This was my one-year anniversary as a racer, or as a serious athlete of any sort. Going back to the site that had made me an obstacle racer was a big event for me, and it came with several firsts that made it even better. I had just gotten my Cornfed jersey. Although I had previously worked with other people to get things done, I had never been at home enough with any team to mark myself as a member. This was the first time I had a goal other than beating myself. Our team was in a position to set a new record for number of finishers, so assisting the rest of the team became even more important. Lastly, this was the first time I brought someone new into the crazy world of obstacle racing.
Tammi works in my office, does 5k road races, and is in the midst of her own transformational journey. She had seen some of my photos from Spartan and GAC races and decided to join me.
We drove down from Fort Wayne Saturday morning, checked in with the rest of the team and said hello to those I had met in person and those who I recognized from chatting online. We made our way to the starting pen, embraced the usual adrenaline-accentuating Spartan race speech, and we were off.
On a flat course, Tammi could probably outrun me, but with the rough terrain and the obstacles she started to fall behind. I did my best to take the role of guide, staying within line of sight ahead and demonstrating the easiest way I knew to clear the obstacle.
To date I have not completed the monkey bars on any course, but I got more than twice as far as I have at any other race. A few more weeks of training and I will have it.
The wall clearing obstacles on this course were tougher than any that I have seen, and the teams that sprung up around them were great. It was common to have two people assisting someone up, one boosting the foot to hip height and the climber stepping on the other man’s shoulder.
Many of us took note of a course official who was a little too intense about the proper form of a burpee. While most of us stayed silent, one competitor actually asked, “Dude, are you OK? Need a hug?”
When we came to the Monk’s Walk/ Stump jump obstacle, I really thought I couldn’t do it but thought I would see how far I could get, and to my surprise was able to complete it.
The mud crawl they came up with was EPIC. Roughly 100 yards of slick, sticky clay mud, and all of it uphill. This and the mud trenches brought up a new way of thinking for me, as I had to find ways to help my battle buddy out of the mud without being pulled back in myself.
The last series of obstacles were the greased incline rope climb followed by the fire jump and the gladiators. As I got to the top of the incline, I heard a friendly shout of encouragement and realized the volunteer on top was a fellow Cornfed. I got myself over the peak and waited for Tammi to catch up in case she needed assistance. She got to the peak before loosing her footing. Myself and the CFS volunteer (it bothers me that I never sorted out who that was) were able to catch her before she slid back down and assist her over.
I learned in Florida that the gladiators tend to take it easy on runners that they can see don’t have much fight left in them, and I wanted the challenge, so as soon as I was clear of the incline I sprinted for them for all I was worth, clearing the fire on the way.
Cornfed did indeed set the new team record with 203 finishers, and we also came off with the top team time. And for once my after-race celebration photo was not just me.