Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Event review- Spartan Race Sprint Redhill, July 22nd 2012

The Spartan Sprint in Redhill was to be my second obstacle race and the first one which I would be doing solo to see what sort of pace I could keep up. I was in no-way looking to be competitive but really to try to gauge where I was fitness wise. I therefore signed up for a non-competitive heat, the 12pm heat.

The Wife and my son came with me in support and we arrived in good time. The entrance to the event was tricky to find, but once we got close it was very well signposted. The facilities were good, but the event was much, much smaller than Tough Mudder, my only previous experience of one of these.

Whilst I'm comparing to TM, there was another clear difference. Looking around at the other competitors it was clear that some people here were doing this for fun or as a real test. However the percentage of teams and individuals that looked organised and really ready to attack the course seemed much higher. Notably  there were a lot of CrossFit and MMA clubs- People doing proper warm ups, organised and ripped teams looking like they were ready to eat nails and ask for seconds. This seemed much more hardcore.

The bag drop and information areas at the start
Organisation was good and despite queues I was registered within 10 minutes of getting to the registration queues. Not too shabby at all considering this included allocating a timing chip.

The race began promptly at 12, with a 5 minute motivation speech from a guy dressed as a Spartan. He was good and funny, but unfortunately hard to hear as he didn't have a proper PA system.

I'll be honest, at only 5k I was not expecting this to be tough at all, especially as I have been running 10-15k trail runs regularly. I was wrong! At pace and with the types of obstacles, it was tough! We immediately started on several hill climbs and descents, a few of which had some small Berlin Walls in place. Thankfully I am pretty good at hill sprints so this wasn't too much of a problem. The problem was that it was a scorching day and dehydration became a problem for me within a mile. This was partly due to waiting at the start line for too long with no water- Lesson learned for next time.

We then moved into several different small obstacles including a run with a 10kg sandbag and an stick with a sandbag attached which you had to ravel up at arms length until the sandbag reached the stick. It became clear very quickly that these were not the "adventure playground" style obstacles as seen in Tough Mudder, but much more fitness based. The origins of Spartan and synergies with CrossFit became clear as we moved on, with rope climbs, overhead log presses and sandbag hoists coming up next.

There wasn't much in the way of water obstacles, which are normally pretty draining, but  a spear throw, balance beams and high Berlin Walls made up for this. I cam unstuck on the balance beams as they were very thin and had to perform burpees as punishment. I misheard the marshall and unfortunately found out later (Through a YouTube comment) that I didn't do enough. Therefore my time should be +20-30 seconds. This then moved to a run holding a tyre. Not to difficult, but the marshall was not paying attention and had to wait for him to tell me what to do. This was a bit of a pain.

Fire jump!
Next came a fire jump, with nice high flames lead through to a rope climb and tyre run. I unfortunately twisted my ankle quite badly on one of the tyres as you can see in the video. Thankfully the next obstacle was an electrocuted ice bath and the ice did wonders for the pain.

A small tunnel run and a few Spartans later and I was at the final obstacle, a peak to climb over. It was covered in plastic and very wet. Although ropes were provided to assist, they were soaking. This obstacle looked very easy when I watched before starting the race, but it turned out to be incredibly difficult.

Pyramid climb
With that done, I crossed the line, grabbed my t-shirt and headed to the lake to clean up. I was now a Spartan Sprinter. Now just to wait and see what time I got!

In conclusion, I won't beat around the bush- This was tough! Cuts, bruises and scrapes all over me. I was out of breath, dehydrated and physically exhausted and all of this from just 3.1 miles of running. It was far more "real" that the Tough Mudder- There was no safety wire stopping you from touching the barbed wire. the electrocution shocks were more powerful and combined with the ice bath to really make you hurt. Painful. Exhausting. Fun. I LOVED IT!

This run cemented in me that I had to complete the Spartan Trifecta (Sprint, Super and Beast in one calendar year) and immediately started planning the next one.

The full video taken on my GoPro HD Hero2 can be seen here:


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