Breckenridge Spartan Beast

I had a hard time sleeping the night before my race.  The Beast looming in my mind. If I was prepared enough, had enough energy bars/electrolyte gummies, would the weather work out, would I actually have to swim through mountain water, how much snow would be on the ground, how hot would the sun be at this elevation… That’s what I do though, overthink, and sometimes over prepare.  I stayed at a hotel in Frisco and went to the free breakfast that morning looking for some carbs and a banana.  I found some things to eat and met another racer who was also doing the Beast and had traveled from New Mexico.  After some pleasant conversation and a new FB friending, Jamie and I left so I could get dressed for the race.  I brought just about all the gear I own because the weather up here is so unpredictable.  I ended up with the following: race gear CW-X Compression pants with NeoSport Wetsuit XSpan shorts, which kept me toasty in that mountain water. On top of those 2XU Men’s Run shorts.  Up top I had another 3 layers, Nike 3/4 compression shirt, inov-8 Men’s Elite 150 Merino Long Sleeve wool top and my standard red Nike sleeveless.  On my back is the Geigerrig “Rig” 2L water pack which I stuffed with electrolyte gels, energy bars, water, CambelBack Electrolyte tablets (in the water) and my extra GoPro battery (in a Ziploc).  This pack uses an air pump to fill the bladder so you can fire water out of the mouth piece clearing mud, etc to drink. Very nice.  On my head is an Under Armour skull cap to keep my head from burning and on my feet are Darn Tough Men’s Tab No Show wool socks and Reebox Spartan All-Terrain Super shoes.  I was very happy with my choices as I was never too hot, and what water I did get into was wicked away beautifully.  If you notice I have gloves on, but left them, accidently, on the sink.  I did alright without them though. Arriving at the parking area we were asked to line up for the shuttle bus up to the Beaver Run Resort at Peak 9, just as we would if we were going skiing.  Breckenridge is familiar with this sort of thing.  Upon departing the bus, we met with the waiver tents, and then the Bib numbers for each racer and finally the Bib tent where we exchange our waivers for our Bib packs. IMG_1486

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I did some voluntary burpees to earn a Spartan wrist band.

After this you’re free to meander about until race time.  This process doesn’t really take that long. I spent more time waiting in line to do a bag check, for $5, than getting my headband and racing chip.  Arriving an hour before the race start was perfect though, no rush to get those two things done and look around a bit, get some photos, then find the starting line and waiting your turn to get into the pit. The guy who tells us all to “Go!” at the start line, we’ll call him the MC, was getting us pumped up in the pit. Talking

I'm directly behind the smoke in this one.
I’m directly behind the smoke in this one.

about Sparta and Spartans and getting collective “Aroo’s!” from the crowd released us and we were all off.  The start of the race was good, we all ran in stride until the first obstacle and that’s when people started slowing down from the elevation gain/altitude already.  After an initial wall, then the Over/Under/Through walls, came the reservoir… Yes we crossed right through a mountain reservoir. Can you say, “Ice Cold!”. But as cold as the reservoir was, it was not nearly as cold as the stream we had to cross through. Coming out of the reservoir.  After that was the Log Hop, a series of poles sticking up out of the ground at different heights. The object is to walk across them without falling off and performing 30 burpees. This is the second time I’ve seen this obstacle and it was a breeze for me. A lot of people move slowly across them, just step up, and start walking is all I can say.
Next up was the dreaded 1st of 2 “Barb-wire crawls” if you did the Beast.  The 2nd is right at the end.  This one was unique in that it was uphill and in the snow! We had to traverse uphill in the snow a good 50+ feet in elvation before we even got to the barb wire, and luckily steps had been formed by the waves in front of us making it a little easier.  This would have been easier and faster if it weren’t for all the slow moving-meandering racers.  But as usual with this obstacle, people move VERY slow, which was surprising considering how cold the snow was.

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Once we got through the snow crawl there was of course lots of running but the A-Frame cargo net climb, then the 7′ wall to scale over followed by the Bucket Brigade #1.  We pick up a 5-gallon plastic bucket with no handles and depending on male or female fill the bucket to a certain point with dirt/rocks and walk with it before returning and dumping it back.  I saw a lot of people set the bucket down at various points and only one poor person fell downhill with theirs losing the contents, which sends you back to the beginning or to do 30 burpees.  I managed to walk all the way through without stopping and moved on.  Next was the inverted wall, I enjoy getting over these walls, especially the odd ones.  After that was the Atlas Carry, a 100lb cement ball (60lbs for the ladies) that you pick up out of a squat, carry a certain distance, drop, do 5 burpees and repeat. More running uphill and finally got to the peak elevation for this race:

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Highest Spartan Race Elevation yet!

Just past this point we had the Z-Walls.  A bane of my existence.  Basically a zig-zag wall, with small 2×4 pieces of wood nailed in at different angles at different heights and you are required to grip and move along the wall and around the corners without falling off or grabbing the top of the wall.  Not easy.  I made it to the 3rd panel of this obstacle, or around the 2nd corner before I slipped off but managed to hit the cow bell on my fall down so I got to move on.  Phwew. After this was the Plate Drag, a steel-plate sled with sand bags piled on top that you drag from point A to B, then grab a metal chain and drag it back to its starting position before moving on.  I’m not sure on the weight, at least 75lbs for the sandbags… After this was the monkey bars, with varying heights and no leg swinging or ground touching (some of them were low and had to raise my feet so I didn’t touch). I liked this obstacle, just swinging up and down from bar to bar to the end.

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GoPro Selfie post Monkey Bars

After that was a 6′ wall.  Next and the last Beast only obstacle before we met back up with the Sprinters was the Log Carry (1 of 2). Excatly what it sounds like, we had sawed off logs of varying lengths that you carry for a distance.  More running…. and then the Sprint and Beast joined up paths again at the 8′ wall.  I have a high enough vertical that I just walk up to this one jump and pull myself over.  Then was “Stairway to Sparta” followed by the next Bucket Brigade.  I admit at this point the race conditions and probably dehydration were catching up with me.  That bucket got really heavy.  After this was the 2nd for me, Log Carry.  At this point the logs suck and these were heavy.  After I got through this one it was the CLIF Multi-bar.  Here is where the conditions hit me.  I had to sit down for a few minutes, then I had to lay down for a few minutes. I got checked on by a Firefighter/EMT who suggested I just wait it out a little bit. So I munched on a protein bar and drank as much of my electrolyte water that I could stomach, then felt better and moved on.  After some downhill running and it was the Hercules Hoist.  IMG_1629 IMG_1624 IMG_1651 Another gender specific activity.  Not feeling my best I still managed to handle this one just fine. For the boys it was 105 pound bag tied to a rope that you had to raise at least 20, maybe 30 feet in the air to the top, then lower down slowly maintaining control of the weight.  After this the Thermopylae, then Vertical Cargo followed by the Spear Throw.  I was disappointed with the spear throw.   There was a tether screwed into the end of the spear so people could throw and the next person could drag the spear back for themselves.  I watched many people throw their spears only to have the tether interrupt its flight pattern. I tried my best to get the rope in a good spot that it may not interfere but it did anyway.  Which was a shame because NBC Sports was recording and told me that if I stuck it they would use it in their production. Damn.  30 burpees later I was off running again through some very pretty wooded areas on the side of the mountain.  IMG_1631

This is the point however that the clouds started rolling in.  There was a forecast of rain for the afternoon and until this point it was beautiful and sunny out.  ThermopylaeALMOST to the end and out of the woods, came a river crossing with a small bridge. There was a group of racers standing here and found out that because of inclement weather they were holding all the racers at checkpoints.  So we waited, and waited.  About 30-40 minutes went by at which it started raining before they released us to finish the race.  However the final 4 obstacles (all in a row) were closed because of lightning and we were to just run to the finish line. So we did, we ran past the “Slip Wall”, “Rope Climb”, “Barbed Wire Crawl #2” and “Dunk Wall” but all managed to do the “Fire Jump” before crossing the finish line and receiving our Spartan Sprint or, in my case, Spartan Beast medals! Wooo! Over the Fire Jump  I also got a banana and Clif protein bar.  Then we collected our Race Finisher shirts and were told to get the hell out because the weather was getting worse. Everything was already closed down, vendors, mini events, so I got my bag from the bag check, signed the Spartan Wall, got a quick picture and headed back for the bus.   Overall I really enjoyed the race. As for the obstacles themselves it seemed relatively simple.  I’m told the altitude and stamina were the biggest obstacles for this course.  That and Breckenridge Ski Resort had certain rules for what could and could not be done. I was very clean at the end of this run, which wouldn’t have happened if the lightning didn’t end the race early for some and close the final obstacles for me.  However I feel VERY accomplished having completed my first Beast race at 12.2 miles at altitudes from 9,000-11,238′. Spartan Wall

 

2 Down, 1 More To Go

I can’t wait for my Spartan Chicago Super in August to complete my Trifecta and become a Trifecta Tribe member! Aroo! One Does Not Simply Run One Spartan Race

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