Spartan Sun Peaks 2017: A Brutal Beast

Some are dubbing the 2017 Spartan (Ultra) Beast that was held in Sun Peaks on September 23rd, 2017 as the Toughest in the World.  All I can tell you is, I somehow finished that dang Beast! I’m not sure how so many did it TWICE!  I’ll be honest right from the beginning, me & my best friend Troy whom I was helping pace came in absolutely dead last, if you go look at the results for the open heat we are the very last two names on the results sheets, and I’m totally okay with that because this race was the culmination of our very first initiation into the Trifecta Tribe & we left anything we had left in us up there on those peaks!

The Numbers:

The below photo was taken from an Instagram post by the Course Designer Johnny Waite (IG=participant_ribbon)

Spartan-Beast-Sun-Peaks-2017-01-Stats

During the race, we would pretty much summit all three peaks that the resort has access to.  Below are the approximate ascension gains that we made on each peak taken from my Garmin stats.
1st Mountain: Sundance ~470m/1542ft
2nd Mountain: Mt. Morrisey ~390m/1280ft
3rd Mountain: Mt. Todd ~868m/2848ft

The final distance of the race is a bit of a toss-up. It was posted at 24km/14.9mi & I’ve seen people posting their results anywhere from 26-29km/16.15-18mi.

For the Ultra Beast, it took the Elites a minimum of 8:25:01 for 1st place to complete & last place came in at 13:36:46.
As for the Beast, it took the Elites a minimum of 3:33:23 for 1st place to complete & last place came in at 11:44:29.

Spartan-Beast-Sun-Peaks-2017-02-Mtn-Map

The Experience:

I arrived in Sun Peaks on Wednesday.  I went a few days early as I was planning on working/volunteering to help set up the course.  During that time I was able to catch glimpses of what was to come.  The course maps that I had brushed passed showed early warning signs that we would summit all three of the main mountains within the Sun Peaks resort & that filled me with a little bit of anticipation.  I hadn’t really trained for the sheer elevation gain that was about to come, but I had at least recently done a few hikes, the last one being a 23.36km/14.5mi with 948m/3110ft of elevation gain so it was good practice.  The race itself left me both physically & mentally exhausted.

Spartan-Beast-Sun-Peaks-2017-03-Course-Map

The Obstacles:

Aside from a few subtleties in how obstacles were laid out, most of the 31 obstacles were pretty much the regular staples.  Doing the Stairway to Sparta at the top of Sundance @1730m/5676ft was pretty cool & it has an absolutely beautiful view.  This was my first time coming across the Tyrolean Traverse & I somehow held on & pulled myself across it & decided to headbutt the cowbell which left its mark. =)

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Even though this wasn’t on the list, right after the Tyrolean was what many are now calling Death March Part 2 referring to the massive mountain climb done in Killington.  We had to climb up one of the ski runs called Challenger, according to sources, the run has a 474m/1555ft ascent within 1km/.62mi which was accomplished by many by crawling on hands & knees due to it being so steep.  I was told the Creek Crawl was rather beautiful, but due to the sheer time of day & lack of sunlight, I passed it by along with a few others.

You’ve been cut:

After we had completed the death march, we slowly switchback climbed up to the peak of Mt. Todd and I could see a few people standing up there waving people up.  It was nearly 6:30 pm when we reached the summit & we were greeted by Johnny Waite who told me we were done & that we had missed the deadline by about 10mins.  Naturally, I was crushed, but I quickly came to grips with it as I knew there was nothing more that I could do and that I had done well pacing Troy through those mountains.

I walked back down a bit to catch up to Troy & let him know that his silent prayers of no longer having to keep going had been answered & that we would be driven down.  I could see the confusion on his face & explained that we missed the final cut off and that all racers needed to be off the mountain by 7:30 pm.  Then I saw the anguish on his face knowing that he wasn’t going to be given the chance to earn his Trifecta that day with so much put into the effort.

We walked up & we asked Johnny if there was any way we could still finish.  He told us there were at least 2 hours left, asked us what time we had started & once we answered 8:30 am he told us we were done.  At that time another racer came up the hill & I let her know what I was told.  I could tell she was a bit more upset by the news & she went over to Johnny to plead her case.  She too was gunning for her first Trifecta.  Johnny asked her what time she had started & she answered 11:30.  Johnny walked over to the edge of the hill to survey how many others were coming.  We let him know there was probably a dozen or so behind us.  He then looked at Troy & I and told us that if we could keep up her pace & beat him down to the Z-Walls in his truck that we still had a chance.

I could see Troy was physically & mentally done, he was toying with the idea of taking that ride down the mountain.  Troy was recently on disability and has since started up a youth foundation that at its core is about how everyone can change their life if they just believed better was possible, he knew he had to go on so he could use this whole experience as a life-changing beacon for others.

A second chance:

Once Troy had raised up enough gusto and made up his mind to finish the race it was total go time! We had about 5km/3.1m left until we were finished & it was all downhill from there after getting past the 8-foot wall.  Troy’s feet were in pain & having his toes smashed into the front of his shoes going downhill wasn’t helping.  I could hear him yelping over & over as he tried to quicken his pace to make sure we made the cutoff.

We completed the plate drag & came up to another drop, this one was pretty steep but we could see the Z-Walls & no sign of Johnny!  Once we made it passed the Z-Walls we knew we were on borrowed time.  We completed the Atlas Carry & were told to bypass the Creek Crawl due to the lack of light.  That’s when the volunteers’ radio went off.  It was Johnny asking if we had made it there, we had, just in time it would seem.

From there we trudged down a service road & a few trucks passed us, I was sure one of them was the sweepers but they all kept passing us by, each time my heart would speed up just a bit more.  We were then brought back into the trails, the one place a truck couldn’t get into, we were safe for now, or so I had thought.  We heard Johnny call out to a racer just behind us & he told them to head back to the last water station, I knew he wasn’t far behind.  A few more minutes in the trails and I heard Johnny’s voice again calling to Troy.  I was a bit out front trying to pace Troy as fast as I could.  I figured our number was up.

A Miracle For The Finishers:

I walked back & we had a quick conversation with Johnny.  He asked us if we were both a part of Vancity OCR, we let him know that we were & he then said the sweetest words my ears had ever heard.  He told us that he was going to walk us down & that we were going to finish the race with him.  OMG!

I was filled with such elation & marvel knowing at that moment we were going to finish!  Johnny walked us past a few of the obstacles & a small portion of the course that went back up into the woods for a bit & Troy & I actually picked up our pace even more and ran down into the festival area.  I completed the Herc Hoist with what felt like no force at all and climbed up & over the Slip Wall.  I somehow lost Troy in the and the mayhem that was at the end of that race & jumped the fire to receive my very well earned Beast Medal.  Troy showed up about 3 minutes behind me; he came over that wall & finished his race too.

All in a Day’s Work:

This weekend was one for the books I’ll tell ya that! First Beast & first Trifecta DONE.  Would I go back knowing that even the Sprint last year at Sun Peaks was 9.6km/5.5mi instead of the 7.3k & this year the beast was the hardest ever? Hell yeah!

Thank you Spartan, you showed me what I might actually be capable of doing & more this weekend.  Lookout endurance races, I just may be coming for you!

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Photo Credits: Johnny Waite, www.SunPeaksResort.com, Ryan Fick & John Tai

Rugged Maniac Vancouver 2017

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Rugged Maniac Vancouver 2017 was Love At First Run!

I’ve run a few OCRs over the past few years, but I’ve not been as impressed by the way any of them were run as much as I was by this Rugged Maniac event. I visited the site last year but did not participate in it. My wife typically runs the Lululemon Seawheeze half marathon on the same date as this event.

Last year we decided to head straight to the site after her race to see if we would be able to even attempt both of them. We arrived with an hour to spare last year for registration. I look back and say we should have just paid to run it even though we didn’t have our OCR gear or change of clothes. We did decide to go ahead and register for this year’s run and lo and behold, it didn’t end up falling on the same day as my wife’s half marathon. Sweet!

I arrived on-site a little early, 7 am, in fact. I was there to help Vancity OCR setup their Platinum Rig for their spot in the Festival area. Upon arriving we came across a group of Volunteers in the Parking lot whom were receiving their training. We apparently arrived at the perfect time as they had just setup the VIP parking area & were going over the procedures for it. My wife & I had purchased the VIP packages when they were originally on sale.

VIP Parking

The organizer asked me for my VIP Parking pass to keep as an example of what they looked like. We were the second car in the lot just behind one of the other Vancity OCR members. The site was still a little sparse but they had their tents all setup & a few areas fenced off, presumably for Registration, Bag Check, & the Beer Garden.

Over the next 2 hours while helping out, I was able to see the hustle & bustle of Rugged Staff members & Volunteers start to build out & setup the course & festival areas. It all came together quite quickly. I guess that’s the beauty of having inflatable Start and Finish lines, and a few as obstacles as well.

I saw a roughly 10-12′ warped wall with a cargo net strung up to a double stacked cargo bin that had what looked to be a soon-to-be inflated slide. It was pretty high and looked like it would be fun though I am mildly afraid of heights. Two of the members of the group that I would be running with had more than their fare share of fear of heights. I was certain this would be a challenging obstacle for them.

Whether it was due to the outdoor amphitheater, or the quality of the speakers, the music they played and the announcer sounded phenomenal. It was nice, loud, and had a good sounding quality even though we were more than 200+ feet away from the closest speakers.

Registration

It was now quarter to 9 and the crowds were starting to gather as registration opened at 9am. I wandered over to the Registration area, there were about 7 or so lines with at least 40 or so people in each line already. I made my way past those lines to the VIP registration. Those lines were much shorter, about 20 people or so in total.

The registration process went pretty quickly. I got my additional Rugged Bucks that were included in the early VIP sales, my two beer wristbands, and off I went. I found the rest of my group & awaited our 10 am start time eagerly. Ten o’clock came pretty quickly & after a short preamble from the Starting announcer we were off. The course was slightly altered from what was supplied on the map as a smaller area of wooded area that we were supposed to run through had recently been clear cut. Other than that, the Map & Obstacles therein were pretty bang on.

Rugged-Maniac-Vancouver-2017-Map

The Obstacles

First was ‘Shoe Catcher’ an ankle-knee deep pond crossing, nothing too major, but you could hear people complaining that they were already going to get wet. Come on people, wait till they bring on the mud, what are you gunna do then?

Next was a 5′ wall with a sideways freely rolling pipe on it, this one wasn’t all that tough, but having the rolling pipe on top limited your spots for grabbing onto to get over it. Next was a crawl under another obstacle, it had some barbed wire above the crawling area but it was above some beams so it didn’t really pose a threat.

Following that was ‘Tipping Point’, a seesaw-esque type obstacle, the planks are offset a bit so they rest in a downward position for ease of getting onto them. Just walk across the board and keep your balance while the other side lowers down as you cross it, now do it again and you’re onto ‘Jump Start’, a vertical planked wall climb.

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Move along to ‘Frog Hop’, four square platforms floating in knee high water attached to each other sideways. As people ran across these, due to the way they were attached to the next lane, they bounced quite a bit. Quick feet & balance failed me & I fell in dismounting the third one. It would be nice if they padded these on top as they really hurt your knees when you went down.

‘Claustrophobia’ was next, this was basically a ditch covered with a black tarp. It got hot in there. Then came ‘Pipe Dream’, this was a typical pipe crawl with a barbed wire covered mud pit, I didn’t notice the barbed wire when I came out, ouch! Out through another pipe & onto ‘The Trenches’, they were just that, 4 equally distanced knee deep trenches. I hopped the first two & then jumped into the next two & box jumped out of them for something different.

The ‘Guillotine’ was next. This one was different, it was basically a 2″ thick, two foot wide wall on rails that you had to lift up, crawl under while holding it up & then let it down behind you. There were two of them & each time a nice person in front of me offered to hold the wall up for me. I turned them both down in order to try lifting it myself to complete the obstacle.

New and Different Obstacles

So far, most of the obstacles have all been slightly different than most of the others I have encountered at other runs. I brought my Garmin Virb XE with me & documented all of the obstacles, I haven’t used it much lately as everything seems to be the same. That wasn’t so with this race.

Next was ‘Commando Crawl’ a barbed wire crawl in the dirt, no mud at this one. ‘Pull Your Weight’ came next, this was like a herc hoist but they had large chunks of chains attached to the other side. I don’t recall if there were different weights as I didn’t really pay attention & this obstacle was the first to be unmanned, or so I thought. I reviewed the footage & did find the volunteer, I guess I just missed him.

Next was ‘Pack Mule’, grab a couple sand bags, walk up a flight of stadium bleacher stairs, across, down & back over again, drop the bag, then up and over ‘Let’s Cargo,’ a cargo net climb, run a maze of cattle stalls then up & over ‘Jacob’s Ladder’.

Rugged-Maniac-Vancouver-2017-Anti-Gravity

We then came across ‘Anti-Gravity’, this was fun! It’s basically two rectangular trampolines with a 45-degree angled wall after them with a cargo net to climb to get to the top. There were 4 lanes to this one & it wasn’t that busy so I ended up bouncing between the trampolines a bit then took a good bounce & landed almost at the top of the wall grabbing onto the cargo net for my life.

Onto ‘The Ringer’, a multi ring swing apparatus. Now, I know I have NO grip strength, it’s one of the things I plan on working on this year. My wife and I rarely get through the Monkey Bars or rings. Yet this year, with almost daily training, my wife made it all the way across ‘The Ringer’! I was so proud of her, I ran over to her and gave her a huge hug and kiss, I was just so darn proud of her. I plan on crushing this one next year!

Rugged-Maniac-Vancouver-2017-The-Gauntlet

Onto ‘The Gauntlet’, this was a new take on the lily pads, knee deep water with foam pads floating on the water to make a crossing, but this one had four large inflated tubes hanging down blocking your way. They weren’t light either, someone next to me bounced theirs into mine & tossed me right off the pads into the water.

‘Swing Shot’ came next, these are a bit tough to explain, basically a horizontal ditch is in front of you, you get up on a raised stand & grab onto rigged bars that attached to the top & swing you to the other side. They are weighted to make sure they return back to the other side but be careful as they keep going, swinging back and forth a few times.

It Doesn’t Have to Be Graceful

I knew failing this obstacle and landing in the ditch was a very huge possibility due to my grip. Well, I reviewed my video footage and I stood at this obstacle wiping my hands and the hand holds for a good minute. When I did take the leap, I was able to hold on long enough to get over the pit, but only barely. I ended up landing in such a way that I was right on the edge, heels hanging off, body leaning slightly back, and arms flailing on offset windmill patterns to do all that I could to not fall backwards. Well, it wasn’t a 5 point landing, but it worked!

Next was ‘Bang the Gong’, a waist deep water pit jump that had small gongs hanging over it that you needed to jump up nice & high to slap with your hand. Onto ‘Fenced In’, this one was a fencing covered mud crawl & it had more than its fare share of mud awaiting! We’re onto the home stretch now! Up next was ‘The Crag’, a large inflatable waist height double layered staircase with upward protruding pylons. This one was just way to much fun to bounce & play on.

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Almost lastly was a triple threat, The Warped Wall, Mount Maniac, & Accelerator 3.0. The Warped Wall was not too too high, I ran up it, & got my arm up and over the top, someone ended up grabbing my leg & helped me the rest of the way. People helping people, I love our community! I then climbed the cargo net to the top of the slide.

That slide! It was pretty high up & had quite a vertical drop to it. If my Garmin is to be believed, coming down that slide I reached speeds of around 24km/h (14.1mph) & lost about 25 ft of vertical height all in 2 seconds time. Whee!!!

Rugged-Maniac-Vancouver-2017-Fire-Jump

Lastly was ‘Pyromaniac’ a fire jump to be reckoned with! Most fires that I’ve come across near the finish line at other races looked like an afterthought when being planned out. Yet, this one was nice, wide, and quite high at times! This fire put most of those other races to shame, maybe all of those other races could learn something from this fire. The fire roared so much my sister said she thought she got singed from it.

Maniac Multi-Laps

My only disappointment from the day was that we were told that if we wanted to multi-lap that it would cost us another $25 per lap. Just last year Rugged Maniac allowed us to multi-lap for free. A few of our group went to register for a second lap and they were told they weren’t able.

At least as of today, Rugged Maniac has announced they will be coming back again next year and they have unleashed Rugged Maniac X which allows for unlimited multiple laps for $20 and gives you an exclusive Rugged Maniac X Headband. I’ve already pre-registered for next years X event as a VIP.

All-in-all I would still give Rugged Maniac and its festival area 5 stars!

Photo Credit: Charity Fick, Ryan Fick, Game Face

Spartan Vancouver, B.C. (Mt. Seymour) 2017 Sprint/Super Weekend

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June 10/11 2017 was the date of this year’s Sprint/Super weekend that was held up on a snow covered Mt. Seymour in beautiful Vancouver B.C.
Many racers knew ahead of time what they might be getting themselves into as pictures of snowboarders wearing shorts & sunglasses were still being posted 2 weeks before the event. Luckily things heated up the week before the race & some of the snow toward the base started to melt.

I got to see things from a bit of a different perspective & point of view at this event as I was both working it & volunteering. I initially arrived at the site on Friday June 9th at 7:30am. Due to all of the posts leading up to this day on Facebook I really didn’t know what to expect up on the mountain. I ended up packing a duffel bag full of cloths, everything from shorts & sandals to long sleeved shirts & rubber boots. I’m glad I did as I ended up using almost every bit that I brought throughout the weekend. The temperature throughout the day was pretty good & I got away with wearing a T-Shirt & a hoodie when it did lower a bit. We had sun, hail, rain, wind, fog & the rest of the whole gambit of Vancouver weather none of any of it sticking around long enough to get completely comfortable with. I ended up spending the vast majority of my time on Friday helping flag off the kids race course & setting up Registration. On Saturday I ended up helping a Registration again then I volunteered over at the kids race. I’m so glad I did! The weather during the kids race was sunny with a little fog rolling through here & there.

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Volunteering at the kids race has to have been the best thing that I did all weekend, even outside of participating in the Super. I was stationed on the bottom of the grassy but very wet toboggan hill at the spear throw which was furnished with plain long wooden dowels & hay bales, there’s no need to be worried, there were no points on the dowels. The course was kind of split into two sides & the kids got to run through some wooded areas a couple times when going from one side to the other & coming back again. Hearing those little tykes yell out “Aroo” before the race and seeing them run down the hill with reckless abandon really warmed my heart. I believe the kids races started around 9:30am & went until 2pm. The weekend is a bit of a blur but I believe it started with the elite category & then ranged throughout all of the ages. We had a regular length course & a bit longer course for the elites & older age ranges. As per the norm, the course got a bit slipperier throughout the day. Watching the kids race really helped get me pumped up. Just seeing the energy in these kids was infectious & really helped me get over any of my fears and tribulations that had grown over the weeks about the weather & the race. The best moment of the entire weekend happened when I was manning the spear throw, there was this one little girl who failed to get her spear close to the hay bales. Her dad grabbed her hand to move her to the next obstacle but I could tell she was disappointed so I told her she could try again & she ran right back over again. I gave a lot of kids this option to try again. Try, try again right? I moved her a bit closer but again she missed. I picked up another spear & handed it to her, this time tapping it from behind when she launched it & she hit a hay bale. She jumped up & down & hooted then started to run off to her dad to go to the next obstacle. I turned my attention to the next child & heard a little voice behind me saying “excuse me” when I turned around it was that little girl, she came back & gave my legs the biggest hug & said “Thank You!”. My heart melted & I had happy tears in my eyes for the next bit. Yeah, I’m a big softie! That right there is why I volunteer. =) Thank you little girl. On to Sunday!

Sunday morning came WAY too early with the long hours I had been putting in on site since Friday & all, but I felt great. Maybe it was due to the absolutely wonderful time I had during the kids race the day before, the new friends I had while on site, or the fact that I now knew just exactly what I was getting into after talking to those whom had been out on course for the Sprint the day before. A friend of ours, Karolina, had come from Victoria to stay with my wife & I. She was going to run both races on Saturday & Sunday but unfortunately rolled her ankle and received a 1st degree sprain a few days prior so she decided to still come and volunteer at the race. We both headed up again early to the site to help run Registration for a few hours. I was getting rather excited about running my second super by this time. My wife Charity & our friend Troy whom I was going to participate in the event with arrived on-site around 9:30. We said our goodbyes to everyone in Registration and headed over to the Starting corral.

I had been listening to Chris the DJ since Friday, it really seems he was rather ecstatic to be at this event. Even Friday while we were all setting up he was blasting some tunes and encouraging everyone with his enthusiasm. This rolled into both Saturday & Sunday, he was on point this weekend I must say. We barely got into the corral on time for the 10:30 wave. We heard the last bit of the speech, shouted out a few “Aroo’s” & we were off.

The first few obstacles came pretty quickly. Das Boat (think x-large propane tank laying on its side), Hurdles (It felt like they grabbed some of the rails that snow boarders would ride on & turned them sideways) & then OUT.

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It was a bit of an uphill climb to our next obstacle, the Sandbag carry. The snow made for either good grip if you found a good packed footprint to step into or a lousy grip if you got the soft stuff as it kinda just moves out of the way. A bit more hill & then back down. Now, at first when I was going downhill I walked slowly & surefootedly (is that even a word?) but soon I learnt you could go pretty quickly as long as you slide your feet out on an angle & kept your toes pointed up a bit, it was kind of like roller skating up a steep hill but in reverse! I ended up getting better & better throughout the race & at one point I was flying down the hills without care in the world. I actually remember one point about 3/4’s of the way through the race where I had sucked back a gel & after it kicked in a few minutes later I was skipping & hopping down the hill singing the “We’re off to see the wizard, the wonderful Wizard of Oz” Ahh, the fun of being hopped up on gels! After my quite literal decent into madness came along the Atlas Carry. I had been able to take this one on in Vegas so I had hoped I could do it again. It took me two tries but I got one of the rocks up, carried it to the other side, did my burpees & then carried it right back. Yay me! I know it doesn’t sound like a huge feat, but I REALLY need to work on my grip strength!

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After that came the Block Pull & a new take on the Bucket Carry which incorporated Snow instead of rocks that I really liked, maybe it’s because the snow was lighter than rocks.  =)  A few more obstacles later & we came back into the festival area to finish up our 1st lap. The course was a slightly modified version of the first lap which I likes as you knew kinda what was coming. We unfortunately didn’t get the cargo bridge, I know they had it partly assembled on Friday afternoon but I’m not quite sure why it got disassembled & put off to the side, perhaps we ran out of time to properly build it.

Spartan-Vancouver,-B.C.-2017-SprintSuper-Weekend-04-www.IcebreakConsulting.com

Up the snow wall which was a nice steep hill with a rope to help you get up if needed, an 8 foot wall and back to Das Boat & the hurdles again. We did an extended hill climb this time. I really wish I had my head fully on my shoulders before going as I totally forgot to charge up my Garmin watch but according to my wife’s our total elevation gain was 450meters or 1476ft. I thought this climb would never end, we would get to one crest & then climb some more to the next one, then repeat it over again. Coming back down this time as I mentioned before seemed to get much easier although my wife mostly opted to slide down the chutes that a lot of others had made which also looked like fun so I tried it once too. Luckily there were no obstacles to be found this time on the trek up or down the mountain. We came out a section that I had seen the day before near the kids race but was told wouldn’t be part of the race. I’m assuming they were mistaken as it wasn’t part of the Sprint but it was used as part of the Super. On our way through the back woods on a new trail we hadn’t seen on our first lap we ended up having to work our way through what I would put on par as most of the mud pits that were strewn throughout the Seattle Super course. There were a few people stuck in the mud here & I tried to make my way over to them but got stuck up past my knee as well & had to keep moving otherwise might meet the same demise they did. They did have friends working their way around back to them so I wasn’t too too worried. Once through there we made or way over to the Spear throw & I landed the hardest hit that I’ve made so far. That sucker went elbow deep into the hay bales & took a lot outta me just to get it back out. From there came the Rope Climb, the Slip wall & then the fire jump. Now, I’m not gunna slag the firejump too much, but it was quite a short width & seemed to look like the propane tank was low as fire was only coming out of the first quarter. I was hoping that Spartan would have had their photos up by now & that’s some of the reason why this blog post is a bit later than I had hoped.  I found some pictures online of the fire before the race & during the Sprint & it looked quite healthy then. I guess making it wait for me to finish my stroll through the hills of Mt. Seymour took its toll on it. Either way, the 3 of us decided to try and get the best finishing pics we could so we took on that fire one at a time. Finishing felt wonderful! Yeah, some would say it wasn’t long enough, and I kinda agree. I heard anywhere from 9.7k (6miles) up to 10.6k (6.5miles) It all depends on who you asked. My wife’s Garmin clocked us in at 10.2k (6.33miles) It just drive home, to me, the fact that back in September at Sun Peaks when we did the Sprint we traversed 9.2k (5.6miles) I should have gotten a Super credit for THAT race! But, hey, I’m good with it. I actually decided to make Sun Peaks this year the finishing piece of my Trifecta & do the Beast there, God help me!

In conclusion, I had a great time working with Spartan Race Canada, volunteering & spending time with friends and family. I look forward to this event again next year. My fears of being frozen were abated by my wonderful Virus Coffee Infused warming gear & the fact that Mother Nature decided to wake up & warm up the climate a bit. Next up, Tough Mudder in Whistler B.C., there is also supposed to be snow there & I hear there are some bears strewn about just to make things more interesting. Oh my!

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Cheers!

Photo Credit: Matthew Romero, Peter Collins, John Tai, www.IcebreakConsulting.com, Ryan Fick

Spartan Seattle Super / Emerald City Open 2017

Mudageddon & Crampfest – Two very accurate words that describe the course which was set out before the sold out first stop of the Spartan Race U.S Championship Series for the Emerald City Open held at the Meadow Wood Equestrian Center in Snohomish Washington.

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Perhaps the 16k/10m course didn’t start out so bad, but for those of us who started mid-day after the 1000’s of racers in the morning, the mud was plentiful & very hungry! I personally got stuck in it up passed my knee twice & required the help of others to get out.  I luckily kept my shoes on my feet, but I heard rumors that not everyone’s shoes made it out intact.  Think, ravenously hungry Sarlacc pit from Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.  There was also more than ample waist high to chest deep back woods cold water trudges to cramp up your legs.  The weather was on a bit of the cooler side (68f/20c) with some light to mid rain & some sunny breaks.

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Location: In between Everett & Bellevue & off over to the East.  The Google’s failed us a few times when we got closer to the site.  A sign along the Highway would have helped as the exit wasn’t very clearly marked.  There was a sign deeper off the road but I hadn’t seen it until after we passed the small little turnoff.  We finally arrived around 9:30 am & it took us about 40mins to get to the Parking Lot.

Parking: Quite ample but it was in a rather soft grounded field.  I understand not being able to put down some gravel, but we ended up getting stuck on the way out & needed a push to get out & we also ended up pushing a few others that got stuck too.

Registration & Packet Pickup: Easy to find & quick to get through for those that had their bar codes printed out, you didn’t even need ID to gain entry.  I somehow printed everyone’s bar codes but my own & there was a separate section for those like minded individuals that did the same.  A quick ID check & I had my timing chip & headband.

Amenities & Showers: The water trudge from the 3rd to last obstacle did a pretty good job of cleaning me off & my dry robe was more than roomie enough to get changed in so I didn’t end up checking out the showers or the changing rooms.  I did, however, have to make a few pit stops before & after the race & there were more than ample Port-O-Potties outside of registration near the parking area & at the back of the festival area.  I think a lot of people may have missed the ones at the back & went to the one’s outside the festival area as they were cleverly sectioned off & surrounded by cloth walls.

Food & Vendors: I thought there were quite a few options for food, everything from sandwiches, hot dogs, burgers to slushies, ice cream & ice cold soul quenching beer.

Obstacles & Course: There were ~28 obstacles to challenge those of all skill & fitness levels with ~5 water stations.  One of the stations stocked halved Cliff Shot Bloks at it.  I cannot remember if there was anything else on course.  There were additional recovery bars, drinkable yogurt, life-giving bananas and other goodies at the finish line.

Spartan-Seattle-Super-Emerald-City-Open-2017-Bucket-Carry

The double sandbag carry & bucket carries were both respectively evil! Is it me, or are course designers getting more maniacal? The distance you had to carry weights was lengthy & filled with multiple hills.

Spartan-Seattle-Super-Emerald-City-Open-2017-Tire-Flip

Who found these new ~400lbs tires? Dear lord, these things were brutal! My buddy that was with me easily flipped the water filled balloon bags which I have no hope of flipping for a while yet, but when it got to the tires he was defeated by them.  The Herc Hoist was on-site & I recently encountered it in Las Vegas, well, someone apparently decided to easily double the weight of those ones.  Many people contributed the raised toughness of the obstacles to this being a Championship race.

This race was my second OCR race that I have run in the United States & it provided me my second pie piece for my coveted Trifecta or Tri’Fick’ta as my wife & I are calling it.  Volunteers & Spartan staff were all quite courteous and had smiles on their faces.  We arrived after most of the hype from the Championship had subsided & the cameras had been put away so to me, it was just a regular old Spartan.  It’s a shame they didn’t keep the live feed going till closer to the end, it wouldn’t have been hard, even just at the finish line to watch some fire jumps.  I’m not the fittest of individuals, but I’ve run my fair share of 5k/3m OCRs in the past.  I’ve participated in an 18k/11m Tough Mudder but for some reason, this ~15k/9m Super was freaking me out a bit.  After finally completing it, I think it earned it’s dread.  I hadn’t known there was going to be so much sticky gooey mud & most people told me it would be a pretty flat course which I was quite happy about.  In the end, one foot in front of the other got me through it.  Recently while doing some light training at home on my treadmill, one of my knees started to act up a bit.  I’ve seen a physiotherapist but I wasn’t happy with the visit so I’ll be going to see another one that’s more geared toward sports medicine.  During the race, I had the same knee act up.  I believe it was due to all the pulling pressure from getting constantly stuck in the mud as it subsided rather quickly after the race.  I really wish I had brought my camera on coarse & wasn’t running late to head back home so I could have taken some pictures as there was more mud than there was grass.  =/

Spartan-Seattle-Super-Emerald-City-Open-2017-Mud-2

For some reason, I have signed up for another Spartan Super in Vancouver/Mt. Seymour on June the 11th, so be on the lookout for a recap on that.  Until then Spartans… Aroo!

Spartan-Seattle-Super-Emerald-City-Open-2017-Fire-Jump

Photo Credit: Spartan Race

Spartan Sprint Las Vegas NV/Littlefield AZ Race Recap

They say what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas!  Well, I guess it’s lucky for you then that the Las Vegas Spartan Race was actually just a stone’s throw across the Arizona border in Littlefield!

Spartan-Sprint-Las-Vegas-2017-Start

Our adventure starts on Sunday, March the 19th at 3am when I woke up to my alarm telling me to get out of bed & to get ready to head to Bellingham Airport for our flight.

To backtrack a bit..  My Wife Charity & I were planning on heading into Las Vegas where we were married 10 years prior & a few of our friends were planning on coming with us.  After we booked our flight tickets we found out there was a Spartan Sprint Race in Littlefield Arizona on the day that we were landing & that it was only about an hour drive out from Las Vegas.  I created a Facebook event to let all of our crazy running & non-running friends know of our Anniversary weekend & our intent to start the path to our very first Trifecta but running the Sprint in Las Vegas.  Well, we ended up getting a few more friends come along to run the Sprint with us & join in on the festivities.  Back to Sunday..  We got picked up by our friend Shelley & then we picked up our friend Troy & headed from our hometown of Vancouver, B.C.  Shelley was just coming to enjoy Las Vegas but Troy was also coming to run the Spartan Sprint with us.  We crossed the border & got onto our flight with no issues & we landed in Las Vegas at 10:30am where our friends David & Taylor picked us up & drive us to Littlefield Az. Our gate time for the Sprint was 1:15pm which gave us about an hour & a half to get there.  Luckily David had run the Super the day before & knew the route & where to park.  The drive was luckily rather dull & after showing our parking pass, finding a place to park & getting changed seems to have about 20mins until our start time.  Charity, Troy & I all wore most everything we were going to race in on the place as we knew we had a limited time if we wanted to get out on the course as the last heat was at 1:30.  It was hot!  The Thermometer in the car said it was approx. 36c/97f (Apparently it was a few degree’s hotter the day before for the super) but I could still hear everyone having fun & I could feel the energy in the air.  People driving by were honking & hooting & I could hear the call of the Spartan off in the distance “Aroo!”

We had already filled in all of our waivers & printed out our scan/barcodes to make check-in go the fastest it could & fast it was!  One quick scan, review of our ID & another scan of the kit bag & we were told we could join the 1pm heat.  It was 12:50pm, so we had to get moving!  I quickly brought the bag that we all placed our change of clothes into with the Drop Bag crew & joined my friends in the corral.  We were at the back of our group as we were pretty much the last one’s in.  After they closed up the gates, I realized that I hadn’t had the chance to run to the restroom or get any water, this “decision” would be one I regretted for most of the course.  After a quick pep talk with a shortened version of the Spartan Credo we were released into the fray of the course.  The course was well laid out I thought & used the lay of the land & the MX Course quite well.  Up & over a few humps, then some short walls, then O.U.T. (Over, Under, Through) meanwhile we had to trudge through sand that was dry and loose as heck.

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I swear you lost more than half of your forward momentum due to the sand just moving out of the way when you placed pressure on it & tried to move forward.  We then got to the first classified obstacle, it was just a trudge through a stream that went through the property.  The stream was moving at a good pace & only about passed knee height for me & was rather warm.  I am a wimp when it comes to cold.  I rarely ever participate in the cold water obstacles.  I’m getting over that slowly now with the addition of proper OCR gear & time.  Just doing them more often & slowly working them in seems to be helping me get through more and more of these obstacles.  The cooler water was nice, as trudging through that sand & not having water before the water really dried me out.  Next was Atlas Carry, this was the first time I had ever come across this obstacle & I wasn’t sure how I would do as I have no grip strength, but I got passed it with little to no issues at all.  After a few other various obstacles we came across our 1st water station, it was a welcome sight!  A few more obstacles came & went & we were then greeted with another water station at the bottom of a rather large hill that we were going to have to hike up.  The water station honestly should have been at the top of the hill, or better yet after the next obstacle which was the sandbag carry.  After hiking up that darn hill & then carrying the sand bag all over hell’s half acre I was incredibly thirsty already, unfortunately water wouldn’t be had for at least nearly another mile & 8 or 9 more obstacles.  This is where the course changed a lot, for the first 3 miles/5 kilometres we had conquered about 10 obstacles that were quite spread apart, now we had about 12 or so obstacles left but only 1.5 miles/2.5 kilometres to do it in & doing it in the hot mid day sun was taking it’s toll in on me.

Spartan-Sprint-Las-Vegas-2017-Barb-Wire

We got to go back down the hill a bit & crawl under some barbed wire, I was able to use some new side walking techniques I had seen someone try in a Facebook video, with that, and crawling & cinching through it, I got through it unscathed for once!  Technique on a lot of these obstacles are key, especially when you’re a guy like me & you’re not very fit or athletic.  The Rolling Mud Obstacle was a nice relief & I wallowed in it like a little piggy would & covered myself & had a good ol’ time.  If you can’t have a good ol’ time at these races & unleash your inner kid, why do it!?!  Well, that’s my opinion.   I’m not here to finish in the top half, I’m here to have fun, help others & enjoy my time with those around me.  Next, onto a first for me, the Dunk Wall!

Spartan-Sprint-Las-Vegas-2017-Dunk-Wall

Again, I was kinda worried about this one, every time I have tried to go into water past my stomach as soon as it hits my check my body just locks up.  Well, hello warm water!  Other than pausing because I thought the water was just too muddy to submerge myself into I realized just how ludicrous that sounded & under I went!  I was rather surprised, for the first time ever I tackled the Inverted Wall on my own & got over it, although cramping up my calf by bashing it into the top of the wall when I heel kicked myself up & over.  Oops, forgot the Mustard, oh well!  A few stretches and some lunge type steps while walking I was good enough to go again.  Climbing the hill after that took quite a lot out of me, they were rather mean & tossed a bunch of larger tractor tires on the hill & they were “fun” to climb over.  They were also rather hot so that kind of helped add to the pace.

Spartan-Sprint-Las-Vegas-2017-Tire-Hill

We could see the finish was coming upon us rather quickly.  We got through the Herc Hoist, an A-Frame Cargo net, a Plate Drag & then onto Twistah.  It’s a rotating bar with hand holds on it.

Spartan-Sprint-Las-Vegas-2017-Twistah

Well, due to my lack of grip I only got about 2 rungs in & dropped.  The Monkey Bars were about the same distance, by this time I was just wiped, but, the last obstacle was upon us, the Fire Jump!

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We all gathered together in our group and took our last few strides together & jumped that fire!  Victory!  We finished off with our very well deserved beer, talked to a few fellow Spartans & then we headed out.  It had been a very long day for some of us & we just wanted to get back to our room & rest.  After all, the next day was our 10 year wedding anniversary & we still had 3 more days in Vegas that we were going to have to use our legs for.  In the end, we traversed about 4.5 miles/7.5 kilometres & had about 24 obstacles to pass & we did it in about 2:20.  We may not have been the fastest out there, but we didn’t want to be.  It was hot & we took it at our own pace & had a great time!  I hope to bump into ya sometime in the mud, if you see me, be sure to say hi!

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