There were a lot of differences between my first and second Spartan Races. My second Spartan, in Atlanta, boasted a tougher course with rougher terrain, more obstacles in the view of spectators, and so very much more mud. So. Much. Mud.
My PTI Spartans teammates and I hit the course at 9:30 am. The first obstacles were relatively easy — hurdles, short walls, hay walls and such. The vertical cargo net posed my first major challenge.
I went up one side of the net and got myself over the top when the net snapped back, along the underside of my left arm. The force of the snap flipped my Nike FuelBand and one of my timing chips off my left wrist. I found my FuelBand, but the timing chip flew out of sight. The bruising and abrasion on my arm makes it appear I was in a bad accident.
I may have cracked a rib at the O-U-T obstacle. Imagine three walls spaced about 10 feet apart. The object was to go over the first, under the second and through the window in the third. I needed another couple inches to do the under. Being barrel chested was definitely a disadvantage here. I got stuck, pushed myself through, and it was painful.
Some of the obstacles I loved in my first Spartan, like the cargo A-frame and the plate drag, I rocked this time around. Others, like the herc hoist and the slant wall were impossible because of all the mud. I attempted them, but couldn’t do them.
A thing called “rolling mud with dunk,” where you climb up a pile of dirt and slide down into a pool of water three times, then go under a wall by way of water, was achievable but very cold and brought to mind the “Shrinkage” episode of Seinfeld.
Part of the course had us traversing through a drainage canal, to the sandbag carry, and then back through the drainage canal and it’s calf-deep water.
Then there were the two barbed-wire crawls, or rolls, as rolling is quicker. One was at the end of course and included a mud pool at the midpoint. I don’t know who he was, but I love the volunteer who encouraged me through the second crawl. “You’re almost there, buddy. Keep it up,” he said as I climbed out of the mud pool. My pace slowed at the very end as I was dizzy from the rolling. I heard the guy say, “You have four more pieces of barbed wire to get through and you’re done. You’ve got this.”
I stood up and there it was, the fire jump, the final obstacle between me and the end of the race. I jumped over it with glee and headed toward the finish line caked in orange mud.
You get lots of stuff at the finish line. A lovely lady placed a finisher medal over my dirty head. Volunteers handed me a banana, water and energy drink. My teammates, Kelli and Erin, without whom I could not have gotten through the race, laughed. Our hands were so dirty we couldn’t do much with all the stuff we got. I was so thirsty, though. I popped open the energy drink with my muddy fingers and took a swig. Tasted a little earthy, but was otherwise the best, coldest beverage ever.
I skipped the step-and-repeat victory photo because the line was too long and I was getting mindful of the time. Sarah was hanging back at the hotel and we were about to run out of time for our late checkout. I attempted to shower off but gave up. There wasn’t enough water coming from the community hose to blast the stuff free. That banana I received at the finish line got lost in mud.
I claimed my finisher’s shirt and headed to the exit, where my PTI Spartans teammates were waiting. Although I was the last to cross the finish line, their cheers and excitement made competing worth the effort. I am so grateful for the support I have gotten from my teammates. I have so far to go (I’d love to have the upper body strength to do the rope climb and the monkey bars), but I’ve come so far because of their support and encouragement.
On the long, slow march toward the car, I assessed the physical damage. The underside of my left arm was raw, my chest hurt, I was covered in road rash from scrabbling through the mud, I had numerous scratches and bruises, and every muscle in my body was sore.
My heart, though, was very happy.