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Race 13 took me to Toronto for the Spartan Beast. For those of you who don't know what the Spartan Beast is, it's a 13.1+ mile, 25+ obstacle race. I've always enjoyed every Spartan Race I've done because I've found they're obstacles tend to be much more physically demanding and they require you to successfully complete every obstacle. If you fail to successfully complete an obstacle you find yourself doing 30 burpees...and if you don't know what burpees are, or have never done them, the last thing you want to do in a race is burpees. Unless you skip the burpees, or do less than the 30 you're required to do, but that's a whole different issue - and at that point, why even sign up for a race with penalties if you're going to refuse to do them? But I digress.

What I also enjoy about Spartan Races, especially as you get to the longer distance versions, is the truly psychological and mental element that becomes a big portion of your individual race. This happens in a couple of different ways. Spartan Race is unique in that they don't publish a course map prior to the race. This means you don't know exactly how far the race will take you, exactly what kind of terrain you'll encounter (though you can bet there will be hills and lots of them), and you have no idea what exact obstacles will be included, exactly how many, or where they'll be located. This race in particular also played with your mind because there were zero mile (or kilometer) markers and none of the volunteers would give you an accurate estimate of how much you had completed or what you had left. This obviously frustrated quite a few of the runners who were encountering the Spartan Race for the first time. And for those who chose the Beast as their first event, it probably was not the best decision. I actually never even bothered to ask any volunteers the distance, assuming they would either not know or intentionally give an incorrect answer, and in the end the race was over when I crossed the finish line and it didn't matter how far I had left to go. 

At each of the 5 water stations, they also presented us with a "simple" math equation, the answer to which we needed to remember in order to solve the subsequent equations and give a final answer to a volunteer near the end of the race and if you gave the wrong answer - 30 burpees. I use quotations around the word "simple" because they really were extremely easy, but you could tell that the length and physicality of the race started to take its toll on some of the racers as they struggled to solve the equation before leaving a couple of the later water stations. In fact, while at the final water station, I actually watched as one racer started writing in the sand trying to figure out what 2013-1800 equaled and listened as he argued with his friend over the answer (neither of them had it correct). Even when I tried to help them with the answer, they still didn't believe me, so I decided to move on. 

I felt pretty good about the mental portion of my run, not to mention the physical portion, as I only had failed one obstacle the entire race and only had to do 30 burpees. The spear throw at the Spartan Race continues to be my nemesis, as I can hit the target, but never get the spear to stick. Don't be surprised if you're in Mt. Pleasant and you see me build a replica of the spear throw lol. I say I felt pretty good about the mental portion of my run, but not great, because I failed to anticipate, like most every runner around me at the time, that when you thought you were coming to the end of the race, you really weren't. Just as we turned the corner after giving our final numerical answer the final gauntlet of obstacles appeared right before the finish line and you could see and hear the crowd cheering you on. Foolishly, I started to increase my pace for the final push, only to reach the crowd and find a volunteer turning us away from the final obstacles and up yet another hill. As I made the turn, somewhat dejected that I had not yet reached the end, I could see that I was not the only runner who was fooled as I watched those who had hit the hill ahead of me climbing slowly with heads down. I kicked myself for not anticipating this twist when I had been fooled in much the same way at the Spartan Beast in Texas in December. I got over it quickly though, made it through the final stretch and finally reached the actual end.

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Just like the Toronto Sprint a few weeks earlier, included in the final set of obstacles was the "Premium Rig", except the rig was slightly different. The Premium Rig reminds me a lot of what you would see on American Ninja Warrior and you see people failing to complete it about as readily as well. This time the premium rig included a short traverse across a set of hanging rings which then transitioned into a singular square bar that you traveled hand-over-hand. Immediately following the square bar was another single ring, which transitioned basically into a pipe that required you to almost do a chin-up in order to reach the raised set of rings just on the other side. Fall or touch the sides of the rig and you were down doing 30 burpees, or as several people did, if you didn't even make an attempt, 30 burpees. (I actually saw several times where people wouldn't even attempt an obstacle throughout the course and chose to do the burpees instead, which I never truly understand). Thankfully, I passed through the Premium Rig without issue, made my climb up the slippery wall, took my hits from the gladiators, and crossed the finish line to complete my 13th race in 30 days.

I could talk so much more about each obstacle, but once I get the video edited, I'll let you see for yourself. A big thank you to Spartan Race for also featuring Run to Remember on their blog on Sunday, which if you haven't read it you can do so here: http://blog.spartanrace.com/a-run-to-remember-brad-kloha/. Up next for race #14 is the Super Spartan in Illinois, which I ran last year and look forward to the challenge the course presents. Thanks to everyone for their continued support and for following along on this journey!

 


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02/17/2015 8:25am

Oh my, why don't I live in Toronto!? I wish I could join this Spartan Beast! Still not sure about my abilities to do everything they do, but I'd try my strength!

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