“San Francisco” Spartan Super Race Recap – Batterson by the Big Devil

 

A collaborative recap of the SF Spartan Race brought to you by yours truly, Dick and Pootie. 

Date: July 16, 2016 Location: Diablo Grande/Patterson, CA

Conditions: High: 95-96F; Sunny, no shade, “rolling hills”, dry (mostly)

Distance: 8.6 Obstacles: 26 Time: 5hrs 56min 53sec

Photo Album: SF Spartan Super Photos

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Pootie: I started scouring the Spartan forums a week ahead of the race, trying to get a feel for what people were saying about the venue and course. Folks were starting to compare this to “Hell-mecula”, the so aptly named September Spartan Beast held in Temecula (So Cal) for it’s desiccating 90+ degree heat and soul crushing course. So what was this race to be called? Diablo Grande in itself is a good moniker. Translating to “Big Devil”, it was a fitting name as the hills toward the latter half were so big and so steep, and the heat was blistering making it so miserable one was almost willing to make a deal with the devil just to get out of it. I say almost, because we are all Spartans, and Spartans push on, we don’t make deals with the Devil, we spit on the Devil. I’d like to make my own suggestions… Being that it was in Patterson, how bout the name “Shatterson”, as in, “this course was so brutal it ‘shattered’ my ego”, or, “this course was so brutal I ‘shat’ myself”. Ok, that’s gross, but again, I am just brainstorming here. Personally for me, I am going to call it “Batterson”, as in, “this course was so brutal it ‘battered’ my body but not (completely) my mind and spirit.”

Dicky: And where the “hell” is Diablo Grande/Patterson???  

Though the race was labeled as a “San Francisco” race, the venue was located  96 miles east-southeast of San Francisco.  In fact, this, as you can see from map below, nearly due East from San Jose – in the middle of not much. 

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This location was a bit confusing for us because, not only was it nowhere near San Francisco,  we also signed up for the BattleFrog in the “Greater San Jose” area – turns out, we are returning to the same park on August 6th.  How do you have two different races, one labeled “San Francisco” the other labeled “San Jose”, be in the SAME EXACT location?? Riddle me that folks!! So with this in mind, not only was this Spartan a first in this area, but a bit of recon for us to figure just what the infamous Diablo Grande held in store for us.

Race Day!!

walking on sunshineTo say the weather differs from SF to other areas is an understatement.  We were expecting mid to high nineties, and Diablo didn’t disappoint. Driving into the park what immediately hits you is

a) the sun b) the fact that there was no visible shaded areas, and c) it was already 88 at 9AM – this was gonna be a hot one today.

Now, prior to race, I have to give a shout out to my life partner and Spartan comrade, Pootie, as she truly rose to the occasion for this race.  She has been, since Bay to Breakers back in May, nursing a stress injury in her right hip/joint area – she’s been to the doc and thankfully nothing permanent but it has caused her some pain. She had been seeing a PT for a few sessions and both doc and therapist have said “let the pain be your guide”.  So with that going on, she still came to race day ready to go and conquer all fear and pain along the way – she is an awesome inspiration to me!! 🙂

Pootie: What Dicky really meant to impress on you is how fucking awesome I am!!

Dicky: Moving on… the opening to this course was indicative of what to expect – no shade, direct sun, a scorched earthen path that moved up and down hills with some obstacles in the way. First bit of advice to those doing San Jose BattleFrog , wear comfortable but full sleeves and legs for this type of race, and don’t forget a hat!.  Keeping the sunshine off direct skin contact is a must – it is hard enough in that heat as it saps you of all energy and causes cramps; but if you are getting sunburned on top of that, it is just suicide!!  Suggest white as well (see how desert bedouins dress!!)

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Hurdles, under wall, thru wall, and A-Frame cargo net/climb – pretty easy and standard opening salvo of obstacles to get you going – gentle, rolling hill climbs were not so bad but you could immediately tell that the terrain was scorched – the sun was a killer out here (think it was low 90’s at this point)

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Pootie: Mile 2 we came upon Monkey Bars, one of my all time favorite Spartan obstacles because 1) I can actually complete it easily while many others can not, and 2) it reminds me of my childhood days of monkeying around on the school and park playgrounds. But now I am a full grown adult and these monkey bars are more fun and challenging so it’s that much better.  We got a short reprieve from the depressing heat with a quick dip in a watery mud pit and shortly after I had the privilege of drying off for the next half mile with Mr. Muddy Suit Man.

For those of you who don’t know his story, he’s 62 years old and since beginning his journey at the age of 54, has completed almost 200 races, most of these being OCRs and all in a three piece suit, WITH a tie (tied appropriately by the way). How amazing is that?  

After parting with Mr. Muddy Suit Man, we reached several shorter hurdles where we (actually, just Dicky) were inspired to pose for epic wall jump action photos.

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Dicky: Was seriously still in such a great mood after snapping my “power method” like pose (see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_snowboard_tricks) – but it wasn’t all fun and games as the heat was starting to take a toll even though mud was caked on.  But was the start of the grueling and I mean all around leg bust climbs – the first hill (can we call in a mountain??) was pretty much straight up – the only saving grace was that we were covered in mud from the sloppiest barbed wire mud crawl.  

Pootie: Just a stone’s throw away was the Memory test wall. As we were walking up, I took a quick picture and Dicky had the AUDACITY to ask me if I was trying to cheat. Exhibit A, this is his “you trying to cheat??” face.

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No dear, unlike you (ahem in Montana), I do not cheat and was merely taking pictures for the blogging audience.Putting Bravo 386-1557” on repeat in my brain was a very nice and much needed distraction from trying to get my a$$ up the first killer hill encountered on this Spartan course, which came immediately came after the memory test wall. Bravo 386-1557, hike twenty steps, feel the ass and quads burn, Bravo 386-1557, hike twenty steps, feel the ass and quads burn, repeat. One had to feel proud trekking up that hill, so proud you had to document your feat in a  #shamelessselfie at the top   IMG_9729

On another note about this hill, I kept thinking this would have been a prime spot for Spartan to insert sandbag or bucket carry. It would have been misery for sure, but also true Spartan fashion to make obstacles as brutal and challenging as possible. Spartan race where do I sign up to be on the course design team?!?!

The hill dumped into the z-walls/horizontal wall climb at the bottom and I am more than POed that I failed the obstacle since I normally am able to complete it. Was it the heat that was stripping the grip strength from my itty bitty fingertips?!?! My first set of burpees =(

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Dicky: All righty – the course is really split into two sections with the start/finish area in the middle – we were on our way back to the mid point (well, a little longer) and into the upper body gauntlet that was more American Ninja Warrior section than typical spacing for Spartan racing – so, not sure what happens when you pit a Ninja against a Spartan, except that it would be an epic battle!!

Back to back to back to back… the tyrolean rope crossing, onto the hercules hoist, then rope climb just a skip away and then spear throw – my lord – total arm, shoulder, back pump!!  And this was setup so that all the folks can watch – you momentarily forgot about the sun as you had to navigate these obstacles, but you just suck it up and do it!!

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Pootie: Mile 6 came with milder upper body strength obstacles plate drag, inverted wall, stairway to sparta. While the upper body was taxed less here, this was also the starting point of the lower body battering as you were tasked with climbing hills on top of hills where the steepness was unkind and the heat was getting even more evil. Shade was scarce, but where there was any, swarms of Spartans dropped for cover.

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Dicky: Mile 7, will go down as one of the more brutal hill climbs topped off with a gut wrenching sand bag carry at the apex of the climb – what sick son of a B&TCH does that to you???  Oh yeah, Spartan race directors!!  

At this point, people were truly dropping like flies – cramps, heat exhaustion, and all around fatigue – the climbs were brutal and non stop – one foot in front of the other – you just needed to press onward and upward.  Now at one point, I found myself a bit in front of Pootie, so decided to find a quick rest stop in some shade – an oasis of shade – oh boy did that feel good.

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Pootie: Mile 8 was empty of obstacles, all a Spartan had to contend with were the hills, the heat, and a battered spirit, trying to will yourself to keep going. I can’t speak for Dicky, but this was my own experience. It was around this point I was dehydrated, near exhaustion, my hip AND knee were paining me, I was past the point of being whiny, and just trying to put one foot in front of the other. Looking to the fellow Spartans around me, I was not alone in these feelings of near despair. Thankfully, though not good for my knee, it was also at this point that it was all downhill and you could let gravity do its job.

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It was right at the 8 mile marker that you found yourself at the Bucket carry. This was probably the shortest and smallest hill of a bucket carry we have done (save for Chicago Spartan). It could have qualified as one of the easiest, had it not been placed near the end of the course and on a scorching day when you were already beaten up from the previous 20 or so obstacles and 8 miles of neverending hills.

After a long, recuperating water/shade break, we reached the mud mounds  and dunk wall where we found further relief from the burning sun before lifting heavy sh*t at the atlas carry.

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Just before the finish, you had to swing your way through multi-rig and scurry up the slip wall. Richard is consistently getting through the multi-rig, I on the other hand yet to find success. This time was the worst because my last swing on the horizontal bar I slipped and ripped up some serious skin on my hand. Now, I am fine with losing some skin, but at least I’d like to have some good progress on an obstacle to show for it. In this case I wasn’t even a ¼ of the way into multi-rig. To rub salt on the injury, I had to do burpees, one handed because of the skin rip, albeit, they were really crappy one handed burpees.

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Finish: Diablo Grande, our own Spartan “hell” and personal “Batterson”. It was a tough, brutal, hard fought battle… our only triumph was the crossing of the finish line. But, we finished as we always do and earned another prized Spartan medal for our collection.

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And now, it’s on the BattleFrog August 6th, where we do it all again, at the same venue; same hills, same (if not worse) heat. Stay tuned Spartans, AROO!!!

Epilogue: Like I did pre-race, I again scoured the Spartan forums to get a sense of how finishers felt post Diablo Grande. A string of posts all had the same message…

The course was brutal: the unforgiving heat, the hills on top of hills~~~ I was beaten and battered ~~~ Not the best time or the time I wanted, but I finished ~~~ This medal has to be one of my hardest ones I earned ~~~ I was tested physically and mentally! I proved that I can! ~~~ I had to bow out early, but I gave it everything I had

As tough as any standard Spartan race is, this particular course, with it’s monstrous hills coupled with temps reaching near 100 degrees humbled many Spartans, no matter their athletic ability and level of training.

I’ll to close by quoting one my fellow Spartans who commented about Diablo Grande and sums up the race and embodies the Spartan spirit perfectly:

“This course was not meant to embarrass great athletes, but to identify them. Great job to everyone who finished. Great job to all who DNF’d, but left it all out there. Keep crushing it Spartans – keep fighting, climbing, clawing and crawling and I’ll do the same. AROO!! #‎BatteredandBruisedbutnotBeaten‬” ~ Stephan Marvin

Chicago Spartan Super Race Recap- A Family Affair!

Second guest post  written by my partner in crime, Dicky Donaldson. Running with team always makes a Spartan race more fun. When that team is your family, it is something even more special and memorable. This was the case for Chicago as we got to introduce the Donaldson brothers, sister and nieces into the Spartan world!

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Date: June 11 Location: Richmond Hunt Club Chicago, IL  Distance: 8.88 miles Obstacles: 23 Time: 4:18:56 Who: Clan Donald – Richard, Pauline, Brett, Cristy, Chris, Brooke, & Riley

Photo Album: Chicago Spartan Pics

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What happens when you mix torrential thunderstorms, a group of OCR race fanatics, a dash of virgin racing anxiety and blend it all with a nice coating of blood, sweat and tears – Clan Donald’s Chicago Spartan Super Race Bonanza!!

Taking place on what turned out to be a rather nice day, Clan Donald took to Richmond, IL for the first Spartan Outing (and oh there will be more!!).  Led by race veterans, Richard & Pauline, the Clan members of Brett, Cristy, Chris, Brooke, & Riley (all first timers by the way) were ready to do battle on the corn fields and paintball grounds of Richmond Hunt Club.
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The weather called for rain and gloom – and in the midwest, during summer, the weather can vary in the extreme.  It had been raining HARD for days, but as luck would have it, and as we drove to the battle grounds, the sun rose high in the sky and the clouds were sparse – a good day indeed…

Fast forward thru parking, bus riding, registration, gearing up, hugging loved ones (supporting cast of Bob, Judy, & Ruth the parents/grand parents) good bye – it was time to enter the battlefield donned in our bad ass Clan Donald uniforms. Richard, Pauline, Brett, Cristy, & Brett headed off to the regular start line while Brooke and Riley shuffled to the kids start- each party guaranteed each other – no one shall be left behind.


OK – enough Spartan like lead up (or pick your period war film or story) – let’s get it on with telling you about the flattest BUT MUDDIEST course I have ever seen in my life – seriously, I have been to the mud baths of Calistoga, CA – I have laid in them and found out what it means to have a prison like shower afterward to get all the mud off/out of you – that wasn’t as muddy as this course (yes, I had a small twig of mud fall out of me SUNDAY – the next day – and I can’t tell you from where either – but it took days to get all the mud off….crazy!!)

Enter the Dragon – I mean Course

First, there was the obligatory course entrance – short wall, get over it and you are in the starting shoot – a small, insignificant test – all made it over in single bounds (kind of) – needless to say, everyone was pretty pumped at that point – and clean – I am not sure even the veterans were ready for what was gonna happen across those 8.8 miles of knee deep mud (did I say it was muddy yet???)

Mile 1

As the hype man got us ready to go at the start of the race – ARRRROOO, AROOOO – we all felt pretty damn good at this point – sun was out (guns were out), but it wasn’t too hot, there were no rain clouds in sight and the start line was dry – all of this was going to change in mile 1.

As we launched into the course, the starting cohort moved down thru a land chute that moved us into a closer near single track and into what the rest of the course would consist of – KNEE DEEP, WET, COLD, DARK MUD!!! – yes, the past few days of torrential rain had made the course one big mud bog – coupled with fact that we started mid day, the course had been run on by the elites and numbers before us – so this was going to be the rest of the day – get used to it – Spartan’s just have to deal with it!

First obstacle was simple hurdle – easy to get over, unless you are covered in wet mud, then there is a bit of balancing act you have to be careful –  but we all made it (no bruised interiors!!! and excuse the ass shot CD)

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By the time we got to mile marker 1 – we were all covered in mud – get used to it!!

IMG_7972.JPGMile 2

Mostly a flat run, some dry spots and a series of small walls – fairly easy to get thru and the Clan was feeling pretty good – keeping a light pace, not taxing, most felt like – is this all the course has got? (just wait)

Mile 3

Now we move into more obstacles that start to test your body – first up was the tire flip.  Men’s tires weighing in at ~85Lbs and women’s at ~70Lbs – flip fwd 3x and flip back 3x.  On its own, not a horrible drill, but when your hands are caked with mud and wet, getting a grip can be a bit of a trick.  Everyone muscled thru this pretty easily

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Next – the bucket brigade – now, for veteran Spartans who completed horrendously long and hilly Bucket Brigades in Montana and Monterey, this comparatively speaking was a piece of cake.  However, for first timers, filling up a bucket with rocks and walking thru the forest takes a toll on forearms and back.  Everyone pulled thru, with a few pauses to catch breath here and there, but reaching the end and dumping the rocks out is always a great feeling

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Next up – the inverted wall – tilted ~30 degrees at you, you  need to climb up while being “upside down’ having gravity trying to pull you off, ascending and throwing over a leg, pulling yourself over and basically sliding down the other side – mostly not a problem for this crew and everyone moved up and over with just a few slips here and there – so kudos to the teamIMG_7988.JPGMoving into the barbed wire crawl – on mud!!  Always easier to roll thru the obstacle, but that can be disorienting for the first timers (and veterans – see 500ft barbed wire review from MT).  We all dropped to our bellies and hit the mud – crawl was ~125-150ft.  It isn’t that it is terribly hard, but it just takes a toll to be face down in mud and getting the occasional reminder from the evil barbed wire as it catches skin, that it really is barbed wire.  If you think you will get thru a Spartan without some bruising or bleeding – think again – it is inevitable!!

Mile 4

8Ft wall, really deep mud, multi rig, cargo net, and more barbed wire – just what a Spartan loves!!

8ft wall – usually a bit of trick to make small leap, grab a hold of top and swing yourself over – but when everything is now wet and muddy, especially you – the wall is way more complicated.  The Clan had to work together to get everyone over, but we did with no slips, falls, or broken bones!! ARROOOO – even had a few take a moment on top of said wall to gaze back on course and think – I am halfway there!! Also got to meet a real live Spartan!

FREAKING multi-rig – I say this as I have been able to get thru this obstacle my past few races and have generally figured this one out.  This time though, the wet mud caked holds were impossible to navigate for me (and everyone else) – a set of rings leading to small ropes leading to a solid vertical bar culminating in the horizontal bar and then bell was this course’s multi-rig.  First time thru, fell right off at beginning – WOW was it slippery.  That pissed me off – so went back, took any grass I could to dry off hands, took to it again – grips held thru the rings and rope but when I hit the vertical hold, just too wet and slippery – )($#@&@*&@#*@(#@#*()@)(#@* – failure is not something I enjoy and I hadn’t done penalty burpees in a long time – but burpees I had to do this time!!  

No one made it thru that one and we were all exiled to the burpee zone- oh well – on to the ~25 foot A-frame cargo net.  We all scaled this pretty easily.

IMG_8050.JPGThen more barbed wire – this time on “dry” ground and hay.  Everyone rolled thru – now we all looked like super weird, kinda freaky Spartan clad Scarecrows – easily could have taken us up on a pole in a corn field and left us there

Mile 5

The course narrowed a lot thru here and lots of single track coupled with super deep mud – no rest for the wicked – there were lots of lost shoes on this stretch!!

Then we hit the climbing wall – this obstacle is tough on a normal day – but when you are wet and muddy and all of the holds are wet and muddy – this is nearly impossible.  Everyone took to the walls on multiple attempts – I know not everyone made it thru, but can’t recall who did burpees (ahem, BD).


By this time, the course is taking a toll – not hilly by any stretch (no Montana for sure) – but the damn mud was just complicating everyone’s passage – plus, course had lots of narrow sections accompanied with human pile ups, so you just could never get into a rhythm – but press on mighty warriors, press on!!

Mile 6

A full mile with no mud!! YEAH!!!!! You know your senses are a bit warped when you can shout with glee that you don’t have to trudge thru any mud but face the plate drag and upside down rope traverse!!!

Plate drags are pulling on the rope tied to a container filled with heavy sandbags – you got to get in there and sit down, put your feet on the berms’ created by the folks that have come thru, and drag that object to you across uneven terrain for 20-25ft and then get up, grab the chain on other side of the container, and drag it back to its starting position.  Lower back, arms, and legs all get worked on this one – narry a member of the clan missed this obstacle – not easy as we are all a bit tired at this point!

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Upside down rope traverse – now, this is hard on any day.  Again, with wet hands, lots of mud, this was a devilish obstacle.  Chris seems to revel in this one as he is part monkey boy and just likes to hang upside down as evidenced by his one handed pose for the camera.

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Most made it thru this one, however, a couple members did a few burpees instead!!

Mile 7

We can sense the end is near – our feelings get buoyed a bit at the sight of this marker. Unbenounced to us though is we still face the uneven bars, various walls, and more mud!!

The uneven bars was a trick due to wetness and mud again – but I must admit, Pauline had one of the more memorable photos – looking like a pro, the face, the grit, she made it look  like it was a piece of cake – and Chris tried to get all fancy with his dismount and touch two bells – he missed both – we weren’t gonna call him on this, but uuuhhhh TECHNICALLY, he should have done burpees.

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Next up, the mud mounds, over/under/through, and dunk wall all wrapped into one and a challenge to keep mud out of every orifice of your body.

 

This was followed by the most maddening and longest stretch of thick, goopy, suck your shoes off mud track on the course. It went on for what seemed like forever, and as we trudged and slogged through this half mile long mudpit, we almost lost shoes, our kneecaps, and our sanity. We were all pretty elated that we managed to make it out of this mud hole alive.

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Mile 8

As stated, you start to get thrilled about post race food and just crossing the finish line. But as with any typical Spartan course, you get  some real crap thrown at you prior to finishing.  

THE ROPE CLIMB – this m@therf*&ker was hard.  I mean, every single rope was slick with mud, so your grip strength really didn’t matter for the first 10ft, if you could even make this – however, if you could get past the first ten feet, then the rope actually dried up a bit and you could ascend to the top.  This presented challenges for everyone the team – some made it and got to enjoy the views at the top, some didn’t

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The Herc Hoist was pretty easy for most, surprisingly.  One moment was Chris, being a Spartan newbie, didn’t realize you not only had to hoist it, but you had to also set the 75Lbs bag down slowly and gently – so when he hoisted the bag to the top and hit the bar, he just let go of the bag!!! BOOOOOM!!!  The bag hit the ground with a thunderous clap and EVERYONE at the obstacle started to point – BURPPPEES!!! 🙂 – since he was new and unaware, we let him do it again, but technically he should have done burpees like at the Monkey Bars.

Spear throw – if you have hit this before, it isn’t the hardest to do, but it is very hard if you are not used to spear throwing – and since we all spear throw so often, i mean, shouldn’t this be easy!! 🙂  Not everyone hit the target, and one gentleman simply refused at this point to do burpees, stating “I am done with this S#IT”, we moved on to the final obstacles!!


The SLIP WALL – this was a 15ft tall wall angeld at about 25 degrees away from us and had a rope you can use to ascend it – but everything and everyone is caked in mud and wet – the rope, the wall,body, everything!!  This was the penultimate obstacle – and being at the final 100 or so yards, all the families were gathered and taking pictures along with side bets of who would or wouldn’t make the final two challenges.  Not without a little struggle, everyone made the slip wall!!!

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Now the end is truly in sight – you just need to find a way to surmount the Stairway to Heaven – again, no problem for everyone!!

Cameras were rolling as we all took to the final obstacles – but every Clan Donald member ascended to Heaven and came back to earth to cross the finish line together!


Finish Line

We made it – all of us!!  Tired, scratched, muddy as hell, but jubilant.  Clan Donald took this course and made it theirs!!  There is nothing quite like the finish – at that point you can relax and revel in what you just accomplished – and with family like this, it is only sweeter!!

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Brooke and Riley had their own Spartan fun and apparently annihilated the kids 1 mile course in 13 minutes, 10 seconds. There were no wall climbs, hurdles, or rope climbs too challenging for these two! Next year, they will need to join the rest of Clan Donald for the adult Spartan run!

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We came to take on the Spartan Challenge and we finished in high spirits – and everyone thru mud caked faces said they would do it again (perhaps a course with less mud).So many folks just don’t get it, but these races are addicting and once you have done one, you will see – Clad Donald got it that day and shall face the challenges again!! Clan Donald… we came, we climbed,  we conquered, we SPARTENed!! ARROOOOO

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Monterey Spartan Super Recap – Spartan Cherry Popped, A Newbie’s Experience

I am so excited to introduce my first guest blogger, Doug, a newbie who’s Spartan cherry (along with our two other eBay teammates, Kevin and Sourya) Richard and I had the honor of popping (sorry for the dirty phrase to those whose minds are clearly not in the gutter like mine). It was so much fun racing with first timers, as it brought back all the memories and feelings of our first Spartan… reliving the nervous excitement, the feeling of, “holy shit, what did we get ourselves into”, to “oh my god, I feel like I might vomit, or die, or both and not necessarily in that order” and finally to “I am now  a mother effin Spartan, AROO!!”

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Date: June 4, 2016 Location: Toro County Park, Monterey, Ca  Distance: 8.5ish miles Obstacles: 27 Time:~ 4:33:45

Saturday.

For most young professionals, the early hours of this day are spent in bed nursing a hangover, with the eventual plan to (occasionally) shower and shovel overpriced brunch down their gullets. Follow that up with any non-strenuous activity you can think of – lounging in the sun at the park, attending the latest hip festival, or the ever-popular day drinking – and you have the perfect framework for what 90% of young professionals spend their weekends doing.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve been there. I love laziness and gluttony just as much as the next person. But this Saturday was different. This Saturday, I ditched the mimosas and people watching for something far less comfortable. I pushed myself physically and mentally. I battled with my teammates against ludicrous hills and way too many obstacles. This Saturday, I became a Spartan.

It all started at 6 AM. After hours of tossing and turning – a homogeneous combination of excitement and dread refused to allow me a restful night – it was time to rise and shine. I called my teammates to ensure they were awake and still crazy enough to embark on this torturous trail. Sure enough, they were. We rendezvoused in San Jose, loaded up the car, and took off towards Monterey Bay.

After an hour plus of driving, inefficient parking instructions, and a quick shuttle bus ride, we had arrived at base camp. Immediately, we began the check-in process, gathering all of the necessary gear to complete this excursion. The “this is really going to happen” feeling began to sink in as Elite competitors (the ridiculously ripped guys and gals with abs that you could literally do your laundry on) started reaching the finish line. It was time to mentally prepare.

As the final logistics were coordinated, as well as some rudimentary stretching, we were ready to take on the behemoth formally known as the Monterey Super Spartan Race.

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Meet the Studs of Team eBay

As the announcer/hype man began spewing words of inspiration and various other forms of hoop-la, I surveyed the crowd for expressions. Faces wore looks ranging from smiles and laser focus to dreadful and “I should have never signed up for this”. Our team’s attitude was somewhere in the middle, trending closer to the excited than miserable. But that would change, constantly. Morale would prove to be a dynamic quality over the course of the next four and a half hours.

Finally, the command was given and we were off. The first mile of the race served as a warm-up and primer for things to come. The path was littered with barriers that we hopped over, crawled under, or navigated through. So far so good. It wasn’t until the walls reached border-line ridiculous heights that our team was slowed down. But, thanks to the power of teamwork, they were all ultimately overcome.

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Teamwork is the best work

Mile two was where s*** got real. Not going to lie, after mile one I thought to myself, “This is what people were talking about?! This is cake.” Well, that was all about to change. Shortly after hitting the one mile marker, we emerged from a wooded area to tackle three obstacles in a row. The first, a nightmare for anyone afraid of heights: a three-story climb with only a cargo net between you and a couple broken limbs. Don’t look down!

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Next up, the uneven monkey bars. A real pain in the arse. Unfortunately, this is where our team saw our first inability to complete the obstacle and thus burpees were assessed. No time to dwell on the past though, as right afterward was the barbed wire crawl.

Usually, the barbed wire crawl is known to be long and muddy. Well, in case you haven’t heard, California has been in a drought for quite a long time. That means no mud, which sounds like a good thing. Let me tell you, it was not.

The crawl began smoothly. We all utilized the rolling technique to breeze through the initial portion. This lead to dizziness and a plethora of thorns being thrusted into every square inch of my body, but overall nothing compared to the remaining leg. The last part of the crawl transitioned from a flat, reasonable landscape, to an uphill dust ball. See, the drought conditions left the field on which we were struggling crawling a dusty mess of dry grass and dirt. This meant, as other competitors in front of you advanced up the hill, you got a face full of dry earth in and around your face/mouth. Not fun or delicious.

After what seemed like a mile of traversing up the hill on my hands and knees, I had finally reached the top. Covered in dirt, grass, and thorns in addition to noticeably dripping sweat left me quite uncomfortable. But this is what I signed up for. It was sort of revitalizing to be such a mess; it made me feel like I was starting to get into the true Spartan spirit.

The next mile or so was a blur. My subconscious vaguely recalls cursing as my quads filled with lactic acid on some seriously steep hills.

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Quad killer

Nevertheless, I remained focus, with one thing on my mind: climbing to the top of the rope.

During our intense (OK, it was just one 1.5 hour session at a climbing gym) training regimen, the biggest obstacle presented was the dreaded rope climb. You remember the rope from elementary school P.E.? Its baaaaaack. And I couldn’t hack it. Quite demoralizing.

This time however, I didn’t care how long or whatever unconventional method it took, I was getting to the top of that damn rope. So, when we emerged from the woods yet again, this time to find the confounded rope, I was ready.

Now, I could spend the next paragraph or two painting a beautiful picture of me overcoming adversity and failed attempts to ultimately reach my goal, all in elegant language, but I will spare you the balderdash.

The reality is that, thanks to poor form and a history of deadlifts, I was able to dart to the top of the rope fairly easily (fortunately). Unfortunate though, was my complete disregard for friction and gravity alike. Needless to say, coming down was not as euphoric as its counterpart.

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Notice the lack of feet touching the rope – that’s not how this is supposed to work

Alas, the rope was not left without its share of casualties. Pauline was as close as I have ever seen someone get to ringing a cowbell without actually ringing the bell. The price to pay: all of the skin on her ring finger. A small price to pay for eternal glory.

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Lost her grip, lost some skin

The team marched on, eclipsing the halfway point of the adventure. At this point, shirts were no longer necessary. Hairy chests were exposed and things were going smoothly. That is, until the bucket brigade.

The obstacle: fill up a massive bucket with rocks and then carry it up AND down a steep ass hill. Fun, right? Why did I sign up for this again?

After some screaming and panting, the team was able to navigate its way through the torturous trek and finish the obstacle. Catching one’s breath was completely needed after this burner.

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That pretty much sums the race up

The next mile, while overall not too strenuous, packed its own punch so to speak. This punch came at the hands of an inverted wall that needed to be jumped over and it landed directly on my family jewels. Mind you this was not the first time I racked myself on this day, nor would it be the last. It was however, the only instance caught on camera and, thanks to Pauline, you get to find humor in my torment:

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With a handful of standard obstacles sprinkled in and a ton of hiking, the next couple miles appeared to drag on. The finish line seemed so close, yet so far. We ascended up a giant hill and scaled right back down, eventually hitting mile marker 8.

We were close. We hit the home stretch. Only half a mile and a handful of the most extreme obstacles lay between our team and the honor of becoming a Spartan. On we went to the spear throw.

Naturally, our fearless leaders, Richard and Pauline, successfully completed their spear throws on their first attempt. On the contrary, the rookies’ efforts were not as fruitful and resulted in sufficient burpees all around.

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Afterwards, picking up a massive boulder, carrying it, dropping it, lather, rinse, repeat was next up. I was especially fond of this because I challenged Richard to a race and won. Considering Richard bested me in every single other aspect of the Spartan Race as a whole, my ego competitive side needed some sort of consolation prize.

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One more quick hill and a few short strides brought us to the final five obstacles. The first of which was a much needed soak in a water-filled, mud trench. The kicker: the last portion of the trench required you to be completely submerged under the murky water. Quite refreshing.

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Upon scaling the last mound of dirt, the next obstacle stared us right in the face. This time, it was the seemingly simple, yet quite deceivingly difficult upside down rope ladder climb. At this point, our soaked clothing and mud covered bodies made latching onto the metal ladder rungs a tricky task. Bloody achilles tendons aside, we all were able to power through, leaving just a handful of tasks between us and completion.

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Next up was heaven for a rockclimber and hell for a man with wimpy forearms (me). The task: scale three walls laterally without touching the ground, while the only foot and hand holds are tiny cuts of 2×4’s that have been abused all day by Spartans. Oh and you’re still pretty wet, so it’s slippery too.

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Needless to say I, and everyone else on the team save for Richard, was defeated by this obstacle. This concession did not come without protest though. Each any every team member struggled together, numerous times, to display the resiliency you’d expect out of any Spartan. Despite the A for effort, we joined forces for a round of burpees.

The final frontier for those afraid of heights was next. A thirty foot climb on a wooden ladder was nothing out of the ordinary at this stage in the day. But, a straightforward obstacle this late in the game surely does not exist. Of course, upon reaching the top of the platform, a 20 foot plank walk was the only way to cross safely. As someone afraid of heights, I felt cortisol flood my body. I refused to look down though, and next thing I knew, I was talking others through the fear. Another obstacle down.

At this point, we could physically see the finish line and Cliff Bars. So, so close.

The second to last impediment was pulling a 75 pound bag of sand 25 feet up using a rope and pulley. I witnessed people grinding though this task when we first entered, baffled at how hard they made it look. From a distance, this one looked like a breeze. All you had to do was pull. No problemo.

I was wrong. This bag was f***ing heavy. When I pulled, it did not want to move. As sweat dripped down into my eyes and I grunted ferociously, the bag slowly raised. It was almost as if the bag was mocking me, telling me how outrageous I was for attempting to finish this race. Well, suck it bag of sand, because I lifted you all the way to the top AND calmly lowered you back to the ground (to avoid disqualification, you couldn’t just drop the bag when it hit the top).IMG_7865.JPG

Last, but not least, was the ultimate test of grip strength. If your monkey bars from the elementary school playground were taken and adapted for Navy Seals, this is pretty much the love child they would produce. This obstacle was composed of three parts. First, a perpendicular monkey bar that you needed to shimmy across. Second, a set of five gymnastic rings spaced just far enough apart to make you hate them. And finally, a set of three ropes with a knot tied at the end.

So if you were able to do the painful gymnastic rings, you then got slapped in the face by these nearly impossible ropes. Yet again, Richard passed with flying colors while the remainder of the team struggled to advance.

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There was no lack of determination or grit from this squad, yet our efforts proved to be too little, too late. We were banished back to the burpee zone for 30 final up-downs prior to our collective finish line cross.

We had done it! It only took 4.5 hours, but Team eBay BOS (Business, Operations & Strategy) completed the Monterey Super Spartan Race. Eight and a half miles and almost 30 obstacles. Those Cliff Bars and bananas were well deserved and especially tasty. Time to decompress.

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I assure you, Kevin was not actually defeated, as his face would suggest here

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After a couple of weeks of reflection on my first Spartan Race, I can confidently say that I will be participating in another one soon. The commitment of the race definitely held me accountable in my workouts and diet, while the event itself was both extremely enjoyable and satisfying. I felt that I was able to elevate myself on a personal level and also strengthen the relationship with my teammates. Those who suffer together, stay together…or something like that.

For anyone who is interested in pursuing an obstacle course race in the future, I wholeheartedly recommend it. That is however, with the caveat that you dedicate ample time to strength and endurance training. These races are no joke and we witnessed quite a few individuals who needed to call it quits early due to injury or exhaustion. Be prepared on race day, but more importantly, put the time in beforehand at the gym.

So, all things considered, I was pretty happy with the way my Saturday ended up going. Even though my Sunday was a little more sore, I would do it again in a heartbeat. I gotta admit, it feels pretty awesome to be a Spartan.

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If you liked reading about Doug’s first Spartan adventure, head over to Be Opposite and read about his other interesting life endeavors and adventures.

Full photo album of our Monterey Race can be found here

https://goo.gl/photos/puKmH3zKnz8vjmNH6

 

Spartan Sprint AT&T Race Recap – I Raced My Heart Out in San Francisco

Two races, one weekend, twice the fun…again. San Francisco Spartan AT&T Stadium Sprint and the infamous Bay to Breakers

Dates: May 14-15 Location: Our beloved city, San Francisco Distance: ~ 3 miles, 12k Obstacles: Sprint ~ 20 Time: 48:46 minutes (Sprint), 1:25:11 and 1:29:22 (Bay to Breakers Dick and Pootie, respectively)

AT&T Spartan Sprint:  It’s funny how some great ideas get spawned during times of drunken merriment… the idea of running our first AT&T Spartan Sprint was hatched exactly in this fashion. I had this idea in the parking lot of my brain for some time, after having completed two Tough Mudders and experiencing an extra long lazy spell in the physical activity department. I was looking for another race to train for and look forward to. My annoying Groupon emails kept spamming me with a coupon to the AT&T Spartan Sprint and it was getting harder to ignore. During a double date night with our good friends Tom and Megan,  we enjoyed some delicious home cooking (thanks Megan), paired with LOTS of good wine, and fun conversation. In the midst of it, I brought up the AT&T Spartan Race. By that time, we’d gone through a few bottles of wine between the four of us so I’m a little fuzzy on the details of the conversation but I think it went something like this:

Me: Let’s all sign up for the Spartan race

Megan: What is that?

Me: Obstacle course race in AT&T Park that will probably be the most awesome time EVER. (This turned out to be true, but not without some pain and suffering)

Megan: Will it be hard?

Me: It’s only three miles, how hard can it possibly be? (I will eat those words later)

Megan: How much?

Me: Groupon available for half price, it’s such a deal, we HAVE to do it. (I’m a true sucker for deals and apparently so is Megan)

Megan: Ok, let’s do it!

And just like that, in a two minute drunken conversation, Dicky, Megan and I pulled out the cell phones and signed up for our first ever Spartan race (Tom would have none this nonsense apparently) and our Spartan journey began.

Back to the question of would it be hard… let me remind you, I went into this race with the mindset that it was not going to be difficult. After all, I was already a two-time Tough Mudder finisher, which was a 13-mile OCR race. What was three measly miles? Well boy oh boy we were all in for a shock as those 3 miles in the AT&T Sprint  were by far the most difficult, painful miles we had ever completed at the time (and far more difficult then the 13 miles I completed in the TMs). It left all three of us sore in places we didn’t even know existed, and (at least for me) waddling like a penguin for days after. IMG_1925

Fast  forward two years and we (Dicky and I) finished our third AT&T Spartan Sprint. Year 1, we finished with a time of 1:50:47… Year 2, 1:21:11. Now Year 3, we were aiming for under and hour.

Well, we flew (by our own standards of course) through the course in 48:46. We were both ecstatic. But as we replayed the course in our heads afterwards, we couldn’t help but think this year’s course was much easier. Yes, we are slightly (not much) fitter than we were two years ago, but I think if I were to repeat the 2014 course again today, I would not have finished in under an hour and definitely not feeling as fresh as I felt after this year’s race.

I had to do some digging through my notes, photos, fuzzy memory and recaps available on the web (a combo that may not be entirely accurate) and made a comparison between the 3 races year to year.

Yearly Comparison

The number and types of obstacles are pretty much the same (though Traverse Wall was notably absent), but I’d say everything this year was shorter and smaller in quantity.

For one, the amount of stairs we traversed just not the same. The first year, we saw and climbed EVERY INCH of the park. This year only a fraction of it. Even so, the views of our beloved SF Giants playground were still pretty sweet, even if on occasion, we were carrying 20-40 pounds around on our shoulders or bear crawling our way through it.

The heavy jump ropes, box jumps, ball slams, push-ups got reduced by 10-20 compared to the last years

Hercules Hoist seemed a little lighter compared to those in the previous weekend at Montana Spartan. I was actually able to get mine off the ground for once, just a foot or two before Dicky came to assist.

Rope climb was actually slightly harder this year as they took the knots out for the ladies. Sad face, rope burns and burpees for me!

But, to balance the disappointment of failing miserably at the rope climb (again), I nailed the mother effin spear throw for the first time, on a much smaller target, and right smack in the freakin middle!! I was so excited I hit (and stuck) the target I was screaming like a crazed maniac for several minutes, causing the folks in the burpee zone to throw dagger stares at me. Dicky nailed his as well, he’s 4 for 4 in 2016, go Dicky!

Whether or not this year’s race really was easier or our training and conditioning is in fact kicking major ass, it is always a special treat to be able to race and finish a Spartan in our own city and home of the SF Giants. Looking forward to AT&T Spartan in 2017!

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Bay to Breakers: To keep this blog post from becoming a much longer essay than it already is, I’ll just speak in pics and note that this year was my 10th anniversary in a row of running the race, Dicky and I dressed up as unicorns, found some other unicorns along the way, and I pulled a groin muscle in the last 10th of a mile, an injury which I didn’t think a woman could get and still nursing (and how does one even nurse a pulled groin muscle?). But as always, fun times trekking through SF with 70,000 other runners/revelers!!

Full set of photos can be found here

https://goo.gl/photos/UdbxYmfohGVvoG468

 

Montana Spartan Race Recap- Beauty was the Beast (and Sprint)

Date: May 7-8 Location: Flathead Lake, Bigfork MT Distance: Beast ~13 Miles; Sprint ~5 Miles Obstacles: Beast ~39, Sprint ~ 25 Too freaking many Time:~ 8 hrs; ~3:40

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Pre-race, pre-mud, pre-exhaustion, all smiles!!

Overall: Montana, the start of our quest for 3 Spartan trifectas this year was not an easy one, and surely gave us a taste of what completing the Trifecta in one weekend will be like when we head to Spartan Hawaii in August.  All I can think to write is HILLS HILLS HILLS. And then that annoying Destiny’s Child song BILLS BILLS BILLS pops into my head for a few minutes, except it’s going something like this.

Can you see that hill?
Can you walk your legs up that hill?
Maybe I can use an automo’ bill?
If I could then maybe I could chill

Bad jokes and bad lyrics aside, it was rough. Finish one obstacle, kill your legs with an unforgiving hill climb, gut your way through another obstacle, kill your legs and lungs some more with another hill. Repeat that like 20 times and you’ve got yourself a killer spartan race. It was never ending, but the climbs to the top were not without rewards as the Montana views were stunning and the course was the most beautiful one (and most difficult) we have run/walked/hiked/crawled to date. As if trekking through 18 total trail miles and over 60 obstacles were not enough, we had to contend with baseline altitudes of 3100 feet and thousands (5-6k?) of feet in elevation gain. But, we got er’ done as we always do, AROO!

Here’s a small taste of our views at the top.IMG_6471.JPG

 

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First up on the obstacle list, Monkey Bars and we came out burpee free and then a short jaunt took us to the first of many log carries and then… the most. horrendous. Sandbag Carry. EVER!!! Because the hill was so big, these pictures only show half of its length. From my GPS watch, it was about 2/10 of a mile, about 30% incline all the way up with 20/40lbs (women/men) on your back. Instead of Sandbag Carry, I’d like to call this particular obstacle Leg and Soul Crusher. All along the track, bodies were moving in a slow death march or crumpled in a helpless heap on the ground.

Luckily for the Sprint, they decided to ease up and cut the length in half. Thank you Spartan Race course developers, very much appreciated.

So after another hill climb (yes, the hill climbs get repetitive throughout course), we have a quick and dirty low crawl under barbed wire. I was trying to get a selfie shot with Dicky in the background but he was literally right on my ass and instead I got this happy little photobomber.

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Check out the view in the back!

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Immediately after comes a Spartan standard, the Hercules Hoist. One of these days, I will be strong enough to do this myself, but for now, I need the help of the hunky BF for an assist (aka, do the all work for me and pretend I’m actually doing something).

Back down the hill and we have a new obstacle, the Tryo Ladder, a sister obstacle to the Tyrolean Traverse with a rope. I found this a little more fun and sans rope burns on the legs so thumbs up Spartan Race!

Directly after the ladder, we moved on to Atlas Carry, where you pick up a cement block heavy as f*ck, walk 20 feet, drop down for 5 burpees and walk it back. One of the volunteers could see the struggle in my face as I was walking it back and told me grunt at it, or talk dirty to it… grunting seemed to do the trick but I think I will try talking dirty to it next time to get it to the drop zone.

Another scurry (or more like a slow crawl) up and down another hill and we find ourselves at the Rope Climb and Spear Throw. These are pretty much automatic burpee penalties for me but I like to entertain the idea that just maybe I might be able to pull it off just this once and give them a go.

Rope climb I barely got 5 feet up… but this is a piece of cake for Richard

Now Spear Throw. This one has tormented both me and Richard at all the Spartan races last year. But, at both the Beast and Sprint Montana Spartan, Richard nailed it!!

I only got an mid-action shot and failed to nab a pic of his accomplishment of sticking the spear but I swear I witnessed it with my own eyes both days before I failed my own attempts and got busy with burpees

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Ok, so by now it’s about mile 5, we are getting pretty tired and climb yet another never ending steep hill and we get to this at the top.

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It is the Memorization Test, the easiest and most shameful way to have to do burpees if you fail. Look up the last 2 numbers on your bib on this wall and remember the phrase it is associated with. You will be asked later on the course to recite it. You have no idea where along the course this will happen, but typically it is 2-3 miles away, after you’ve physically and mentally exhausted yourself further climbing up more hills and obstacles. In fear of failing this, I am repeating LIMA – 383-28-98 over and over and over and over and over in my head for the next few miles until we reach the spot where we had to repeat it a volunteer. In between, we completed 10 more obstacles including some Spartan favorites/standards

OK and speaking of plate drag… when I got to my plate, the chic next to me very kindly helped me get my drag started but then proceeded to do all the work for me at which point I almost had to tell her, “Step aside woman, thank you for your help but  I got this!!” Post Blog Note: Funny enough, I ran into her and her boyfriend at the Monterey Super several weeks later. It’s a small Spartan world out there!!

After these numerous obstacles and cresting up yet another hill, we get to Gut Check, which is testing your memorization skills. I run past Richard who suddenly stops and asks for his camera and hangs back for a few minutes. I obediently spit out LIMA!! 383!! 2898!! to the volunteers who ask me for my phrase. Whew, I am free to relinquish that phrase from my brain for the rest of the course. Richard… now I am going to call it like I see it but that guy… he is a CHEATER!!! Remember the Memorization Test photo earlier in this post and how he hung back for a few when he saw the volunteers? Richard went back to that photo on his camera to look up his phrase cause he forgot it!! Cheater should have done some burpees! Cheaters never prosper but I guess they can finish a Spartan race with less burpees.

Now between miles 7-12, our exhaustion starts to wear on us, smiles and cheers are less frequent and being whiny becomes more acceptable, well at least to me who is doing all of it. We complete some more wall climbs, log jumps, log carries (so over the log carries), cargo climbs, and one of my favorites, tire flips (thanks for the ass shot by the way dear).

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And this is where Richard also starts flipping off the mile markers in defiance and I’m just too pooped to do anything special with them.

Miles 12-13.2… a spirit battering, I mean empowering 1.2 miles to the finish. The only things between us and that finish line are only the most cruel barbed wire crawl ever seen, inverted wall, muddy water dunk, everyone’s dreaded Bucket Brigade, A-frame cargo climb, multi-rig and fire jump, and yes another god awful hill to climb (two if you include the one at Bucket Brigade).

So let me start with describing the barbed wire crawl. The barbed wire was hung super low to the ground. It was long. It was neverending.  I keep hearing that it was roughly 500 feet. If that’s true, it was almost the length of not one, but TWO football fields. I couldn’t believe it, I mean it was long and we were rolling ourselves to the point of nausea for what seemed like forever, but two football fields?

The pics don’t do this obstacle justice… but check this guy’s youtube video out, very aptly named “The Forever Barbed Wire Crawl”. After seeing this clip I am a believer of the 500 feet estimate cause that sh*t was crazy

Unlike the Sandbag Carry where the race directors cut the length in half for the Sprint, they were not as kind with the Barbed Wire Crawl and kept the length the same. Though the same length, the second crawl was 3x as worse than the Beast. During the Beast, we reached the obstacle fairly late in the afternoon when there were few racers and we were able to stop and rest underneath the wires when we wanted without someone nipping at our tails. During the Sprint, hundreds of us at a time were packed in like cattle back to back rolling around, kicking up dust into the face of the people behind us and getting dust thrown in our own faces, fighting the head spinning and desire to vomit. I stopped in some places to catch a quick breath and noticed strands of human hair snarled on the wires, some of it probably mine as I got tangled in it a few times. I still have mild nightmares of this one.

A quick climb over the inverted wall (hey hon, pay back for the ass shot at the tire flip)

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And a plunge into the muddy depths of hell and we get to mile 13 (5ish for the Sprint)

Mile 13.1, everyone’s favorite, BUCKET Brigade; fill a five gallon bucket with rocks and carry it up and back down hill. Thankfully, the hill was miniscule compared to the hill at Sandbag Carry. Still sucky none the less, not fun or easy however you choose to tackle it.

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Mile 13.15 is the A-Frame cargo and multi-rig. If you’re forearms aren’t completely battered by now, you get yourself across this and you’re just a fire jump away from the finish line. Richard with all his rock climbing has pretty decent grip strength and typically makes it across consistently with every race now.

My own attempts are getting me farther and farther every time I try this obstacle so I am looking forward to the day I actually complete it. Until then, 30 burpees for me and then…

Complete jubilation when you jump over the fire whilst trying not to burn your ass and then you run that ass to the finish for your Spartan medal. There is nothing like the feeling of completing something so grueling, one of the best feelings!

Fuck yeah!! Spartan race finishers twice over in one weekend, AROO!!

 

Full roll of pics of our Montana races can be found here

https://photos.google.com/share/AF1QipPGbIr3k7xJnAwIdIcUT2WXiSuKnxUOKu_pebn–phIHRQ8zQyQJdb7NL6zojjwIw?key=cUJwU2h3Wm10a3FoZlVjY2t6SFNWX0JjRXFhU2xn

 

San Francisco Battle Frog Race Recap

San Francisco Battle Frog Race Recap

Location: Lake Sonoma, Geyserville Distance: ~ 6-6.5 miles Obstacles: 29 Time: ~ 4 hrs

Overall: Loved this race. Could not get over the stunning backdrop of Lake Sonoma. The BF Series is still relatively unknown (though I suspect that will change pretty quickly in the OCR world) so the course was not crowded. In fact, many times Richard and I found ourselves running through the trails by ourselves and some obstacles completely deserted. Many of the obstacles were the same or very similar to the Spartan obstacles. Where they differed, I found the BF obstacles much more difficult (ie, Platinum Rig, like WTF?). Overall, awesome race experience and I’m glad we decided on a 3-race pass!

  1. Over/Under/Thru – Easy PeasyIMG_1004
  2. 12’ Ladder Walls – Easy Peasy but I could probably try scrambling up these a little faster instead of taking my sweet time (Richard gets through them pretty quickly).
  3. Mud Mounds – Easy Peasy. It was sticky mud but no watery mud pits to go through like Spartan or Tough Mudder.
  4. Hill Scramble – Fuck, I hate hills. Guess-timating bout ½ to ¾ mile straight up. Stopped a few times for pics but mostly to rest my screaming calves, it was slow going. Must add more hiking and hills repeats into the training.           IMG_3537.JPG
  5. Normandy Jacks – Much easier with no barbed wire tearing at your back. Also, MUCH shorter than the Spartan equivalent (~ 20 feet vs what seems like a ¼ uphill)
  6. Inverted Walls – Same as Spartan. Need to practice getting comfortable with the feeling of inversion.
    • 6.5 Remember where I mention there were no watery mud pits in Mud Mounds? Yeah, well BF decided to stick a random knee-deep one here. And unfortunately for me AND my phone, my foot got stuck in a thick mud pile and I fell catching myself with my hand… with my phone in it. Luckily my case got the brunt of the muddy assault and I was able to brush out most of the mud out of the battery charging slot on the drive home from the race. Whew, phone still works!
  7. Weaver – Deceptively challenging! Over and under across a set of beams set apart at different lengths and heights, WITHOUT TOUCHING YOUR FEET ON THE GROUND. This one was a tricky one for all racers. I’m sorry, you want me to do huuuuuhhh?
  8. Wedge Wall – Much easier than Spartan equivalent as the rocks jutted out more and required less grip strength (vs 2 inch woodblocks you need to hang on to with the tippiest tip of your fingers in Spartan)IMG_3562.JPG
  9. Tip of the Spear – Hard as Hell and I failed miserably. Couldn’t get across the first set of ropes, partly because the board was slippery for my feet but mostly because my upper body and grip strength is piss poor. Richard, with all his rock climbing and dedicated strength training made it across just fine. Burpee Count = 8
  10. Wreck Bag Carry – 50lbs for both men and women. Seriously, I DID NOT NEED GENDER EQUALITY HERE!!! We carried these things ~ 1/3 mile including down a steep hill and back up. Felt like my back was going to break. I slid my way down the hill and I whimpered my way back up . Almost cried my way back… it was freaking TOUGH carrying almost half my body weight. Must get the sandbag filled already and incorporate to training plan.

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  11. 4’ Wall – Seriously, a midget could probably get over this thing.IMG_1074.JPG
  12. 8’ Wall – Ok, needed a little help from Richard here and he almost threw me right over the wall (thanks hon)!
  13. Caving Ladders – Tiny metal wires hangers hung up on tree branches; another deceptively challenging one. Upon seeing this, I thought, “seriously, how hard could this be?” It was not difficult but also wasn’t super easy. Not being secured on the ground, the ladders swayed this way and that making it a wee bit more challenging. But, the ladders gave us an opportunity to practice hanging mid-air splits!IMG_1083
  14. Hooyah – Was this the rope climb down to the lake? Wasn’t much of an obstacle as we literally just slid down the itty bitty mud mound into the lake. And I will note, that while I was not expecting to get through this race dry and sans mud all over myself, I WAS hoping to at least keeping my underwear dry… did not happen here as we waded waist deep in the lake (insert sad face emoji here)
  15. Ramp Wall – Looked harder than it was; nothing that a running start can’t do. Up and over, easy does it!
  16. Jerry Can Carry – Had to carry two 10L water filled jugs up and down a ~ tenth of a mile loop. Had to stop a few times cause my arms were giving out. Must add more farmer’s walks to the training plan.
  17. Frog Falls – what the hell was this obstacle? Was it traversing through the creek? There was nothing else between Jerry Can and Tree Cargo
  18. Tree Cargo – Cargo net hung up on trees but not secured to the ground. Ok, so here is where I am getting the point that things not secured to the ground are harder to climb. Took a few times to get the point, but I got it!!
  19. 6’ Walls – Ok, so make me climb a 6’ tall wall, but do not make me climb one right after having to climb a steep hill, screw you Battle FrogIMG_3710.JPGIMG_102.JPG
  20. 60 Degrees – Like the inverted walls but with bars, not too bad and came with an amazing view… since we again had to climb a longer steeper hill to get to the obstacle.
  21. Tunnel Rat – Super short crawl through a dark, tiny tunnel. Tough Mudder has an obstacle like this, but it’s three times the length and it’s half submerged in water. It’s pitch black, in murky water, freaking scary. That’s where I discovered a fear of claustrophobia. I’ll take the BF Tunnel Rat any day! I think I annoyed Richard with trying to get us both in a selfie pic while in the tunnel. Come on, it would have been an awesome selfie!
  22. Robe Climb – Sigh, so sad. This one was significantly shorter than the Spartan and while I was just one pull-up away I couldn’t scrounge up enough energy to do it and hit the bell at the top of the branch. Must.dip.deeper. Richard of course climbed up this like he’s a natural monkey. Here is where my burpee count starts piling up Burpee count = 16
  23. Hump Over = Easy enough jumping over and crawling under beams
    • 23.9. Wait, I’m sorry but did you just slip in an extra obstacle without putting it on the course map? How dare you make me climb another 6’ wall right before the ridiculous monstrosity of the Platinum Rig!!IMG_1143.JPG
  24. Platinum Rig 1 and 2 (Obstacle 24 and 25): Seriously, WTF Battle Frog, are you trying to demoralize the ordinary human??? Ok, I need to take a breather here and remember that Battle Frog is inspired by Navy Seal training, and Navy Seals ARE NOT ordinary humans. IMG_3746.JPG
  25. I barely made it to the third ring; slipped off as I swung and tried to make a grab for it. I knew I wouldn’t get far, but had to at least try it before taking the penalty. Speaking of penalties, I didn’t realize at the time, but I think this monstrosity was actually supposed to be a 2 in 1 obstacle as it is listed on the course map as Platinum Rig 1 and 2 for obstacles 24 and 25. I only saw one platinum rig (THANK GOD). Given how looooong this rig was, I think it’s safe to say there were 2 obstacles here. But, I only did 8 burpees for not being able to complete it, take that BattleFrog! Ok, I know am only cheating myself there (insert another sad face emoji here) Burpee Count: 24
    • Richard, bless his determined little heart, fell off the first few rings with his first try. But with his mental grit and determination tried it again and aaaalmost made it through… was just two monkey bars and a rope swing away before his arms gave out on him. He was pissed off for not getting through the entire rig, but I think he should give himself a big “WAY TO F*CKING GO” as this is way farther than most others got. It’s ok, I gave it for him =) Btw, did he do his burpees??? I was too busy being in awe of how far he got while doing the 8 burpees for my own pitiful performance so I’m not sure. Burpee count for Richard = 8 (questionable/to be confirmed)
  26. Monkey Bars – A set of ascending/descending monkey bars that also were not completely secured. Richard, after having gone through the Platinum Rig crossed the monkey bars easy enough (bet all that rock climbing helps a bit). I on the other hand failed miserably, which kinda upsets me because I am (typically) a freaking natural at the monkey bars! Burpee count: 32
  27. Balance Beam – Hmm, did they miss putting this on the course or incorrectly wrote this into the course map? We were both pretty out of it by then, but also pretty sure we didn’t have to balance on anything in between Monkey Bars and Rope Walls. Awesome, a total freebie!! Unless you count trying to balance on solid ground, which at that point, roughly four hours in with little food and water in system… walking in a straight line was getting harder by the minute so burpees could have easily been piled on here.
  28. 12’ Rope Walls – I looked in envy as Richard easily scrambled up this 12 foot wall like it was nothing. I, on the other hand, had my slight fear of falling from heights and tired arms to contend with. I stood in front of the wall for a few minutes, staring at it despairingly, trying to talk it into becoming shorter. Lol, ok so that was an impossibility so I tried to talk myself that I CAN DO this. I had a volunteer giving me some incredible motivational talk too which helped a bunch. So, I grabbed the rope and climbed to (almost) the top and I got stuck. I got stuck at the point where I was able to reach for the metal bar at the top and all I had to do was pull myself up and swing my legs over. And, I couldn’t do it. I clung at the top like a cat stuck on tree, thinking too much that I was tired and had no energy, and was so scared, and scared of what? Scared of falling. Well you know what? I fucking fell anyway and I was ok. But I was so upset, that I cried a little. And I didn’t cry when or after I fell, I cried at the top because I was giving up. Even as I type this now, I get a little teary eyed, because I freaking gave up when I probably had it in me to pull myself up just another inch or two and give myself the ability to swing over and get up and over the top. Just like at the rope climb, I need to dig a little deeper next time. After falling about 10 feet into a pile of hay, I got up, brushed myself off, wiped the tears and the sour face and moved on. Till next time Rope Wall…Burpee count = 40
  29. Delta Cargo – The only thing stopping us from getting to the finish line, just 10 feet away. This thing looked like it was 3 stories high. Ok, maybe exaggerating, 2 stories? Anyway, we climbed up and over pretty easily though Richard stopped along the way to try and coax a totally frightened racer who was too scared to make the transition up top (think me at Rope Wall times 20). Poor girl, I think she and her friend were stuck on that cargo net for a good ten minutes before she finally drummed up enough courage to get over.

FINISH LINE!! Hooyah, first Battle Frog Race completed with a few smiles, a few WTFs, a few swear words, a few tears, but LOTS of fun. Oh, and a few split jumps =)

Full set of race photos here

https://goo.gl/photos/6tdkM9v63TuwMCQd9