Nov. 7 and 8, 2015 | Spartan Race: Sacramento Super & Sprint*
I should have known that the course was going to take place on a cow pasture when I passed by the large amounts of cattle ranches as I was driving up from Los Angeles. Yet, somehow, I failed to make the connection and it was only after someone had actually said that it was a cow pasture that I made sense of it. It was like coming across those heaps of cow pies from my car to the race tent wasn’t enough of a hint. (As a disclaimer, I never said I was smart.)
Thankfully, I was much more alert and aware on the course than I was off of it.
I spent the early morning pre-running the course, checking the obstacles and ensuring that the race path was clearly marked when it went off the trails. (All part of the job! 🙂 ) I’d say it was lucky that I had pre-run the course; I had worn a pair of Free 5.0s that I wanted to test out and found that they were completely ill-suited for the weekend’s course. The cows had left holes upon holes, and the ground was soft, squishy, and extremely uneven. The shoes made it easy to get through the obstacles that needed footing, but the flexibility of the outsole made it a challenge not to fall or roll my ankles throughout the rest of the course. Sacramento Super, thy name is Ankle Destroyer.
After completing the first run, I made my way to my race kit bag to transition into my racing clothes. I daresay my transformation was almost as good as Superman’s. Pants off, shorts on. Jacket off, tank on. I went from civilian to mud-frolicker in just one quick-change. I also made switched out my shoes for my trail running shoes (Nike Terra Kiger 3), which was, hands down, the best decision I’ve made all race weekend.
I should mention that within the first two heats, a racer had already broken her ankle on the course. Apparently, in the time between then and when my heat was about to start, a few more ankle-related casualties had occurred in following heats. (Called it.) My race goal went from ‘beating my previous time’ to ‘don’t break anything.’
The first few miles were slow. The soft hills and windy trails made it a task to avoid tipping over. There were so many turns and loops that the distances between obstacles seemed to be particularly longer than usual. Then again, the last time I raced, there was more scenery other than dirt, trees, and tall grass.
Despite it being around 44º F, it was very dry. I made an effort to stop at every water and aid station to rinse the dust off my face. It may have been an exercise in futility, but it was better safe than sorry. Ever tried breathing dust? Don’t.
The rolling hills were the fun, albeit dangerous, part of the first half of the course. There were small holes and dips littered throughout the hills, ready to claim someone’s foot. Going slowly was an almost impossible option; I was pounding the ground with my feet as the momentum from the previous hill threw me all the way down and up and through the hills.
And then came the Multi-Rig.
I’m still a little bitter about this obstacle. It involves scaling a bar, to rings, to ropes. I came so close to completing it (See: the last rope) before my grip failed me and I crumpled to the ground in a disappointed heap. The penalty burpees hurt, but not as much as my injured pride.
I tried to run faster through the trails to make up for the penalty time. I pulled sleds, flipped tires, and lifted sandbags — the usual Spartan fun. After the spear throw, I found myself at the lake. The dreaded lake.
To be honest, I usually love water obstacles. This one was considered a lake obstacle, but it really resembled more of a pit of glue. The mud below was ravenous, eager to steal the shoes right off your feet. (A couple of racers who were in the water with me did actually lose a shoe in the water. It was no joke.) And if the smell wasn’t bad enough, I found myself scampering as fast as I could through the water because I realized that I was also wading through a mass amount of dead tadpoles.
You heard me.
The mud clung to everything as I approached the shore. The mud was even more gooey there; it was like walking through molasses. And following the slippery and heavy mud (which would not come off) was an uphill climb through barbed wire. I’m not sure which part was harder: trying not to slip back down the hill because of the residue mud that previous racers left in their wake or trying to avoid getting caught in the wires.
There were just about two and a half miles left when I completed the dunk wall. The water did a great job of ridding my legs and arms of the goo from the lake, but it was also ridiculously cold. My temperature had been high for such a long duration that the cold was a shock to my system — my legs almost stopped working. It took a little bit of drying myself before I could start running again.
As I reached the last mile, I started gaining more traction. The last hill was done and I had somewhat become proficient at leaping between the cow patties that littered the last quarter of a mile. After the Z-Walls, only one obstacle stood between me and the finish line: the rope climb. By the time I had gotten to the ropes, they were wet and slippery; all the more fun to try climbing!
…I think I got minor rope burns from clamping my thighs around the rope so tightly in an attempt to avoid slipping down the rope.
Rope done. Scale down. Sprint to the finish line. Finally, the race was done and I could stuff myself with food and sleep.
Despite the hazards of the course, I loved it. Definitely a great way to end my 2015 Spartan Race season.
– Liffy C.
*The Sprint was basically the same as the Super. Just a lot shorter and therefore quicker. So I merged the two events into one report.