My family has been a fan of Spartan races for a few years now. We’ve almost made it a family tradition for as many of us as possible to run the Pennsylvania Spartan Sprint. We’re going on three years running! I’ve always loved the Spartan Races, they’re intense, they push you mentally and physically until you’re unsure of how much more you can take, and at the end they hand you the sweet, sweet taste of victory, in the form of a beer.
I finally convinced my boyfriend to do a Spartan Race with me, which he bought as a Christmas present for me. 9 months later, we got to do the Washington D.C. Sprint together! It was great running with him, although he is definitely in better shape than I am.
Recap of the race:
We had a 3:15pm start time, one of the latest of the day. We started with a fully-packed crowd which ultimately ended up influencing our race significantly. After taking off at running pace, the pack quickly slowed in order to start threading our way through the tight, hilly trails. Poor course planning had the entire pack trying to squeeze through the narrow trail entrance all at once. After running through the woods for a bit, we came to the first obstacles, which included climbing over some beams, and a few walls. After that, and some more hilly trail running, we came to a cement ball carry (for lack of a better term) where we carried our respective balls approx. 10 yards, where we did 5 burpees, and then carried them back. On to a few more obstacles which included the Spartan stairway to heaven, which I really enjoyed, and the monkey bars, which I managed to get through as well. From there we got to the rock bucket carry, which was substantially shorter than the previous Spartan Race I had just completed in July in Palmerton, PA.
After the rock carry we wound our way through the woods some more, and hit some more obstacles including an 8 foot wall, which I made it over (woohoo!). We also had an easy sandbag carry, so easy I grabbed the guy’s sandbag and beasted the short course. There was a log carry as well; carry two logs about 10 yards, and back. I carried the guy’s version there too. Somewhere in there we did the cargo net as well. More running through the woods, more mud. The entire course made use of a stream bed, which was interesting and annoying at the same time. It made for a lot of quick, steep up- and downhills.
We hit some rolling mud hills, which were the absolute worst. Not that I don’t like mud, but with the amount of people coming through, the water had been so churned up, and sufficiently deep that people kept splashing and getting it into each others eyes. After we made it out of the rolling mud section, I had to stop and get my hands clean, spitting on them in order to get the mud out of my eyes. I honestly could not see. Now I know how that girl got that eye infection and died from a mud run.
After the mud we hit the rope climb. I waited for a guy to try the rope, he got about halfway, and came back down and said that rope was really hard. The knots were somewhat far apart, but I took my time with my technique and made it to the top fairly easily.
Some more running through the hills, and running/walking/trudging along the stream bed which was just a massive amount of mud. It stuck to your feet, and you frequently sank in up to your knees. I really did not enjoy that section of the race, because it was such a long section. It honestly was almost a mile of walking through mud. I tried to stick to the sides and both of us ended up incredibly grumpy by the end of it.
We made it to a sandbag sled drag, where we pulled on chains to bring the sled with sandbags toward us. By the end of the day, people had worn ruts and bumps into the pull section, so it was actually harder than I expected. After that we came to the new Spartan rig, where you do the rings to the ball, to the pipe and ring the bell. I gave it my best shot, but fell off about halfway through. The rings get so wet from all those people going through, no matter how dry your hands are when you start, I was almost bound to fall off.
A little bit more running, and then to the spear throw. I’ve had about 50/50 luck so far with the spear throw, but I made this one! Almost directly in the center as well. I stepped back and talked with my boyfriend’s mom, who was there as a spectator, and we watched my boyfriend miss his spear throw. Burpees for him, a break for me!
After the spear throw we wound in the woods a little bit, only to come to the longest line I’ve ever seen for the barbed wire crawl at the end. If we had waited in that line, we would have waited over half an hour. A Spartan Race volunteer came down the line and told people they could skip it if they wanted to. We looked at each other, and although we wanted to do the barbed wire, it honestly was not worth the wait, especially after having waited behind crowds of people in the woods because of the narrow trails. We skipped the barbed wire and jumped across the fire and the finish line.
After it was over though, I was happy that we didn’t do the barbed wire, because of a massive back-up of people at the shower station. That’s a story for another time. This Spartan Race was definitely not as well run as the Spartan Race I normally do with my family in Pennsylvania. They only gave people three minutes to use the hoses at the shower station, and we waited to shower for at least 20 minutes. Thankfully we weren’t nearly as muddy as the people who did the barbed wire crawl, so we were actually able to get “clean,” unlike the majority of people.
Overall I was a little disappointed at the course; it wasn’t as challenging as it could be, and the amount of people running through it at once slowed us down sufficiently. You’ll never know how frustrating it is to have to wait for people on a narrow trail, who either don’t move quickly at all, or don’t move to the side to rest. Now I know that for the next Washington D.C. Spartan Race I do, I’ll make sure I get a morning time slot so we don’t have to wait for as many people.
The best part of the day was, after we finally got clean and walked back to the truck, we got Chipotle for dinner. I love that restaurant so much.