Katrina Blackwell did the Spartan Sprint at Washougal MX Park in Washington state. Her description of the course along with the GoPro shots from her racing partner, Josh Barber, make for a great read-Enjoy.
Excitedly, our duo of soon-to-be Spartans, along with one masterfully supportive husband, bounced our way through the field of cars to start our muddy adventure for the day. A little behind schedule, we speed-walked across the tangly grass and up a hill to the registration area.
After getting situated, we made our way to the line for our heat. Anxiously we chattered, awaiting the send-off speech. “Who am I?!”, the voice would yell. “I am a Spartan!” The crowd exclaimed vibrantly. “Who am I?! I am a Spartan!”. A sea of high-fives from strangers commences and in a puff a blue smoke we were off. First, four-foot Military Hurdles stood in succession – an easy warm up, though easier for the taller and stronger.
The path then turned decidedly downward. Loose dirt and rocks made for a precarious decent. I could hear another runner close on my heels and hoped silently that he didn’t slip. We hit the big walls early in the race – over-under-through – over a tall wall, under another, then through a hole about 3-4 feet off the ground. My Spartan partner, Josh, gave me a leg-up and I popped over. He muscled himself over no problems.
Tire flip was next. Glad I had reviewed tire-flipping technique just days prior, high-fives were shared and on we ran. Finally, at the bottom I spotted an obstacle I had struggled with last year – Tractor Pull – a cinder block dragged by a chain. This year they added a kicker; a four-foot post to be carried over our shoulder at the same time. It was a balancing act between the log and the uncomfortable grip on the chain.
Next up, the Hercules Hoist – buckets of cement hitched up to a rope and pulley. The object was to heave the bucket to the top of the rope, then lower it down without dropping it. Grab, sit, climb, grab, sit. Up my bucket went, no big deal. Just around the next corner we came to the Vertical Cargo. Already knowing it’s the most stable next to the trees, we made it over smoothly.
Run run run run run, through a tunnel and out to discover the Atlas Lift. Squat, pick up the precarious round mass of concrete, and carry it to the next flag. Here, do 5 burpees and then carry it back. Boom. With high confidence we continued. We’ve made it half way with no penalties.
Popping up over the next hill I saw it – the Slip & Slide. This a very steep, very tall, VERY FAST slide, down wet plastic into a frigid pool of water. There we sat, at the top of the slide, counting down together and down we went. I screamed, we SPOOOSHHHED into the freezing water reemerging seconds later. I let out a cathartic scream, removed my shorts from my neither-regions, and got out of there tout de suite!
With frozen muscles, we grabbed our sand-filled pancakes and hauled them up and back down a hill. A jaunt down the trail we came upon the big barbed wire hill. I tried to keep as much surface area on the mud as possible to keep from slipping backwards. This obstacle is my favorite because it requires everyone to rely on the random Spartans around them. Eventually, you will get stuck and need help, and it’s typically the person below you who gives it. Partly because it’s the only way they can keep moving forward, and partially because they quickly realize that the favor is promptly returned as the Spartan they helped up is reaching back a stable hand to help them forward.
The Inverted Wall was new, also. I grabbed the first brace and jumped on, took a little froggy-squat and propelled myself up. The angle felt more drastic but, determined, I swung a little and grabbed for the top of the wall. It took a little wiggling but I got myself over. Proudly, I descended to the other side.
On the way down the next hill, distracted by a line of kids looking for muddy high fives, I almost overshot the next obstacle, another Barbed Wire Crawl. Roll up the hill, slide down, and repeat. A little hose-spraying from the volunteers was welcomed in the increasing heat.
Rolling Mud was next – in and out of waist deep mud pits, then on to the Rope Climb. I ended up getting stuck for the same reason as last year. The knots, too far apart to be usable for my shortness, obscured the use of a foot lock. Frustrated, I had to give up just feet from the bell.
Then, another staple of the Race, the spear throw. We had reviewed some pointers, such as keeping your hand near your shoulder and pointing at the target. I got mine to the hay-person, dead center, but it glanced off another spear.
Nearing the end, it was time for the Wall Traverse. I made it slowly and carefully to the last handholds and got stuck. Foiled by my lack of wing-span once again. I leaped for the bell in a last-ditch effort but fell short, and proceeded on to push dirt again.
Another new one – the Tire Pull. I decided to pick my tire up and drag it by one end while the others left it flat on the ground. Apparently, this was impressive. I heard a stranger’s voice yell “That girl’s going beast mode! Everyone look at her! …” That sooorta made my day.
We made our way down to the 3rd set of barbed wire. We went rolling under the wires, and over a hill to see another water pit; this one with a wall in the middle forcing you to completely submerge to go under it.
Dripping in mud, we approached the Slippery Wall. I quickly discerned that keeping my feet in front of me would provide the best resistance and grip.
Suddenly, we found ourselves at the end of the race. We took a moment to be disappointed that there was no epic fire jump and that the gauntlet of pugil stick-weilding “Spartan’s” were not dressed in costumed attire. I shrugged it off and ran full-bore, battle-cry blaring, straight into the padded arena and across the finish line.
With muddy fingers, we gingerly picked out our T-shirts and consumed our bananas, as Spartans!