The Scandanavian obstacle race series, Toughest, recently headed to The Netherlands for the first time over the weekend. The popular series is known for challenging and fun obstacles and continues to bring top athletes to each event. The race crammed 40 obstacles in a short 8 km course near the capital Amsterdam. Our Toughest started out with a few hours of volunteering on the first waves. 16 of us, cheering people on, helping them across the obstacles.
I ended up at the Traverse Rings. Amazing to see the first few waves perform. We were only around a mile into the course, so everybody was still going full speed. After making sure the elite and qualifier waves could quickly and safely pass we got to help the following waves across. Felt good helping people that had never done the obstacle before finish it or get further than ever before, even though I got whacked in the face with one of the rings while doing so.
We left our posts at around half past 12 to get ready to tackle the course ourselves. Excited by what we already saw along the course we were ready! I wasn’t exactly confident about the running bit. Even though it was only 8km, I was nervous about a sprained adductor I got during a training run that week.
The countdown, adrenaline, and we were off!
First obstacle the Incline Wall. Running up towards the obstacle the pain in my leg was bearable, almost gone. Running up the wall brought me back to the moment when I got injured. Luckily I could walk most of it off after the wall.
We easily went over the Irish Table and past the Swing Walk, getting some nice shots taken in the process. After the Step Up we reached the obstacle, I was volunteering at. The Traverse Rings! I had a chance to practice the obstacle all morning, so swing across easily and did a second run just for the fun of it. Next up and over the Net Pyramid and off towards the Ring Slide, or as we dubbed it the Coat Hanger Slide. A tough obstacle, but with the correct technique fun as well! The trick was not to swing when trying to get past the stumps on top of the bar, but to hop over them, tilting the top of coat hanger forward instead of swinging the bottom forward. I hopped across and off to the next obstacle.
After a while, we ran into the Rings. Fastlane had a lot fewer rings, so we decided to go for the fast lane! Like experienced monkeys, we swung across. We then crawled through trenches, climbed walls, carried logs and ended up at the Platinum Rig. In our element we swung across again, some even tackling the fast lane with ease!
At the Spinning Wheels, we got to witness some French runners try the horizontal wheels of the fast lane. Excited to try it ourselves. Another win on the fastlane! Cheering each other across the obstacle. Next the Sternum Checker. My leg prevented me from propelling myself over the top bar, so I decided to do a reverse swing over. Past Pull, a Stone and the Jerry, Can Walk, off towards the Urban Sky rig!
The rolling monkey bars! A small pileup of runners, since it’s a tough obstacle taking a fair amount of time to get across. We all managed to finish the obstacle and where off again for the last 2,5 km of the course.
Next came the Trampoline Jump. Off a platform, onto a trampoline into the water. The lack of speed made me fear the water temperature, so for, a moment, I hesitated to do the obstacle. We witnessed one of our teammates misjudge the jump onto the trampoline and land flat on his back. For a moment he was in absolute pain, which didn’t really motivate me either. He quickly regained his cool, and we heard the water temperature wasn’t that bad, so I decided to give it a try. I’ve always been a fan of water obstacles and jumps, so why should I miss out this time? I got up, made the jump and had “No rAgrets” afterward!
Crawling out of the pool my leg started to protest. I decided to walk around the following trenches since I wasn’t racing and didn’t feel like worsening the injury.
Past the Dip Walk, we ran into the Ninja Jump. Placed at a steep angle and awfully far apart I didn’t get to finish them. Jumping side to side hurting my leg a lot. We moved on towards the Rope Climb. The Salmon Ladder fastlane was a bit too much for me at the moment, being just barely recovered from a wrist/elbow injury (yeah I injure a lot..). So I climbed the, very wet, rope and dinged the bell!
Next came the Dragon’s Back. I knew the obstacle from the Strong Viking Varjagen Saga, but these were a level up! Way higher and a lot more distance between them! Setting the mind to zero, making the jump, not getting any easier along the way but I got across!
Over at the Monkeybars, I noticed the course had taken its toll on my arms. Didn’t feel confident enough to do the fast lane again, which were Flying Monkeybars, so I decided to do the four monkey bars. Easily swung across the narrow bars, skipping as many bars as I could reach. We were nearing the end of the course. Past another load carry off towards the Traverse Wall. Hopping across the first wall, hanging from rope loops, then a vertical bar and finishing with the last wall with climbing grips.
The final obstacle, the dreaded Ramp. As easy as it was for some, I expected it to be a tough one not being able to sprint at full speed with that leg. Some teammates shot up and started helping others. I tried to amp myself up. Bite through the pain, run like my life depended on it. I did, started to sprint around 20 meters before the ramp, lost speed once hitting the ramp and missed the top bar. Back to the line.
Wondering if I could manage a second try. More teammates got up. The volunteer told us to slowly run towards the ramp and then give it all once hitting the bottom part. I had to try one more time. Ran up towards the ramp, bit through the pain and sped up on the ramp and there I was, I made it!
I cannot possibly express how proud I am of my team. Helping each other conquer fears, new obstacles, motivating to keep going, to perform and have fun. With people showing their skills and people brave enough to know what their limits are and accept them, which is still the hardest part by far. We started out as a team and finished as a team!
Next a short recovery week. Trying to minimize the load on the leg and see how it’ll recover. Next weekend another Strong Viking with hopefully not three but 4 laps!
Photo credit: Dryrobe.com and Jacquesholst.com
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