Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Event review- Spartan Race Super and Sprint Birmingham, September 9th 2012

The Super Spartan in Birmingham was to be my 3rd obstacle race, and optimistically I wanted to do a Sprint on the same day. This was possible due to a last minute change in venue due to a double booking and both races being moved to the same date.

I entered the elite heat at 10am for the Super as I was keen to make sure that the time I spent queuing was minimal on the good run. I was therefore a little disappointed to find out that the Super was in fact 2 laps of the Sprint race, which meant on lap 2 we were running with some non-competitive runners. I know we were all in the same boat, but it still wasn't great.

The venue was very easy to find, but registration was a problem- There was a long, very slow moving queue for anyone who didn't have a timing chip allocated, which seemed to be most people. As this was the first race in my season pass, I had to queue which took 45 mins, leaving me with only 10 mins to drop my bag, set my camera, go to the loo and fuel up. Not great at all.

At least the sky was clear but there was a chill in the air. I was very hopeful that we would be able to get body temperature up enough by the time we hit the water :-)

This was the first time I've entered an elite heat so nerves were kicking in at the moment. unfortunately  there isn't any entry criteria for the elite heat so in chatting to some guys on the start line, it became clear that it was a really mixed bunch. A few people were running off road for the first time, let alone doing an obstacle run. Don't get me wrong, everyone has to start somewhere and fair play to them for jumping in at the deep end with a Super distance straight away, but the though of more queues worried me.

It was explained at the start line that the second lap of the Super race would involve doing twice as many reps on lap two- Carrying two sandbags on the sandbag run, 2 reps of the sandbag twist, etc. In addition, on lap 2 we would also have to carry a house brick around for the whole lap and have it with us across the line to get an official time and medal. This was great news- I was hoping it was going to be a real challenge and it sounded like it would be.

My brick, which I named Phil. He wasn't much of a swimmer...
The race was superb- Only two criticisms in that a lot of it was running through water which for me showed a lack of creativity. It was draining on the legs for sure, but got a bit dull after a while. This can be forgiven though due to the last minute nature of the change of venue. The other problem was the lack of marshalls on the course. At one point, the lead pack ran into a field with no indication as to where we were supposed to go. The course should and could have been marked out much more clearly.

The ice bath with red dye
This was really tough- The fact that you did two laps I thought made it even harder as having to run past the finish line and in effect start all over again was psychologically quite damaging. Also, carrying that brick around on lap two sucked. A house brick doesn't sounds like much, they're not even heavy. But at the end of 4 miles of running holding one whilst also trying to carry 2 sandbags or two car tyres, trust me, it got heavy!

Top work to the Spartan organisers, if only the marshalling and administration at the beginning would have been better, this would have been faultless. As with the other races, the only indication I have of my time was from the GoPro footage, which unfortunately ran out of battery before the end of the second lap, so I was once again in a waiting game for my time :-/

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

I finished the Super just before 12pm and decided that I had enough in the tank to do the Sprint at 1230 as well. I would have gone for the 1200 heat but I had to get a new timing chip for the second run. I took the Sprint far less seriously- Helping others out and not fussing too much about the queues. It was nice to not carry the brick, or do twice the exercises and I could really enjoy the course.

The thing which I noticed most this time around was the long running sections between obstacles. I hadn't noticed earlier, but particularly after the large wooded section the run was very long and open (And boring!). I don't mind running, but prefer to do it over challenging terrain rather than a field.

It was nice- Much flatter than the previous Sprint race and therefore not as challenging, but a great way to spend an hour on a Sunday afternoon :-)

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


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