Spartan Race

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Warrior Dash

I have to admit, I've developed an affinity for obstacle races.  Jumping over stuff and crawling under things appeals to me on some level I didn't realize I had.  I loved the Super Spartan, and was really looking forward to the Carolinas Warrior Dash I ran this weekend.

This one's run in stages 30 minutes apart over the course of 2 days. Mrs. RQ and I were signed up for the 10:30 Saturday heat, and I think that was probably ideal - not so early that we had to get up ridiculously early, but not so late that the parking lot was overcrowded, etc.  We had a little cloud cover and a bit of wind from one of the way, way outer bands of hurricane Irene, but other than that couldn't have had better weather.

    This one's effectively a 5k with about 10 obstacles thrown in in several clusters throughout the race.  The course itself was slightly rolling grass and dirt road with an occasional short hill thrown in - nothing too challenging. 

    We hit the first obstacle about a mile or so in - a series of four foot walls you had to hop over followed by barbed wite you had to crawl under. No issues. Immediately following that was a series of football-practice type tires to run through followed by a bunch of industrial, contractor-sized dumpsters you had to climb through (the type you throw sheet rock and  plywood in, rather than garbage).  They would have been fairly hard to traverse, but there was a piece of rebar welded to each one about four feet up the side, making a step that helped out a lot. After that, we hit the woods for a while - really pretty forested trail next to a pond.

   We emerged into a clearing just in time to see our next obstacle - a series of planks set at odd angles that you had to walk across.   Next up was a fifteen or so foot wall (with 1x4 ever 2 feet or so) you had to climb over with a rope.  Then it was back to the woods for a short time.

     Coming out of the woods this time, we hit what was apparently the hardest task of the day for a lot of people.  It simply consisted of a 50ish foot long tent of black plastic about 2 feet off the ground.  Your task? Get to the other side.  I ran up to it, dropped to all fours, a bear crawled straight through (well, I actually ran straight into somebody in the pitch black darkness under it, but promptly went around them) and popped out on the other side. And waited. And waited.  I realized at that point that their were people coming out who had been waaaayyy ahead of me.  Apparently, I was the only idiot who didn't mind blasting straight through. Everyone else was a good bit more cautious.  Mrs. RQ later said that was the worst obstacle of the day for her, and she wasn't alone. 

    In rapid succession after that, we hit a climb across a cargo net suspended about 8 feet off the ground and what the Warrior people refer to as an Assassin's Pole - kind of a series of platforms you climb up to reach a fire pole you then slide down.  We then hit a waist deep farm pond we had to slog through - hopping over 4 or 5 floating logs suspended in the muck at the same time. There's a clause in the Warrior Dash release that mentions you might go through water that hasn't been tested for parasites, bacteria, fungus, or anything else. This was, without question, that water. 

   In sight of the finish line, we had to climb the obligatory cargo net A-frame and the go over something reminiscent of a playground jungle gym.  We then got to jump over a few rows of burning hard wood.  I was very proud of Mrs. RQ - this really bothered her at the Spartan, but she sailed right on over this time.  Lastly, we hit the mud pit, which was filled with a very familiar Carolina red clay.  To quote Shakespeare, it was not as wide as a barn door, and not as deep as a well, but sufficed.

     I had a great time with this race, and I'll definitely do it again, but it was orders of magnitude easier than the Spartan.  Cool, enjoyable, and messy, but not hard.  It's one that can easily be done by folks who aren't in tremendous shape, which is part of it's charm. And oh yeah, everyone gets a fuzzy Viking hat.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Spartan Race

Forgot to mention that Mrs. RQ and I are off to the Warrior Challenge next Saturday, and also forgot a pic of the Spartan Bling.

What I've been up to...

So it appears that it's been a long time since I posted anything about anything I've done. I realize that I've been remiss in my blogging duties, and I thought I'd do some catch up. Since my last post, I've run the Gulf Coast Half Marathon, the Palmetto Half, the Charity Chase Half and the Carolinas Super Spartan Race.

The Gulf Coast Half is in Pensacola. Great race, though it was absurdly foggy and hot. One of the more interesting aspect was the fact that the post-race party was outside of a local restaurant/bar called "Flounders" (which I highly recommend). It's kind of an inside/outside establishment in that the interior of the restaurant flows into a courtyard that backs up to the sound. As Mrs. RQ and I sat outside at the post race party eating beans and rice and drinking a beer, we realized that there was an entirely different kind of party going on "inside" - apparently a local church meets in Flounders, and the members did not seem to have been informed that there were going to be a few thousand sweaty, smelly, beer-swilling runners outside...

The Palmetto Half and Charity Chase are both well run smaller events. I really enjoy both of them - they have a real community feel. I almost did make it to the Palmetto Half - I thought I was staying home with a sick child. Mrs. RQ and our other kid had a function that day, and I was pulling dad duty. At the last minute, our other child got sick, too. I dashed out the door, flew to the start, and sprinted to the corral just in time to hear "GO". The Charity Chase was a bit less dramatic.

I have say, the coolest and hardest race I've run in a long time was the Carolinas Super Spartan Race. The Spartan Folks tout their races as the toughest of the obstacle races, and having done one now, I don't doubt it. The course itself was mostly single track running through the rolling hills of Fairfield County, SC. Lots of running through foot wide gullies and up ridiculously steep hills. Two separate half mile or so sections were even run in the bed of a small river (in, not near or next to it, in). We slogged through waist deep water more times than I could count and even took a detour down a side ditch that I could be describe as Dagoba-like. That particular gully had what looked like about six inches of water in it, but unpredictably, that six inches would hide a hole three feet deep. You'd be stumbling along and all of a sudden find yourself up to your waist in muck. And those weren't even technically the obstacles.
In rough sequence, though it's been a while, so I may have forgotten something or gotten them out of order, we went through some twenty obstacles. I managed to only have to do burpees (the penalty for not completing an obstacle) twice. Some of the obstacles were back to back, some had a few miles of the above mentioned insane running between them. We started off jumping over the obligatory flaming line of wood, then crashed into a mud pit about the size of two tennis courts the middle of which we had to duck under suspended barrels. After running a while, we then had to climb over a 6 foot wall, crawl under another, crawl though a wall of tires, and then repeat. At some point after that, we had to carry a tire through the woods, and then hop over an eight foot wooden wall. A short run later, we had to climb an A-frame of cargo nets (the middle was about 20 feet high, but still probably the easiest task of the day). Shortly after that, we encountered a forest of miniature tree stumps and had to hop from 4 inch stump to stump across a designated distance. I fell off an had to do burpees on that one.

Soon after, we got to one of the hardest obstacles of the day - a low barbed wire crawl some hundred yards long. I actually got my shorts hung up on a barb and had to have a volunteer untwist me. Pretty soon after that, we had to do a long Monkey Bar type affair and then lift couple of cinder blocks a few times with a rope and pulley apparatus. Not much later, we came to a clearing with a deep mud pit below a 6 foot or so wall we had to climb with ropes. A six foot wall of wet red clay. I boosted my wife up and two guys were kind enough to pull her on out of that one. I got myself most of the way up, and they pulled me the last little bit, too. Burpees avoided. Most likely the most physically demanding single obstacle of the day. Thanks, fellas.
Around that time, in rapid succession, we had to swim across a short lake and then Tyrolean Traverse back across the same. Both were pretty easy, and frankly a welcome respite from the South Carolina heat. Next came a combo obstacle that was probably the most psychologically taxing of the day. We had to carry a sandbag down a hill into a gully (not too bad). Then we had to climb up the other side of the gully to a place where the race organizers had used a backhoe to carve out the hill and make a pool of bright red clay-water at its base. You had to jump off a cliff the height of a one story house's roof peak into a pit of which you couldn't see the bottom. The guy next to me looked me in the eye, said "screw it" (except he didn't say "screw" it), and ran off the hill. Seemed like a good strategy to me, and I followed a moment later. Mrs. RQ took a few more minutes, but eventually jumped off, too. Afterward, somewhat anticlimactically, we had to carry the sand bag back up the hill.

At this point, I realized that I hadn't had enough electrolytes that morning. My calves were starting to cramp. Every time I tried to extend my foot, I had searing pain. Which was really poor timing, because we hit a series of 6 or so steep hills with deep mud pits between them. The sequence for me went like this. Try to climb up slick hill of clay without dorsiflexing foot. Fail. Cramp. Curse. Pull out cramp. Tumble down back side of hill into mud pit, hoping that it wasn't so deep that I couldn't push my head above water level with my hands if I hit it wrong and cramped up. Cross to next hill. Repeat. Somehow, I made it through that one, and barely noticed the five foot and six foot wall hops that followed it. Next was a fire jump, followed by a spear throw. I failed to make my thrown spear stick in a hay bale, and had my second burpees of the day.
The last obstacle was pulling oneself up a 45 degree angled plywood hill and sliding down the other side. There appeared to be the standard deep mud pit on the other side of the hill. There was not. Rather than a cushioning mud pit, there was about three inches of water over hard clay. Let's just say I bounced at the end. Mrs. RQ and I ran past the "Spartans" guarding the finish line, and collected our medals, showered off in a hose, gorged ourselves on Docs Barbecue, and went home.

My calves swelled up to the size of balloons over the next two days - I actually ended up sleeping in compression bandages because I was afraid I was going to develop a compartment syndrome. I full recovered in about three days, though. And I can't wait to do it next year.