Monday, May 20, 2013

Race Recap: Spartan Military Sprint - Colorado

A little nod to my own military
aircraft maintenance background.
C/W = Complied With

Race Date: Saturday, May 4, 2013Race 

Location: Fort Carson Army Base, Colorado Springs, CO

Race Day -1: Travel Day

Thankfully, this was one of the closer races to home...only a mere 6½ hours away. I was able to drop my long haired fur kids off to be groomed (their daddy picked them up) and leave town mid-morning rather than before dawn. This was a route that I had taken many times in the past 20+ years so there was little chance of getting lost. Aside from getting caught behind a semi towing a double wide house on a two lane road that went up and down hills and had no way to pass which extended the trip by about 30 minutes just outside of Logan, New Mexico the trip was rather uneventful. There were more deer along the drive between Logan and Springer than I had ever seen in the past.

We (myself and my race partner, Jeff) arrived in Colorado Springs at about 4pm and found our way to the hotel. When we went to check in the clerk couldn't find my reservation and I ended up having to call their toll free number to find out what was going on. While I was on the phone the clerk did find my reservation, but I had made it for April rather than bad! I first tried to call the USAF Academy to see if they had any temporary lodging facilities (TLF) open where we could have a full kitchen, but they didn't. Luckily the Super 8 where I thought I had made reservations had rooms open and the clerk gave it to us at the price I had made the original reservation for.

We drove around to find our way to the two entrances to Ft. Carson (somewhere I had been back in 1985 on our way to New York to drop our car off at Bayonne and fly out of JFK to our new duty station in England). Unfortunately my navigation program was no help to find the main gate and I knew that Gate 20 was a ways down the road. Listening to my navigation set to "Fort Carson Gate 1" ended us up at the Colorado Springs airport! I finally figured out how to get to the main gate and estimated the travel time needed to get there at 6am on a Saturday morning to be about 10 minutes.

Now that we knew where we were going we made a trip to the mall so I could get a warmer shirt for the race (Underarmor mock turtle neck long sleeve) and then headed to dinner at Famous Dave's. We just hung out in the room for the rest of the night since we needed to get up at 5am to go grab some breakfast and then head over to the venue to volunteer at 6am the next morning.

Race Day:

I woke up bright and early, even before my alarm and got ready to allow Jeff  time to sleep in a little before waking him up. I have to say that I wasn't quite sure of what to expect for this race as I hadn't even looked at the previous year's video, so I was just a tad nervous. I also didn't know what to expect for volunteering all I really knew was that I'd be racing for free for half a day of work. We headed to breakfast at a nearby Denny's where the chicks sitting in back of us were talking so loudly that I was able to discern that they were both exotic dancers, one had a kid, the other hated one of the dancers at the club for thinking she was better than everyone else, etc., etc., etc. I mean  really, the few people in the restaurant probably knew these girls life stories since they had been there before us! lol!

We made our way to the base and checked in at the volunteer tent. We ended up in our stations at the registration tents. I was going to bail a little early to go run with the Weeple Army at 10:30, but the Army ended up being spread out throughout the day so I just opted to finish my half day and run the last volunteer heat at 4pm instead. The weather was a bit cold in the early morning, but the job I had at the volunteer registration table was pretty low key and we were next to the gas area heater so that made life better.

Spartan Race volunteer t-shirt - Front.
Spartan Race volunteer t-shirt - Back

We finished our shift at 1:30 (I think) and left the venue to go grab some lunch and a nap prior to our 4pm heat. We planned on heading back to the venue at 3pm which ended up being a good thing because when we did return at 3:20pm we found out that the last heat was at 3:30 instead. Talk about not being psyched up!! We rushed to check our bags and get to the start. I forgot to take off my sunglasses and to grab my gloves out of my bag. We literally got to the start and had about 30 seconds before the heat took off! From here I'll go thru the race (~4 miles, 28 obstacles) obstacle by obstacle:

1. Moats - A series of 3 muddy pits one of which was wide enough to jump over (for those with legs longer than mine) and the other 2 pretty much requiring one to settle in and hopefully be able to climb out. A lot of people needed to help each other out of a couple of these moats, Jeff and I included. The water was cold and was pretty much a shocker at the beginning of the race. This obstacle took a toll really early on some of us. I heard later that a chick had broken her ankle trying to jump across the moats. If you're not positive that you can make it take the safe route and suck up the wetness and the mud...heck, that's why your doing a Spartan Race right? To get muddy?

2. U-O-U-O-U-O (Under-Over series): Simple obstacle to go under some hanging mesh and over a short 4' wall three times.

3. O-U-T (Over-Under-Thru): Go over a 6' wall (couldn't use the side braces for support), under a wall and through a square hole in a wall about 3' high.

4. Monkey Bars: This is always such an epic fail for me when I try by myself that I just opted to do the burpees right away when I found out that no partnering would be allowed. I regret that decision. I mean, I was already the last one in the heat so I may as well at least have tried. lol!

After this we had to slog our way under a wet, slimy, stale smelling underpass and a little mud...I was still in last place and was walking and talking with the elite runner who was doing the route to let the officials know as each obstacle was clear of racers.

5. Hobie Hop: This was a little different from the hay bale jumping at Super. This time you still had to put the narrow exercise band on both legs above the ankles and below the knes but instead of hay bales, we had to jump over wires or duck under them on an uphill mini course. This was quite a bit easier than the bales IMHO.

6. Weaver: Basically a tall A-frame ladder build with cross beams about 3' apart. Climb up, over and back down.

Back under that soggy overpass..

7. 6' Wall (if you're running alone and need help, don't be afraid to ask for it!)

8. 7' Wall

9. 8' Wall

10. Atlas Lift: Carry a concrete weight across to a marked point (maybe 50' away) do 5 burpees and return the weight back to the start.

11. Log Hop: Logs on end, spread out at varying widths/heights. Step over them without losing your balance from one end to the other. I've seen some fairly nasty falls on this and I have terrible bet I accepted a spotter when offered!

12. Barb Wire Crawl: This one was fairly low...keep your butt down!

13. Spearman: Yet again another epic fail, but probably the closest that I've gotten the spear to actually hitting the target so far.

14. Traverse Wall: A longitudinal climbing wall with wooden blocks instead of climbing holds. Always an epic fail for me, but I did at least try. The blocks were covered with piles of mud and footing (at least for me) was impossible. As usual, couldn't even get on the damned wall! 30 burpees for 60 total so far.

15. Trenches: Water filled trenches with the occasional netting above. Easy peasy.

16. Slip Wall: A frame wall with a slick, muddy uphill slant and ropes with knots and cross beams on the back side to climb down. OMG!! I swear I did not think I'd get over this. Luckily the volunteers were helping almost everyone. This was the slickest slip wall so far...and I thought the one at NV Super was bad! The mud at the base had to be about 6-8" deep of clay mud and even with bungee laces my shoes almost came off many times. A volunteer was kind enough to support the rope in such a way that with a lot of work and coaxing I could push myself up with my left leg then pull up until I could get my foot to the next knot. I really felt like giving up on this obstacle but stuck it out and eventually got over. By the time I got off this one, my feet were covered in that heavy mud making even walking difficult.

Start mile 2...

17. Herc Hoist: One of my favorite obstacles! Pull a concrete weight attached to a rope/pulley about 20' high and slowly lower it. Just dig in, plop your butt on the ground and pull. Easy peasy.

18. Tire Drag: Pull a tractor tire out to the end of a rope and then drag it back to the start. The tires were smaller than at Super where I couldn't even budge the stupid thing. Part of it may be because we didn't have the deep sand in Colorado and the surface dirt was fairly even but I was able to do this unassisted.

19. Tractor Pull: Pull a concrete weight (deck pier) on a chain up a steep hill and back down. This was also easier than Super because the terrain was fairly smooth (even on an uphill) compared to the rocky terrain in Nevada but it was a hell of a hill!

Start mile 3...

20. Sandbag Carry: Sand filled "pancake" to carry up the other side of the steep hill and back down. Again a hell of a hill. By this time I had passed several people and was no longer the last in the heat.

21. Tire Flip: Just what it says...flipping tractor tires. Only 2 flips required which surprised me because at Super it was 3 if alone or 6 if partnered up. The tires seemed smaller here as well and I didn't have any problem doing this myself.

22. Rucksack Carry: Pack a weighted ruck up a very steep hill and come back down. The downward trip was much easier. This just about killed my back as I didn't stop to take the time to adjust the ruck. My least favorite, but doable obstacle.

23. 5' Wall

Start mile 4...

24. Rolling Mud and Balance Beam: A long barb wire crawl with steep hills and areas that were really close to the ground. A lot of water involved including getting sprayed over and over with the fire hose. I ended up getting caught up a couple of times and ended up with a nice hole in my new $50  UA least I was expecting that as a possibility when I bought it so no worries. At the end of this was a moat where you could either go over a balance beam or just slide in and climb out. I love the barb wire crawl, but this one was long and tiring. I can't roll for too long because I just get too dizzy, but that's the way to go especially when things get really low.

Here's mud in your eye!
Contacts & mud don't mix.
I'm bringing swim goggles to Beast!

25. Rope Climb: 20' rope climb with knots. I so suck at this and by the time I saw how muddy and slick the ropes were I decided just to go straight for the burpees. When I finished the race Jeff told me that most people had done the same. 30 burpee penalty = 90 burpees for the day.

26. Cargo Bridge: This is becoming one of my favorite obstacles. Climb up and down a 20' high cargo net on either end and cross another 20' net at the top. A crab crawl using the net to sit on and crawl sideways works for me.

27. Fire Jump: I was tired, but nowhere near as tired as when I did the Arizona Sprint.

28. Gladiator Pit to the Finish: I think they took it easy on us back of the packers. ;)

I didn't finish last...not that that would be a bad thing just as long as I finished. Got my medal and headed to the "showers" (just hoses on platforms with sprayers). The water was fiercely cold and it was already just a bit cool out as well but at least the changing tent was heated...yay! I ended up talking to another girl there who had moved to Colorado from about a small world (I'm originally a NorCal girl).

Considering that I wasn't quite ready to start the race so quickly after we arrived on site I'm pretty happy with my 2:28:55 time. After returning to the hotel and taking a real shower we ended up eating dinner and doing our laundry before turning in early (or at least trying to) for a full day of volunteering the next day.

Sorry, between the sun flare and wiping the lens
with a muddy finger this came out terrible.
The muddiest I've been after a Spartan Race.
Military Sprint - Fort Carson, CO medal mud and all!

Race Day + 1: Volunteering for a Free Race

Again we were up at the crack of dawn. No race to worry about on this day, but a full 12+ hour shift of volunteering instead. We had breakfast at the Village Inn before heading back to the base to check in. The weather was significantly colder and windier than it had been on Saturday. I ended up getting a Spartan Race hoodie (using a $50 gift card for volunteering a full day) and wearing that plus a thermal UA mock turtle neck, a volunteer t-shirt and occasionally a sweater that I had brought. The wind was blowing things around and I was glad that I was assigned to the spectators registration table right next to the table with the gas powered heater.

I really felt sorry for the folks that were running on Sunday. I mean, I thought it was cold at the Arizona Sprint, but I think this one actually got colder than that one. I had heard that there were people being pulled off the course or just not finishing due to hypothermia. We had many more participants stopping by our heater just to warm up than there had been the day before.

With the weather turning bad, it was a pleasant surprise to find out that we'd be getting off early. After packing up the registration area we were sent down to the volunteer area to help unload a truck and then we were cut loose. We ended up getting off at about 3pm instead of 6 or 7pm as we had anticipated. It had been so dusty out that we had to take another shower before heading out to On the Border for a late Mexican lunch to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. We got back to the room and just chilled and packed until it was time for a late dinner at Arby's. The plan was to leave by 10am for the drive back home.

Race Day + 2: Travel Day

No major problems after leaving Colorado Springs at about 10:30am after breakfast at Denny's. It was a smooth cruise home and the delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) wasn't as bad as I had expected it to be. We managed to make it home by about 5pm and I was basically a vegetable the rest of the night.

All in all it was a good trip. When we started out I was feeling a bit travel weary and really wasn't "feeling" the trip but by the end I had had a good time and enjoyed the volunteer experience. I really recommend that if you can volunteer for a race in exchange for a free race to do it! I mean it literally saved me nearly $300 and I was able to race the Military Sprint and will be running the Utah Beast next month for a day and a half of volunteering.

What did I like about this race?

This is what most Spartans would consider a runner's race. Most of the obstacles were spaced fairly far apart with only a few exceptions...usually after obstacles that were expected to wear you out. The trails were pretty tame compared to the whole of the Arizona Sprint and some areas of the Nevada Super. The hills for the obstacles were the killers.

What did I not like about this race?

The race itself was fine. I was just a little concerned that our volunteer heat was at 3:30pm instead of the 4pm that had been noted on our volunteer emails. It would have sucked not to be able to do the Military Sprint because there is not another one close enough for us to do. Luckily we got back just in the nick of time!

Would I do this race again?

YES!! From what I've heard there were more obstacles last year including a grenade throw (fake grenades) and I think a shooting obstacle as well. I'd love to do those! Jeff wasn't able to purchase a Military Sprint shirt so we'll probably head up here again next year.

No comments:

Post a Comment