April 11, 2016
To give you some context to this post…I am not in the best of shape fitness wise at the moment, OK, OK I ran the Berlin Half last weekend, but trust me my training has been very sporadic of late, especially any kind of cross training strength work.
So when I got a call 3 weeks ago asking if I would like to give Spartan a go any sensible person would have said “Thanks but no thanks” but we all know I’m not particularly sensible, besides the event was taking place in The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park also know as my local park…so it would have been rude not to.
But who to do it with??
Many of my Clubhouse ladies are busy training for marathons so it was like tumbleweed when I put out a call for this, but then a lovely lady from our 5 weeks to 5k online programme said “I’ll do it”, now bare in mind we are currently only on week 3 of 5weeks to 5k and it is designed for beginners you might think I’d be crazy for considering partnering up with such a novice, however I know Kerrie from a business coaching programme we are both on called Lucky Bitch and I know she is made of something quite special…so it was decided.
We would attempt Spartan and write about our experiences from the perspective of two overweight and quite unfit mums. Basically on the premise that if we can do it, perhaps you could too.
Of course all of this bravado slowly wore of by the time race day appeared, and as I went through the registration area where you basically sign your life away (I am not kidding) my brain started doing weird things, I couldn’t remember my entry number despite just reading it on the board, I managed to lose my wave wrist band and I was all fingers and thumbs getting all my kit ready.
It was quite funny as we entered the main area, we figured 90% of the participants were men, 89% of them strapping things with bulging muscles and beards, and they were all wearing dark muted colours…and then in walks Kerrie and I in our bright Too Fat to Run attire and it was like everything went in slow motion…I worried the DJs were going to start playing the “Here come the girls” theme tune to accompany our strut to the loos.
We had a bit of a wait until our wave which was heading off at 1.40pm so we had a look around at some of the obstacles which were in view of the start area…I wish I hadn’t…jumping through fire is not my idea of fun, neither is scaling two shipping containers using nothing but rope. Remind me why I thought this was a good idea?
And then I happened upon this chap!!!
The fear I was feeling was incredible. I didn’t want to injure myself, or have to quit and I was meeting a bunch of ladies from The Clubhouse (My online running club) at 4pm for an emergency development meeting in the pub…I couldn’t be late for that. But surely it couldn’t take me more than two and a half hours to get round?
Well I don’t know, we struggled getting into the starting pen…which wasn’t technically an obstacle, although it was still a 4 foot wall we had to scale…lets just say it wasn’t pretty…neither was the warm up burpees we were made to do…I wacked my knee on the concrete on the way down and stood listening to mr leather pants himself give his I AM SPARTAN speech with a throbbing left knee.
So we were off. No looking back as they say.
The pace was good, nobody was sprinting…it was 7K and and 20 obstacles after all…and I will try and remember as many as I can, but forgive me if I miss some out…clearly my mind wants to erase them from my memory.
1. Lots of stairs – Ok this sounds lame, but they were not ordinary stairs but whopping steps with no hand rail that required me to use my hand on my knee to hoick up each one and the greatest care coming down them too
2. Waterspurts – Not sure these were an actual obstacle, just part of the fabric of the park, I mean my 3 year olds been fearlessly tackling these for about 2 years…so no real harm done other than soggy shoes.
3. Two four foot walls to scale – So we had already done one of these so it shouldn’t be too difficult, although having an audience of tourists made it a little more challenging however I did manage to get myself up unaided this time too, although bloody hell it don’t half hurt your inner thigh as you try and scale it
4. Monkey Bars – OK so now we’re getting serious…last time I did monkey bars for Tough Mudder (you know that time I said I was NEVER doing another obstacle course again?) and we fell safely into water…this time there was no such luxury the fall to the ground looked treacherous so I gave it a shot hanging for a few seconds and then surrendered knowing I would have to pay with burpees.
6. Tyre Carry – Same premise really but with two small tyres this time
Kerrie was doing really well at this point, a little slower than me but I basically kept her in sight as there was often a short wait at the obstacles giving her time to catch up. We had agreed to stick together whatever happened…which is just as well because just then disaster struck. Kerrie went over on her ankle.
After a few minutes of sitting on the floor she said she was Ok and wanted to continue, so off she hobbled.
7. Taller Walls (with ropes maybe) – I knew I wouldn’t be able to get over these unaided…I had been caught out on one of these before, so took the burpee punishment instead
Kerrie was going to really struggle as she was unable to run now, well not for very long anyway…but she was 100% sure she wanted to progress
8. Box Jumps – Now these are my nemesis. I once spent 20 minutes psyching myself up to do one of these in a PT session. I don’t know why I find them so hard. Its like I want to do them but as I go to I chicken out. I really didn’t want any more burpees though. And I managed 1. That was all it took and I knocked out 29 more using a jump of with one leg but land with two on the box…which the steward said was OK. I even had an audience of folks watching me from a bridge above.
9. Scramble Net Pyramid – OMG did this one freak me out. There were very few people around now as we were so behind our wave, and the 2nd wave hadn’t yet caught us up. So all I had to do was climb to the top of a pyramid I don’t know 10 feet high and then climb back down the other side. But I got to the top of it and froze. Kerry was at the bottom shouting instructions but I couldn’t even hear her really all I could here were the “I’m gonna die, I’m gonna die” thoughts in my head. I think pretty much a similar thing happened to Kerrie once she got up the top…but by this time she had company and two lovely folk refused to get down until she was safely down.
10 – Barbed Wire Fields – These things went on FOREVER and I am at such a disadvantage with my big boobs and big arse, it was painstakingly slow…and it hurt like hell, even when you wasn’t getting poked by barbed wire. We eventually discovered a rolling movement that worked well but it was still hard work and it made me quite dizzy.
I guess this a good point to say the support from other competitors was fantastic, we got lots of “Come on love” and “your doing amazing” from blokes…one rather swift guy who overtook me shouted “see you at the finish line” to which I yelled “yes you can buy me a burger”
11. Roman Stones – Now don’t ask me to tell you the history of these damn things, or how heavy (30kg maybe???) all I know is they took 3 people to lift them off the ground into my arms (slippery buggers they were) so how I managed to ferry it from one side of the field to the other I will never know…but it felt pretty primeval.
12. More upper body – Grab a rope and pull a 20kg kettle bell up to the top of a gantry and lower it back down. I actually quite enjoyed this, it was easy dare I say it…I almost fancied trying the larger one which the blokes were struggling with (some might say its sexist to have two different size weights on some of the obstacles…I just think it makes it more inclusive…theres no fun in not being able to do any of the strength exercises)
13. Rope Pull Pyramid – More bloody heights. Grab a rope walk up a pyramid and then scramble down the nets. Sounds easy and actually the walking up bit was, but it was that damn top of the triangle bit…its like I freeze once I am there. I almost had a panic attack and thought I might actually faint.
Luckily the aid station, with energy gels and water was there…gosh was it needed….and then on.
Kerrie was still limping, but it didn’t seem to be getting any worse and she had full range of motion and could put weight on it so on she went. The support crew were great and everyone checked in to make sure she was good to go on. Now these next few might not be in the right order…but
14 – Sand Bag Carry – Grab two sandbags and carry them to the top of the hill and down? Sound easy? listen folks, this hill goes on forever and ever, and in fact they sneaked a downward descent at the back of the obstacle course too. These bags were heavy weighing 20kg each. Hang on a second…there are girls only carrying one…the stewards never told us we had an option…urrrghhhh I AM SPARTAN!!!!!!! Just think of my arm muscles tomorrow…yeah its why I’m struggling to write this blog post even now!!!
A big bunch of up and down stairs things, not sure these were an actual obstacle…although I did challenge a guy to a race up about 40 small steps and actually won…where I got that speed from I don’t know.
15 – Log Carry – Grab two logs and yes I made sure it was two this time and then a leisurely stroll around the wetlands area. I must admit the park looked incredible…what a remarkable venue for an obstacle course, and great that the organisers were able to incorporate so many aspects of the natural terrain into the obstacles. At this point there was a little boy about 8 or 9 with his family just taking a stroll to get home and he was watching all the strapping lads run past…and then he saw me…his eyes nearly popped out of his head…it was so funny.
16 – Wall Scale – Think climbing wall, but travelling vertically with very little to grab onto and sharp corners to go round. I fell off after about 3 seconds…nobody saw me…nobody challenged me…so guess what….I got out of doing my 30 burpees….yay!!!
17 – 3 walls, one go over, one go under and one go through. A kind guy allowed me to step on his hands so I could get over it, but I managed to bash myself as I went over and have the most incredible bruise where a lady should never have such a bruise….Ive been referring to it ever since as my mingery and it is quite shocking. Kerrie also had the help of a strapping bloke, he was so strong he literally flipped her right over the wall and she came crashing down on her bum. But nothing was broken so all was good…and oh how we laughed.
We were now back in the south park and travelling along the canal towards the stadium once again….it couldn’t be much more.
3 quarters of the way through
3 quarters of the way through,
The stewards kept shouting. Surely it was nearly over?
17 – Wall Scales – under a dark tunnel, 3 sets of these horrific things…I simply couldn’t face it…the pain I was inflicting on my inner thighs each time was just too much, so Kerrie and I simply walked past these.
And we were back within view of the startline/finish line area
18 – Rope – I knew there was no point in even attempting this, but you have to save face right…especially now there were actual spectators all about. I couldn’t even hang from it…so I joined the big group of peeps doing burpees…and the stewards here were actually enforcing the 30 burpees too
19 – Spear Throw – Grab a huge spear and throw it into a hay bale…easy right? Nope. But it felt pretty awesome doing it.
20 – Scramble Net – Get on the floor and crawl for what seems like a lifetime without getting your hair band or trainers stuck in the netting…I snuck in behind a broad shouldered guy and let him do all the hard work…although I go tangled up right at the end so that serves me right.
They lied….there were more than 20 obstacles…or maybe I was counting things that in normal settings would just be considered terrain.
21 – Wall Climb – More flipping wooded walls to scale…its just not happening, these were really, really high too…even if I got up, theres no way I would be able to use my upper body to lower myself down…its how I managed to scrape all the skin of my face at Tough Mudder before so thanks but no thanks, I’d take my burpees even if I did have an audience.
Now for the obstacle I really wasn’t looking forward to. So with Kerrie hand in hand we made our way to the final obstacle.
22 – The Fire Jump, when we had seen this earlier it looked hot but it didn’t look so high…I was cacking my pants, what if I tripped and fell, what if our sweat wicking tech vests caught alight, what if Kerrie’s ankle went and we both stumbled head first in to the white coals?
Needn’t have feared. It was exhilarating. And then it was over.
All in all it was a superb event. The fact it took place just on my doorstep was a bonus.
So the question on all of your lips I know, could you do it?
I am not for a minute advocating coming into these events with little or no training, but the bottom line is two overweight women managed to complete it in around 3 hours and you probably could to. Kerrie is already talking about doing another one despite the fact her ankle looks like an auburgine.
I can hardly talk, when my 3 year old daughter saw me get out of the bath this morning she shouted
OH MY GOD MUMMY
And then sat next to me on my bed and said Its OK Mummy I will look after you
I would like to say a massive thank you to Spartan for our two FREE places. This is an honest account of my experience. Probably a little too honest in places. Oh and one more thing.
I would also like to thank Kerrie, what a star. She never gave up and was fearless in her approach to the whole thing…she hasn’t been with us long, but boy oh boy does she have the Too Fat to Run spirit flowing through her veins
WE ARE SPARTAN!!!!!