Last Saturday was the last Obstacle Course class at Camp Rhino before this Saturday’s Boise Spartan Spring. There were so many people that the class started late because everyone had to get checked in and pay. I don’t know exactly how many people there were, but it was more than I’d ever seen at the class for sure.

We broke up into two groups and each group had an instructor go through one of four obstacles for about ten minutes before we rotated around. We tackled what the coach said were the most frequently missed obstacles – Olympus, Monkey Bars, Rope Climb and Spear Throw.

After a warm up, which included one of the most bizarre tasks I’ve been assigned either here or at CrossFit, my group started on Spear Throw. Oh, the bizarre task was to take off one shoe, then do a low bear crawl across the gym, and then come back backwards, all while balancing said shoe on one’s hips. It felt weird, and was painful, but it certainly emphasized that we were not to rock our hips on the movement…

In the ten minutes, we each go two throws, and, to my immense surprise, I hit my first one. While in previous classes, they’d set up a tire target and had us throwing blunt tipped spears, for this class we had real Spartan style spears and a hay bale to impale. I didn’t get my second one, but I know now that I can do it – if luck is with me.

On the rope climb, I wanted to be careful not to mess up my shoes too much more than I already did last time. The Altras are great for many things, but they do not stand up well to descending a rope. So I only really did one climb, because that is where I feel most comfortable at this point. I did try a bit of legless rope climbing, but I’m definitely not there yet.

Then my group switched instructors and went over to Olympus, which is a barely tilted wall with a variety of climbing holds, holes and chains with which one can grasp with one’s hands while traversing across the wall. You can’t put your feet on the holds, and the wall is slippery as heck, even for my sticky soled Altras. I did a little better on this obstacle, but I didn’t make it through even the short length they have at Camp Rhino.

The Monkey Bars were my last station, and I actually felt good on them. I know the Spartan Race will have a longer set, but I felt strong as I went up and down on the thick bars. And I improved on my second try, even daring to swing bar to bar one time, instead of getting both hands on a bar.

A lot of people stayed for the boot camp afterwards, including me. We had a 400 meter run, plus a hill run, then 30 burpees for a buy-in. After that, two obstacles of our own choice, a spear throw attempt with a 5 burpee penalty for missing the target, and then a hill run. Repeat ad nauseum.

I tried to choose obstacles that were challenging. I did a heavy hoist. I did the six foot wall a couple times, the Monkey Bars a couple times, and I even tried the Olympus again, though I didn’t get far. Altogether it felt like an awful lot of running.

I’m not really anticipating doing a whole lot of running for the Spartan Race. I’m a slow runner as it is, and I’m not going to be in a hurry. My main goal is to get through and minimize burpees, so if that means walking more than I run, that’s what I’ll do. I’ve been training with running up hills, so I’m hoping that will allow me to get through the race in my own time.

I’ve been preparing for this thing for so long, I can hardly believe it’s almost here… I’m a lot stronger than I was last year, but am I stronger enough? That’s what this test is about. I don’t think I’ll be doing this race again next year though. It’s a lot of prep, and right around the time when I want to be focused on backpacking. Maybe I’ll look into one that’s in the fall, even though I’d have to travel. Even early spring would be better. And I might just start working on the trifecta with a longer race.

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