a real difference, but next time I'll make sure to stow it away.
After the customary "I AM SPARTAN" chants, the gun sounded (actually I can't remember what got us started, but something did because everyone started running). We went through a "smoke bomb" of some kind and then after about 100 yards, we came to three mud pits that were about 10 yards across and 4 feet deep. I had no problems there and quickly found myself toward the front of the pack of people, with maybe twenty or so people ahead of me.
After the mud pits, the trail went up a short, steep hill with very loose dirt before we crossed a paved road and ran to a single 6 foot wall. I passed a few more people and ran to the "A-Frame" obstacle, which are probably about one mile into the race.
I passed a few people going up the A-Frame and a lot on the way donw. They were slowly crawling down the netting, while I was facing forward, more walking down. By the time I reached the bottom of the A-Frame, there were only 5 men from our group still ahead of me, and I was almost to the stragglers from an earlier heat.
I started hiking instead of running as soon as I hit the first big hill. It was tough, I even had to stop a few times just to try to catch my breath. I was passed by two or three people on the way up, but I started passing a lot of stragglers from the earlier heat.
At the top of the hill, there was a very short run, and then the "Plate Drag" obstacle. This obstacle requires you to sit on the ground and pull a "sled" with sand-bags about 15 yards toward yourself, and then after it reaches you, then you get up, and using a chain on hte back side, pull it back to its origignal starting position. I flew through this obstacle and hten after another short flat run, got to the first down hill section.
I love going downhill and the steeper the better. This first one wasn't too steep, but steep enough that there were lots of people carefully making their way down while I flew past them. By the bottom of the hill I could only see two people from my heat still in front of me, but after this point I couldn't really keep track of who was in what heat, just too many people. At the bottom of the hill was the first drink station. I ate one of the GU energy gels I'd stuck in my pocket and got a quick drink.
I dove into the barbed wire crawl and went as quickly as I could. The ground was very uneven, with big ruts and hills, and unfortunately most of hte "easier" paths through were filled with slow moving people, so I went through any gap I could find as quickly as I could. I could feel the rocks scratching up my knees, but I didn't care, I wanted to fly through. I passed alot of people in the barbed wire crawl. I was grateful that it wasn't a long flat crawl, which most people roll through, because I can take lots of pain, but I wasn't sure my stomach could take any rolling.
After the barbed wire crawl came the "Tractor Pull." Which required races to pull a cement blck attached to a chain, down a slight decline for about 100 yards and then back up a slight incline. This wasn't difficult for me, though I could see several others having difficulty pulling the block.
At the top of the next hill there was an "Inverted Wall," followed by a 7 foot wall and an 8 foot wall. I had to stop and catch my breath for a few minutes before each wall. I'd pushed myself really hard to get to this point and those walls were intimidating. I knew I didn't want to have to try to make it over them more than once, or fall off of them trying, so I made sure I was in control of my breathing before I went for it.
After the walls I came to a steep down hill. Part way down a big group of people heard me thundering down the mountain and parted so I ran right through them. I felt like I was flying. I heard one guy say: "Holy S***" and another yelled some encouragement "That is how you do it." Definitely one of my highlights of the race. I was just glad I didn't wipe out at that point because I was really close to being out of control. The ground was loose dirt, and there were some cobblestone rocks hiding in the trail. A few times I almost twisted my ankle, but somehow managed to make it through unscathed.
After going down, the course went right back up. At the top of the third hill was the "Spear Throw." I took aim and threw. My spear went a bit sideways on the flight and didn't stick, which meant 30 burpees. Those burpees were not fun. There was so much dust flying into my mouth on every one and it sucked the "I'm doing awesome" feeling right out of me.
The course went back down to the "Atlas Carry" and the dreaded "Bucket Brigade." After the bucket brigade, I went very slowly up the next hill because I couldn't catch my breath for a long time. At the top of the fourth hill climb was a "Vertical Cargo" obstacle and then the "Memory Scan" (mine was "KILO 289-7281), then back down.
This downhill sucked a bit because there were starting to be a lot of people on the trail and not a lot of options to get around them. At the bottom of the hill I took two cups of water (still trying to catch my breath from the bucket brigade). Then came the gauntet. (Clif-Multi Bar; Z-Wall; Herculean Hoist, and Rope Climb all right together). I ended up with burpees on the Clif-Multi Bar, which further sucked the will to llive out of me, but somehow managed to get past the other three.
Going up the last hill was tough. I was probably more exhausted than I had ever been before and just trudging along at a slow pace took everything I had. Then my right calf started cramping up. I sat down, punched it a few times and then carried on at an even slower pace.
At the top of the hill I ate my last GU energy gel, and I think that helped with the cramping in my leg and gave me a boost of energy. Before going back down we had a sandbag carry. On the down hill I was really frustrated because the trail was narrow and there was no way to go around slow people, and by this time the people on the trail were really slow. I felt like my slow climb up the hill had been slightly faster.
At the bottom there were monkey bars (which I failed, earning me another 30 burpees) a few mud pits, a dunk wall, the slip wall, and then the fire jump.
My time was 1 hour and 33 minutes which was good enough for 215 out of 3494, which was better than I had hoped for or expected, especially considering my cramped leg and 90 penalty burpees. The fastest Elite Men's time was 47 minutes and 50 seconds. The slowest time was around 7 hours and 30 minutes.
After the race, I felt drained, beaten, scratched, bloody, and wonderful. I couldn't wait for my next race, the SLC Spartan Super.