Running an obstacle course builds more than a ‘win’
Upon the suggestion of a friend and fitness enthusiast, I joined our team about 3 months ago. This was an adventure I had not really contemplated, other than watching it on TV, and knowing that I would have to prepare, train and plan to qualify for a Spartan Race (the television series). It was something that I would have to carve out lots of time for training, and at the moment it was not an option (still isn’t…lol).
Last Sunday I ran the Spartan Race Sprint with a team of three other women. The four of us had never run a Spartan Race, however, two of us are fitness trainers/martial artists, and the other two are fitness enthusiasts.
When this opportunity was present to me, I researched, and discovered that it was a ‘Sprint’ type race. IOW, it was much shorter, and less time involved. And the best part, it was for people who had never done the Spartan Race. Sort of a touch-toes-into-water type of event.
Still, I should have known it would be challenging. I think I did know that. I still decided to do it, as I will take on challenges just to see how I do. So this is how it went down:
In order to even get in the start line at the gate, we had to get over a wall. Not too bad…sort of easy-peasy for most. A few needed help getting over.
Our first obstacle was the mud-pit. If you weren’t careful, you could easily sink one or both feet up to your knees in this thick quick-mud. People lost shoes, socks, and who knows what else attempting to get thru that. I made sure to avoid the center as it appeared to be the deepest (although people’s feet were sinking in different parts of the pit).
Then we hit the murky water. Murky and muddy because that is how you ‘rinse’ off after the mud-pit. And yes, mud is inside our shoes, and when we ‘rinse’ the murky water goes up our legs at least to the knees. Some go deeper.
From here on out, these obstacles are not in exact order of how we ran this.
We climbed hill after (steep) hill. Most people walked them. My training and instructing at the studio allowed me to jog up some of the steep ones (yep, I passed a lot of walkers).
Climbed under barbed wire (twice). Sometimes rolling under it as in a barrel roll, was the best option. Bear crawling also worked, as did walking on all fours. Then more hill-climbing.
At the top of that hill, here comes another ‘wall.’ OK, many needed assistance from other Spartans, as it was a 4×4 beam anchored about 6 feet high. No supporting wall, just the 4×4 to get over. More challenging, as our feet/legs had nowhere to go except swing about in the air. More hill climb.
Monkey bars showed up. These were a real disadvantage for those with small hands, as the diameter of the bars were 2.5” – 3”…easy enough to grab, not easy to hold as small hands slipped easily. Without a firm grip, we were just not having these (time for 30 burpees).
We had to tackle weighted sacks (belt part goes around the neck and both sacks hang in front of the body. These weighed about 30 lbs each for a total of 60 lbs. Walk up about 200 yards and walk back, then get them off any way we can. Move on to the next obstacle. But wait…here’s another hill. Steep too.
Oh yes, more walls. These are now higher than the first ones. And there are 2 almost back to back for this obstacle.
Next up (in memory only), was a bucket full of rocks. The bucket was fully closed up, with no handles. So we pick it up any way we can hold it, and then walk, again about 200 yards up and 200 yards back, and stack it properly for the next person to pick it up. My fingers barely held on for the last 10 feet. And I did it. My team all did it. This one made some guy throw up.
Another hill (yes, steep). It seems we keep on climbing and seeing other teams in front of us way on up the hills. They almost look like ants. Fun stuff (lol).
Now we get weighted ’squares’ on the ground, with a rope to pull the weight to one end. We need to sit on the ground to get this one done. At one point I have to stand up to ‘unhook’ it from a large bump in the ground that is stopping it. Yeah, I pretty much have to jerk it up and over the hump. Standing works. Then back down to my butt to finish pulling it. Then we have to get on the other side of it, grab the short chain and pull the chain to get the weighted square back to the other end (ready for the next person).
K, we have to turn over a huge tire, ala CrossFit tires. We do that as a team. One of our team members turns a smaller one over by herself. Too cool. We celebrate her, and move on.
So, cement balls weighing about 50-60 lbs each have to be picked up on our next obstacle. First roll it out of a hole, then pick it up and walk it about 20 feet, place it down, do 5 burpees, pick it back up, and bring it back for the next person.
Yay…more hill, except at some point, the hills do start to actually go downhill.
Oh good…more walls. This time the highest yet. More people than not need help. We help each other get over them. No cushion to fall on when we get over. Must use shoes as breaks along the wall as we slide down the back side s-l-o-w-l-y.
The sideways wall…lol. All the points that can be grabbed to move sideways along this wall are set enough apart for long limbs. Very challenging for shorter limbs, and we attempt anyway. We laugh. Do 30 burpees.
Move on to the spears. Make them stick into the hay bale (as they do on TV’s Spartan Race)…here comes another 30 burpees. A few people can actually make them stick. Most not.
Now comes an inverted wall. Everyone is helping everyone. Really challenging to climb up a back slant. But we make it with each other’s help.
Moving to a net in an ‘A-frame’ slant. This one was a piece of cake. Climbed up, got over the very tip, and walked backwards down to the bottom (so easy). For people with fear of heights, it was a really tough one. They felt stuck. They got help.
Weighted sacks connected to a rope that goes thru a pulley was a huge big ole challenge. Got it a little part way up, then kept losing grip as my hands slid (wrong type of gloves…lol). We were on our butts for this one too, using our legs against the fence, and everything we had to get that weight off the ground.
Hanging rings are a fun challenge. Truly need upper body strength for this one too. Think Kasey Castanzo on American Ninja Warrior. We all kind of just hang there before dropping to the ground, and get on with our 30 burpees.
Oh yes, we now have a rope climb. A few years back, this one worked for me. The diameter of this one, once again, was suited to people with bigger hands and good gloves (now I understand why they kept pushing their booth selling gloves…lol). 30 burpees.
Hanging rings were not our thing (and not many people’s either). I saw a couple guys complete this one. That was it. Really challenging for most. You guessed it, 30 burpees.
I am thinking maybe I’ve done enough burpees for the entire year.
We are almost there! (About 5 miles total.) Oh…we get over the next small hill (we are def on the downside here), and there it is. The mud-pit/water-pit/wall. Only this time we are supposed to go under the wall. Only in the very middle can you barely hold your head up without fully submerging your entire body to get under the wall and up on the other side.
The water looked totally gross. If you paid me, I would most probably dig in. However, with all those people dunking into that water, everyone needing to pee by now, there was NO WAY I would allow myself to submerge. So, 30 burpees. lol. Not kidding. Was not gonna do it. Pay me, and I will. And by now it was cold. Most of you who know me, know that I ‘hate’ being cold. Just.no.way. (except for big bucks. I would do it for big bucks).
And last is the mud wall. Yes, muddy because everyone just came out of mud. Slippery and wet. So I strategically study the wall. I see that there is a path about 2 feet wide that is ‘dry.’ I wait my turn and grab the rope to ascend this wall. It is doable. My shoes can grip the (mostly) dry area. I get to the top and then just stop. There is no more room to ‘reach and pull.’ I’m at the top.
So I hang there, pondering my next move, and the guy to my left is at the top (about 12 inches for me to reach top). He grabs one elbow (and says “oh no, you are not gonna go back down” lol) and pulls my elbow up and onto the very top 3” wide platform. I am then able to get my other elbow over, and then one leg and then my entire body over. This does not come fast, but it comes along just fine. Need ‘shoe brakes’ on the other side. We are at the end.
Walk thru, cut off our ‘trackers’ and go get our Spartan Finisher medal (plus 1/3 of a Trifecta medal), and our Spartan Finisher t-shirt. Done. Super. Yeah.
Are we spent? You bet. Are we elated we made it. Absolutely.
Here is what I learned:
1) Our entire team needs to train on upper body strength ‘pulling’ muscles. I do plenty of pushing exercises (pushups, overhead press, clean and press, overhead extensions, etc), however, no where do we have a pull-up bar or pull-up machine. Need to get this fixed. I’ll be ready for the next challenge.
2) Teams are the best. At several points, we were all on the same ‘team.’ Everyone helping everyone. I love this aspect of the event. People who don’t know each other, supporting each other. I see this over and over again in society at large. When we share a common goal (getting to safety, making sure a structure gets built, raising enough money for a cause, getting thru disasters, etc), we suddenly all accept each other without judgment. And we are so willing to help anyone. Just.love.this.
3) I am stronger and have more endurance than many individuals much younger than myself. This means that the workouts I’ve chosen to offer at Minorsan actually WORK! And I kept my body safe from harm and injuries. High-five on that one!
4) Pushing personal limits accelerates self-worth, confidence, skill-set, and know-how, and the ‘yeah!’ factor. Yes, I have self-worth and confidence; and yet there is always more to learn/be/do/accept/acknowledge/celebrate. I also know many people do not have self-worth, confidence, acceptance of self, knowledge, skill-set, or self-love. This is a great way to build up these aspects of someone who might feel less than. Love this part of it. A team can help you get thru it all, even as you must be the one to push yourself.
5) Be ready to pee in the bushes if need be (be properly prepared) lol.
6) These type of events are popular. It takes a huge team to put them together. They happen throughout the year. Everywhere. More teamwork.
7) Entering an event closer to home is the way to go!
8) It was freaking fun. I will do it again. LMK if you wanna be on my Team.
Til next time….
Ms Clara E Minor
MINORSAN Self-Defense & Fitness
Cultivating #BadassCourage for those who are ready…
Contact me HERE
Erin Smith says
WHOA! You ladies are amazing. Thanks for writing this up, it was great to read what you actually went through. Plus, those photos and scenery are great!
Clara E Minor says
Thank you so much Erin! Gonna do it again in 2019!!!