Texas Spartan Beast Day 1

I keep writing all these posts and scrapping them because they’re not thrilling adventures or something. I read a lot of blogs, and a lot of bloggers post about their daily lives (albeit their daily lives as they relate to their athletic/running/what have you endeavors) and somehow transform it into interesting stuff. I think about writing about how I had to run for my 50k training on Tuesday and almost collapsed into a useless heap of something resembling a human being, and wonder who on Earth would read about that…

I guess it’s just growing pains.

Luckily, I did have super thrilling adventures last week, as it was finally that glorious time of the year that the Spartan Beast comes to my neck of the woods. The last year, I aimed to get my trifecta with my husband (for all you non-Spartan racers, you earn a special “trifecta” medal for completing all three Spartan Race distances – Sprint, Super, and Beast at 3-4, 6-7, and 12-14 miles respectively – in a calendar year) and since he’s only recently began to run, for me it was a bit slow going. (Sorry hubs, no offense!) But it was an amazing time I got to have with my husband, where we traveled around Texas for our Sprint and Beast distances and then to Vegas for our Super distance (as there was not a Super distance race in Texas at the time).

So this time around, my husband opted to sit the Beast out. He’s been dealing with the dreaded Plantar Fasciitis, in addition to other crap, so he seemed content to follow me to the edge of the Earth up north to the Spartan Beast and cheer me on from the sidelines. So this race was going to be my race this time, free to go balls to the wall and tackle the Beast on my own terms. The plan as it stands is to tackle all the Spartan Races I can within the next year before the Spartan Ultra Beast comes back around. The Spartan Ultra Beast (for those unaware) is the real shit Spartan Race – a marathon (or more…I hear this year it was more) distance Spartan Race that you can be accepted by application only and is certainly not for the faint of heart.

Friday afternoon we packed up the car and headed up to Granbury, about forty-five minutes away from the race’s location in Glen Rose (all the hotels were sold out…book early, folks). I was supposed to run the Hurricane Heat (a team-style heat led by the founders of Spartan before the actual race begins, normally in the morning or the day before) but since I got out of work that morning late, we were late leaving, and so I missed it. In retrospect I’m pretty bummed I missed it, as I’ve never participated in the Hurricane Heat before, but it was probably for the best considering I was trying to post a good time on Sunday. So instead of being at the Hurricane Heat all night and getting no sleep before we had to be at the race at 0630 on Saturday, we headed out to Granbury to get some dinner before we headed to bed.

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This turned out to be pretty cool, because we found a rocking burger place in the town square (this is a real thing in small towns, which is news to me if it’s not to you haha). In the town square they were having a Christmas celebration with various groups of performers singing and acting out Christmas skits. It was a very cool experience for someone who is used to a huge city like San Antonio.

The next day we had to get up super early for our all-day volunteer shifts. I immediately checked the weather and the Glen Rose Beast Facebook, where people were chatting about the conditions and rumors were spreading about Spartan cancelling certain water obstacles due to the weather. There was snow in some places. Icebergs in the lake (where there is a ~160m swim during the race) and ice on the ground. Upwards of 20mph winds.

We were assigned to the inverted wall obstacle, where we would be all day from 0700 until the last racer passed through in the evening. The weather all day was brutal. I was wearing a polar (cold weather) buff, a regular buff, long sleeved UA shirt, regular shirt, large puffy down jacket, a pair of tights under a pair of cold-weather running pants. Due to the wind, I was still pretty cold most of the day, so just looking at some of the ill-prepared racers coming through in short-shorts, sleeveless shirts, shirtless (!!!), etc was enough to make me cringe.

Long story short, I called medical more times that day than I have ever called medical combined in all my volunteer experience – Spartan and non-Spartan – most of them for hypothermia-like symptoms. The inverted wall was located between miles nine and ten of the course, and it was completely maliciously located right in plain view of the festival (finish line) area of the course, which lead most people to believe that they were near the finish. However, when you left the inverted wall, you would head straight INTO the festival area, hit the cargo net obstacle, and veer off back into the woods for almost five miles. Pretty bastardly. Upon seeing the festival area before attempting our obstacle, a lot of people asked us if they were almost done…and though it’s normally protocol to keep this kind of stuff under wraps in a Spartan Race, I seriously just could not bring myself to mislead most of these people, especially when they already looked so miserable and in a questionable state of health. This turned out to probably be for the better, because a lot of people understood how long they had remaining based on this information and knew damn well that 5 more miles was too far beyond their abilities.

I thought a lot about all the DNFs I had that day when I was chipping away at my own race the next day. For someone in Texas especially, those kinds of weather conditions were completely unexpected and a lot of miserable, shivering faces came through my obstacle. I felt very grateful to at least have the sun out the next day when I raced, especially considering I had originally registered to race on Saturday and later decided to switch to Sunday in order to give myself a rest between the Hurricane Heat on Friday and my race on Sunday. I’ve been lucky enough to never have to DNF, but it sucks to have your race ruined by something that seems so out of your control such as the weather.

So, that sounds super doomy and gloomy, but rest assured that plenty of people skipped happily through my obstacle and Spartan Race provided me and my husband with tons of free chocolate coconut water, so at least someone was enjoying their time that day.

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