Spencer and I completed our first Spartan race last weekend in Atlanta. It was over 9 miles of hilly terrain plus 29 obstacles. We absolutely loved it!
Spartan Super Atlanta
We really didn’t know what to expect since this was our first race. We watched YouTube videos of the obstacles, hoping to pick up a few tips or strategies along the way. But, until you are “in the trenches,” it’s hard to fully know how challenging a Spartan race is.
The Atlanta Super did NOT disappoint!
We selected this race because it fit into Spencer’s demanding fall baseball schedule. It was a very quick trip for us, flying from Chicago to Atlanta Friday morning, and back early on Sunday, so Spencer could make a baseball game at 11 a.m.
We arrived to the race site about 90 minutes before our starting time of 8:30. Many of you advised us to move from the Open division to the Competitive heat. Some of you even suggested Elite! What?! We were really glad we switched to the Open though, so thank you!
The Atlanta Super and Sprint course took place on the Lake Lanier Islands Resort in Burford, GA. You can see the finish area is on a beach. Absolutely gorgeous. I think we lucked out on our destination!
Trails, Trails, Trails
Once we lined up to start and took off running with our heat, we spent a good mile or more before meeting our first obstacle. It was about 55° to start, so the run was a great way to warm-up. Spencer and I almost immediately realized the announcer was full of sh*t when he said this was a, “…flat, fast course.” This was serious trail running that we were not prepared for.
The third obstacle was a water crossing, so we knew we were going to be wet the entire race. Never having tested our shoes for those conditions, we weren’t sure how they would do. Thankfully, Spencer’s Salomon trail shoes and my Under Armour trail shoes held up very well and allowed excess water to drain fairly quickly.
Also, compression is your friend during a Spartan race. Choose tight, light weight gear. No cotton.
The barbed wire crawl was exhausting! It was slightly uphill, so some people were rolling on their sides. Spencer and I mostly army crawled, then rolled for a couple of the lower wires. My hip flexors and glutes were on fire!
The multi rig (obstacle 8) was my first event fail. Grrr. I didn’t have the grip strength to transfer from the rings to the knotted rope. Spencer made it!
Instead of penalty burpees, they had us run a penalty hill. Next time, I’ll work on my grip strength with towel pull-ups.
One obstacle I was absolutely dreading was the dunk wall. The thought of being submerged in murky, cold water did not sound the least bit fun. More so, I didn’t want to be cold and wet the entire race.
Spencer went first and said, “It’s nothing! You’ve got it!” So, I used the adrenaline pumping through my system and did it! Thankfully, it wasn’t that cold, so we didn’t suffer…too much.
I had never mastered a rope climb prior to this race. I felt strong approaching the obstacle and by watching a video on technique, plus some cheering from the volunteers, I conquered a huge goal!
The other major obstacle neither Spencer or I prepared for was the Twister, a rotating contraption that is like a monkey bar on steroids. It not only requires strength, but some strategy as you change lead hands. WE BOTH DID IT! It was really, really hard!
As Spencer and I were running, we absolutely loved the positive vibe from fellow racers and volunteers. We did this race to get out of our comfort zone and test ourselves.
Two obstacles stood out as “grit your teeth and keep going” type of challenge: the bucket brigade and sand bag carry. The bucket brigade involved filling your bucket with rocks and carrying through a hilly loop. My back was pretty tight towards the end of this, but we did not put our buckets down.
The sandbag carry was towards the end of our race and an awkward test of strength. I was carrying 60 pounds of sand and Spencer had 80 pounds. Once I got my sandbags on my shoulders, I was not putting them down, so I passed quite a few people here.
Spencer saw that I didn’t stop, so he didn’t either. I really appreciated that we chose to run this together.
We carried these sandbags along the docks and back uphill. I have no idea how long it was. It felt like somewhere around .25 miles.
The monkey bars were so much fun, especially following the Olympus where your upper body was tested to it’s limit. Then, we sailed over the fire pit to finish.
By the way, I ended up doing 60 penalty burpees (failed on the spear throw & Z wall) and Spencer did 30 (spear throw), well under what we thought we might do! I also got second in my age group in the competitive division.
After completing this race, our bodies were wrecked! But, we felt so elated to have completed this race and are already looking for 2018 races that fit into his schedule which means potentially June, August, or September.
Have you ever competed in a Spartan Race?