ARROOO… I am a Spartan

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So last Sunday, September 1st, I finally ran the Cambridge Spartan Sprint for what I was training for since February. This was an extraordinary experience and most likely the longest five kilometres I have ever run. At the end, all I can say that I loved it and I want to do it again.

imko spartan sprint

I was dirty, in pain, bleeding, having a stupid hair style… I was super happy

So, the Spartan Sprint is a five kilometre obstacle run and the shortest in the Spartan Race series. It has about 20 obstacles and was held on an UK army airfield and its surrounding forests. The other distances are the Super Spartan, a 13 km 20+ obstacle run, the Spartan Beast, a 20 km 25+ obstacle run, and the Spartan Death Race, a 4 day survival-fitness-endurance-run or so.

So I started my adventure with the Spartan Sprint on September 1st 2013 at 10:30am starting time. Thanks to some lovely colleagues, who supported me and drove me there at 8am in the morning, I made arrived early, registered quickly and twisted my ankle during warm up. That was s*** but after I paid a lot of money, spent a lot of time preparing to do the run and promised the Brain and Spine Foundation to represent them and fundraise money for their charity, I decided to run anyway and not to see the doctor before the race. Fortunately, I only hurt the outside of my left foot and I could run pain free and stable, although not really fast.

So at 11:00am my race finally started thanks to some delays and I headed to the first couple of obstacles. The first part was running over plain grass, which was quite bumpy and therefore I was afraid to twist my ankle again, after we had to climb an old  gun nest. Then we went through some lovely forest, up and down, left and right trying to avoid the tree branches. Just before that we had obstacle two and three, the first encounter with mud underneath a small bridge and then a test of strength. This test contained old ammunition boxes filled with tiny stones which we had to carry in a circle. This was followed with some minor exercises in the forest until the first set of walls was waiting for us. First jump over, then crawl underneath and finally jump through a small window in the wall.

Then, back to the section where we started and observed by the audience, we had to pull a concrete weight knotted to a rope up approximately 8 meters. This was actually quite heavy but I managed to do that, lifting the final half meter or so buy just using my body weight by lying down. Following this we had to crawl over a high net before we left the crowed again to the other side of the airfield. A few jumps over small trenches along the concrete landing strip, which made my foot worse, and another run through a muddy trench.

After this rather relaxing part we came to the serious obstacles. Pulling full rubber tires from these pallet transporters, climbing over higher walls and carrying 10 litre buckets full of water around a circle, a big one. During that, we had the coolest obstacle; throwing a spear into a hay bale, just like a Spartan. I didn’t hit the bale but the wooden panel behind it. Luckily I threw the spear hard enough to become stuck anyway. In case you fail one obstacle, you have to do 30 burpees. This is definitely something you won’t wanna do. Well, I can say I failed two obstacles which meant I did 60 burpees that day, my BMF instructor would be proud.

This was followed by the most painful section of obstacles for my foot. A bunch of gravel hills which you had to climb again and again, carrying sandbags and stones. It went up and down on a loose and unstable surface. I am pretty sure that was where I cut open my knee when I slipped on one of the hills.

Then, we came to the final quarter of the race. Again we spent some time running through the forest and some bushes. A vertical rope climb and some parallel bars, where you were only allowed to use your hands, made me do the 30 burpees. Yes, I failed them =(

After that, the barb wire and the mud pools forced us to duck deep down. Underneath the barb wire into a knee deep pool filled with ice, which was not too bad because it meant a cool down, because during the race the sun came out and it became quite hot. The final part was an approximately 600m flat, concrete straight before the final three obstacles waited in front of the finishing line. I am a bit angry because I could have run this part much much faster but I wanted to save energy for the upcoming obstacle: the monkey bars. Interestingly, I totally overestimated them and it was quite easy to pass them. At the end, after a lovely jump over burning wood followed by a little climb up a steep structure, fast-rope down again and two Spartans who tried to get you off your feet, the race was finished. I tried to run fast and use my momentum to just overrun them but the one guy just hit my feet and I made a lovely somersaultish stunt just before I got through the finishing line.

imko spartan

Monkey bars weren’t that bad…

Finished in 01:03:35, became 849th of 3564 runners, I felt exhausted and my left ankle had the size of a golf ball. But I got my t-shirt, my medal and my stories =)

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