Montana Spartan Beast 2016 (Race Review)
I signed up for the Montana Spartan Beast in July of 2015. After much thought and contemplation, I decided to sign up to run in the Elite heat, knowing that to really feel like I belonged I would need to train hard all winter long. I think if I hadn't committed to the Elite heat, then those days in January when it was -10 degrees Fahrenheit I wouldn't have gone out and done my training.
Not all went as planned. During the month of February my IT Band started giving me problems. I toughed it through the Hurricane Heat and the Spitfire Ultra race, but it was still hurting when May rolled around. While that concerned me, I knew it wasn't going to cause me to back out. Luckily, though it hurt somewhat, it never got really painful during the race and I was able to push my way through to finish in 3 hours and 58 minutes which was around 106 out of 250 in the Elite Heat and would have been in the top 1% of racers in the Open Heat.
The area and the course were amazing and beautiful. I can't wait to go back and have another adventure there.
There were some fun new obstacles, like the traverse ladder, that really challenged me and added some spice. There were some extremely difficult obstacles like a forever long sandbag carry up and down a steep hill and a low barbed wire crawl that went on for what had to be 400 yards. Last year I was unable to do monkey bars or the Clif Multi-bar, however, with lots of training in my basement and backyard obstacle course, both seemed relatively easy this year. It's amazing how much of a difference getting to be hands on with obstacles makes. I also got myself a spear and have gotten pretty good with it. It is such a lift when you are on the course and lots of people are missing and you hit that sucker.
The last 5 or so miles of the race I dealt with pain in my IT Band and massive cramps in both calves, especially every time I tried to jump over a wall. But my goal had been to finish under 4 hours and I gave it everything I had through dirt and pain to get it done.
My favorite part of the course was bushwhacking through the mountains. Spartan race directors love to take you off trail and the Elites basically trail blaze their own new trail. This did lead to me spraining my ankles a few times, but I think affected others more than me. I was definitely glad that I had on compression sleeves because lots of people had pretty scratched up shins from plowing through the underbrush.
After the race I saw a newspaper headline that said "Going to the Sun Road is open to Avalanche." I didn't know what that meant, but I decided to find out. I ended up hiking an additional 12 miles in Glacier National Park.
Then on Sunday, I had the opportunity and privilege to volunteer on the course. This was a special race as it was being recorded to be shown on NBCSN, so all of the big names in the sport were on hand. My obstacle was the vertical cargo net, right before the finish, and it was such an honor to be there on the course as some of my heroes came flying through the course.