I finished the Boise Spartan Sprint.
I’m still having trouble believing that I finished.
And I’m already planning on how I’m going to do better next time – though whether next time will be next year or not, I haven’t yet decided.
The map was released a few days before the race, and I estimated that I would have to do no more than 180 penalty burpees. I was counting on being able to do the rope climb and nothing else. Though I did have high hopes for the rings.
Ambrose and I started the drive out to Payette about three hours before my scheduled start time. This was a good move, because I didn’t start to panic when we ran into a long line of cars waiting to get in and park at the Thomas Pence Ranch. We just inched forward and got to the parking area when we got there. Next was a long walk to the festival area where we were stopped at the entrance.
Someone had lost track of a child and no one was being allowed in or out until the child was found. So we got to stand in the hot sun, watching racers who started earlier climb over the cargo net and into and out of the rolling mud. I envied them the cool of the water.
Then, when we were all released, there was a long line to collect packets. Ambrose waited with me, and then he went to the spectator line to get his entry wristband. I waited in a narrow line of shade next to the registration tent because I was tired of the sun – I’d be getting enough of that later.
We walked around a bit, but still had more than forty five minutes before my start time, so we found a place to sit. I figured I should rest my legs while I had the chance. I was carrying three energy gels and a hydration pack filled with one quart of Liquid IV for the course. I planned on getting water at every water station, but the stuff in my hydration pack would have sugar and minerals to help me on the course. I also had gloves packed in there, but I wasn’t sure how useful they’d be for gripping things.
When it came my time to get into the starting corral, I had to remind Ambrose to wish me our traditional “safety fun.” He must have been a bit worried about me to forget something so crucial, but he did wish it after I reminded him.
As I entered, I learned that if you show up for a heat time that isn’t yours, you have to do burpees. I was glad to be on time.
You also have to get up and over a wall to get to the start. It was probably a 5 footer, so I could do it with a good jump to get my arms straight above it.
Then there was a hype ritual of yelling and shaking hands. I ate one of my gels and took a sip from my hydration pack.
And then we were off. I kept to a slow jog, watching my step in the rough, grassy terrain. This was not about finishing fast; it was about finishing.
The first two obstacles were more walls like the one at the start, so I was able to get up and over just fine. Then came the rolling mud number one. I wasn’t expecting to get my shoes wet quite so soon, but that’s the way it was. I was immersed past my waist in muddy water, and splashed some over my shoulders for the cooling effect. I also waved to Ambrose and mimed at him that he should get the camera out and take a picture, but he didn’t.
Then it was time to climb. The hills weren’t listed as obstacles, but they were definitely a challenge. I slowed to a walk so as not to jack my heart rate up, but I also didn’t take rest stops. If there’s one thing I can do, it’s hike uphill – especially without a pack on.
Of course, once we reached nearly the top of the hill it was time for the sandbag carry, so that was kind of like a backpack. I heaved a sandbag over my shoulders and started up the next hill. On this obstacle, I managed to pass a lot of the folks who had passed me by running at the start. I passed people on the way up, because I didn’t stop, and I passed a whole bunch of people who were resting at the top. This kind of obstacle was my jam, even if going downhill was a bit slower/harder what with it being so dusty and steep.
More climbing and then came the inverted wall. Based on watching videos, I thought I’d be able to do this one, but I made several attempts at climbing it and failed because I couldn’t get a hold of the top. The board at the top was a good four inches around, and I just couldn’t get my whole hand around it. Luckily, some Spartan solidarity worked in my favor, as a guy helped a girl up and then she got the guy to help me up.
At the first water station, I gave another girl the good idea of pouring water on her head. I drank about half a cup and put the rest on my head. Although my feet were still squelching in wet shoes, the rest of me was drying off rapidly in the wind and sun.
The next obstacle was the plate drag. I picked a lane that didn’t look too bumpy or obstructed and started pulling. The weight was heavy, but not too heavy for me. I got it done and dragged it back without feeling overly strained.
The slip wall had ropes going almost all the way to the ground, so I wasn’t worried as I approached it. I just grabbed a rope and hauled myself up, trying to keep perpendicular with the wall to prevent a quick slide. I almost lost my footing near the top, but steadied and managed to swing a leg over. I kind of butt slid down the other side, rather than turn around and down climb. It just felt right at the time.
I tried to slow my breathing and heart rate as I approached the multi rig, though since I had been walking since I started the hill climb, neither was particularly elevated. I had such high hopes for the multi rig. It was just rings. I could swing on rings, right? I’d developed sufficient upper body strength to conquer this, hadn’t I??
I started out well. I transitioned from ring to ring. And then one of my hands just slipped off. One second swinging, the next sitting on the ground. About two rings from the end. I got a high five from the volunteer for a good effort and went to do my first 30 burpees.
The ground was dusty, and I ended up eating a lot of dirt as people upwind did their burpees and poofed dust in my direction. I got through the burpees and went on to the hurdles. The hurdles are “walls without the wall part.” They were tall enough and awkward enough that I had a little trouble getting on top of them, but I managed to get over both of them with some yells of encouragement from strangers.
For the 6 foot wall, I decided to try the technique I had seen on a youtube video. Run at the wall, kick up and try to grab the top. I made it, barely, and I hung there for a moment with just my forearms on the top. Then I swung my right leg up and hooked my ankle. And hung there for a moment. I scooted my arms and hips closer to my ankle and then I was able to use my ankle to get my hips onto the wall.
After I dropped down, another racer came up and over the wall. He congratulated me on my attack of it and I hung back to exchange a high five with him before continuing on.
Another water station was next, and then the twister. I didn’t have high hopes for this one. But I knew I had to try.
I did a sideways approach, but I couldn’t bring myself to go one handle per hand. I went one hand forward and then let the second join up instead. I surprised the heck out of myself when I made it past the first section. But in the middle of the second I could feel myself running out of energy and I dropped to get my next 30 burpees over with.
Next was the bucket brigade. This time, we would be carrying our weight downhill and then uphill, opposite of the sandbag. The buckets were sealed, which took care of my worry that I wouldn’t fill my bucket properly or that I’d drop it and spill. I wrapped my arms around the bucket and grasped my left wrist with my right hand and got started.
Like with the sandbag carry, I didn’t put the weight down and I never stopped walking. I did switch which wrist was being gripped about halfway through, but I never stopped. I can hike with weight.
The race continued downhill for a while to another water station, where the volunteer told us the Herc hoist was just at the top of the next hill.
to be continued…