It all started back in 2013, myself and 3 others from my old running group decided to try something new and signed up for our first obstacle race: The Survival Race (Long Island). IT WAS AWESOME!!! I instantly became addicted.
Later that year I completed 2 more races: Rugged Maniac (Brooklyn) and Merrell Down & Dirty (Bronx). During the latter race, I ran the Brick Division (in which you carry 18 pounds of bricks in a backpack), fell, and finished the race with a sprained ankle which took 6 weeks to heal. And still, I wanted more.
In 2014, I did the Spartan Race (Citifield) in 2014. I thought it was kind of easy, for all the rumors of how hard the Spartan Race was. It was fun, but wasn’t the “impossible” challenge I had been looking for.
Then, because I got free entry for blogging about it, I did the Foam Fest 5K (Brooklyn). This was a total beginner race and not really a challenge to me at all at that point, but I still enjoyed myself. I watched as one dude flew over one of the obstacles and dislocated is ankle. OUCH.
Then came Warrior Dash (Connecticut), which was, until that point, the most difficult (and most fun) obstacle race I’ve ever done. But of course, since I’m always looking for something a bit harder, I kept looking.
I signed up for Spartan Race in Tuxedo the day it opened. I really wanted try a “regular” Spartan Race and give it another try. Then, in January, I herniated my L4 and was out of commission for 4 months. No training, no exercising at all really. But still wanted to do it.
I was really excited to get back to racing, after a Winter and Spring which proved to be a HUGE disappointment. Seeing that Spartan Race circled on my calendar really made me smile. Since I had done the Citified last year so I thought I knew what being Spartan was all about. *side eye* Man, let me tell ya’ll, I had no idea. Not until Tuxedo. Here’s my race recap.
I signed up for this race for several reasons:
- It was in early June so I didn’t think it would be too hot.
- It was close to home.
- It wasn’t a stadium race so I thought it might be a bit more challenging.
What I failed to realize when I registered:
- That the race took place on a ski resort. (tip – pay attention to the location).
- The mountain was DRY DRY DRY.
- The mountain was tall tall tall.
- I thought the was race was 5K, not nearly 5 miles.
- This would be the biggest challenge of my life so far.
When we arrived at Tuxedo Ridge Ski Center, my jaw dropped. The slope of the mountain was such that it appeared to be nearly 70% grade. What the hell???
As we made out way from packet pick up to the starting line, I thought to my self, ‘This won’t be so bad’, and ‘I’ve done it before. Bwahahahahahahahaha! Silly girl.
I didn’t get nervous until I saw a line of competitors limping their out of the medical tent. With my herniated disk and stupid inflamed left leg, I knew I would have to take it easy. “Don’t do anything that will hurt your back or leg”, I said to myself. I knew this would slow me down. I knew that people would be passing me on the course in droves. I knew I’d have a terrible time. But I also knew the best way to finish this race injury free would be to take it easy. Go hard on the obstacles, but don’t let the terrain take me down.
To start the race, you have to climb a wall to get into the cue. Without a running start, I couldn’t do it without help. But help was offered and I accepted. That’s the great thing abut the #OCR community – you are never alone.
Once the horn went off, up we all went!
The first part of the race consisted of running up the mountain, then running back down the mountain. It wasn’t supposed to be very hot, but with no rain for a few days before, the course was very dry and dusty, and the sun beat down on us oppressively.
Let me tell you, this was no grassy field, not gently slopping hill. It was a rocky and unstable land mass that took us straight up, then straight down. After jumping over a hay bale and getting back to the bottom of the mountain, we eventually made it to the barbed wire crawl.
Now I’ve done a couple of these and this one was by far the longest. It was also the rockiest and most uncomfortable. It was pretty crowded, which made it even more difficult. I made it through the first one, but left my blood on the second one. Hey, its just blood…we’ve all got a little.
After that we had to make it back up and down the mountain a few times, we eventually had to carry some weight. Up and down we went carrying 25 pounds (50 for the men), crossing over large boulders that moved beneath our feet. Each step for me was a potential hospital visit. “Just don’t fall or twist your ankle”, I begged myself.
There were a lot of obstacles, including a rope swing over water, the rope climb, several walls, concrete block pull, spear throwing, and more. I completed all but 3, which meant 90 burpees for me. Near the top of the mountain, we all received a number that we were supposed to remember and recite back to the person near the end of the race – it was a memory test. Not easy after you’ve been scrambling all over rough terrain for a couple of hours. Thankfully I did it successfully.
I had estimated that it would take me 2 hours to finish. Had I not been injured, that would have been accurate. But by the time I jumped over the fire – the last obstacle – I was well into my 3rd hour.
Before I reached it, I discovered that I was starting to pass other competitors. People were going down like flies…the heat and constant up and down of the mountain was too much for some. I watched as tired racers fell and couldn’t get up. I saw one woman who just could not go on any more started to cry; her boyfriend rubbing her shoulder, trying to convince her she could do it. The race really took all the cockiness and arrogance right out of you.
A Note about the first obstacle. This is the most dangerous one because if you re running too fast when you do your jump, when you land,, you will keep going until you fall. Or, if you don’t jump high or long enough. Even worse, if you jump over it, lose your balance, and fall backward into the flames. No bueno.
In the end, I did not care about my time, because other than some bruises and a deep scratch on my elbow, I made it out unscathed.
By the time I was done, I was completely exhausted. I wasn’t in pain; my back and left leg felt okay. But I so anted to crawl into bed. I waded down to the photo tent to take my official photo. (Even though he took 2, the one above is my favorite. Fake tears, but the sentiment was real.)
This medal truly represents the risk I took my body through, the test of pure will to finish. And I did not let that mountain beat me. I’m so proud I never gave up. And with all that, I can’t wait to do it again next year.