Obstacle races are a big thing lately. I see the appeal. It is a very accessible event with no real equipment or expertise required, beyond a set of shoes and shorts that are okay to get dirty. I have run a few road races now and I think they are fun mainly because I listen to audiobooks while I plod along. Conversely, having a race course that fights back and tries to maim you really passes the time.
My brother Cam was the one told me about the Spartan Sprint obstacle course. He told a lot of people about the race and ended up with a team of about 20 people that all registered together. Unfortunately, Cam had walking pneumonia and had to bail out of the race.
When you show up to one of these races, you really don't know what to expect. You don't have the benefit of a course map to study -- you don't even know how long the race will be. A "Sprint" race is described as a "3+ mile" event. In this instance, they went heavy on the '+'. It was more like 5 miles. Apparently, the race director got out to the site and was so excited about all the terrain that he added some more distance to include a extra bog here and an extra hill there, etc.
The advertisements mainly show people climbing ropes or slogging through mud, but the hills were the hardest obstacle of all. I find clambering over a 6 foot wall a lot easier than clambering over a mountain. It was very tempting to walk the hills, since you didn't really know if you needed hold back a bit of energy in reserve. I ran all the hills except for two -- one of those was a steep climb up a ridge and back down with a 50 lb sandbag on my shoulders, and the second one was right after the first, but longer and without the sandbag.
In the end I did really well. I was in the top 5% in my age group, in the men's category and in the overall. That is considerably better than I typically do in a road race, so I think this is more my style. Our team came 8th overall out of 300 teams, so that was another really good result. One of the guys on our team works for a company that sells remote-controled helicopters with cameras and they made a sweet video that really captures the beauty of the surroundings.
I am definitely doing it again next year. Aroo!