This past weekend I traveled up to beautiful Snohomish, Washington to compete in the Spartan Race: Seattle Super/Sprint weekend. This race also happened to be the first stop in the U.S Championship series attracting OCR athletes from all parts of the country to give it their all in what was bound to be an exciting race that challenged all of us both mentally and physically. This is certainly not a course for the faint of heart. Spartans of every shape and size were pushed to their limits on this 8+ mile course with 28 obstacles.
This year, Spartan Race surprised us all with four new obstacles. The Spartan Ladder, Ape Hanger, Olympus, and Twister. Those who competed in the Seattle Super were lucky enough to conquer Olympus and Twister. Olympus was a total body obstacle with a slanted wall with a few holes, short chains, and rock grips to hold your body up while you scaled your way across without letting your feet hit the ground. It was much more difficult than it looked. I found the best way to get across the obstacle was to use the chains and holes for your hands ( the rock grips were wet and slippery) while keeping your feet flat on the wall.
Timing is everything here. Missing the hold you’re reaching for puts a lot of stress and weight back on your feet causing them to slip. The Twister was a tricky one. This obstacle is one of those rigs that we all love. Upper body strength and speed is crucial for this one. The twister is a long, free spinning pole with helix style handles. As soon as you grab the next handle the bar spins and your grip changes. I, unfortunately, was unable to conquer this one and did my 30 burpees. These new obstacles were both fun and challenging but we can’t forget about the familiar obstacles we see at every Spartan Race. Wall climbs, barbed wire crawls, river crossing, mud pits, etc.
Let’s talk about everyone’s favorite obstacle. The Bucket Brigade… “Favorite” may have been the wrong word choice to use. The Bucket Brigade, for those who are unfamiliar, Is an obstacle that pushes both your mental and physical limits. Arriving at this obstacle, Spartans fill their buckets full on gravel and carry it for about a quarter mile up and down the hill it starts on. This obstacle is the one that really breaks us. Spartans are stopped all throughout this part of the course with their buckets on the ground trying to gain the strength to carry on. Strangely enough, this might be one of my favorite obstacles. In my opinion, The Bucket Brigade is one of the most challenging obstacles there is.
What I love is this, this is the part of the race where Spartans meet their limits but everyone out there is motivating their fellow racers to keep going. It’s one of the most encouraging obstacles on the course. As if this heavy carry wasn’t enough, Spartan race threw in two more. One double sandbag carry and a shorter, single sandbag carry. This is Spartan Race after all. If you think it’s going to be easy, guess again. Once again, every spartan out there is motivating each other to power through.
Upon finishing this ruthless course, spartans are awarded their much deserved Spartan Race finishers medal, bananas, water, protein bars, and the amazing sound of spectators cheering you on as you cross the finish line. The medals are cool and everything but the bananas are the best! I don’t think I have ever been more excited to see a banana in my entire life. After running 8+ miles and conquering all the obstacles thrown at you out on the course, all I can think of is that banana waiting for me at the end. And the free beer, of course. Exploring the festival grounds is a great way to cool down and relax after the race. There was a large open area that was perfect for stretching and even just lying down to take a breather. There were tons of amazing vendors there to offer snacks and other post race essentials.
Marriott Hotel had a booth set up offering face wipes and ear cleaners which I thought was the best idea ever! Spartan Training also had an area dedicated to rope climbs and rigs with coaches to give you training tips on how to conquer the obstacles out of the course. Spartan Race does offer a convenient bag check on the festival grounds for $5. With that $5 you get a voucher to use at the merchandise booth. For it being a completely sold out race parking was very well organized and easy to navigate. I did, however, manage to lose my car in the sea of vehicles parked but that’s just because I forgot where I parked.
My favorite part of Spartan Race and obstacle course racing, in general, is the community of racers you meet at each of the Spartan events. Throughout my years of OCR, I have come to realize that OCR is so much more than racing and competing. It’s a lifestyle. It’s dedication. It’s personal. But most of all, it’s a family. People from all walks of life come together on the course to challenge themselves while encouraging and inspiring others to do the same. This race pushed me to my limits to the point where I felt like I couldn’t go any further. But when you’re out of the course, covered in mud, sometimes bleeding, something clicks. Something primitive. You reach your limits yet somehow you manage to gather every last ounce of strength and motivation left in you and you power through. And when you feel like you can’t go any further, there’s always fellow Spartans around to pick you up and give you words of encouragement that keeps you going. That’s what I mean when I say “family.” Spartans don’t let Spartans fail. We are there for each other. Through thick and thin.
When we step foot on the course, our day to day lives are left behind us and we are one.
We are Spartan.