This weekend I thought it would a GREAT idea to take part in the Spartan Stadium Sprint race out at the Olympic Stadium west of Sydney. Since I had volunteered my time at February’s run, I was able to use my volunteer credits to run for (almost) free – I still paid the mandatory $10 insurance. I’m glad that I had these credits, since the race in itself starts at $90 for earlybird entry!
When I entered this race I knew that I’d be training for the WDW Marathon, thus was always going to take this one as experience. I also am NOT a cross fitter, or a regular gym goer so I knew anything that focused on the upper body (Monkey Bars, Rope Climbs etc.) were going to be a bit of a challenge. The Sprint is 6km, +25km course that winds its way around the stadium, including stairs…
My wave was meant to start at 9:45am – the thought was the earlier the better (but not with the super serious guys) as I realistically believed that it would take a couple of hours on the course….in fact it took me just under 3!! Who would have thought???
The idea is the send waves of 50 off every 5 mins, and they were running about 10 mins late by the time my wave was ready to go….. It was already hot, and after watching the outside part of the course (including the new 300 end to the race) I was starting to psych myself out…. what we were seeing was definitely the hardest part!
Since many of the obstacles were jam packed in the last 1km, this meant that there seemed to be a lot more running at this version of the Stadium Sprint then the one that I had volunteered at earlier this year. When it was finally time to go, the first obstacle was to jump over a set of Toblerone type triangles. I hit the wood going over the first one and realised that I was going to bruise….it was certainly going to be a looooong morning!!!
There were a few more of the “easier” obstacles and I really loved the running part of the course, there seemed to be a bit of a build up at the sand bag carry, but overall it was going well. That is, until the one where you have to throw the heavy ball over the wall. Up, it went up but not over. 30 burpees to me – even though it was my first I opted out of the rookie pass (no burpees) and I was instantly questioning that decision. Straight after this one was a rope climb. Yep, more burpees!!!
There was so much running up and down, up stairs and across rows of seats only to come back down.. It seemed to be a tour of the stadium as we ran through the locker rooms and out to the field. In between, obstacles such as balance beams or carrying deadballs were met, and dealt with successfully. As we ended up getting further and further in the course, the course divided at times between the Sprint (red arrows) and the Super (blue arrows) however it became quite confusing – especially when it was easy to miss one of the arrows only to detour over to an obstacle. And yes, I failed that one so had to do 25 burpees (the volunteer gave me a 5 burpee head start). Right at this point I was feeling so tired. I didn’t know how much further we had to go (distance is not marked), nor did I track my efforts and I knew there was a water crossing on the course. Plus, I wasn’t sure how well the GPS would cope running around the stadium.
I would say the second half of the course was full of stair climbing as we wove up, down and across the nosebleed seats. It was hard to make out where abouts you were in the stadium in relation to the beginning of the 300 course, knowing where this is meant you were near the finish. So the 300…. that’s a whole other beast. It’s a bit like a Spartan Ninja Warrior, where one obstacle rolls into another – a whole lot of cargo nets, sled pull & push, some crazy log jump thing that was WAY too difficult and more.. It took an hour for me to finish the final 1km as this part of the course was so packed! The good news here was that if you failed at an obstacle here, it was only 10 burpees. Phew!
I did have to take a breather during this part of the course, my body was so exhausted and all I wanted was a drink of water. There was meant to be an ice bath obstacle (which I had been looking forward to since mid-race) but this was unfortunately abandoned. After attempts and all obstacles (and of course burpees for those that were failed attempts) I was so thankful to cross that line and pick up my (decently heavy) medal and finishers tee.
I met so many awesome people on the course….. I did notice that a lot of people run in teams – this helps at a few of the obstacles especially the high wall, but you can run an event like this individually. Now back to those awesome people, I met a family who were running this event as a family for the first time (parents were previous Spartans), a couple of ladies who were so lovely to offer their Shot Bloks, and other first timers. It really became an us vs. the course kind of battle, and there was absolutely no judgement passed when we all were walking in the shade, or taking in what air conditioned luxury was offered (in small amounts).
So in a nutshell, here’s a wrap up of what’s awesome and what wasn’t:
- The camaraderie of fellow runners -everyone is up for a mid-course chat!!
- Obstacles – I give them credit they were hard and had a bit of everything from balance beams to skierg to climbing cargo nets…
- Finishing swag – you only get the medal and the tee if you finish. No finish, no bueno..
- Volunteers – especially the volunteer who gave me a leg-up on the high wall. It really is a thankless job, and I noticed that they possibly were down this event as a couple of the water stations were unmanned and self serve…
- NOT FREAKING OUT ON THE HIGH CARGO NETS – yes, I surprised myself! I’m not one for heights but totally rocked this part of the course. Loved it!
- Medical staff – they were totally overloaded but were still super happy to help when dealing with a small tear in the palm..
Not so awesome:
- Not enough water – there certainly wasn’t enough water stations out on the course for the crazy hot day that it was. I know that weather changes and what not, but so many people were complaining of feeling ill and dizzy.
- Confusion on the course – while it was highlighted with arrows signalling which course goes where, it was quite easy to miss and end up on the Super route!
- Burpee count = 155. I knew I’d have to do them somewhere down the track but it didn’t take the sting out of doing them.
- Obstacles – There seemed like there needed to be more mats/safety gear at some locations where the majority of people were falling. Luckily I didn’t push myself too far as I was doing this for fun and experience, if I felt that I wasn’t going to complete safely I abandoned the obstacle.
It is easy to say that this is THE hardest thing that I have done, post race my entire body hurt. Obstacle course racing is just not for me, although I’m glad that I attempted it. Kudos to those who do this event in and event out, but I’d much rather just go out for a run…. I was just absolutely shattered, bruised and torn!!!