AROO! AROO! AROO!
There we were, dozens of us at the starting line, screaming a battle cry as I was about to begin my very first Spartan Race.
Excitement, a bit of nervousness, and lots of curiosity bounded inside me. What was I about to get myself into???
I’ve always been interested in OCR (Obstacle Course Racing) but never signed up to do one until I committed to the Spartan Sprint in Asheville NC on July 28th.
With my first (but not my last) Spartan Sprint and all of those Spartan Race obstacles freshly behind me, I wanted to sum up the experience for any rookies looking to get a sneak-peek into what to expect on race day, or for the OCR veterans who want to get a laugh at this newbie’s point of view on this burgeoning sport.
So, here’s how it all happened...
As the founder of Dry Rub, I’m fortunate to connect with elite triathletes, runners, CrossFitters, ball players, yogi’s and more - and not too long ago met a super-cool OCR athlete Ameer who leads a community of obstacle course racers named Spartan 4-0.
After a brief chat on the phone with Ameer and mentioning that I had always wanted to do a Spartan Race but never did, he told me there was one coming up in Asheville, NC which was about a 5 hour drive from my home town of Wilmington NC.
After making me an offer I couldn’t refuse, I nabbed a couple tickets for the Spartan Sprint for my girlfriend and myself, which was about 10 days away.
The problem is, I soon learned that the Asheville Spartan Sprint is one of the toughest Spartan Sprints, and I had done zero training in preparation for the race...and since it was about 10 days away, there wasn’t much time to prep.
I asked both the Dry Rub and Spartan 4-0 communities for advice on how to prep for my first Spartan Race, and got some interesting tips. Here’s what people said:
Although I knew I could handle #7 (thanks Dry Rub!) the rest seemed kind of foreign to me. This was a sprint, after all, so I didn’t think I needed to bring a PB&J - even though the fat kid in me wanted to - and I also didn’t expect to cramp up...so mustard packets seemed like too much of a hassle.
A few people mentioned trail shoes, so I did invest in a pair of Reebok All Terrain Crazeshoes because I saw pics of the mud from last year’s Spartan Sprint in Asheville and didn’t think my road shoes were going to do the trick.
On top of that, I was fresh off a 3 day jujitsu seminar in Washington DC that was leaving me pretty sore, so running hills right after wasn’t going to happen.
Other than trail shoes and car seat covers, I decided to go with my own training and nutrition plan the weekend leading up to the Spartan Race. This plan may not seem conventional for elite Spartan racers but it allowed me to cross the finish line with a smile on my face (along with some mud and maybe some cow-poop infused water) and a great first experience under my belt.
Here’s what I did...
Here’s the step by step guide of how I trained for my first Spartan Race, along with my thoughts on the whole experience and the race itself.
While you’re waiting for a table you can buy a frankensteined donut/muffin thing (we did), mimosas (we did) and enjoy local, live music. Once we sat down we ordered a biscuit to start, followed up with shrimp and grits (supposedly the best outside of Louisiana) along with huevos rancheros. All of the food was super tasty but the bacon on the shrimp & grits was the standout of the meal.
The donuts were solid - they fry them as you order, and then apply the toppings they have that day. We went with a Blueberry donut and a Toasted Sesame donut. Our glycogen stores were getting stronger!!!
After check-in we walked around the vendor area and also watched some of the elite finishers run through their final obstacles. We quickly learned that 2 hours is way too far ahead to check in because there didn’t seem like much to do besides watch the finishers, which was fun, but we could have used another hour of sleep and still had plenty of time to check in and see the finalists.
Around 9am we were corralled to the starting line and given a pep talk with instructions by the MC. After shouting AROO! a few times and learning that we had a new profession in life (still waiting for my paycheck, Spartans) it was time to go...and we were off!
Because it was our first obstacle course race, and we were doing it for fun, my girlfriend and I decided to take our time with it and just enjoy ourselves. We ran some parts, jogged others, walked some hills, and had fun at each obstacle.
Before the race we stopped by the Spartan 4-0 tent and met some cool people who gave us advice, and part of that was to just "run our race". They recommended we take in the views at the top of the course and have fun throughout...and that's what we did.
There was lots of dirt and mud and river crossings. Everyone was supportive and helped each other out. The volunteers were great. Some obstacles were a bit confusing on what was allowed or not allowed, but the volunteers often explained the rules as we were going through them so it wasn’t a problem.
Some of the most fun to be had was the obstacles themselves. Here's a rundown of each of them...
After the finish line and our moment of glory, we snagged a couple of the freebies - water and a t-shirt, and then headed out to grab our free beer. Catawba Brewing White Zombie for the win!
After that we took some selfies and walked around some more to celebrate with our new friends.
After about 20 minutes of basking in our glory of finishing our first Spartan Race we decided to clean up. Here’s what that was like…
Post-Race Cleanup: There were about a dozen hoses available that people were using to wash the mud away. Some of the hoses had good pressure, others weren’t working, but it was certainly better than nothing.
We took turns washing out our gear and ourselves the best we could, but there’s only so much you can do because the terrain is still muddy and we had to walk a ways to the parking area. We still were able to get 80% clean which is a lot better than nothing.
After cleaning up we ran into some friends we knew from Wilmington and shared some stories from our race experience.
Our stomachs started grumbling so we headed to the car to dry off a bit, change clothes and leave to find some food before our road trip back to the coast.
After leaving the Spartan Race grounds we decided to go to Asheville Brewery for beer + pizza.
The Fire Escape Pale Ale was spicy and the pizza and chicken quinoa bowl gave us what we needed for our first meal of the day.
About 6 hours later, at home, we did our second round of clean-up. We ended up washing our race gear 3 times in the washing machine to get it all mostly clean. Even after a couple showers, and a few days later, we were still pulling mud out of our ears with Q-tips!
My first Spartan Race was lots of fun. I'm already looking into scheduling the next one, and I'm interested to see how I'd do if I give it my all and focus on speed instead of just enjoying the course.
If you haven't done one before, I would highly recommend you give it a shot...it's a great way to spend some time outdoors, meet new people, and test your limits in a new way.
AROO! AROO! AROO!
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