Race Report: Spartan Sprint and Super – Wales

A few months ago I signed up for a weekend of racing. Spartan Sprint on the Saturday and Super on the Sunday. Being the week after a marathon I was nervous as to how that would go. And then Spartan made the decision to stick both races on the same day! Now I would never make the decision to race twice in a day, ever. I’m not fit enough, maybe one day i will be but at the moment I’m not. But I decided to stick with it and see what happened. So here is how it went.

Spartan Sprint: 5km+ 15 obstacles 

We arrived bright and early Saturday morning and got parked up and headed to registration. There was a short queue, nothing major, only frustration was not being able to collect our Super numbers as well. Once we had our headbands we popped back to the car to get our final bits together and then headed to the start area for final toilet visits and to meet up with a fellow runner. We started on time and had the fun of witnessing the early shenanigans performed for Albons stag do (see video). Within a short distance we were up into some woodland on steep hills that were single file tracks, this meant we would walk a few paces and then be stuck due to queues, I personally wasn’t complaining though! It was like being in the amazon!

We then made our way around to a log carry on some insanely uneven terrain, there were plenty of people falling over.  After this was more hills. And more … and more… and then a couple of 6ft walls, except the way they were braced meant they had a nice little foot perch which made them very easy to get over for those of us who can’t do walls higher than 5ft. We then faced more hills before the breeze block on a chain drag. Literally so damn heavy! Eventually got the thing around the tree though and then it was off to a muddy ditch before the cargo net a-frame, rope climb and then hoist followed by a short run to the monkey bars. After that it was back into the woods again for more hills! Hills really were the theme of the day!

Towards the end we came across what must have been a 10ft wall, a lovely chap was marshalling and said we could use his shoulders to help get us over. Sharon went first with her road shoes and then I followed with my trails. He possibly commented on how different that felt. Whoops! This lead around to some more short sharp hills before we faced the traverse walls, blinking hard! Then the dreaded spear throw (I didn’t even get it to touch the bales!) and finally the last A-Frame before the fire jump. I have a massive issue about fire so hadn’t been looking forward to it but we survived and crossed the line.

There was no one putting medals around your neck which was a bit gutting, everything was just lined up on the table so we grabbed our medals and tshirt and then headed to sit down and refuel for an hour or so!

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A great video of the Sprint can be seen on the Always with a smile youtube channel here.

Spartan Super : 13km+ – 20+ Obstacles 

I have to admit the sprint for me had been mentally very tough, I’d hated almost every second and really didn’t think I was going to do the Super in the afternoon, my thinking that if I didn’t do it I wouldn’t want to complete my trifecta then, whereas doing it meant I’d want to. But I was coaxed into it by one of my team mates and thankfully I found a better place mentally.

The route mainly covered exactly the same route that we had taken in the morning. The log carry was there, the same relentless hills, and then we faced a sandbag carry. One chap said to us as we were collecting ours, thats long, but I didn’t think it would be as long as it was, theres speculation on the exact distance but 3km/2miles have been bandied about a lot. Initially it was fine, it was flat, and then it went down a steep hill that you then had to get back up. Then came the barbed wire crawl whilst dragging, tossing, throwing, getting generally pissed off with the damn thing. The barbed wire was LOW so you really had to be careful where you went.

Shortly after this we were faced with a cargo net. I managed to stay on my feet, bent over, throwing the sand bag and then catching it up and repeating over and over until we got to the end of it. There was also a bunch of walls during the sandbag carry except for health and safety reasons we were told to put them down! We eventually rejoined the same Sprint route and faced more hills, a couple more walls and then back around to the breeze blocks, mud ditches, a-frame, rope climb, hoist and monkey bars again.

We then headed back through the same hills we had earlier on before going off the sprint route and up a hideously long barbed wire crawl which was so busy you could only inch yourself along as fast as those in front were going. More hills followed before rejoining the route for the 10ft wall again and back around to the traverse walls. After that was now a tyre flip, my first time attempting to flip tyres …. wow they are heavy! And then a jog up and down the field before coming back to the spear throw and a-frame before the fire jump finish.

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Again the finish area had no marshalls around and it was a case of take your own bits. I know they had struggled to get volunteers and it really felt like that showed.

Overall it was a well organised race, my minus points would be:

– lack of marshalls at most ‘obstacles’
– lack of BIG obstacles, nothing felt challenging
– paying for a bag drop that wasn’t secure and anyone could walk into!

Positives:

Great medal and great tshirt!

Would I do it again? I wouldn’t do the wales course, it was just brutal, like so brutal! I will finish my trifecta but I can’t see me wanting to do Spartan races after that. I felt more like I was trail running with a few bootcamp type exercises thrown in. It didn’t feel very OCR to me.

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