Feeble - Spartan Sprint Race Review

Here we are, team In4It, all smiling and optimistic about the course ahead. Some of us trained more than others - at least, we pushed our bodies in manners we thought would help us. I can't speak for my teammates, only myself, but this course made me feel feeble, physically and mentally. Truth be told this is why this post has taken so long and is actually only been written due to a specific request for a race review. If I had my way I wouldn't be back to dwell on the subject as I'm trying hard to put the race behind me. But you need to know this: Stu finished 38th overall out of over 1100 people. He should be writing this review not me, he's amazing at this stuff.

Coming off an amazing high from the Warrior Dash I had high hopes and expectations for myself at the Spartan. I knew before we even arrived that the obstacles were going to be harder. I knew when we arrived they were hard by the number of the competitors on the course we could see doing burpees. The obstacles were in this order:

1. Fire jump (lame)
2. Hay bale scramble (pushed people outta-my-way)
3. Tunnel (more like greenhouse)
4. Up and over a rock (my best obstacle)
5. Bucket carry (f-me!)
6. Balloon blow up (huh?)
7. Brick haul (where I used my assets)
8. 8' Wall (where Lisa put the men to shame)
9. Horizontal climbing wall (not doable by anyone less that 6' tall)
10. Mud crawl under barbed wire (not really muddy)
10. Balance beams (must practice)
12. Cargo net (could have been higher)
13. Javelin toss (no skill here)
14. Spartan dodge

Before you read any further I will give you this disclaimer: it gets ugly. Not happy and peppy, ugly. I was mentally and physically doing really good until the bucket carry. As the volunteer kindly passed me my buckets he said 'oh, those are heavy'. I should have traded buckets. I am not weak but I could barely lift these things. Then some chick says, 'if you can't move get out of the way'. Where the f am I supposed to go? Have you not noticed the course is a single track and passing is impossible? At this point I become physically and mentally defeated. The buckets clearly are not all the same weight and this frustrates me to no end. I wait part way up the long hill for Lisa knowing she isn't too far behind. We walk it like nearly everyone else, blow up our balloons and head on our way. Brick pull. Those suckers were heavy but doable. I am now just a ways behind Lisa and hope my cardio will pull me through. 8' wall. No rope, no mini ledge half-way up. So, I do burpees, 20 of them, instead of even trying the wall. Plus it's only about 5' wide and there's too many people lined up. I hate burpees. Lisa however takes one amazing leap and is up and over the wall; Jaws of men drop everywhere. Carry-on, it's only 20 burpees, mentally trying to pep myself up (not really working). Have I mentioned it's blistering hot out (27 or so degrees) and there has been NO water on the course? So we arrive at the horizontal wall climb. Essentially this is impossible by anyone less than 6' tall because the grips are over 5' apart. This course is not girl-friendly and I'm seriously discouraged because I didn't come here to do burpees, I came here to do obstacles and feel good about myself and now I don't and I just want to yell the F word really loud and tell someone this is stupid and I quit. Mud crawl. This isn't mud but whatever, it's not burpees. Balance beams. You get only one try? 20 more burpees. Cargo net. No burpees. Javelin toss - missed, 20 more burpees. So I did 80 burpees before I managed to cross the line not caring if the Spartans knocked me flat on my feeble ass.

Part of the problem was my mind-set was already thrown off by the extreme disorganization before the race. Package pickup was a gong show. Finding the start wasn't really all that well marked - and I couldn't imagine having to be bused in from McMahon. Bag drop was small and chaotic. Five minutes before our heat we found out we needed wrist bands from COP. The start of the course had two tight corners in less than 50m. The course itself was nice except that it was single track and so you couldn't pass - thus I ended up walking when I could have been running. The obstacles were tight/small/not wide and you were often lined up waiting to do them. At the end of the race there was water - but you had to pour it yourself. It was hot, I was cranky. I know so many other people had a great time but I didn't. Would I go back next year? I don' t know. There was so much to be desired - equally weighted buckets, better pre-race info and organization, doable obstacles for the short. Yes it was the Spartan's first time in Calgary but it wasn't the first race they've ever hosted so all the pre-race disorganization shouldn't have happened. Am I being too hard, maybe. But I've helped organize quite a few races and I've seen much much better from first timers. The race is over though, it's behind me, and yesterday Stu couldn't keep up with me on the bike so that clearly means I am not feeble.

Here we are post race, a little muddy and a lot weary.


  1. btw - don't feel bad. Major kudos to you for trying something unknown, new and challenging. hooah!

    -John from Austin, Texas