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Miami Spartan Super 2/23/2013

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The second Spartan Super of 2013 arrived in North Miami this weekend. 80+ degree temps, high humidity, ample sunshine, and a powerful  UV index were in abundance.  This event holds unique importance to me because it marks the one year anniversary of my introduction to obstacle course running.  I didn’t participate in Miami Spartan 2012, but some friends did.  Their pictures ignited an obstacle race Google search and I quickly went from beginner to enthusiast.  Now, a year later, I was eager to meet a handful of robust fellow enthusiasts representing the NE Spahtens who made the journey seeking tropical spartan glory.

Oleta River State Park requires a 5-10 minute shuttle from a separate parking location just like Amesbury. The shuttle bus actually drove under a cargo net bridge created by the stacks of two by two cargo containers. Athletes were rolling over the top of the net as shuttles passed through underneath.  The festival area seemed tight and chaotic at times, but any tent/service I needed was utilized in a timely manner. Free samples of coconut water, protein bars/drinks, etc. we’re notably absent or were hidden.

The 8.3 mile course highlighted the South Florida inshore ecosystem of bays, estuaries, mangroves, seagrapes, pine, bamboo, and limestone. Several miles of mountain bike trails meandered through the forest. Here’s the list of obstacles in order thanks to a spectator map:

  • Under over under over walls
  • Water crossing via bay
  • Over under through walls
  • Monkey Bars
  • Water crossing with buoy line
  • 7 foot walls
  • 6 foot walls
  • Rolling mud (trenches)
  • Tractor Pull
  • Sandbag carry
  • Cargo net bridge
  • Atlas lift (lift large chuck of concrete, walk, 5 burpees, lift and return)
  • 8 foot walls
  • Tire flip (three over and three back)
  • Hercules hoist
  • Bucket hoist (repel down embankment, fill three homer buckets, spill H2O, climb back up)
  • Rope climb
  • Traverse wall
  • Mud crawl under barbed-wire
  • Slippery wall
  • Gladiator pit

Spectators had excellent access to the final five obstacles as well as a walking trail to view others.  I was pleased to complete all of the obstacles with zero penalty burpees.  I did complete 30 “team” burpees for the two locals I ran with.  I also learned a valuable lesson:  Don’t make Spartan races any harder than necessary.  For example, I chose the one XL tire because I was impatient.  The body strain nearly left me with a soprano voice and sent me to the OR to repair soft tissue tears.

I found it difficult to  partition my time among several local factions, the traveling Spahtens, and my family.  I look forward to seeing new and familiar Spahtens as we travel around the globe seeking new challenges.  Thank you to Keith (solid man), Nele (Naila-friendly beast), Corrine (sweet soul), Tom (proud dad), Ellen (cat who swallowed canary smile), Betty (saw her for a second), and Yvette (self-proclaimed bag crasher).  I’ll see you at the Ruckus!

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Tough Mudder Review: Tampa, FL

The first aspect of the Tough Mudder worth mentioning is that it’s a challenge not a race, so Mudders are not timed.  Many time themselves and peg the benchmark at 3 hours for the 10-12 mile challenge with 20+ obstacles.  I ran with a buddy who suffered a minor bone contusion and we finished around 2:50.  I would categorize our speed as comfortable and conversation-paced  jogging between obstacles and occasional walking around the 5 aid stations.  All aid stations had ample water and a few had bananas, one had Sharkies energy gummy sharks (yum).  Some of my favorite obstacles were:

  • Arctic Enema:  Ice plunge with ample cubes
  • Cliffhanger:  Large mound of slipper mud
  • Berlin Walls:  8 feet plus, some required Mudder comradery
  • Hold Your Wood:  1/4 Log or large wood block carry
  • Funkey Monkey:  Monkey bars
  • Everest:  1/4 pipe charge
  • Trench Warfare:  Trench crawl with partial blackness
  • Walk the Plank:  15′ jump into water
  • Mud Mile:  There were several, but only one had lots of fun mud
  • Electricshock Therapy:  One of two that shock you.  High voltage, but low amperage prevents electrocution.

I experienced no wait at any obstacle and thoroughly enjoyed my experience during the 11+ mile challenge.  The difficulty level was low to moderate.  There were no penalties for failed obstacles, but the distance could wear on those who didn’t train for high mileage courses.  The Tough Mudder should be on everyone’s To Do list for 2013.  The 2013 schedule can be found here:  Tough Mudder 2013

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Savage Race Review

Central Florida based Savage Race ran their flagship event at a gorgeous ranch in Dade City, FL on October 20, 2012.  It appears to be their third event since inception.  I arrived at the Little Steeplechase ranch after a four hour drive from my home in Boca Raton.  One of the many aspects of obstacle course racing I enjoy is traveling to new places to see the local terrain, flora and fauna.  I was pleased to see sprawling green grounds dotted with live oaks and cypress trees draped in moss.  The sky was blue and my respiratory system welcomed the arrival of fall in Florida with warm dry air.   After five oppressive months, humidity was nowhere to be found.  Onsite parking was $10 and very smooth, however there was no re-entry into the festival area, which limited the convenience of vehicle access.

Check in was fast and simple.  The festival area was rather typical for obstacle course races, gear check ($5), food & beverages, merchandise, sponsor tents, and a bank of vile porta potties scented with human waste were all represented.  I completed my final pre-race prep of hydration, trademark eye black and stretching routine, then headed to the starting line.

The Savage Rave claims that they need no more than 5-6 miles to kick your ass as well as more obstacles per mile with less jogging than comparable events.  Approximately two dozen obstacles were peppered throughout the very fun and occasionally challenging six mile course.  Three water stations were on the course and finishers were greeted with a medal, t-shirt and a bottle of water.   Here are some of the obstacle highlights:

The ice bath plunge called “Shriveled Richard” was very early in the course and literally took my breath away, but required no special skills.   Significant shrinkage was unavoidable.  The monkey bars were terrific.  In a saw tooth profile, Savages climbed up, then down, then back up, and finally down again to complete the bars.  Grip and concentration were critical for success.

In addition, there was plenty of crawling, lots  mud, diversified terrain, various walls to conquer, giant mud hills to navigate, a balance beam, several water crossings, log carry, “shocking” wire crawl, giant hay mountain, and a floppy cargo net.  I’ve never run a Tough Mudder (registered 12/1/2012 Sarasota FL), but having researched TM, the Savage Race felt like a half of a TM.  The obstacles were not only similar, they were nearly identical.  However, I could care less.  I’m there to challenge myself with a fun and dirty adventure.  The companies can duke it out in the legal system.

There was only one negative aspect of my experience, which was a rather lengthy wait at two obstacles.  A ten minute wait preceded the balance beam and a 30 minute wait was experienced prior to the “Colossus Wall”.   The wall was a large 1/4 pipe in which you had to run up the pipe, grab a dangling rope and pull yourself to the top.  Savage staff assisted participants when necessary.  It took me 2:05 to finish the course including the 40 minutes of idle time.

In conclusion, the event was well run with ample and friendly staff.  Savages were clearly having a rad time throughout the course.   The obstacles were plentiful and some required impressive construction.  Furthermore, spectators were allowed to walk the course, which was very cool in my opinion.  I thoroughly enjoyed the Savage Race and would recommend fellow obstacle course race enthusiasts to indulge in the Savage Race experience.  Your ass may not be kicked as promised,  but you’ll have a great time doing what we love in a burpree-free filthy fit environment.  In 2013 the Savage Race will be coming to Dallas, Atlanta, Ohio, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Florida, and North Carolina.  The official schedule can be found at www.savagerace.com