Before the race, I spent an hour reviewing the trailer and the team photos for the new season of Spartan Ultimate Team Challenge. It felt like March Madness where I pick teams based on as little information as possible. Turns out my initial assessments were wrong. Apolo Ohno called it right. This year's completion will require more teamwork than ever before.
Episode 1 Round 1 teams in the first race included the Heart of Texas, the Commanding Officers, and the Fantastic Five.
The human interest story of the Heart of Texas team was great. It grabbed me right in the gut. I think that same feeling was in the hearts of the entire team. It's probably with the CO's too. That's what drove them to a photo finish. These two teams took a lot of shots and kept driving. One of the girls on the CO's took a full shot of metal to the face. Later the Colonel literally climbed up the slip wall with his teeth. Earlier, one of the girls on the FF took a foot to the face. Whether that was a factor or not I don't know. But the FF came in last. The second place finish for the CO's earned them an opportunity to earn a wild card spot in round 2 if their time did not get beat by the next three teams of the night.
The second teams to take on the course were comprised of the biggest team in the competition, the Highlanders, the smallest team in the competition, the Little Giants, and in between, the San Diego Spartans.
While it was easy to call the biggest team out (extremely strong but just too much mass), I did not see the LGs taking it all. I doubted up front that they had the strength to hold up the 250 lb dunk wall, or tip the 300 lb block. But they managed. They did it with flawless technique. Clearly, they practiced a lot. They figured out how to combine their mass to overcome the obstacle. Like rolling that cage uphill. While the Highlanders easily beat the field on this one, the LGs quickly overcame the rest, especially showing speed and agility in the mud crawl. They were like army ants. The Highlanders quickly dropped the gimmick kilts early in the race. Good thing as a lot of other teams got shredded on the barbed wire mud crawl. The brilliant move of the night was the LG team going up the slip wall. Even though they were all alone at this point (the HLs and SDS teams were still stuck on the human ladder), they kept at full steam. In fact, they did something no other team has done before. The anchorman held all four teammates on the wall. Usually, the anchor will hold three. Those little guys showed huge power.
The HLs and SDS teams ended up DNF as far as I could tell from the broadcast. That meant the COs from the first race held onto their wild card and made it to Round 2 next week.
I was a lot more impressed with this race than I expected. Looking forward to the rest. Clearly, my picks, like in March Madness, will not win me any office pools. But it's still a lot of fun.