Asheville Spartan Super 2018

Every year for the last three years, I have made the nine-hour drive to tackle the Asheville-Black Mountain course. Over the past three years, the Ashville course has consistently ranked in difficulty at the highest level. In comparison to other courses, it’s put in the same category as Killington and Wintergreen.  The terrain and elevation provide a physically and mentally tough course, one that provides challenges to the strongest OCR athletes and pushes many past their limitations.

With that in mind, I drove to Ashville this year with a hopeful mindset. Each year I have managed to improve my time and overall performance and this year I had the same intentions. In typical Asheville fashion, just parking on race day was a difficult task. The rain had been falling hard for the last few weeks and the parking lot was a muddy mess with many Spartans stopping to help push out vehicles and navigate to safer parking.

Standing in the start line corral, feeling the normal butterflies and anxiousness that one faces staring at a monumental task, I took a deep breath, shouted AROO, and took off running to face the rugged terrain.

The course began much like years before, swooping hard right and heading towards the cold streams that run throughout the mountain. Soon I was jumping into the cold water and maneuvering around the slippery rocks and divots. Vertical Cargo and Plate Drag were the very first obstacles we faced. I really enjoyed the cargo climb and the way they used the terrain.

Cargo Climb Plate Drag

6ft wall followed by 8ft wall and Z-wall were the next obstacles we faced. The new design on Z-wall provided increased difficulty and many athletes were forced to do burpees in several inches of muddy water.

Z-Walls

Moving forward we faced lots of climbing and navigating muddy terrain, the rain made this particular course that much more difficult and the climbs alone were taking many Spartans a great deal of time.

Technical Terrain

After a few miles of climbing we were brought down the hill and close to the festival area. Here we faced the multi-rig and several other Spartan favorites including tire flip and dunk wall.  The dunk wall was extra gross and left us all orange and muddy.

Circling out of the festival area and heading back up the mountain we began another ascent. Most of the climbs and ascents were in areas where it was nearly impossible to actually run. Rather Spartans moved in a march up the side of the mountain. One thing to mention about this venue is the amazing views. While the climb is rugged, the view from the top is absolutely breathtaking.

Mountain View

Several miles of climbing up and back down was next; stopping only for the incredible views or next obstacle tends to be the right of passage for any Spartan who tackles the Asheville Spartan course. Adjacent to Cargo Climb we came upon a newer Spartan obstacle similar to a great wall with rock grips. The rock grips were muddy and made the obstacle very difficult but equally fun.

Great Wall

Similar to years past, the last mile or so of the course brought us back down the mountain and into the festival area to finish out the last few obstacles. First, a long barb wire crawl with many spectators and finishers watching and cheering us all on. Next, the spear throw and Hercules Hoist tried our reserves.  The last few obstacles and finish line were in the heart of the festival area. It was a lot of fun to have so many cheering you on as you finished this grueling and laborious course. Jumping the fire and smiling for the customary photo danced in my memory as I collected my medal and shirt.

I do, however, feel obligated to mention that when the small rain storm rolled in during the afternoon heats, many racers were taken off of the course with no medal or finisher shirt. The Spartan Staff at this particular event (I’ve been to many and never experienced this) chose to yell, scream and curse at racers to get out of the festival area. I was very surprised by the unprofessional display and lack of organization they showed over such a small storm; by the time I had trudged back to my car the rain had stopped and the clouds had cleared.

However, outside of the storm and festival uproar, overall the 2018 Asheville Spartan Super did not disappoint; it was the perfect combination of the 2016 and 2017 courses. I am looking forward to the next event…AROO!

Spartan Race Fort Benning Race Review

I made the drive from Tampa up to Columbus, GA for the Spartan Race Fort Benning Military Sprint. I stayed on base and was only 15 minutes from the race site. Fort Benning is a really large base with several historic areas, making it a fun area in which to stay.

Up early Saturday morning, it was a little chilly for this Florida girl, only hitting the high 50s. It was a simple drive from Fort Benning into Fort Mitchell. It was a smaller crowd than I normally see at a Spartan Race; I assume this had a lot to do with it being the first time a Spartan had been hosted at this location, along with another Spartan going on only a few hours away. My long drive home inspired me to choose an earlier race time. The site was pretty and there were many Rangers (the Best Ranger competition had just been held at Fort Benning and used some of the Spartan obstacles I believe. Sidenote: Spartan Race World Champion Robert Killian won – AROO!) and other men in uniform taking pictures with fellow racers before they raced themselves. Climbing into the starting corrale, I was pleasantly surprised to see Dustin as the announcer. I personally love Dustin’s Spartan speeches; they always get you ready to tackle the course with vengeance! We all shouted “Aroo” and proceeded forwarded into a heavily wooded area.

Spartan Race Cargo Climb

Overs were first and no assistance was allowed. This obstacle always leaves me with bruises! Many racers were slowed here due to the rule of no assistance. Next was a good hike in the woods until we reached a very long barbed wire crawl. Though this was one of the longer crawls I had ever done, it wasn’t too bad; the ground was soft and mostly rock free.  Right after the crawl was the cargo climb and the 8-ft wall. This was also the mile one marker and the first water station. Another long trek in the woods led to more walls and the atlas carry. The terrain continued in a wooded area with limited space.  Branches were hitting me as I jogged along or stepped aside for a faster racer.

Bucket brigade and plate drag were next. The plate drag was in thick mud and this made it more difficult to manage.  Like most racers, I loathe the bucket carry, but this one wasn’t too painful. Following this was a mile run in the woods mostly in standing water; this was a bit miserable. With several holes and varying depths of water, it was difficult to run or even walk.  Cargo net, z wall, and 8ft wall were next. This cargo net was the most difficult I had ever done. It was loosely hanging between two trees and was so wobbly at the top I thought I was gonna flip over or break an arm. Nevertheless, I survived and pushed on to the last few obstacles.

Spartan Sprint Rig

The map showed the spear throw as the 5th obstacle but they were sneaky and this obstacle was right before the rig. I missed and paid my 30 burpees as punishment. After the rig was a fun obstacle I had never encountered but deemed appropriate for a military run. This obstacle was a low crawl while you carried a rubber ducky M16. It was a fun extra and racers seemed to enjoy it. Lastly was dunk wall, slip wall and, of course, fire jump.

Spartan Sprint Slip Wall

The dunk wall water was really high and you had to really submerge your face to get under, yuck. This Sprint had a little extra running and my gps had it clocked at five and a half miles making it a longer sprint. All in all, I found the location enjoyable, the course set up great and the medal bad ass. Aroo!

Spartan Sprint Fire jump

Look at this bad ass medal !!!!

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BattleFrog Extreme (BFX) – Tampa, Florida 2016

This weekend I took on the challenge of BattleFrog Extreme (BFX). Having never run BFX, I was nervous upon approaching Maddox Ranch in Lakeland, Florida. The registration lines were a bit long, which caused me to miss the BFX briefing-don’t be like me. Coach Pain greeted us late comers by making us earn our BFX bands: this included a run, push-ups and flutter kicks. After earning my band, I jogged over to the starting corral, still nervous, jumped the wall and waited with a large group. Coach Pain gave the best motivational speech I’ve ever heard. My nervousness faded, and I was ready to tackle this course with everything I had in me. I wanted as many laps as my body and time allowed. I ran this race for my buddy Joshua: a 7-year-old boy with a congenital heart defect that leaves him unable to be as active as other children.  I felt pretty great starting my first lap; there was a good jog before we came to our first obstacle of 6-ft walls .

Battlefrog 6FT WallWe were running in sort of a creek that had two fun tunnels to run through. Next came Jerry Can Carries, these sucked! It was a good distance that took us back into a creek and under several walls. My forearms were burning  by the time I dropped them off. I figured this would be one of the more difficult obstacles on my following laps.

IMG_5547Battlefrog Jerry can kiss After the Jerry Cans, the course led us into the woods. There was a lot of trees and mud to jump over . Coming out of the woods was a rope climb / rig. Basically, there was a ring, then a rope followed by another ring. You needed to use the first ring to swing to the rope, climb the rope up and hit the bell, then descend the rope, grab the final ring and swing off the obstacle. Continuing back into the woods, we were met by deep mud. Trudging our way out of the woods, the next obstacle was ladder walls. Up and over two sets, then followed some man-made terrain rock and dirt piles (mounds of grounds) were the next mile with an obstacle cargo climb, 8-ft wall, and monkey bars scattered throughout.Battlefrog TerrainBattlefrog Under TiresThe last part of the course had a 12-ft rope wall, under tires, the platinum rig and 60 degrees. The platinum rig had many athletes doing 8 count body builders as the required penalty for not completing the obstacle. After these obstacles, there was a quarter mile run until tip-of-the-spear and the finish line.Battlefrog RigFor BFX runners, you didn’t cross the finish line, you circled around to the BFX tent and a special entrance was flagged for us to start another lap. I ran 3 laps before I really began to feel the course and all the aches and pains that come from so many obstacles and miles. That last lap had to be started by 2:45 and I barely made the cut off with 7 minutes to spare. To be honest, I walked the last lap, really struggling with each obstacle. The pain in my feet and legs was really becoming noticeable. I pushed forward because 4 laps was my goal and I was so close . When I finished this lap, I was relieved and overjoyed.  This had been one of the hardest challenges I’d put my body through. I completed 19.2 miles and over 120 obstacles. Tired, sore, sun burned, and bruised,  I made it, proving to myself I’m stronger than I realize. The finish line was done right, with a large banner, music and several volunteers ready to give you your medal and direct you to the awesome photo area making it a special moment. As always, Battlefrog gave us a hell of a course, and I can’t wait to go back and tackle five laps in December! Hooya

BFX Medal

Spartan Race Arizona Sprint 2016

Arizona Spartan Sprint start line
The Spartan Race Arizona Sprint was at the same location as the last few years, Fort McDowell, an older rodeo centrally located on an Indian reservation. It was a warm and sunny 65 degrees as I made my way to the starting corral. As is tradition with a Spartan start line, we yelled, “Aroo” and sprinted ahead. Being this was my first west coast race, I noted how thin the air seemed and the difficulty of the terrain. Right from the start, we were heading towards a steep incline. The first half mile was spent maneuvering in and around and up and down the terrain while avoiding slipping on the rocks and touching the cacti.

Arizona Terrain After two 6-foot walls, we were met by our first cargo climb. From the top of the climb, you could see nearly the entire course stretching and winding around mountains. Just shy of the mile one marker were the inverted walls. The volunteers here were very helpful with direction and cheering us on.

Arizona Sprint Crawl

Next up was the 8-foot walls; we were instructed by the volunteers that they were unable to assist here and that we had to make it over the wall or complete the 30 burpee penalty. Coming up to the rope climb, I completed my penalty of 30 burpees and moved on (the rope climb gets me every time). The rope climb was followed by another half mile of winding terrain until we reached the sandbag carry and 150-yard barbed wire crawl. The volunteer at this obstacle was great, yelling for us to move forward and stop slowing down his obstacle. Right around the corner was monkey bars, not the traditional type but a fun set of uneven bars sporadically placed. The goal was to cross and touch the bell with either your hand or foot at the finish. There was a large number of racers completing the burpee penalty here.

Spartan Arizona Rope climb

Arizona Spartan Monkey bars

Next came the dreaded bucket carry (the only words for this obstacle are, “Holy crap”) – at 3 miles in, grabbing a bucket of rocks and hitting some more terrain will make your legs burn. Many slowed and rested during this obstacle. After we proceed through some more mountain-like terrain, moving much slower after that bucket carry, we finally came down to the last few obstacles near the finish line. Walking past the mile 4 marker, we approached the ladder wall and spear throw. I missed the spear, busted out the penalty, and moved on to a newer obstacle that looked like a tight-rope. It was fun attempting to get across without falling; thankfully they were allowing assistance. Last was the 10-foot wall, slip wall and dunk wall. My pace picked back up in excitement, over the slip wall and under the dunk wall hopping out of the muddy water and smiling as I jumped the fire.

Spartan Arizona Spear throw

Arizona Spartan Slip wall

The 2016 medal was beautiful and hard earned. This was the hardest Spartan sprint I have ever completed. The terrain and dry thin air really played a part in making this a bad-ass race.  Arizona Spartan Sprint will certainly be on the calendar for next year; it has created a love for west coast racing, and I can’t wait to get back home and train even harder. AROO

Arizona Spartan Fire jump


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