It’s been on my bucket list for a while: to complete a no holds barred obstacle course that’s not for the fainthearted. Why? Obstacle course racing is the fastest growing category in fitness – adrenaline junkies everywhere are looking for their next hit and I’ve not even dipped my toe in that muddy water…. until this weekend, where I ticked that box and got that t-shirt.
The Reebok Spartan Race Series is a gruelling 3+, 8+ or 13+ miles obstacle race held up and down the UK and stretching across the globe, from USA to Dubai. The Sprint (5k to 7k) has around 20 obstacles of varying difficulty, from mud ditches to barbed wire crawls and ice cold lake swimming to javelin and kettle bell throwing. The one thing I can say, is that this is not your average run. Get prepared – if you’re not ready to get muddy, then Spartan is just simply not for you.
I roped in my two friends, Eugie and Michelle for the Spartan Sprint at Ashburnham Palace, (an hour and half outside of London and ironically located near a small village called… Battle… ha!). Little did we know what we had in store but when we had to scale a 4ft wall to get to the start line, it started to dawn on us! I won’t give the whole game away but here was a run down of some the most memorable elements; my only regret was that I wasn’t able to get any piccies of us mid-course!
- An ice cold stream wade
- Army net crawl
- Up hill run
- Mud ditch trio – expect to face plant – HARD
- Barbed wire mud crawl
- Hill running
- Hay bales
- Hill scramble
- Rope climb
- Net climbing frame
- Lake swim
- Under and over walls
- Monkey bars
- Sand bag drag
- Up hill running (sensing a theme here?!)
AND INTO THE FINAL FURLONG
- Up hill running
- Kettle bell lift
- Balance logs
- Downhill mud slide – home to the most fantastic wipe out from Michelle
- Plunge pool
- Javelin throw
- 7ft/8ft walls
- Finish with a leap of fire and awarded a Spartan medal plus our first third of the Spartan Race Trifecta (complete the Sprint, Super and Beast in the same year to complete the medal – clever eh?)
What I loved most about the whole event was the real sense of camaraderie in the air. The lads who looked dead set on mowing down anyone slower in their way totally surprised me and would start up a conversation mid run, stop to give us a leg up over the 7ft walls and even give us a push when we paused at the apex of the climbing frame.
Also, you’d think we’d be outnumbered by these muscle machines but I was genuinely surprised at just how many girls were prepared to show their strength. Fantastic to see that there was around a 60/40 split. To reiterate, these courses are for ANYONE, if you have two legs and are determined enough to brush yourself off and keep smiling when inevitably you fall (face first), then you’ll be just fine!
Altogether, it took us 1hr 42mins – around three times as long as it usually takes me to run a standard 5k – however, our goal was simply to finish with a smile and savour the experience. Today, YEP, I am feeling it in every muscle in my body, but especially my shoulders and back. That can only be a good sign of a great work out. Tomorrow, I am checking out where I can pre-register for my next Spartan Race!
So you want to race? Here are my top tips:
- Get practicing those Burpees – it’s a 30x burpee forfeit if you do not/ cannot complete any of the obstacles, so you may as well get pretty darn quick at them!
- Get the most out of your entry fee – it’s a pretty high price tag, £75 per ticket BUT take part in the free Reebok Spartan Race training plans – that will help save on a spenny gym membership ahead of the big day!
- Take some friends – you’ll need them when you need a leg up over the fences, a push up a muddy slope or purely to laugh with you when you face plant into a muddy ditch
- Buy a pair of cheap trainers – my Tesco £12pounders were the best thing I bought ahead of race day. They will now by my pair dedicated for Spartans!
- Book an early racing slot – by the time 2.40pm came around, the course was thick with mud and many of the obstacles were too slippy to complete. This made it a serious challenge for us but we found it did slow us down rather
- Wear old gym kit – the lake algae left a beautiful green slime across my black workout wear. Sexy!
- Take a towel and a spare change of old clothes – lets face it, they say they have ‘showers’ but unless you don’t mind a garden hose and a pathetic dribble of water, you’d do better to take a third dip in the lake and towel yourself dry. Just sayin’
- Take cash – the food was pretty sparse but what you could order you needed cash! And forget any dreams of goodie bags, the best you’re going to get here is your t-shirt, headband and the pride of smashing the course to pieces. You’re a spartan now, they don’t need goodie bags
NB: I would like to send a big thank you to Nicky from Promote PR for hosting myself and my two friends for the Spartan Race South Sprint. A simply superb PR who treated us like royalty – even when we nearly missed the registration! I was not paid for this post, but we did receive free entry to the Spartan Race Sprint. Thanks Nicky, you’ve got us hooked!