Carolina Spartan Sprint 2013

I went into the Carolina Spartan Sprint wanting to enjoy a fun run. I had done a road 5k the week before, at right under 33 minutes. I have done a handful of other 5k OCR’s in under 50 minutes. My longest runs ever were just over 3 miles. The race conditions in Charlotte were not ideal, the temperature was in the mid 40’s and wet the entire day. The only bit that was good about the weather was that it was motivating to keep moving, if you stopped you suffered.

Note the video is of the 2012 Carolina Sprint, which had a different course design.

I did the race with six others, I finished right in the middle of our group. The goal was to complete it together. A few got frustrated early with the single track long lines and sprinted ahead. I did the same later in the race.

As we approached the starting line, our group hung back, not looking to blaze the trails. Looking back this was a mistake. We didn’t realize that within a few hundred yards there was a bottleneck crossing a bridge that spanned over the manmade kayak course. This bridge got us off the island and headed towards the trails. It seemed the first mile was pretty open (2-3 people wide) mostly downhill with only one obstacle (the short walls: over, under, through).

We then hit the mud which was quickly followed by the swamp (edges of the river that runs behind the white water center). The mud was about knee deep initially, which became waist deep quickly. There was a group that got “stuck” in what they said was unpassable quick sand. They advised no one to follow their route as it was impossible to do. So we trudged around them. We then ran a bit more and hit the water. The basics were that we had to go out into the water a bit and come back to the edge of the river to get back onto the trail.

Once we were out of the water a bit we came out of the woods and saw a glimpse of the walls, 7 foot then 8 foot. These were not crowded so our group made it over these without much of an issue. Run some more… Here is where we hit a huge bottle neck on the course. We got behind an extremely slow group on the single track area and didn’t have a good chance to pass (probably lost 5-10 minutes here). The ground here was just mush, not an ideal place to try to pass.

Next up were mud pits. This was the place where my new balance vibram minimus shoes shined. I had no issue with traction the entire race. Most people were slipping and I was just stepping through mud and mounds with ease.

The next obstacle was the tractor pull, which was also straight forward, drag the cinder block out and back. Run some more… Then came the herculean hoist, which had a 5 minute wait. Most people were failing on this, which was odd. Once I got to this, I just pulled hard, and yanked it up. I did step on the rope while adjusting my grip so that the block did not slip. This was probably the quickest obstacle considering the wait.

Next up was the monkey bars or as known to me, the first set of burpees. I didn’t try too hard, as it did not appear many people were making it across, so I saved my energy for the burpees. 30 burpees later and I was off and running. After a quick run we hit the barbwire crawl, which was only slightly clogged. I felt good getting through this. It was longer than I wanted it to be, and I did get a few scrapes here, but it was probably the best workout of the race. What surprised me was that the barbwire towards the exit of the pit was quite low. I made it out of the pit right before it got sprayed down. Nature had the area wet enough for the day, but the extra water didn’t hurt.

After a short hill we came up on the tunnels. The tunnels were unique in that they were permanent and went under the parking road that lead to the parking lot of the center. There were only 2 tunnels and they were long, dark and wet. They were passable via hunching over, no crawl needed.

The cargo nets were up and down the side of two tractor trailer containers. The part of this that was rough was the wait at the top. After the net there was a bit of a run (quarter mile or so) to where the obstacles were stacked. The first was the sandbag carry. Pick up a muddy/wet sandbag and go down a hill and bring it back up. What was scary here, was that the tire flips were being done right past this obstacle at the top of the hill and someone flipped a tire too hard and it rolled down the hill towards the people doing the sandbag carries. No one was hit, but it was close.

After the cary was the traverse wall. I didn’t stand a chance but did attempt the wall traverse. I fell off the wall and ran to get my burpees done. Then I went to the tire flip. The tire flip was pretty easy. You get a good grip and flip it 4 times. Next up was the spear throw. I was close, but had to do burpees… Again these obstacles were stacked right beside each other. Next up was the rope climb. This was nearly impossible to do as well. The base was 2 feet of mud and the ropes were wet. It is funny watching videos of the Miami sprint this year where the base of the rope climb was dry… Carolinas was not.

So I finished up my last burpees (120 total) of the day. What was frustrating here is that I was getting passed by swarms of people that apparently just ignored the rope climb and burpees. It seems I missed the “optional” sign in front of the obstacle. All good though, I got my workout in.

Next up was another cargo net over a trailer, a quick rope incline obstacle, then the fire jump and the spartans…

I felt great finishing the race. I thought I had done it in a decent time as well. I did not get passed much on the course (except on the optional burpee obstacles)… I thought I finished in around ~1:20. Then I checked my time and it was 1:41. It wasn’t what I had expected and I quickly started examining where I could have made up time by just getting around people faster. I generally don’t care about time or placement, but since I was being ranked it made sense to care.

Next time I will have a different strategy and be a bit more prepared both mentally and physically. I plan to get a trifecta this year (if they let the beast in NC count with this sprint. I need to pack on miles and work on my upper body strength.

Here is a GPS and description of the race from the 3rd place elite from the same day

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