A few things to know about me: I like to wear dresses, get manicures, and do Spartan Races that leave me covered in bruises.
Why do I do them? Because they make me feel like I can conquer the world (like this guy on the right).
There are three types of Spartan Races:
The Spartan Sprint: 3+ miles, 20+ obstacles
The Spartan Super: 8+ miles, 25+ obstacles
The Beast: 13+ miles, 30+ obstacles
Complete all three in the span of one year and it’s a trifecta — talk to me in November and I’ll let you know how that feels.
Participating in a Spartan race is a cultural experience. Spartans are a group of people who go beyond their comfort zones and challenge themselves both mentally and physically to achieve greatness. They speak a certain language, participate in pre-race rituals, and have built a strong community across the nation and in Europe.
This past weekend, my family and I reunited in Burnet, Texas (near Austin) and ran a Spartan Super, a 9.5 mile course with 27 obstacles.
On race day we woke up to thunder, lightening, and sheets of rain. But like true Spartans, we drove (and hydroplaned) to the course. Interpreting the rain as a bad omen, a sliver of me hoped the race would be canceled. It wasn’t.
The rain eventually stopped, and by 9:00 a.m. I found myself surrounded by men and women of all ages and athletic abilities at the race’s base.
There were teams dressed in custom T-shirts; family and friends supporting racers; a DJ blasting today’s hits, booths set up with water, food, and Spartan gear; and of course, a huge medical tent.
Minutes before our start time, my family and I downed three shots of complimentary pre-workout supplements, jumped over a four-foot wall into what can only be described as a holding pen, and waited anxiously to start the race. I looked at my mum and knew we were thinking the same thing, What on earth had we signed up for?
Before every race, an announcer conducts pre-race chants to fuel the energy. When asked what our profession is, we shout, “We are Spartans! AROO AROO!”
After chanting, high-fiving, and mentally preparing, we were set free and took off running on a trail resembling melted fudge. (Mother Nature’s morning storm had made for an extra muddy pathway.)
Within 30 seconds, all my nerves escaped through laughter and I was excited to attack the obstacles.
I hoisted myself over eight-foot walls (using my mum as a step stool, and vice versa). I flipped giant tires. I shimmied across a horizontal rope suspended over the ground. I crawled in the dirt and stones under barbed wire. I carried a bag of wet sand through a river. I hiked up hills and rocks. I climbed cargo nets. And for every failed obstacle, I did the required 30 burpees that left me sopping in mud.
Water stations were set up every few miles between obstacles, and about halfway through we refueled with a handful of energy chews.
Three and a half hours after starting the race, I could finally see the end.
Coated in dirt, caked-on mud, and sweat, I jumped over fire, landed in a pool of murky water, and crossed the finish line. With sediment nestled in every crevice of my body and a Spartan medal hanging from my neck, a feeling of accomplishment surged through me. I survived.
And though I was left covered in bruises, bug bites, and scrapes, I would do it all over again tomorrow.
In fact, my family and I are training to take on the Dallas Beast Spartan Race on October 31st. Until then, you’ll find me in a gym lifting and outside running.
I may be a girly-girl, but I’m not afraid to get dirt under my manicured nails.
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